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In geometry, a frustum [1] (plural: frusta or frustums) is the portion of a solid (normally a cone or pyramid) that lies between two parallel planes cutting it.

The term is commonly used in computer graphics to describe the three-dimensional region which is visible on the screen, the 'viewing frustum', which is formed by a clipped pyramid; in particular, frustum culling is a method of hidden surface determination.

In the aerospace industry, frustum is the common term for the fairing between two stages of a multistage rocket (such as the Saturn V), which is shaped like a truncated cone.


Elements, special cases, and related concepts

Each plane section is a floor or base of the frustum. Its axis if any, is that of the original cone or pyramid. A frustum is circular if it has circular bases; it is right if the axis is perpendicular to both bases, and oblique otherwise.

The height of a frustum is the perpendicular distance between the planes of the two bases.

Cones and pyramids can be viewed as degenerate cases of frusta, where one of the cutting planes passes through the apex (so that the corresponding base reduces to a point). The pyramidal frusta are a subclass of the prismatoids.

Two frusta joined at their bases make a bifrustum.



The volume of a conical or pyramidal frustum is the volume of the solid before slicing the apex off, minus the volume of the apex:

where B1 is the area of one base, B2 is the area of the other base, and h1, h2 are the perpendicular heights from the apex to the planes of the two bases.

Considering that

the volume can also be expressed as the product of the height h = h2h1 of the frustum, and the Heronian mean of their areas:

Heron of Alexandria is noted for deriving this formula and with it encountering the imaginary number, the square root of negative one.[2]

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