Catenary

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In physics and geometry, the catenary is the curve that an idealised hanging chain or cable assumes when supported at its ends and acted on only by its own weight. The curve is the graph of the hyperbolic cosine function, and has a U-like shape, superficially similar in appearance to a parabola (though mathematically quite different). Its surface of revolution, the catenoid, is a minimal surface and is the shape assumed by a soap film bounded by two parallel circular rings.

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History

The word catenary is derived from the Latin word catena, which means "chain". Huygens first used the term catenaria in a letter to Leibniz in 1690. However, Thomas Jefferson is usually credited with the English word catenary.[1] The curve is also called the "alysoid", "chainette",[2] or, particularly in the material sciences, "funicular".[3]