



 
Hi Leo! Interesting project, interesting problem! Distances along ellipses cannot be computed in terms of elementary functions: when you integrate the distance element you get something called an "elliptic integral". These functions are not found on standard calculators, though they can be approximated by power series, etc. Also, results for one ellipse cannot be adapted to another ellipse with differing eccentricity (otherwise the circular case, which is easy, could be transformed to give all ellipses!) As a result, tables of elliptical arc lengths would have to be twoparameter tables. Now, software and formulae are available. See: http://home.att.net/~numericana/answer/ellipse.htm Good Hunting!  


Math Central is supported by the University of Regina and The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences. 