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Geometric Formulas

All Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math

Defining Geometric Figures Two-dimensional figures Triangle equilateral triangle isosceles triangle right triangle scalene triangle Quadrilateral general quadrilateral square rectangle parallelogram rhombus trapezoid kite cyclic quadrilateral cyclic-inscriptable Regular Polygon Three-dimensional figures Rectangular Parallelepiped cube Prism Pyramid square pyramid frustum of a pyramid Regular Polyhedron tetrahedron cube octahedron dodecahedron icosahedron Cylinder right circular cylinder Cone right circular cone

frustum of a cone Sphere sphere sector spherical cap sphere segment, zone lune Ellipsoid Circular Torus Spherical Polygon Also visit The Geometry Center: Three-dimensional geometry

References: Burrington, Richard Stevens, Handbook of Mathematical Tables and Formulas, Handbook Publishers, Inc., Sandusky, Ohio, 2nd edition, 1940, pp. 11-15, 20-21. Beyer, William H., CRC Standard Mathematical Tables, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, 28th edition, 1987, pp. 121-132, 145-147. Contributed by "Dr. Rob," Robert L. Ward

Web page design, diagrams, and applets by Sarah Seastone

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All Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math Back to Geometric Formulas: Contents [Plane Figures] [Solid Figures] [A Note on Dimensions]

What is a two-dimensional figure? A two-dimensional figure, also called a plane or planar figure, is a set of line segments or sides and curve segments or arcs, all lying in a single plane. The sides and arcs are called the edges of the figure. The edges are one-dimensional, but they lie in the plane, which is two-dimensional. The endpoints of the edges are called the vertices or corners. These points are zero-dimensional, but they also lie in the plane, which is two-dimensional. The most common figures have only a few edges, the curves are very simple, and there are no "loose ends" - that is, every vertex is the endpoint of at least two edges. If all the edges are segments, every vertex is the endpoint of two sides, and no two sides cross each other, the figure is called a polygon.1 Polygons are classified according to the number of sides they have, which equals the number of vertices. Here are some names of polygons. Polygons often divide the plane into two pieces, an inside and an outside. The inside part is called the region enclosed by the figure. The name of the figure is also commonly used for this region, and the area of the region is commonly called the area of the figure. When two sides meet at a vertex, they form an angle. Actually they form two angles, one inside the figure, and one outside. The one inside is called the interior angle at that vertex, or simply the angle at

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that vertex. Mathematically speaking, a triangle consists of three vertices and three sides only. The interior is not included. When you want to refer specifically to the interior of a figure that does not have a name of its own, you can call it "the region of the plane enclosed by the figure" or "the figurate region": for example, the "triangular region." When you calculate the "area of the triangle" you are really finding the area of the region enclosed by the triangle.

1

polygon - from Greek polus, "many," and gonia, "angle." Although a polygon is defined as a figure with many sides, the word really means that it has many angles.

What is a three-dimensional figure? A three-dimensional figure, sometimes called a solid figure, is a set of plane regions and surface regions, all lying in three-dimensional space. These surface regions are called the faces of the figure. Each of them is two-dimensional. The arcs of curves that are the edges of the faces of the figure are called the edges of the figure. They are one-dimensional. The endpoints of the edges are called its vertices. They are zero-dimensional. The most common three-dimensional figures have only a few faces, the surfaces are very simple, and there are no "loose ends" - that is, every vertex is the end of at least two edges, and at least two faces meet at every edge. If all the faces are plane regions, every edge is the edge of two faces, every vertex is the vertex of at least three faces, and no two faces cross each other, the figure is called a polyhedron.2 Polyhedra are classified according to the number of faces. Here are some names of polyhedra. Polyhedra often divide space into two pieces, an inside and an outside. The inside part is called the region enclosed by the figure. The name of the figure is also commonly used for this region, and the volume of the region is commonly called the volume of the figure. When two planar faces come together at an edge, they form an angle. Actually they form two angles, one inside the figure, and one outside. The one inside is called the dihedral angle (dihedral means "having two faces") at that edge, or simply the angle at that edge. Mathematically speaking, a tetrahedron consists of four triangular faces, six edges, and four vertices only. The interior is not included. When you want to refer specifically to the interior of a figure that does not have a name of its own, you can call it "the region of space enclosed by the figure" or the figurate solid: for example, the "tetrahedral solid." When you calculate the "volume of the figure" you are really finding the volume of the region enclosed by the figure, or the "figurate solid."

