Cross Section

Pronunciation: /ˈkrɔsˈsɛk ʃən/ ?

A stack of coins stacked evenly, and a stack of the same number of coins stacked unevenly.
Figure 1: Stack of coins.
  1. In geometry, a cross section is a section made by cutting an object with a plane. Cross sections are important in the study of math. Cavalieri's principle states that, if the volumes of the cross sections of two 3-dimensional geometric figures are equal, then the volumes of the two figures is the same. This is illustrated by a stack of coins. It doesn't matter how the coins are stacked, the volume of the stack of coins remains the same. Cavalieri's principle leads the way to infinitesimal calculus.
  2. In statistics, a cross section is a sample of data believed to be representative.

Examples of Geometric Cross Sections

Click on the images to see a full-size version.

Cross section of a tree trunk showing growth rings.
Figure 1: Cross section of a tree trunk.

Cross section of a car engine.
Figure 2: Cross section of a car engine.

Cross section of the earth's crust.
Figure 3: Cross section of the earth's crust.

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Cross Section. 2010-02-28. All Math Words Encyclopedia. Life is a Story Problem LLC. http://www.allmathwords.org/en/c/crosssection.html.

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Revision History


2010-02-28: Authored (McAdams, David.)

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