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SolvingfortheAreaandVolumeofRegularandIrregularPolygons

Therearepresetformulastocalculatetheareaofeachregularpolygon.Thecurrentmethodspresent
thestudentwithamultitudeofformulas
tomemorize.Whatiftherewerea
methodtofindtheareaandhencethe
volumeofanypolygon-regularor
irregular?Heronsformulaissuggested
asaonemethoddoesthemall.Notice
thatanypolygoncanbesectionedinto
triangularshapes(Graphic1).
ForthisspecificexamplethepointA
|A = (u, 24)](Graphic2)isusedasa
referencepointtosectiontheirregular
octagonintosixtriangles.SinceHeronsformulamakesuseofthelengthof
eachsideofatriangle,wewillusethedistanceformulatofindthelengthof
each.
Itisworthnotingthatthe
distanceformulaisbasedon
therighttriangleandassuchthePythagoreanTheorem.
Thereistheneed,then,tosuperimposeapoint P

todo
this(P

= (u, 17)).Thelengthofthesegment
AB, measuredincentimeters,isthehypotenuse
(c = o
2
+ b
2
)oftherighttriangleAP

B(Graphic3).
Thereforethesegment
length AB = (19cm - u.ucm)
2
+ (17cm - 24cm)
2
=
41u cm
2
= 2u.248 cm.Continuingon,wecanfindthe
perimeterofthetriangleABC = AB + BC + AC =
2u.248 cm + 19.417 cm + S7.8u2 cm = 77.467 cm
(Graphic2).InordertouseHeronsformulaweneedtofindx
(thesemi perimeter)wheres =
(20.248+19.417+37.802)
2
=
Graphic1

Graphic3
Graphic2
S8.7S4 cm .Heronsformulausesx intheformulaArco = s (s - o) (s - b) (s - c).Following
this,wecansolvefortheareaofallsixtrianglesusings.Colculoting tbc orco o ABC =
S8.7S4cm (S8.7S4 - 2u.248)cm (S8.7S4 - 19.417)cm (S8.7S4 - S7.8u2)cmandso
ABC = 12891.786 cm
4
= 11S.S42 cm
2
)(Graphic4).
Calculatingthevolumeisthesimpleconsiderationgiventoanadditionaldimension.Take,forinstance,
theirregularoctagoninGraphic2.ThetriangleABC
wasfoundtohaveanareaof11S.S42 cm
2
.Byadding
thelength,42.0cm(Graphic4),asthelastdimension
neededforthevolumeweget(11S.S42 42.u)(cm
2

cm
1
) = 4768.764 cm
3
.Furtherthevolumeofeach
triangleislistedinGraphic4totheleft.
Thevolumeoftheentirepolygonis 8u,S9S.81S cm
3
.

Inthegeneralizedcasesofalltypesofpolygons,this
methodcanbeused.Thinkabouthowusefulitwould
betobeabletoteachareaandvolumecalculations
withonemainmethod.Whileformulasforregular
polygonsarestillusefultostudents;itisbeneficialto
haveonemethodthatisusefulfortheformsof
polygons.Asthenumberofsidesthatanygivenpolygonhasincreases,Heronsformulastepsforward
tohandlethechallenge.
Theaccuracyofthismethodislimitedwhenusingsmallervalues.Measurementsthatarelessthanone,
m 1,shouldnotbeusedbecauseofthesquaringandtheadditionofthatnumberinthedistance
formula.Measurementsbetweenoneandfivearesomewhatinaccuratewhilelargenumbersareideal.
Therearetwowaystoovercomethis:1)usesmallerunitsofmeasure,and2)uselargerpolygonasthe
samplecase.
Pleasefindandenjoythegeometrystudyguidesupplementsofferedbythemathematicsgroupatthe
AmericanBookCompany.
Thanks,
MelvinCarter
Mathematician
AmericanBookCompany
Graphic4

GeometricimageswerecreatedusingGooglesSketchup.