Homothetic Center - Circles - Computing Homothetic Centers - Special Cases

Special Cases

If the circles have the same radius (but different centers), they have no external homothetic center in the affine plane: in analytic geometry this results in division by zero, while in synthetic geometry the lines and are parallel to the line of centers (both for secant lines and the bitangent lines) and thus have no intersection. An external center can be defined in the projective plane to be the point at infinity corresponding to the slope of this line. This is also the limit of the external center if the centers of the circles are fixed and the radii are varied until they are equal.

If the circles have the same center but different radii, both the external and internal coincide with the common center of the circles. This can be seen from the analytic formula, and is also the limit of the two homothetic centers as the centers of the two circles are varied until they coincide, holding the radii equal. There is no line of centers, however, and the synthetic construction fails as the two parallel lines coincide.

If one radius is zero but the other is non-zero (a point and a circle), both the external and internal center coincide with the point (center of the radius zero circle).

If the two circles are identical (same center, same radius), the internal center is their common center, but there is no well-defined external center – properly, the function from the parameter space of two circles in the plane to the external center has a non-removable discontinuity on the locus of identical circles. In the limit of two circles with the same radius but distinct centers moving to having the same center, the external center is the point at infinity corresponding to the slope of the line of centers, which can be anything, so no limit exists for all possible pairs of such circles.

Conversely, if both radii are zero (two points) but the points are distinct, the external center can be defined as the point at infinity corresponding to the slope of the line of centers, but there is no well-defined internal center.

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