In mathematics, a curve (also called a curved line in older texts) is, generally speaking, an object similar to a line but that need not be straight. Thus, a curve is a generalization of a line, in that its curvature need not be zero.Various disciplines within mathematics have given the term different meanings depending on the area of study, so the precise meaning depends on context. However, many of these meanings are special instances of the definition which follows. A curve is a topological space which is locally homeomorphic to a line. In everyday language, this means that a curve is a set of points which, near each of its points, looks like a line, up to a deformation. A simple example of a curve is the parabola, shown to the right. A large number of other curves have been studied in multiple mathematical fields. A closed curve is a curve that forms a path whose starting point is also its ending point—that is, a path from any of its points to the same point. Closely related meanings include the graph of a function (for example, Phillips curve) and a two-dimensional graph. Interest in curves began long before they were the subject of mathematical study.
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