# Cylinder vs. Sphere — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 7, 2024

**A cylinder is a 3D shape with two parallel circular bases, while a sphere is a perfectly round 3D object in every direction.**

## Difference Between Cylinder and Sphere

### Table of Contents

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## Key Differences

Cylinders are three-dimensional shapes characterized by two parallel circular bases connected by a curved surface. They can be either right (with the sides perpendicular to the bases) or oblique (with sides at an angle). The height of a cylinder is the perpendicular distance between its bases, and its volume is calculated by multiplying the area of the base by the height. Cylinders are found in everyday objects like cans and pipes. Spheres, in contrast, are perfectly round three-dimensional objects. Every point on the surface of a sphere is the same distance from its center, known as the radius. The volume of a sphere is calculated using the formula and its surface area. Spheres are seen in nature and man-made objects, such as balls and planets.

While cylinders have a defined height and circular bases that contribute to their volume, spheres are defined by their radius alone. The uniformity of a sphere's surface means it lacks the flat faces or edges found in a cylinder. This difference in geometry affects how these shapes interact with their surroundings and their distribution of space and volume.

The manufacturing processes for creating objects with cylindrical and spherical shapes also differ due to their geometries. For example, cylinders can be easily created by rolling and joining materials, whereas spheres often require molding or casting to achieve their perfect roundness. This impacts the ease of production and the types of materials that can be used.

In mathematics and physics, cylinders and spheres are studied for their unique properties. Cylinders can be analyzed in terms of their base area and height, making them useful in problems involving volume and surface area calculations. Spheres, with their symmetrical properties, are essential in understanding concepts of volume, surface area, and in applications requiring uniform distribution from a center point.

## Comparison Chart

### Shape

3D shape with two parallel circular bases

Perfectly round 3D object

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### Surface

Curved surface and two flat faces

Uniformly curved surface

### Volume Formula Surface Area Formula Characteristics

Has height, can be right or oblique

Symmetrical, every point equidistant from center

### Applications

Cans, pipes

Balls, planets

## Compare with Definitions

#### Cylinder

A solid geometric figure with straight parallel sides and a circular or oval cross-section.

A drinking glass is an example of a cylinder.

#### Sphere

A perfect round geometrical object in three-dimensional space.

A basketball is a sphere.

#### Cylinder

Defined by its height and the radius of its base.

The cylinder of a car engine determines its displacement.

#### Sphere

Every point on the surface is the same distance from the center.

The Earth is not a perfect sphere due to its slight bulge at the equator.

#### Cylinder

Used in various applications for its structural strength.

Cylindrical pillars support many buildings.

#### Sphere

Offers the least surface area for a volume, making it efficient.

Soap bubbles form spheres to minimize surface tension.

#### Cylinder

Can be right or oblique.

Most storage tanks are right cylinders.

#### Sphere

Used in many applications for its symmetry and aesthetic.

Spherical water tanks are used for storage.

#### Cylinder

A cylinder (from Greek: κύλινδρος, romanized: kulindros, lit. 'roller', 'tumbler') has traditionally been a three-dimensional solid, one of the most basic of curvilinear geometric shapes. It is the idealized version of a solid physical tin can having lids on top and bottom.

#### Sphere

A sphere (from Greek σφαῖρα—sphaira, "globe, ball") is a geometrical object in three-dimensional space that is the surface of a ball (viz., analogous to the circular objects in two dimensions, where a "circle" circumscribes its "disk"). Like a circle in a two-dimensional space, a sphere is defined mathematically as the set of points that are all at the same distance r from a given point in a three-dimensional space.

#### Cylinder

A solid geometrical figure with straight parallel sides and a circular or oval cross section.

#### Sphere

A round solid figure, or its surface, with every point on its surface equidistant from its centre.

#### Cylinder

A piston chamber in a steam or internal combustion engine.

#### Sphere

An area of activity, interest, or expertise; a section of society or an aspect of life distinguished and unified by a particular characteristic

Political reforms to match those in the economic sphere

#### Cylinder

A cylinder-shaped container holding liquefied gas under pressure.

