##### Wiktionary

**map projection**

n. (context cartography English) any systematic method of transforming the spherical representation of parallels, meridians and geographic features of the Earth's surface to a nonspherical surface, usually a plane

##### WordNet

**map projection**

n. a projection of the globe onto a flat map using a grid of lines of latitude and longitude

##### Wikipedia

**Map projection**

Commonly, a **map projection** is a systematic transformation of the latitudes and longitudes of locations on the surface of a sphere or an ellipsoid into locations on a plane. Map projections are necessary for creating maps. All map projections distort the surface in some fashion. Depending on the purpose of the map, some distortions are acceptable and others are not; therefore, different map projections exist in order to preserve some properties of the sphere-like body at the expense of other properties. There is no limit to the number of possible map projections.

More generally, the surfaces of planetary bodies can be mapped even if they are too irregular to be modeled well with a sphere or ellipsoid; see below. Even more generally, projections are the subject of several pure mathematical fields, including differential geometry and projective geometry. However, "map projection" refers specifically to a cartographic projection.