# level curve

The (in German Niveaukurve, in French ligne de niveau) of a surface

 $\displaystyle z\;=\;f(x,\,y)$ (1)

in $\mathbb{R}^{3}$ are the intersection curves of the surface and the planes  $z=\,\mathrm{constant}$. Thus the projections  of the level curves on the $xy$-plane have equations of the form

 $\displaystyle f(x,\,y)\;=\;c$ (2)

where $c$ is a constant.

The gradient$f^{\prime}_{x}(x,\,y)\,\vec{i}\!+\!f^{\prime}_{y}(x,\,y)\,\vec{j}$  of the function $f$ in any point of the surface (1) is perpendicular     to the level curve (2), since the slope of the gradient is $\displaystyle\frac{f^{\prime}_{y}}{f^{\prime}_{x}}$ and the slope of the level curve is $\displaystyle-\frac{f^{\prime}_{x}}{f^{\prime}_{y}}$, whence the slopes are opposite inverses  .

Analogically one can define the level surfaces (or contour surfaces)

 $\displaystyle F(x,\,y,\,z)\;=\;c$ (3)

for a function $F$ of three variables $x$, $y$, $z$. The gradient of $F$ in a point  $(x,\,y,\,z)$  is parallel   to the surface normal of the level surface passing through this point.

 Title level curve Canonical name LevelCurve Date of creation 2013-03-22 17:35:27 Last modified on 2013-03-22 17:35:27 Owner pahio (2872) Last modified by pahio (2872) Numerical id 13 Author pahio (2872) Entry type Definition Classification msc 53A05 Classification msc 53A04 Classification msc 51M04 Synonym contour curve Synonym isopleth Related topic LevelSet Related topic ConvexAngle Defines level surface Defines contour surface