In modern notation, if we denote the ordinate by y, the distance of the foot of the ordinate from the vertex (the abscissa) by x, and the latus rectum by p, these relations may be expressed as 31 2 for the hyperbola.

When the cutting plane is inclined to the base of the cone at an angle less than that made by the sides of the cone, the latus rectum is greater than the intercept on the ordinate, and we obtain the ellipse; if the plane is inclined at an equal angle as the side, the latus rectum equals the intercept, and we obtain the parabola; if the inclination of the plane be greater than that of the side, we obtain the hyperbola.

The conics are distinguished by the ratio between the latus rectum (which was originally called the latus erectum, and now often referred to as the parameter) and the segment of the ordinate intercepted between the diameter and the line joining the second vertex with the extremity of the latus rectum.

View more

Then the square of the ordinate intercepted between the diameter and the curve is equal to the rectangle contained by the portion of the diameter between the first vertex and the foot of the ordinate, and the segment of the ordinate intercepted between the diameter and the line joining the extremity of the latus rectum to the second vertex.

The line FL perpendicular to the axis, G D and passing through the focus, is the semilatus rectum, the latus rectum being the focal chord parallel to the directrix.