#### Sphere

Enclose in or as if in a sphere

Mourners, sphered by their dark garb

#### Cylinder

A rotating metal roller in a printing press.

#### Sphere

(Mathematics) A three-dimensional surface, all points of which are equidistant from a fixed point.

#### Cylinder

A cylinder seal.

#### Sphere

A spherical object or figure.

#### Cylinder

The surface generated by a straight line intersecting and moving along a closed plane curve, the directrix, while remaining parallel to a fixed straight line that is not on or parallel to the plane of the directrix.

#### Sphere

A celestial body, such as a planet or star.

#### Cylinder

The portion of such a surface bounded by two parallel planes and the regions of the planes bounded by the surface.

#### Sphere

The sky, appearing as a hemisphere to an observer

The sphere of the heavens.

#### Cylinder

A solid bounded by two parallel planes and such a surface, especially such a surface having a circle as its directrix.

#### Sphere

Any of a series of concentric, transparent, revolving globes that together were once thought to contain the moon, sun, planets, and stars.

#### Cylinder

A cylindrical container or object.

#### Sphere

A range or extent of knowledge, interest, or activity

A problem that falls within the sphere of biophysics.

#### Cylinder

The chamber in which a piston of a reciprocating engine moves.

#### Sphere

A social level or part of society or group

Knew few people beyond his partner's sphere.

#### Cylinder

The chamber of a pump from which fluid is expelled by a piston.

#### Sphere

A range of power or influence

Within the sphere of the empire.

#### Cylinder

The rotating chamber of a revolver that holds the cartridges.

#### Sphere

To form into a sphere.

#### Cylinder

Any of several rotating parts in a printing press, especially one that carries the paper.

#### Sphere

To put in or within a sphere.

#### Cylinder

(Archaeology)A cylindrical stone or clay object with an engraved design or inscription.

#### Sphere

(mathematics) A regular three-dimensional object in which every cross-section is a circle; the figure described by the revolution of a circle about its diameter . Category:en:Surfaces

#### Cylinder

(geometry) A surface created by projecting a closed two-dimensional curve along an axis intersecting the plane of the curve. Category:en:Surfaces

When the two-dimensional curve is a circle, the cylinder is called a circular cylinder. When the axis is perpendicular to the plane of the curve, the cylinder is called a right cylinder. In non-mathematical usage, both right and circular are usually implied.

#### Sphere

A spherical physical object; a globe or ball.

#### Cylinder

(geometry) A solid figure bounded by a cylinder and two parallel planes intersecting the cylinder.

#### Sphere

The apparent outer limit of space; the edge of the heavens, imagined as a hollow globe within which celestial bodies appear to be embedded.

#### Cylinder

Any object in the form of a circular cylinder.

#### Sphere

Any of the concentric hollow transparent globes formerly believed to rotate around the Earth, and which carried the heavenly bodies; there were originally believed to be eight, and later nine and ten; friction between them was thought to cause a harmonious sound (the music of the spheres).

#### Cylinder

A cylindrical cavity or chamber in a mechanism, such as the counterpart to a piston found in a piston-driven engine.

#### Sphere

(mythology) An area of activity for a planet; or by extension, an area of influence for a god, hero etc.

#### Cylinder

(automotive) The space in which a piston travels inside a reciprocating engine or pump.

#### Sphere

(figuratively) The region in which something or someone is active; one's province, domain.

#### Cylinder

A container in the form of a cylinder with rounded ends for storing pressurized gas; a gas cylinder.

#### Sphere

(geometry) The set of all points in three-dimensional Euclidean space (or n-dimensional space, in topology) that are a fixed distance from a fixed point .

#### Cylinder

An early form of phonograph recording, made on a wax cylinder.

#### Sphere

(logic) The extension of a general conception, or the totality of the individuals or species to which it may be applied.

#### Cylinder

The part of a revolver that contains chambers for the cartridges.

#### Sphere

(transitive) To place in a sphere, or among the spheres; to ensphere.

#### Cylinder

(computing) The corresponding tracks on a vertical arrangement of disks in a disk drive considered as a unit of data capacity.

