n. (context mathematics English) a smooth, projective algebraic curve of genus one, on which there is a specified point ''O'' that serves to identify it
In mathematics, an elliptic curve is a plane algebraic curve defined by an equation of the form
y = x + ax + b
that is non-singular; that is, its graph has no cusps or self-intersections. (When the characteristic of the coefficient field is equal to 2 or 3, the above equation is not quite general enough to comprise all non-singular cubic curves; see below for a more precise definition.)
Formally, an elliptic curve is a smooth, projective, algebraic curve of genus one, on which there is a specified point O. An elliptic curve is in fact an abelian variety – that is, it has a multiplication defined algebraically, with respect to which it is an abelian group – and O serves as the identity element. Often the curve itself, without O specified, is called an elliptic curve. The point O is actually the " point at infinity" in the projective plane.
If y = P(x), where P is any polynomial of degree three in x with no repeated roots, then we obtain a nonsingular plane curve of genus one, which is thus an elliptic curve. If P has degree four and is square-free this equation again describes a plane curve of genus one; however, it has no natural choice of identity element. More generally, any algebraic curve of genus one, for example from the intersection of two quadric surfaces embedded in three-dimensional projective space, is called an elliptic curve, provided that it has at least one rational point to act as the identity.
Using the theory of elliptic functions, it can be shown that elliptic curves defined over the complex numbers correspond to embeddings of the torus into the complex projective plane. The torus is also an abelian group, and in fact this correspondence is also a group isomorphism.
Elliptic curves are especially important in number theory, and constitute a major area of current research; for example, they were used in the proof, by Andrew Wiles, of Fermat's Last Theorem. They also find applications in elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) and integer factorization.