# Cross Ratios in the Complex Plane

Cross Ratios in the Complex Plane

The cross ratio of four points , , , in the extended complex plane is defined by , where pairs of zeros or infinities that can be canceled should be. You can drag all four locators in the graphic.

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λ=----

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The cross ratio is the quotient of two ratios, -- and --. Suppose, for a moment, that the four points lie on a line. Then the ratio -- is a measure of the location of relative to and on the line, and similarly for --.

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Projecting the four points on a line from a central eye point to another line distorts the relative distances of the new points , , , ; in general --≠-- and --≠--. However, the cross ratios remain equal: ----=----.

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This is even true if the four points are not on a line, and the invariance holds more generally for any linear fractional transformation .

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If the four points are unordered, there are six possible values (the red points; the cross ratio is bigger). They are shown as two triangles , , and , , , which are symmetric in the point . For orientation, and are drawn as small black points.

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(1/2,0)

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The cross ratio is real when the four points are on a circle or a line and is 2 for a square when the points are in cyclic order.