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In geometry, a two-dimensional collection of points (flat surface), a three-dimensional collection of points whose cross section is a curve (curved surface), or the boundary of any three-dimensional solid. In general, a surface is a continuous boundary dividing a three-dimensional space into two regions. For example, the surface of a sphere separates the interior from the exterior; a horizontal plane separates the half-plane above it from the half-plane below. Surfaces are often called by the names of the regions they enclose, but a surface is essentially two-dimensional and has an area, while the region it encloses is three-dimensional and has a volume. The attributes of surfaces, and in particular the idea of curvature, are investigated in differential geometry.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on surface, visit Britannica.com.