In physics and mathematics, the **dimension** of a mathematical space (or object) is informally defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify any point within it. Thus a line has a dimension of one because only one coordinate is needed to specify a point on it – for example, the point at 5 on a number line. A surface such as a plane or the surface of a cylinder or sphere has a dimension of two because two coordinates are needed to specify a point on it – for example, both a latitude and longitude are required to locate a point on the surface of a sphere. The inside of a cube, a cylinder or a sphere is three-dimensional because three coordinates are needed to locate a point within these spaces.

In classical mechanics, space and time are different categories and refer to absolute space and time. That conception of the world is a four-dimensional space but not the one that was found necessary to describe electromagnetism. The four dimensions of spacetime consist of events that are not absolutely defined spatially and temporally, but rather are known relative to the motion of an observer. Minkowski space first approximates the universe without gravity; the pseudo-Riemannian manifolds of general relativity describe spacetime with matter and gravity. Ten dimensions are used to describe string theory, and the state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space.

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