# Diameter

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Diameter

In geometry, a diameter (Greek words dia = through and metro = measure) of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the centre of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle.

In more modern usage, the length of a diameter is also called the diameter. In this sense one speaks of the diameter rather than a diameter, because all diameters of a circle have the same length, this being twice the radius.

For a convex shape in the plane, the diameter is defined to be the largest distance that can be formed between two opposite parallel lines tangent to its boundary, and the width is defined to be the smallest such distance. For a curve of constant width such as the Reuleaux triangle, the width and diameter are the same because all such pairs of parallel tangent lines have the same distance.

The diameter of a connected graph is the distance between the two vertices which are furthest from each other. The distance between two vertices a and b is the length of the shortest path connecting them (for the length of a path, see Graph theory).

The three definitions given above are special cases of a more general definition. The diameter of a subset of a metric space is the least upper bound of the distances between pairs of points in the subset. So, if A is the subset, the diameter is

sup { d(x, y) | x, yA } .

In medical parlance the diameter of a lesion is the longest line segment whose endpoints are within the lesion.