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polyhedron - from Greek polus, "many," and hedra, "base" or "seat." A polyhedron is thus a figure with many bases, or faces.

A note on dimensions A point, which is 0-dimensional, can lie on a line, in a plane, or in space. A line, which is 1dimensional, can lie in a plane or in space. A plane, which is 2-dimensional, can lie in space, and space is 3-dimensional. Similarly, curves are 1-dimensional, but can lie in higher-dimensional objects, and likewise for surfaces, which are 2-dimensional. Solids, which are 3-dimensional, can only lie in space.

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Triangle Formulas

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math

Triangle

A polygon (plane figure) with 3 angles and 3 sides. Sides: a, b, c Opposite angles: A, B, C Altitudes: ha , hb , hc Medians: ma , mb , mc Angle bisectors: ta , tb , tc Perimeter: P Semiperimeter: s Area: K Radius of circumscribed circle: R Radius of inscribed circle: r To read about triangles, visit The Geometry Center.

Equilateral Triangle

A triangle with all three sides of equal length. a = b = c. A = B = C = Pi/3 radians = 60o P = 3a s = 3a/2 K = a2sqrt(3)/4 ha = ma = ta = a sqrt(3)/2 R = a sqrt(3)/3 r = a sqrt(3)/6 JavaSketchpad exploration: Equilateral triangle

Isosceles Triangle

A triangle with two sides of equal length. a=c A=C B + 2A = Pi radians = 180o P = 2a + b s = a + b/2 K = b sqrt(4a2-b2)/4 = a2 sin(B)/2 = ab sin(A)/2 ha = b sqrt(4a2-b2)/(2a) = a sin(B) = b sin(A) ma = sqrt(a2+2b2)/2 ta = b sqrt(a[2a+b])/(a+b) = b sin(A)/sin(3A/2) hb = mb = tb = sqrt(4a2-b2)/2 = a cos(B/2) R = a2b/4K = a/[2 sin(A)] = b/[2 sin(B)] r = K/s = b sqrt[(2a-b)/(2a+b)]/2

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Right Triangle

A triangle with one right angle. C = A + B = Pi/2 radians = 90o c2 = a2 + b2 (Pythagorean Theorem) P=a+b+c s = (a+b+c)/2 K = ab/2 ha = b hb = a hc = ab/c ma = sqrt(4b2+a2)/2 mb = sqrt(4a2+b2)/2 mc = c/2

Scalene Triangle

A triangle with no two sides equal. (Note that the following formulas work with all triangles, not just scalene triangles.) P=a+b+c s = (a+b+c)/2 K = aha/2 = ab sin(C)/2 = a2 sin(B) sin(C)/[2 sin(A)] = sqrt[s(s-a)(s-b)(s-c)] (Heron's or Hero's Formula) ha = c sin(B) = b sin(C) = 2K/a ma = sqrt(2b2+2c2-a2)/2 ta = 2bc cos(A/2)/(b+c) = sqrt[bc(1-a2/[b+c]2)]

R = abc/4K = a/[2 sin(A)] = b/[2 sin(B)] = c/[2 sin(C)] r = 2K/P = K/s = sqrt[(s-a)(s-b)(s-c)/s] = c sin(A/2)sin(B/2)/cos(C/2) = ab sin(C)/(2 s) = (s-c)tan(C/2)

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Equilateral Triangle

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math Back to Triangle Formulas Drag the red dots and observe the triangle medians, altitudes, and angle bisectors. This page requires a Java-compatible web browser.