#### Sphere

(transitive) To make round or spherical; to perfect.

#### Cylinder

(transitive) To calender; to press (paper, etc.) between rollers to make it glossy.

#### Sphere

A body or space contained under a single surface, which in every part is equally distant from a point within called its center.

#### Cylinder

A solid body which may be generated by the rotation of a parallelogram round one its sides; or a body of rollerlike form, of which the longitudinal section is oblong, and the cross section is circular.

#### Sphere

Hence, any globe or globular body, especially a celestial one, as the sun, a planet, or the earth.

Of celestial bodies, first the sun,A mighty sphere, he framed.

#### Cylinder

Any hollow body of cylindrical form

#### Sphere

The apparent surface of the heavens, which is assumed to be spherical and everywhere equally distant, in which the heavenly bodies appear to have their places, and on which the various astronomical circles, as of right ascension and declination, the equator, ecliptic, etc., are conceived to be drawn; an ideal geometrical sphere, with the astronomical and geographical circles in their proper positions on it.

#### Cylinder

The revolving square prism carrying the cards in a Jacquard loom.

#### Sphere

The extension of a general conception, or the totality of the individuals or species to which it may be applied.

#### Cylinder

A cylindrical container for oxygen or compressed air

#### Sphere

Circuit or range of action, knowledge, or influence; compass; province; employment; place of existence.

To be called into a huge sphere, and not to be seen to move in 't.

Taking her out of the ordinary relations with humanity, and inclosing her in a sphere by herself.

Each in his hidden sphere of joy or woeOur hermit spirits dwell.

#### Cylinder

A solid bounded by a cylindrical surface and two parallel planes (the bases)

#### Sphere

Rank; order of society; social positions.

#### Cylinder

A surface generated by rotating a parallel line around a fixed line

#### Sphere

An orbit, as of a star; a socket.

#### Cylinder

A chamber within which piston moves

#### Sphere

To place in a sphere, or among the spheres; to insphere.

The glorious planet SolIn noble eminence enthroned and spheredAmidst the other.

#### Sphere

To form into roundness; to make spherical, or spheral; to perfect.

#### Sphere

A particular environment or walk of life;

His social sphere is limited

It was a closed area of employment

He's out of my orbit

#### Sphere

Any spherically shaped artifact

#### Sphere

The geographical area in which one nation is very influential

#### Sphere

A particular aspect of life or activity;

He was helpless in an important sector of his life

#### Sphere

A solid figure bounded by a spherical surface (including the space it encloses)

#### Sphere

A three-dimensional closed surface such that every point on the surface is equidistant from the center

#### Sphere

The apparent surface of the imaginary sphere on which celestial bodies appear to be projected

## Common Curiosities

#### Can a cylinder and a sphere have the same volume?

Yes, if their dimensions are chosen such that their volume calculations are equal.

#### What is a cylinder?

A three-dimensional shape with two parallel circular bases and a curved surface connecting them.

#### How is the volume of a cylinder calculated?

By multiplying the area of the base by its height.

#### What is the volume formula for a sphere?

4/3πr, where r is the radius.

#### How does the surface area of a cylinder compare to that of a sphere?

A cylinder has a curved surface area plus the area of its two bases, while a sphere has a uniformly curved surface area with no edges or vertices.

#### Why are spheres considered efficient shapes in nature?

Spheres have the smallest surface area for a given volume, which minimizes energy in physical and biological systems.

#### What defines a sphere?

A perfectly round three-dimensional object where all points on the surface are equidistant from the center.

#### What are practical applications of cylinders?

Cylinders are used in manufacturing, construction, and everyday objects like cans and pipes.

#### Where are spheres found in real life?

Spheres are found in nature, sports equipment, and celestial bodies like planets and stars.

#### How do the geometric properties of cylinders and spheres affect their use in design?

Their geometric properties influence how they distribute space, their strength, and how they can be manufactured, impacting their suitability for various applications.

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Written by

Tayyaba RehmanTayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Co-written by

Urooj ArifUrooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.