# View the MidPoW (March 11 - 25, 2002): Tiling Triangles Definition When you fit individual tiles together with

no gaps or overlaps to fill a flat space like a ceiling, wall, or floor, you have a tiling. You can imagine that you can use a variety of shapes to do this. Here are some examples:

using one of the pentomino shapes

using rectangles

using triangles

Another word for a tiling is a tessellation. Read more here: What is a Tessellation? A special kind of tiling or tessellation is rep-tiling. No, these rep-tiles aren't living things, although some of you might be thinking of the figures in some of M.C. Escher's work. The "rep" in "rep-tile" stands for "replicating." Rep-tiles can be joined together to make larger replicas of themselves. Learn more here: Reptiles by Andrew Clarke. Another special kind of tiling or tessellation is Penrose tiling named after the British physicist and mathematician, Roger Penrose. The tiling is comprised of two rhombi,

one with angles of 36 and 144 degrees and one with angles of 72 and 108 degrees. Learn more here: Aperiodic Tiling with Penrose Rhombs by Nancy Casey.

EXPLORING TESSELLATIONS WITH COMPUTER SOFTWARE
Once they have used Escher's tessellations to explore the transformations that can be used to create tessellating art, students are given the opportunity to create their own artwork on a computer with TesselMania!© or Tessellation Exploration© software. Within either program, they select a polygon and a modifying rule or rules. Whenever a "bump" or "hole" is added to a side, the program removes or adds the corresponding "hole" or "bump" from/to the appropriate side according to the rule selected. Classic paint tools, including stamps, are available for adding interior interpreting features.

Depending on the program, the corresponding tessellation either accompanies the tessellating shape or appears at the press of a button.

Each student's original artwork can be printed on transfer material suitable for color bubblejet printers, and then ironed onto a T-shirt. The results are truly outstanding!

POLYGONS AND TESSELLATIONS
A simple connect-the-dots exercise is used to introduce the concept of a polygon. The 50sided polygon in the solution resembles a reptile. The creature is an adaptation of the one that appears in Escher's lithograph Reptiles. In the graphic, several identical lizards interlock in a jigsaw puzzle configuration ortessellation. A set of 15 large soft foam lizards is available from the Imagination Project (telephone 888-477-6532 or 513-860-2711).

Reptiles - M. C. Escher

To introduce students to regular polygons, each is provided with a pair of plastic mirrors hinged together with cloth tape. [Suitable 2 ¼" x 3 ½" mirrors are available from ETA/Cuisenaire.] When the assembly is opened like a book, the mirrors stand alone. If the students place their hinged mirrors on the broken lines in the figure below, they will view a reflection-based equilateral triangle.

If the students move their hinged mirrors towards one another, a square will eventually be visible. If they continue to move the mirrors towards one another, they will see, in turn, a regular pentagon, a regular hexagon, a regular heptagon, and so forth. After investigating the measure of each polygon's interior angle, the students discover that only three of the regular polygons tessellate the plane. (The measure of their interior angle divides 360 exactly.)

If a third mirror is added to the hinged mirror assembly, the resulting equilateral triangle prism can be used to generate tessellating art with reflectional symmetry. (The configuration of mirrors is maintained with an elastic band.) A generating triangle for Escher's Lizard/Fish/Bat tessellation (Tessellation 85) appears below.

Tessellation 85 - M. C. Escher (click for enlargement) Students can create a generating triangle for a tessellation with reflectional symmetry by drawing identical or distinct curves from the center of an equilateral triangle to its vertices. Two examples follow.

Creating a Quilt Block with Tessellation Exploration
The following steps will allow you to reproduce many traditional quilt blocks as a Tessellation Exploration tile. Once you master the process, you can design your own patterns and then recreate them with the software. You don't have to be artistically gifted to be creative with quilt blocks just careful! To begin, download the compressed file sqgrids.zip. Unzip this collection of Tessellation Exploration square grid files to a convenient location on your hard drive. Step 1: Select a traditional quilt-block pattern that is based on a square grid. Suitable examples will be found in Quilt Blocks Galore and Quilt Block Collection (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). For the best printed resource, consult Mary Ellen Hopkin's The It's Okay If You Sit on My Quilt Book with over 350 color examples of geometric quilt blocks on a gridded background. As an example, we will select the 4x4 quilt block called Cube Lattice. You will require two copies of the block to complete the exercise.

Step 2:

Cube Lattice is based on a 4x4 square grid. Using a marker, superimpose a drawing of the 4x4 grid over one copy of the block. Notice the diagonal lines of the block. They extend from corner to opposite corner of the corresponding squares on the grid.

Step 3:

Launch Tessellation Exploration, then open the appropriate file in the directory of square grids. For Cube Lattice, open the file <4x4.tsl>. Zoom in to enlarge the view.

Step 4:

Using the Line tool in the double-black color and the thinnest line width, add all appropriate diagonal lines to the grid on the computer screen. Both cross hairs of the cursor should line up with the horizontal and vertical grid lines when you depress the mouse button to begin a diagonal line and again when you release it. Each diagonal line should have exactly one pixel per row and column.

Step 5:

Study the original quilt block (the copy without the superimposed square grid). With the Pencil tool and the thinnest line width, color double-white all pixels in horizontal and vertical lines that are not part of the block pattern. Zoom in and out as needed. You may use theEraser tool where convenient, but the Pencil tool works best for fixing pixels adjacent to lines that are part of the block pattern.

