A parabola is a curve that is geometrically defined as the locus of all points equidistant from a line and a point not on the line. The line is called the directrix, and the point is the focus of the parabola. In the applet below, point P is equidistant from the directrixd and the focusF.
A parabola can be vertical or horizontal. A vertical parabola can open upward or downward. In comparison, a horizontal parabola can open to the left or the right. The graph of a quadratic function is a vertical parabola.