Geometry 2d and 3d for calculators

September 2022

Version française

Abstract: We introduce an interactive geometry appliction for the Casio FXCG50, Numworks N0110 and TI Nspire CX/CX II that features euclidean and analytic geometry in the plane and space. It is also possible to prove some geometry theorems using the computer algebra system and to include user-defined CAS functions in geometric constructions.

Beware Numworks and TI are locking their calculators to third-party software DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR CALCULATOR ON Numworks or TI website


1  Introduction

Most graphing calculators (except Numworks) provide a geometry application, but it is often restricted to the plane (the FXCG50 has a 3d graph application, but it is restricted to a maximum of 3 objects) and to pure euclidean geometry, without the opportunity to really work with curves or perform exact or symbolic analytic geometry computation.

The last version of χ\chiCAS for the Casio FXCG50, Numworks N0110 and TI Nspire CX/CX II introduces a new geometry application in the plane or space featuring exact and approximate analytic geometric computation. Like other dynamic geometry application, it is possible to move a point and see how the figure changes, illustrating and conjecturing geometric properties, but unlike other geometry applications, you can also prove some properties using the CAS computing kernel. It handles pure euclidean geometry as well as fonction and parametric graphs, conics, or advanced 3d representations like so-called 4d graphs of the function zz 2z \rightarrow z^2 from \mathbb{C} to \mathbb{C} in the example below plot3d(x^2-9) :

This geometry application has two main “views” : the graphic view and the symbolic view, the symbolic view contains Xcas commands that build the figure displayed in the graphic view, like this

Once the construction is performed, one can do computation inside the χ\chiCAS shell, and prove some conjectures observed in the graphic view. It is also possible to define intermediate constructions in a χ\chiCAS function with the programming editor, and build some parts of the figure with the help of this function.

2  The geometry application

2.1  Install

You should install the latest version of χ\chiCAS on your calculator:

2.2  Interface

Keyboard shortcuts and screenshots are for a Casio FXCG50.

For a TI Nspire CX or CX II, replace F6 by doc, F4 by menu, EXE by enter, shift EXE by the newline key (bottom right), EXIT by esc. There is no ALPHA key since the Nspire has an alphabetic keyboard.

On a Numworks, replace F6 by Home, F4 by Toolbox, EXE by OK, EXIT by Back, newline (shift EXE) by EXE. Alphabetic lowercase mode is locked by pressing alpha twice, uppercase by another shift alpha.

Fast menus shortcuts on the Nspire and Numworks are shift-1 to shift-9 and a few other shift+keys

2.2.1  Modes, graphical and symbolic view

Type F6 1 (or S\leftrightarrowD) to display the list of additional applications, then EXE then select an existing figure or create a new 2d or 3d figure. You may also open the geometry application from an existing graph displayed from the shell (for example after running plot(sin(x))) by typing F6 then Save figure.

At startup, you are in graphical view in frame mode. The cursor key will modify the viewpoint (move the frame in 2d, rotate viewpoint in 3d). Press F4 to change mode. Type EXE to switch to symbolic view or back. For example, type F4 3 to enter point mode, move the pointer and press EXE where you want to create a point. Or type F4 5 to enter triangle mode move the pointer to each vertex and press EXE on each vertex. You can move the pointer with the keypad (use shift cursor key for a fast move), or if there is an existing point, type the name (e.g. type ALPHA A to move the pointer to the point A if it has already been defined).

In a 3d figure, objects will be created in the yellow plane. Press 4 or 6 to move this plane. It is recommended to keep a viewpoint with OzOz vertical (therefore change viewpoint only with the right and left cursor keys that make a rotation of axis OzOz).

Dynamic geometry howto: switch to pointer mode (F4 2), move near an exising point and select it with EXE, then move the point with the cursor keys, you will see how the whole figure depends on that point, this helps conjectures or illustration of some geometric properties, like the fact that 3 lines of a triangle have a common intersection.

If you type EXIT in the graphical view, it will reset mode to frame mode if you were not in frame mode, or it will switch to symbolic view if you were in frame mode. In the symbolic view, you can modifiy existing commands or create new geometric objects with new commandlines (one line per object). You can save the construction in text format from F6 menu, note that the file generated will have a .py extension despite the fact that it is not a Python script. Type EXIT again to leave the geometry application.

When leaving the geometry application, the figure is saved in an Xcas variable that has the same identifier than the filename displayed in the symbolic view. You can erase this Xcas variable if you want to clear the figure.

Example : circumcircle.
From KhiCAS shell, type F6 1 then select new figure 2d EXE. Type F4 5 Triangle, EXE to create the first vertex, move the pointer with cursor keys and type EXE for the second vertex, move the pointer again and type EXE to create the 3rd vertex and the triangle.

