A spherical cap is the portion of a sphere above some horizontal plane. For example, the polar ice cap of the earth is the region above some latitude. I mentioned in this post that the area above a latitude φ is

where *R* is the earth’s radius. Latitude is the angle up from the equator. If we use the angle θ down from the pole, we get

I recently ran across a generalization of this formula to higher-dimensional spheres in [1]. This paper uses the polar angle θ rather than latitude φ. Throughout this post we assume 0 ≤ θ ≤ π/2.

The paper also includes a formula for the volume of a hypersphere cap which I will include here.

## Definitions

Let *S* be the surface of a ball in *n*-dimensional space and let *A*_{n}(*R*) be its surface area.

Let *I*_{x}(*a*, *b*) be the incomplete beta function with parameters *a* and *b* evaluated at *x*. (This notation is arcane but standard.)

This is, aside from a normalizing constant, the CDF function of a beta(*a*, *b*) random variable. To make it into the CDF, divide by *B*(*a*, *b*), the (complete) beta function.

## Area equation

Now we can state the equation for the area of a spherical cap of a hypersphere in *n* dimensions.

Recall that we assume the polar angle θ satisfies 0 ≤ θ ≤ π/2.

It’s not obvious that this reduces to the equation at the top of the post when *n* = 3, but it does.

## Volume equation

The equation for the volume of the spherical cap is very similar:

where *V*_{n}(*R*) is the volume of a ball of radius *R* in *n* dimensions.

## Related posts

[1] Shengqiao Li. Concise Formulas for the Area and Volume of a Hyperspherical Cap. Asian Journal of Mathematics and Statistics 4 (1): 66–70, 2011.