Step 6:

Color the patches of the block with the Paint Bucket tool. For this example, we will use the two colors of a standard color pair for the parallelograms, and double-black for the squares.

Step 7:

Notice that the default setting for the corresponding tessellation is same coloring, but you may elect to use contrasting coloring for a different effect.

SAME COLORING

CONTRASTING COLORING

Tessellation

A tiling of regular polygons (in two dimensions), polyhedra (three dimensions), or polytopes( tessellation. Tessellations can be specified using a Schläfli symbol.

dimensions) is called a

The breaking up of self-intersecting polygons into simple polygons is also called tessellation (Woo et al. 1999), or more properly, polygon tessellation.

There are exactly three regular tessellations composed of regular polygons symmetrically tiling the plane.

Tessellations of the plane by two or more convex regular polygons such that the samepolygons in the same order surround each polygon vertex are called semiregular tessellations, or sometimes Archimedean tessellations. In the plane, there are eight such tessellations, illustrated above (Ghyka 1977, pp. 76-78; Williams 1979, pp. 37-41; Steinhaus 1999, pp. 78-82; Wells 1991, pp. 226-227).

There are 14 demiregular (or polymorph) tessellations which are orderly compositions of the three regular and eight semiregular tessellations (Critchlow 1970, pp. 62-67; Ghyka 1977, pp. 78-80; Williams 1979, p. 43; Steinhaus 1999, pp. 79 and 81-82).

In three dimensions, a polyhedron which is capable of tessellating space is called a space-filling polyhedron. Examples include the cube, rhombic dodecahedron, and truncated octahedron. There is also a 16-sided space-filler and a convex polyhedron known as theSchmitt-Conway biprism which fills space only aperiodically.

A tessellation of

-dimensional polytopes is called a honeycomb.

SEE ALSO: Archimedean Solid, Cairo Tessellation, Cell, Demiregular Tessellation, Dual Tessellation, Hexagonal

Grid, Hinged Tessellation, Honeycomb, Honeycomb Conjecture,Kepler's Monsters, Regular Tessellation, Schläfli Symbol, Semiregular Polyhedron,Semiregular Tessellation, Space-Filling Polyhedron, Spiral Similarity, Square Grid,Symmetry, Tiling, Triangular Grid, Triangular Symmetry Group, Triangulation, Wallpaper Groups

REFERENCES:

Ball, W. W. R. and Coxeter, H. S. M. Mathematical Recreations and Essays, 13th ed. New York: Dover, pp. 105-107, 1987.

Bhushan, A.; Kay, K.; and Williams, E. "Totally Tessellated." http://library.thinkquest.org/16661/.

Britton, J. Symmetry and Tessellations: Investigating Patterns. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999.

Critchlow, K. Order in Space: A Design Source Book. New York: Viking Press, 1970.

Cundy, H. and Rollett, A. Mathematical Models, 3rd ed. Stradbroke, England: Tarquin Pub., pp. 60-63, 1989.

Gardner, M. Martin Gardner's New Mathematical Diversions from Scientific American. New York: Simon and Schuster, pp. 201-203, 1966.

Gardner, M. "Tilings with Convex Polygons." Ch. 13 in Time Travel and Other Mathematical Bewilderments.New York: W. H. Freeman, pp. 162-176, 1988.

Ghyka, M. The Geometry of Art and Life. New York: Dover, 1977.

Kraitchik, M. "Mosaics." §8.2 in Mathematical Recreations. New York: W. W. Norton, pp. 199-207, 1942.

Lines, L. Solid Geometry, with Chapters on Space-Lattices, Sphere-Packs, and Crystals. New York: Dover, pp. 199 and 204-207 1965.

Pappas, T. "Tessellations." The Joy of Mathematics. San Carlos, CA: Wide World Publ./Tetra, pp. 120-122, 1989.

Peterson, I. The Mathematical Tourist: Snapshots of Modern Mathematics. New York: W. H. Freeman, p. 75, 1988.

Radin, C. Miles of Tiles. Providence, RI: Amer. Math. Soc., 1999.

Rawles, B. Sacred Geometry Design Sourcebook: Universal Dimensional Patterns. Nevada City, CA: Elysian Pub., 1997.

Steinhaus, H. Mathematical Snapshots, 3rd ed. New York: Dover, pp. 75-76 and 78-82, 1999.

Vichera, M. "Archimedean Polyhedra." http://www.vicher.cz/puzzle/telesa/telesa.htm.

Walsh, T. R. S. "Characterizing the Vertex Neighbourhoods of Semi-Regular Polyhedra." Geometriae Dedicata 1, 117-123, 1972.

Weisstein, E. W. "Books about Tilings." http://www.ericweisstein.com/encyclopedias/books/Tilings.html.

Wells, D. The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry. London: Penguin, pp. 121, 213, and 226-227, 1991.

Williams, R. The Geometrical Foundation of Natural Structure: A Source Book of Design. New York: Dover, pp. 35-43, 1979.

Woo, M.; Neider, J.; Davis, T.; and Shreiner, D. Ch. 11 in OpenGL 1.2 Programming Guide, 3rd ed.: The Official Guide to Learning OpenGL, Version 1.2. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Sign up to vote on this title