Long version, construction of the center: Type F4 7, select 8 Perpen bisector, move the pointer so that only one edge of the triangle is selected (this is displayed at the bottom right, something like perpen_bisector D5,D, type EXE will create the perpendicular bisector. Move the pointer to another edge of the triangle, type EXE to create the 2nd bisector. You may optionnaly create the 3rd bisector. Then type F4 6, select 4 Single intersection. Move the pointer to a perpen bisector, type EXE, move the pointer to another perpen bisector and type EXE. This will create the circumcircle center. Type F4 4, move the pointer to the center (with the cursor keys or by typing ALPHA H or the center name if it is not H), then EXE, move to one of the triangle vertex and press EXE.

Short version with the circumcircle command: Type F4 9, select circumcircle, select each vertex with pointer move + EXE ((ALPHA A EXE ALPHA B EXE ALPHA C EXE, replace A, B, C with the vertices names).

Symbolic view version: If you are in the graphical view, type EXIT to move to the symbolic view. Move to the script end and add a newline if required (shift EXE). Enter
c:=circumcircle(A,B,C) EXE

3d Example


Type F6 1 from the shell, then select new 3d figure. Then EXIT or EXE to switch to the symbolic view. Then F5 c ALPHA shift = F4 uparrow twice, select 3D, EXE 5 for cube, F6 for help on the cube command, press F2 to copy+paste the first example in the symbolic view. You should see
Type EXE, this display a small cube, type + a few times to zoom in. Then EXE to switch back to symbolic view. Type shift EXE to begin a new commandline. Now we define the vertices of the cube with A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H= (type ALPHA A , ALPHA B etc.). Then type F4 and uparrow 3 times to select Geometry then uparrow 4 times to select sommets EXE, put c as argument to get sommets(c). Type EXE to display the cube and the vertices with their names. Type EXE again to go back to symbolic view. Then shift EXE to enter a new commandline, that will define the plane ABC. Type ALPHA P = then F2 to open the fast menu lines and 8, this will copy plane(. This command takes 3 points as argument (or a cartesian equation), here A, B, G, P=plan(A,B,G,. We now add a color to the plane with the F3 disp fast menu display=filled+green. Check by EXE EXE. Go to the next line (shift EXE) and create segment DE ALPHA S = F2 select segment command with EXE, type D, E, then F3 and give a color
S=segment(D,E,color=cyan) The whole construction should be


Type EXE to display it and use the keypad to change the viewpoint.

Type EXE or EXIT to go back to symbolic view and EXIT to leave the geometry application. Type F1 to save the figure if you did not save it from the F6 menu. You can access analytic geometry information from KhiCAS shell, for example equation(P) (F4 select Geometry submenu) will return the cartesian equation of the plane PP, or is_orthogonal(P,S) (F4 Geometry) will confirm that the plane PP is orthogonal to the segment SS (this should be apparent from 3d rendering).

2.2.2  Cursors

Cursors are parametric values that live in a given inteval and may be moved by 1% steps from the graphical view. They are created with the element command in the symbolic view or from F4 menu in the graphical view.

Example : quadratic explorer
This example demonstrates how the curve of the parabola of equation y=ax 2+bx+cy=ax^2+bx+c depends on the value of a,b,ca,b,c. Create 3 cursors from F4 menu of the graphical view (for each cursor F4 uparrow 4 times EXE EXE). In the symbolic view you should have something like


then add the parabole graph, from graphical view, type F4 0 (for 10 Curves) and select plot, or from the symbolic view shift EXE shift F6 and select plot fill inside the parenthesis with a*x^2+b*x+c (beware, do not forget the *), then EXE. From the graphical view, you should see 3 cursors a, b and c and the corresponding graph. You can now modify the value of a,b,ca,b,c and see how it affects the shape of the parabola. Type F4 2 (pointer mode), then F5 a (or b or c) EXE to select aa (or (bb or cc). Type EXE then the right and left arrow keys, EXE again to stop moving the cursor.

A lot of variations may be done, some of them simpler with one or two cursors and a curve depending on one or two parameters. For example a line equation explorer with line(y=a*x+b) or a trigonometic explorer with plot(sin(a*x+b)).

2.2.3  Measures and legends

From the graphical view, type F4 and select 13 Measure. You can compute and display a measure at some point of the figure. For example after creating a triangle, one can display the perimeter of the triangle or its area. Type F4 then uparrow twice EXE. Move the pointer near the triangle, type EXE, move the pointer where you want to display the measure and type EXE.

From the symbolic view, you can display a legend with the legende() command. The first argyment of legend may be a point of the figure, or a vector of 2 integers giving the absolute position in pixels (measured from the top left corner). The second argument is the legend, it may be a string or any expression.

If the legend is a numeric value, it can be used as a numeric parameter for commands that require such an argument, like transformations (angle of rotation, homothety ratio...)

2.2.4  Traces

The trace() command lets you keep track of all the positions of a geometric object when the figure is recomputed while moving a point

Example Enveloppe of the normals to a parametric curve (here an ellipse)


If you change the value of aa (F4 2 for pointer mode, F5 a), you will see a curve that separates the area of normals to the curve and a free area, this is the enveloppe of normals, it is also the evolute of the ellipse
You can remove the traces in the graphical view from the F6 menu (last item).