This sketch was created using a prototype of JavaSketchpad, a World-Wide-Web component of The Geometer's Sketchpad, from Key Curriculum Press, Inc. Submit your own question to Dr. Math [Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use] Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

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Isosceles Triangle

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math Back to Triangle Formulas Drag the red dots and observe the triangle medians, altitudes, and angle bisectors. This page requires a Java-compatible web browser.

This sketch was created using a prototype of JavaSketchpad, a World-Wide-Web component of The Geometer's Sketchpad, from Key Curriculum Press, Inc. Submit your own question to Dr. Math [Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use] Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

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Right Triangle

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math Back to Triangle Formulas Drag the red dots and observe the triangle medians, altitudes, and angle bisectors. This page requires a Java-compatible web browser.

This sketch was created using a prototype of JavaSketchpad, a World-Wide-Web component of The Geometer's Sketchpad, from Key Curriculum Press, Inc.

Ask Dr. Math 1994-2006 Drexel University. All rights reserved. http://mathforum.org/ The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel School of Education.

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General Triangle

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math Back to Triangle Formulas Drag the red dots and observe the triangle medians, altitudes, and angle bisectors. This page requires a Java-compatible web browser.

This sketch was created using a prototype of JavaSketchpad, a World-Wide-Web component of The Geometer's Sketchpad, from Key Curriculum Press, Inc. Submit your own question to Dr. Math [Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use] Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

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Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math

A parallelepiped (alternate spelling parallelopiped) is a polyhedron with six faces bounded by three pairs of parallel planes, so all its faces are parallelograms. It is also a prism the base of which is a parallelogram.

Rectangular Parallelepiped

A three-dimensional figure all of whose face angles are right angles, so all its faces are rectangles and all its dihedral angles are right angles. (A dihedral angle is an angle created by two intersecting planes.) Edges: a, b, c Diagonal: d Total surface area (total area of all the faces of the figure): T Volume: V d = sqrt(a2+b2+c2) T = 2(ab+ac+bc) V = abc Face diagonals sqrt(a2+b2), sqrt(a2+c2), sqrt(b2+c2)

Cube

A three-dimensional figure with six congruent square sides. a=b=c d = a sqrt(3) T = 6a2 V = a3 Face diagonal a sqrt(2)

To read about parallelepipeds and cubes, visit: Ask Dr. Math: What is a parallelepiped? Encarta Online: Prism Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics: Cube And see: Regular Polyhedra

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Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math

Regular Polyhedron

A solid, three-dimensional figure each face of which is a regular polygon with equal sides and equal angles. Every face has the same number of vertices, and the same number of faces meet at every vertex. An inscribed (inside) sphere touches the center of every face, and a circumscribed sphere (outside) touches every vertex. There are five and only five of these figures, also called the Platonic Solids: the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron.

Number of vertices: v Number of edges: e Number of faces: f Edge: a Radius of circumscribed sphere: R Radius of inscribed sphere: r Surface area: S Volume: V Dihedral angle between faces: delta (in degrees)

To read about regular polyhedra, visit The Geometry Center: Regular Polyhedra Mathematics Encyclopedia: The Platonic Solids Eric Swab: Cube as the Base To explore polyhedra via an MJA applet, try Suzanne Alejandre's Studying Polyhedra For many more facts and links, see Alexander Bogomolny's Regular polyhedra

For a Java applet showing many other polyhedra, see John N. Huffman's Crystallographic Polyhedra

Tetrahedron

A three-dimensional figure with 4 equilateral triangle faces, 4 vertices, and 6 edges. v = 4, e = 6, f = 4 a = (2 sqrt[6]/3)R r = (1/3)R R = (sqrt[6]/4)a S = sqrt(3)a2 V = (sqrt[2]/12)a3 delta = arccos(1/3) = 70o 32' h = height or altitude h = (sqrt[6]/3)a

