Saddle point

In mathematics, a saddle point or minimax point[1] is a point on the surface of the graph of a function where the slopes (derivatives) in orthogonal directions are all zero (a critical point), but which is not a local extremum of the function.[2] An example of a saddle point is when there is a critical point with a relative minimum along one axial direction (between peaks) and at a relative maximum along the crossing axis. However, a saddle point need not be in this form. For example, the function has a critical point at that is a saddle point since it is neither a relative maximum nor relative minimum, but it does not have a relative maximum or relative minimum in the -direction.

A saddle point (in red) on the graph of z=x2−y2 (hyperbolic paraboloid)
Saddle point between two hills (the intersection of the figure-eight -contour)

The name derives from the fact that the prototypical example in two dimensions is a surface that curves up in one direction, and curves down in a different direction, resembling a riding saddle or a mountain pass between two peaks forming a landform saddle. In terms of contour lines, a saddle point in two dimensions gives rise to a contour graph or trace in which the contour corresponding to the saddle point's value appears to intersect itself.

Saddle point on the countour plot is the point where level curves cross