**Harmonic construction**, in projective geometry, determination of a pair of points *C* and *D* that divides a line segment *AB* harmonically (*see* ), that is, internally and externally in the same ratio, the internal ratio *CA/CB* being equal to the negative of the external ratio *DA/DB* on the extended line. The theorem of harmonicity states that if the external point of division of a line segment is given, then the internal point can be constructed by a purely projective technique; that is, by using only intersections of straight lines. To accomplish this, an arbitrary triangle is drawn on the base *AB*, followed by an arbitrary line from the external point *D* cutting this triangle in two. The corners of the quadrilateral formed thus joined and the point determined by the intersection of these diagonals together with the point at the vertex of the triangle determine a line that cuts *AB* in the proper ratio.

This construction is of interest in projective geometry because the location of the fourth point is independent of the choice of the first three lines in the construction, and the harmonic relationship of the four points is preserved if the line is projected onto another line.

Citation Information

Article Title:
Harmonic construction

Website Name:
Encyclopaedia Britannica

Publisher:
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

Date Published:
20 July 1998

Access Date:
October 22, 2021