Intersecting chords theorem


The intersecting chords theorem or just the chord theorem is a statement in elementary geometry that describes a relation of the four line segments created by two intersecting chords within a circle. It states that the products of the lengths of the line segments on each chord are equal. It is Proposition 35 of Book 3 of Euclid's Elements.

More precisely, for two chords AC and BD intersecting in a point S the following equation holds:

The converse is true as well, that is if for two line segments AC and BD intersecting in S the equation above holds true, then their four endpoints A, B, C and D lie on a common circle. Or in other words if the diagonals of a quadrilateral ABCD intersect in S and fulfill the equation above then it is a cyclic quadrilateral.

The value of the two products in the chord theorem depends only on the distance of the intersection point S from the circle's center and is called the absolute value of the power of S, more precisely it can be stated that:

where r is the radius of the circle, and d is the distance between the center of the circle and the intersection point S. This property follows directly from applying the chord theorem to a third chord going through S and the circle's center M (see drawing).

The theorem can be proven using similar triangles (via the inscribed-angle theorem). Consider the angles of the triangles ASD and BSC:

This means the triangles ASD and BSC are similar and therefore

Next to the tangent-secant theorem and the intersecting secants theorem the intersecting chord theorem represents one of the three basic cases of a more general theorem about two intersecting lines and a circle - the power of point theorem.


  • Paul Glaister: Intersecting Chords Theorem: 30 Years on. Mathematics in School, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Jan., 2007), p. 22 (JSTOR)
  • Bruce Shawyer: Explorations in Geometry. World scientific, 2010, ISBN 9789813100947, p. 14
  • Hans Schupp: Elementargeometrie. Schöningh, Paderborn 1977, ISBN 3-506-99189-2, p. 149 (German).
  • Schülerduden - Mathematik I. Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus, 8. Auflage, Mannheim 2008, ISBN 978-3-411-04208-1, pp. 415-417 (German)

External linksEdit

  • Intersecting Chords Theorem at
  • Intersecting Chords Theorem at
  • Weisstein, Eric W. "Chord". MathWorld.
  • Two interactive illustrations: [1] and [2]