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Lines, Parallel and Perpendicular - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics

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In mathematics, the term "straight line" is one of the few terms that is left undefined. However, most people are comfortable with this undefined concept, which can be modeled by a pencil, a stiff wire, the edge of a ruler, or even an uncooked piece of spaghetti. Mathematicians sometimes think of a line as a point moving forever through space. Lines can be curved or straight, but in this entry, only straight lines are considered.

A line, in the language of mathematics, has only one dimension—length—and has no end. It stretches on forever in both directions, so that its length cannot be measured. When a line is modeled with a piece of spaghetti, a line segment is actually being represented. The model of a line segment has thickness (or width), while the idea that it models—a mathematical line—does...