The study of kinematics is often referred to as the geometry of motion.

To describe motion, kinematics studies the trajectories of points, lines and other geometric objects and their differential properties such as velocity and acceleration. Kinematics is used in astrophysics to describe the motion of celestial bodies and systems, and in mechanical engineering, robotics and biomechanics to describe the motion of systems composed of joined parts (multi-link systems) such as an engine, a robotic arm or the skeleton of the human body.

The study of kinematics can be abstracted into purely mathematical expressions. For instance, rotation can be represented by elements of the unit circle in the complex plane. Other planar algebras are used to represent the shear mapping of classical motion in absolute time and space and to represent the Lorentz transformations of relativistic space and time. By using time as a parameter in geometry, mathematicians have developed a science of kinematic geometry.

The use of geometric transformations, also called rigid transformations, to describe the movement of components of a mechanical system simplifies the derivation of its equations of motion, and is central to dynamic analysis.

Kinematic analysis is the process of measuring the kinematic quantities used to describe motion. In engineering, for instance, kinematic analysis may be used to find the range of movement for a given mechanism, and, working in reverse, kinematic synthesis designs a mechanism for a desired range of motion. In addition, kinematics applies algebraic geometry to the study of the mechanical advantage of a mechanical system, or mechanism.

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