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Pursuit curve

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A simple pursuit curve in which P is the pursuer and A is the pursuee

In geometry, a curve of pursuit is a curve constructed by analogy to having a point or points representing pursuers and pursuees; the curve of pursuit is the curve traced by the pursuers.

With the paths of the pursuer and pursuee parameterized in time, the pursuee is always on the pursuer's tangent. That is, given F(t), the pursuer (follower), and L(t), the pursued (leader), for every t with F′ (t) ≠ 0 there is an x such that

[further explanation needed]


Pierre Bouguer's 1732 article studying pursuit curves

The pursuit curve was first studied by Pierre Bouguer in 1732. In an article on navigation, Bouguer defined a curve of pursuit to explore the way in which one ship might maneuver while pursuing another.[1]

Leonardo da Vinci has occasionally been credited with first exploring curves of pursuit. However Paul J. Nahin, having traced such accounts as far back as the late 19th century, indicates that these anecdotes are unfounded.[2]

Single pursuer[edit]

Curves of pursuit with different parameters

The path followed by a single pursuer, following a pursuee that moves at constant speed on a line, is a radiodrome.

It is a solution of the differential equation 1 +  y′2 = k2 (a − x)2 y′′2.

Multiple pursuers[edit]

Curve of pursuit of vertices of a square (the mice problem for n=4).

Typical drawings of curves of pursuit have each point acting as both pursuer and pursuee, inside a polygon, and having each pursuer pursue the adjacent point on the polygon. An example of this is the mice problem.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bouguer, Pierre (1732). "Sur de nouvelles courbes auxquelles on peut donner le nom de lignes de poursuite". Mémoires de mathématique et de physique tirés des registres de l'Académie royale des sciences (in French): 1–15.
  2. ^ Nahin, Paul J. (2007). Chases and Escapes: The Mathematics of Pursuits and Evasion. Princeton University Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-691-12514-5.

External links[edit]