In mathematics, a saddle point or minimax point 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. 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.
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.