Click on + several times to see the envelop:

Not evaled

Trace of a point may be useful to conjecture a geometric locus. For example, let AA and BB be two points and cc the circle of diameter ABAB. Let OO be the center of this cercle and CC a point moving on this circle. Let NN be the intersection of the tangent to cc at CC with the parallel to ACAC through OO. Find the locus of NN


Add the trace(N) command, move CC in pointer mode and observe the locus.

2.3  Example mixing geometry and curves

Let GG and HH be the curves of the exponential function and its inverse, let TT and UU be the tangents to the curves at the points sharing the same abscissa. What are their properties?

Let’s translate this to the calculator, with a cursor that will be the common abscissa:


Not evaled
If the cursor value changes (click on the + or - button above), it appears that the tangent are perpendicular. One can prove this easily by multiplying the slopes of the tangents is -1, something that can be checked from the shell
There is another property for the intersection of the tangents with the OxOx axis:


Exercice: find this property and prove it with the CAS. Hints: run the distance command. If you want to display a result on the figure, run the legend command.

2.4  Interaction with Xcas

Figures may be saved in text format. They can be copy-pasted to a geometry level inside Xcas (click on a level number inside a figure and paste with the ctrl-v shortcut). Conversely, an Xcas figure level can be saved in text format to a .cas file. Rename it to a .py extension, transfert it to the calculator, then it can be inserted inside the symbolic view of a figure.

Recent version of Xcas (1.19-21 at least) can export a session with a geometry level to a χ\chiCAS session compatible with your calculator without having to copy-paste in text format.

3  Geometry and computer science

Geometry may be used to introduce the algorithmic function concept (that is a procedure that takes arguments and has a return value) in a natural and concrete way (the arguments and return value are geometric objects that we see on the figure).

For example the construction of a circumcircle may be easily translated to a function taking as arguments the three vertices of the triangle and returning the center of the circumcircle (or the circumcircle itself). Just add the function definition header def f(A,B,C): and a line to return the center (return I if II is the center), and indent Python-like

def f(A,B,C):
  return I

Enter this definition (in Xcas syntax, Python-compatible) inside the programing editor of χ\chiCAS, press EXE. Now one can use it inside the geometry application. It is also possible to define the function directly in the geometry app editor, but it must be shrinked as a one-liner and that’s less easily readable
def f(A,B,C): return line_inter(perpen_bisector(A,B),perpen_bisector(B,C))

Exercice : do the same for a sphere circum a tetrahedron

Solution :

def f(A,B,C,D):
  return I



4  CAS and proof in geometry

Since the computing kernel is a CAS, it is possible to perform analytic geometry proof with this application. To do that, one should give symbolic values to cursors, if there are enough cursors to be in a generic setting, this gives an analytic geometry proof. For example, in a triangle, one can reduce by translation, rotation and homothety to the case where one vertex AA is at the origin, the second is B(1,0)B(1,0) and the third C(a,b)C(a,b) depends on two parameters.


The assume command will create a symbolic cursor. It means that all exact computations will be done with the symbolic value (e.g. aa), while approx computations, e.g. for a graphic representation, will replace aa by its numeric value (0.3 here). This allows viewing a figure (even in a dynamic settings where aa and bb value change) while keeping analytic computation exact (and unchanged).

After that, one can performe any construction on the triangle. Let’s start with a simple example, show that the three median lines are intersecting at one point, the gravity center of the triangle (also called isobarycenter)


This will compute the intersection II of two median lines, then we check that II belongs to d 3d_3 from a shell command
The computations were done symbolically, this can be checked by computing the cartesian equation of d 3d_3
Answer: y=2b2a1xb2a1y=2\frac{b}{2a-1}x-\frac{b}{2a-1}, Then we compute the coordinates of II
Answer: [13a+13,13b][\frac{1}{3}a+\frac{1}{3},\frac{1}{3}b] We substitute
Answer: 13b=13b\frac{1}{3}b=\frac{1}{3}b. By the way, we also get an additional property of the gravity center of the triangle.

The same can be performed for perpendicular bissectors. For bissectors, computation are much harder and slower, not adapted to a calculator.

Let’s show another theorem with the same setting, Napoleon’s theorem. Construct three equilateral triangles on each edge of the triangle. Then the centers of these equilateral triangles are themselve an equilateral triangle. On peut faire de même pour les médiatrices. Pour les bissectrices,


Now let’s prove the theorem, run the following commands in the shell
or with a single command

It must be understood by students that a proof like this is a full rigorous proof from a mathematical point of view. It’s not the same as a conjecture that is observed with a traditional dynamic geometry software with approx data. Note also that the student has full control on which computations must be performed, not the software. The software is only there to perform technical complicated computations.

However, this should not replace a proof obtained by purely geometric arguments, because a geometric proof will force the student work with other interesting concepts. And of course, if an analytic geometry proof can be done by hand, it’s also important that a student learns how to do it without the help of a software.

5  Further reading

If you read French, there are a lot of examples in this manual by Renée De Graeve.

There are links between CAS and geometry in both direction:


Retour à la page principale de Giac/Xcas.