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A cylinder (from Greek κύλινδρος – kulindros, "roller", "tumbler"[1]) 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.

This traditional view is still used in elementary treatments of geometry, but the advanced mathematical viewpoint has shifted to the infinite curvilinear surface and this is how a cylinder is now defined in various modern branches of geometry and topology.

The shift in the basic meaning (solid versus surface) has created some ambiguity with terminology. It is generally hoped that context makes the meaning clear. Both points of view are typically presented and distinguished by referring to solid cylinders and cylindrical surfaces, but in the literature the unadorned term cylinder could refer to either of these or to an even more specialized object, the right circular cylinder.

Polyhedron Yellow square.gif<p>From a polyhedral viewpoint, a cylinder can also be seen as a <a style=dual of a bicone as an infinite-sided bipyramid.