Cube

A three-dimensional figure with 6 square faces, 8 vertices, and 12 edges. v = 8, e = 12, f = 6 a = (2 sqrt[3]/3)R r = (sqrt[3]/3)R R = (sqrt[3]/2)a r = (1/2)a S = 6 a2 V = a3 delta = arccos(0) = 90o See Ask Dr. Math: Surface Area and Volume: Cubes and Prisms

Octahedron

A three-dimensional figure with 8 equilateral triangle faces, 6 vertices, and 12 edges. v = 6, e = 12, f = 8 a = sqrt(2)R r = (sqrt[3]/3)R R = (sqrt[2]/2)a r = (sqrt[6]/6)a S = 2 sqrt(3)a2 V = (sqrt[2]/3)a3 delta = arccos(-1/3) = 109o 28'

Dodecahedron

A three-dimensional figure with 12 regular pentagon faces, 20 vertices, and 30 edges. v = 20, e = 30, f = 12 a = ([sqrt(5)-1]sqrt[3]/3)R r = (sqrt[75+30 sqrt(5)]/15)R R = (sqrt[3][1+sqrt[5])/4)a r = (sqrt[250+110 sqrt(5)]/20)a S = 3 sqrt(25+10 sqrt[5])a2 V = ([15+7 sqrt(5)]/4)a3 delta = arccos(-sqrt[5]/5) = 116o 34'

Icosahedron

A three-dimensional figure with 20 equilateral triangle faces, 12 vertices, and 30 edges. v = 12, e = 30, f = 20 a = (sqrt[50-10 sqrt(5)]/5)R r = (sqrt[75+30 sqrt(5)]/15)R R = (sqrt[10+2 sqrt(5)]/4)a r = (sqrt[42+18 sqrt(5)]/12)a S = 5 sqrt(3)a2 V = (5[3+sqrt(5)]/12)a3 delta = arccos(-sqrt[5]/3) = 138o 11'

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Prism Formulas

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Prism

A polyhedron with two congruent, parallel bases that are polygons, and all remaining faces parallelograms. Height: h Area of base: B Length of lateral edge: l Area of right section: A Perimeter of right section: P Lateral surface area: S Volume: V S = lP V = hB = lA

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.prism.html

To read about prisms, visit: Ask Dr. Math: Surface Area and Volume: Cubes and Prisms Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics: Prism Back to Contents

Ask Dr. Math 1994-2006 Drexel University. All rights reserved. http://mathforum.org/ The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel School of Education.

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Pyramid & Frustum Formulas

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Pyramid

A pyramid is a polyhedron of which one side, the base, is a polygon (not necessarily a regular polygon), and all the rest are triangles sharing a common point, the vertex. A pyramid is regular if the base is a regular polygon and the other faces are congruent isosceles triangles Height: h Area of base: B Slant height: s (regular pyramid) Perimeter of base: P Lateral surface area: S Volume: V

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Pyramid & Frustum Formulas

Square Pyramid

The base is a square, and all triangular faces are congruent isosceles triangles.

Side of base: a Other edges: b Height: h Slant height: s Vertex angle of faces: alpha Base angle of faces: theta Base-to-face dihedral angle: beta Face-to-face dihedral angle: phi Lateral surface area: S Total surface area (including base): T Volume: V a = sqrt[2(b2-h2)] = 2 sqrt(b2-s2) = 2 sqrt(s2-h2) b = sqrt(h2+a2/2) = sqrt(s2+a2/4) = sqrt(2s2-h2) h = sqrt(b2-a2/2) = sqrt(s2-a2/4) = sqrt(2s2-b2) s = sqrt(b2-a2/4) = sqrt(h2+a2/4) = sqrt[(b2+h2)/2] theta = arccos(a/2b) = arcsin(s/b) = arctan(2s/a) alpha = arccos(h2/b2) = arcsin(as/b2) = arctan(as/h2) beta = arccos(a/2s) = arcsin(h/s) = arctan(2h/a) phi = arccos(-a2/4s2) = arcsin(bh/s2) = arctan(-4bh/a2) S = 2as T = a(2s+a) V = a2h/3

Frustum of a Pyramid

The portion of a pyramid that lies between the base and a plane cutting through it parallel to the base.

