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Intersection of Planes

Anna Tsaur
Alycia Patton
Esther Michel
Narendran Sairam

November 12, 2010

Multivariable Calculus
Group Project
Mr. Azerado
In three dimensional space, three planes can intersect in eight distinct ways.

Firstly, there could be no intersection between the planes because they are all parallel.

The second way has a single point of intersection. For example, the xy-plane, the xz-

plane and yz-plane all intersect at one distinct point called the origin. In the third case, the

three planes are rotated around a line of intersection. Fourthly, the intersection could be

two lines. This is accomplished by two parallel planes intersected by a third plane that is

not parallel to the other two. In the fifth way, the intersection of the planes forms three

lines, because each plane forms a line of intersection with two other planes. These are the

cases formed by three distinct planes. In the following three cases, two or more of the

three planes are identical. For example, if two planes are coincident and a third plane (not

parallel to the other two) intersects them, it forms the sixth case of intersections. The

seventh case is very similar in that two planes are coincident and the third plane which is

distinct is parallel to the first two. The eighth and final possible intersection is a plane

formed by all the three planes being the same.

Analysis of the Intersections:

The equations of the three planes are as following:

a11+ a12+ a13= d1

a21+ a22+ a23= d2

a31+ a32+ a33= d3

These equations, when changed to a matrix, translate to the following form:

a11 a12 a13 x d1

a21 a22 a23 y d2
a31 a32 a33 z d3

a11 a12 a13

a21 a22 a23
For our purposes, Let us say that
a31 a32 a33

Now, in order for the system of equations to have a solution, a unique solution,

must exist an inverse matrix of A-1 such that A* A-1 = A-1 *A = Identity matrix. In order

for the inverse matrix to exist the determinant of the A matrix cannot equal 0. i.e. det(A)

≠ 0. If det (A) = 0, then there can either be no solutions at all or there can be infinitely

many solutions. This information can be applied to the eight cases of intersection of three


The intersection of planes can result in three cases: no solutions, infinitely many

solutions or one solution.

Case One: No Solutions

Of the eight intersection cases there are four cases that have no solutions. That is

there are four cases in which the determinant of the A matrix formed by the equations of

the planes is equal to zero.

Case Two: Infinite Solutions

There are three intersection cases between planes that result in infinitely many

solutions. In this case, det(A)=0 but there is a distinction between the three cases. In two

of the cases there are infinite solutions because the three planes intersect along a line.

In the third case though, the infinity occurs along a plane.

Case Three: One Unique Solution

There is only one case in which there is a single unique point of intersection. Case

2 is the only such case. In case one, the matrix A formed by the equations of the three

planes has a determinant that exists which means that there is an inverse matrix which in

turn results in a unique point of intersection between the points.

Data Compilation:

No Solutions Infinite Solutions One Solution

det(A) = 0 det(A) = 0 det(A) ≠ 0

Infinity along a line:

Infinity along a plane:

Calculation Problem: