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In geometry, the Wallace–Bolyai–Gerwien theorem, named after William Wallace, Farkas Bolyai and Paul Gerwien, states that any two simple polygons of equal area are equidecomposable; i.e. one can cut the first into finitely many polygonal pieces and rearrange the pieces to obtain the second polygon. "Rearrangement" means that one may apply a translation and a rotation to every polygonal piece.
By the Wallace–Bolyai–Gerwien theorem, a square can be cut into parts and rearranged into a triangle of equal area.
Unlike the generalized solution to Tarski's circle-squaring problem, the axiom of choice is not required for the proof, and the decomposition and reassembly can actually be carried out "physically"; the pieces can, in theory, be cut with scissors from paper and reassembled by hand. The theorem can be understood in two steps. First, every polygon can be cut into triangles: for convex polygons this is immediate, by cutting off each vertex in turn, while for concave polygons this requires more care. Each of these triangles can then be converted to a right triangle, by dropping an altitude (that is, drawing a line perpendicular to the triangle's base and through the top vertex). This is sufficient to easily compute the area, as each right triangle is half a rectangle, or alternatively can be cut halfway up to be reassembled into a rectangle. The second and subtler step is that each right triangle (or equivalently rectangle) can be decomposed into a rectangle with a side of a given (unit) length. Once this is proven, it follows that every polygon can be decomposed into a rectangle with unit width and height equal to its area, which proves the theorem.
The analogous statement about polyhedra in three dimensions, known as Hilbert's third problem, is false, as proven by Max Dehn in 1900.
Farkas Bolyai first formulated the question. Gerwien proved the theorem in 1833, but in fact Wallace had proven the same result already in 1807. According to other sources, Bolyai and Gerwien had independently proved the theorem in 1833 and 1835, respectively.
 Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society - Vol. 94, No. 2, Jun., 1985 (http:/ / www. jstor. org/ pss/ 2045399)
• Wallace–Bolyai–Gerwien Theorem (http://www.cut-the-knot.org/do_you_know/Bolyai.shtml) • An Example of the Bolyai–Gerwien Theorem (http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/ AnExampleOfTheBolyaiGerwienTheorem/) by Sándor Kabai, Ferenc Holló Szabó, and Lajos Szilassi, the Wolfram Demonstrations Project.
was an attempt at a rigorous and systematic foundation of geometry. Biography Bolyai was born in Bólya (Buia). the Tentamen  (Tentamen iuventutem studiosam in elementa matheosos introducendi). He learned Latin. Mathematical work Bolyai's main interests were the foundations of geometry and the parallel axiom. Grand Principality of Transylvania. Romania). Greek. His father was Gáspár Bolyai and his mother Krisztina Vajna. . This meant that Bolyai was now treated as a member of one of the leading families in the country. he gave iterative procedures to solve equations which he then proved convergent by showing them to be monotonically increasing and bounded above. decided to go abroad with Simon Kemény on an educational trip in 1796 and began to study mathematics systematically at German universities first in Jena and then in Göttingen. algebra and analysis. where he spent the rest of his life. and of his son János Bolyai. The professor of philosophy at the College in Klausenburg tried to turn Bolyai against mathematics and towards religious philosophy. His main work. arithmetic. Bolyai. In 1790 Bolyai and his pupil both entered the Calvinist College in Klausenburg (today Cluj-Napoca) where they spent five years. He first dissuaded his son from the study of non-Euclidean geometry. 1775 – November 20. a village near Hermannstadt. Italian and English. Hebrew and later also French. It was there he met and married Zsuzsanna Benkő and where their son János Bolyai – later an even more famous mathematician than his father – was born in 1802. His study of the convergence of series includes a test equivalent to Raabe's test. With 12 years he left school and was appointed as a tutor to Farkas Bolyai the eight year old son of the count Kemény. He returned home to Klausenburg in 1799. In these times Bolyai became a close friend of Carl Friedrich Gauss. but by 1830 he became enthusiastic enough to persuade his son to publish his way-breaking thoughts. which he discovered independently and at about the same time as Raabe. See also Bolyai-Gerwien theorem. Habsburg Empire (now Sibiu. however. Romanian. Soon thereafter he accepted a teaching position for mathematics and sciences at the Calvinist College in Marosvásárhely (today Târgu-Mureş). also known as Wolfgang Bolyai in Germany) was a Hungarian mathematician. In this work. Other important ideas in the work include a general definition of a function and a definition of an equality between two plane figures if they can both be divided into a finite equal number of pairwise congruent pieces. Farkas was taught at home by his father until the age of six years when he was sent to the Calvinist school in Nagyszeben.Farkas Bolyai 2 Farkas Bolyai Farkas Bolyai (February 9. His teachers recognized his talents in arithmetics and in learning languages. 1856. and he became not only a tutor but a real friend to the count's son. mainly known for his work in geometry.
MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. where he received his school education. Wallace's grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard. ro/ index. Edinburgh) was a Scottish mathematician and astronomer who invented the eidograph. and some of these were retained in subsequent editions from the fifth to the eighth inclusive.” and several others in mathematical and physical science to the fourth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. he became assistant teacher of mathematics in the academy of Perth in Edinburgh. He also contributed many important papers to the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Biography Wallace was born at Dysart in Fife. html http:/ / genealogy. ac. • Further references on Farkas Bolyai  • Farkas Bolyai  at the Mathematics Genealogy Project • The Bolyai Memorial Museum  References      http:/ / www. where he himself was set to learn the trade of a bookbinder.” “Conic Sections. He developed a reputation for being an excellent teacher. mek. Dysart—28 April 1843. ndsu. uk/ Biographies/ Bolyai_Farkas. In 1784 his family removed to Edinburgh. In 1819 he was chosen to succeed John Leslie (or John Playfair?) in the chair of mathematics at Edinburgh. and this post he exchanged in 1803 for a mathematical mastership in the Royal Military College at Great Marlow (afterwards at Sandhurst with a recommendation by Playfair). 2012 1794. mcs. . algebra and astronomy. st-andrews. In 1838 he retired from the university due to ill health. dictated mainly by a desire to gain time for study. php?id=101403 http:/ / telekiteka. Among his students was Mary Somerville. uk/ ~history/ References/ Bolyai_Farkas. oszk. dcs. Edmund F. ac. to whom his abilities had become known. Mathematical contributions In his earlier years Wallace was an occasional contributor to Leybourne's Mathematical Repository and the Gentleman's Mathematical Companion. nodak. "Farkas Bolyai" . math. He was also the author of the principal mathematical articles in the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia. Robertson. University of St Andrews.” “Trigonometry. st-and. John J. Between 1801 and 1810 he contributed articles on “Algebra.Farkas Bolyai 3 External links • O'Connor. but his taste for mathematics had already developed itself.. and he made such use of his leisure hours that before the completion of his apprenticeship he had made considerable acquirements in geometry. hu/ 06500/ 06507/ index. edu/ id. html http:/ / www-groups. php?m=muzeum William Wallace (mathematician) William Wallace FRSE MInstCE FRAS (23 September 1768.. He was further assisted in his studies by John Robison (1739–1805) and John Playfair. After various changes of situation. phtml http:/ / www-history. edited by David Brewster.
Hugh. p. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. ed. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.. mcs. Edmund F. that later became known as the Bolyai–Gerwien theorem. His most important contribution to British mathematics however was. a mechanical device for scaling drawings. ac. html). that he was one of the first mathematicians introducing and promoting the advancement of the continental European version of calculus in Britain. google.). • Short biographical note on William Wallace (http://www.  Ian Stewart: From Here to Infinity. (1839) Notes  Chisholm 1911  O'Connor. (1838) • Geometrical Theorems and Analytical Formulae with their application to the Solution of Certain Geodetical Problems and an Appendix. . Cambridge University Press.info/people/famousfirst842. st-andrews. com/ books?id=mbSb1FFx20QC& pg=PA169) at Google Books)  Gerard L'Estrange Turner: Nineteenth-Century Scientific Instruments. ISBN 0-520-05160-2. Robertson. 280 ( online copy (http:/ / books. William (Scottish mathematician)". "Wallace.uk/Biographies/Wallace. Books • A Geometrical Treatise on the Conic Sections with an Appendix Containing Formulae for their Quadrature. which erroneously was attributed to Robert Simson. p. Robertson. In 1807 he proved a result about polygons with an equal area. uk/ Biographies/ Wallace. edition).html) in the Gazetteer for Scotland . 4 Other works Wallace also worked in astronomy and invented the eidograph. John J. "William Wallace (mathematician)" (http:/ / www-history.mcs.ac. 169 ( restricted online copy (http:/ / books. University of California Press 1983. University of St Andrews. MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.. Oxford University Press 1996 (3.html). External links • O'Connor. John J.. ISBN 978-0-19-283202-3.William Wallace (mathematician) He mainly worked in the field of geometry and in 1799 became the first to publish the concept of the Simson line. Edmund F.. (1911). st-andrews. google.scottish-places. University of St Andrews. "William Wallace (mathematician)" (http://www-history. com/ books?id=FaAYfJYVNXQC& pg=PA280) at Google Books) Attribution This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm.
Ottomanisch. Iaaasi. Icairns.php?oldid=522767564 Contributors: Bob Burkhardt. TimBentley. Oracleofottawa. Qorilla. Pasztilla.Article Sources and Contributors 5 Article Sources and Contributors Wallace–Bolyai–Gerwien theorem Source: http://en. VladimirReshetnikov. Kieff. Charles Matthews. NikolaiLobachevsky. Jafet. RDBury. 7 anonymous edits Farkas Bolyai Source: http://en. David Eppstein. Sfan00 IMG. Fahrenheit451. Marcika. 6 anonymous edits . Dahn. 21 anonymous edits William Wallace (mathematician) Source: http://en. Tosha. Mutt Lunker. Brad7777. Personline. CRGreathouse. Nicke Lilltroll. Slashme. Khazar2. Turgidson. Koertefa. PBS-AWB. Hkoala. Szajci. Omnipaedista. Bogdangiusca. Peruvianllama. Icairns. SalomonCeb. Pjotr Morgen. Good Olfactory. 霧 木 諒 二.php?oldid=537337612 Contributors: AxelBoldt. Staffwaterboy. Masterpiece2000. João Seelig. CaritasUbi. Grafen. KenBailey. EricWR.wikipedia. Schwilgue.wikipedia. Kggy. Joy. Michael Hardy. Iadrian yu. Mais oui!. Woohookitty. Michael Hardy. Roegel.org/w/index.php?oldid=524325055 Contributors: Binary TSO.wikipedia. Charles Matthews. GregorB. Nbarth. Biruitorul. Charles Matthews. Ketiltrout. Pleasantville. Hkpawn.org/w/index. Myasuda. Bwsulliv. J04n. CoolKoon. B4hand. Psychonaut.org/w/index. KissL. Kmhkmh. Csabaengel. Slowking4. BeteNoir. Snowolf.
org/w/index.org/w/index. Pe-Jo File:Grave_of_William_Wallace_(1768-1843)_mathematician. Müller.wikipedia.wikipedia.php?title=File:Farkas_Bolyai. Frank C.jpg Source: http://en.jpg License: GNU Free Documentation License Contributors: Schwilgue .Image Sources.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: Csanády.svg Source: http://en.php?title=File:Grave_of_William_Wallace_(1768-1843)_mathematician. Mogelzahn. Licenses and Contributors 6 Image Sources.php?title=File:Triangledissection. Magnus Manske.wikipedia.org/w/index. Licenses and Contributors File:Triangledissection.svg License: Public Domain Contributors: User:Phidauex Image:Farkas Bolyai.jpg Source: http://en.
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