convex polytope, the n-dimensional analogue of a square and a cube
Perspective projections
Cube (3-cube) Tesseract (4-cube)

In geometry, a hypercube is an n-dimensional analogue of a square (n = 2) and a cube (n = 3). It is a closed, compact, convex figure whose 1-skeleton consists of groups of opposite parallel line segments aligned in each of the space's dimensions, perpendicular to each other and of the same length. A unit hypercube's longest diagonal in n dimension is equal to .

An n-dimensional hypercube is also called an n-cube or an n-dimensional cube. The term "measure polytope" is also used, notably in the work of H. S. M. Coxeter (originally from Elte, 1912),[1] but it has now been superseded.

The hypercube is the special case of a hyperrectangle (also called an n-orthotope).

A unit hypercube is a hypercube whose side has length one unit. Often, the hypercube whose corners (or vertices) are the 2n points in Rn with each coordinate equal to 0 or 1 is called "the" unit hypercube.


A diagram showing how to create a tesseract from a point.
An animation showing how to create a tesseract from a point.

A hypercube can be defined by increasing the numbers of dimensions of a shape:

0 – A point is a hypercube of dimension zero.
1 – If one moves this point one unit length, it will sweep out a line segment, which is a unit hypercube of dimension one.
2 – If one moves this line segment its length in a perpendicular direction from itself; it sweeps out a 2-dimensional square.
3 – If one moves the square one unit length in the direction perpendicular to the plane it lies on, it will generate a 3-dimensional cube.
4 – If one moves the cube one unit length into the fourth dimension, it generates a 4-dimensional unit hypercube (a unit tesseract).

This can be generalized to any number of dimensions. This process of sweeping out volumes can be formalized mathematically as a Minkowski sum: the d-dimensional hypercube is the Minkowski sum of d mutually perpendicular unit-length line segments, and is therefore an example of a zonotope.

The 1-skeleton of a hypercube is a hypercube graph.

  1. Elte, E. L. (1912). "IV, Five dimensional semiregular polytope". The Semiregular Polytopes of the Hyperspaces. Netherlands: University of Groningen. ISBN 141817968X.

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