In geometry, a diagonal is a line segment joining two nonconsecutive vertices of a polygon or polyhedron. Informally, any sloping line is called diagonal. The word "diagonal" derives from the ancient Greek διαγώνιος diagonios, "from angle to angle" (from διά- dia-, "through", "across" and γωνία gonia, "angle", related to gony "knee"); it was used by both Strabo and Euclid to refer to a line connecting two vertices of a rhombus or cuboid, and later adopted into Latin as diagonus ("slanting line").
There are also other, non-mathematical uses.
In engineering, a diagonal brace is a beam used to brace a rectangular structure (such as scaffolding) to withstand strong forces pushing into it; although called a diagonal, due to practical considerations diagonal braces are often not connected to the corners of the rectangle.
Diagonal pliers are wire-cutting pliers defined by the cutting edges of the jaws intersects the joint rivet at an angle or "on a diagonal", hence the name.
A diagonal lashing is a type of lashing used to bind spars or poles together applied so that the lashings cross over the poles at an angle.
As applied to a polygon, a diagonal is a line segment joining any two non-consecutive vertices. Therefore, a quadrilateral has two diagonals, joining opposite pairs of vertices. For any convex polygon, all the diagonals are inside the polygon, but for re-entrant polygons, some diagonals are outside of the polygon.
diagonals, as each vertex has diagonals to all other vertices except itself and the two adjacent vertices, or n − 3 diagonals.
In the case of a square matrix, the main or principal diagonal is the diagonal line of entries running from the top-left corner to the bottom-right corner. For a matrix with row index specified by and column index specified by , these would be entries with . For example, the identity matrix can be defined as having entries of 1 on the main diagonal and zeroes elsewhere:
The top-right to bottom-left diagonal is sometimes described as the minor diagonal or antidiagonal. The off-diagonal entries are those not on the main diagonal. A diagonal matrix is one whose off-diagonal entries are all zero.
A superdiagonal entry is one that is directly above and to the right of the main diagonal. Just as diagonal entries are those with , the superdiagonal entries are those with . For example, the non-zero entries of the following matrix all lie in the superdiagonal:
Likewise, a subdiagonal entry is one that is directly below and to the left of the main diagonal, that is, an entry with . General matrix diagonals can be specified by an index measured relative to the main diagonal: the main diagonal has ; the superdiagonal has ; the subdiagonal has ; and in general, the -diagonal consists of the entries with .
By analogy, the subset of the Cartesian product X×X of any set X with itself, consisting of all pairs (x,x), is called the diagonal, and is the graph of the equality relation on X or equivalently the graph of the identity function from X to x. This plays an important part in geometry; for example, the fixed points of a mapping F from X to itself may be obtained by intersecting the graph of F with the diagonal.
In geometric studies, the idea of intersecting the diagonal with itself is common, not directly, but by perturbing it within an equivalence class. This is related at a deep level with the Euler characteristic and the zeros of vector fields. For example, the circle S1 has Betti numbers 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, and therefore Euler characteristic 0. A geometric way of expressing this is to look at the diagonal on the two-torus S1xS1 and observe that it can move off itself by the small motion (θ, θ) to (θ, θ + ε). In general, the intersection number of the graph of a function with the diagonal may be computed using homology via the Lefschetz fixed point theorem; the self-intersection of the diagonal is the special case of the identity function.
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