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Pyramid & Frustum Formulas

Height: h Area of bases: B1, B2 Slant height: s (regular pyramid) Perimeter of bases: P1, P2 Lateral surface area: S Volume: V S = s(P1+P2)/2 (regular pyramid) V = h(B1+B2+sqrt[B1B2])/3 Back to Contents

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Quadrilateral Formulas

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math general || square || rectangle || parallelogram || rhombus || trapezoid || kite || cyclic quadrilateral

Quadrilateral

A polygon (plane figure) with 4 angles and 4 sides. Sides: a, b, c, d Angles: A, B, C, D Around the quadrilateral are a, A, b, B, c, C, d, D, and back to a, in that order Altitudes: ha , etc. Diagonals: p = BD, q = AC, intersect at O Angle between diagonals: theta Perimeter: P Semiperimeter: s Area: K Radius of circumscribed circle: R Radius of inscribed circle: r To read about quadrilaterals, visit The Geometry Center.

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General

P = a + b + c + d. s = P/2 = (a+b+c+d)/2 A + B + C + D = 2 Pi radians = 360o K = pq sin(theta)/2 K = (b2+d2-a2-c2)tan(theta)/4 K = sqrt[4p2q2-(b2+d2-a2-c2)2]/4 K = sqrt[(s-a)(s-b)(s-c)(s-d)-abcd cos2([A+C]/2)] (Bretschneider's Formula)

Square

A quadrilateral with four right angles and all four sides of equal length. a=b=c=d A = B = C = D = Pi/2 radians = 90o theta = Pi/2 radians = 90o ha = a p = q = a sqrt(2) P = 4a s = 2a K = a2 R = a sqrt(2)/2 r = a/2 JavaSketchpad exploration: Square

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.quad.html

Rectangle

A quadrilateral with adjacent sides perpendicular (all four angles are therefore right angles). a = c, b = d. A = B = C = D = Pi/2 radians = 90o

ha = b hb = a p = q = sqrt(a2+b2) theta = 2 arctan(a/b) P = 2(a+b) s=a+b K = ab R = p/2 = sqrt(a2+b2)/2 r = minimum(a,b)/2 JavaSketchpad exploration: Rectangle

Parallelogram

A quadrilateral with opposite sides parallel. a = c, b = d A = C, B = D

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.quad.html

A + B = Pi radians = 180o ha = b sin(A) = b cos(B-Pi/2) hb = a sin(A) = a cos(B-Pi/2) p = sqrt[a2+b2-2ab cos(A)] q = sqrt[a2+b2-2ab cos(B)] p2+q2 = 2(a2+b2) theta = arccos([a2-b2]/pq) P = 2*(a+b) s=a+b K = ab sin(A) = ab sin(B) = bhb = pq sin(theta)/2 JavaSketchpad exploration: Parallelogram

Rhombus

A parallelogram with all sides equal. a=b=c=d A = C, B = D theta = Pi/2 radians = 90o A + B = Pi radians = 180o ha = a sin(A) = a cos(B-Pi/2) ha = hb p = a sqrt[2-2 cos(A)] q = a sqrt[2-2 cos(B)] p2+q2 = 4a2 P = 4a s = 2a K = a2sin(A) = a2sin(B) = aha = pq/2 JavaSketchpad exploration: Rhombus

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.quad.html

a parallel to c, m = (a+c)/2 A + B = C + D = Pi radians = 180o P=a+b+c+d K = ham = ha(a+c)/2 If a = c, the trapezoid is actually a parallelogram, so b = d, and the height and area cannot be determined from a, b, c, and d alone. If a and c are not equal, then ha2 = (a+b-c+d)(-a+b+c+d)(a-b-c+d)(a+b-c-d)/[4(a-c)2]. If ha2 < 0, no trapezoid having those side lengths exists.

*From The Words of Mathematics by Steven Schwartzman (1994, Mathematical Association of America): trapezoid (noun); trapezoidal (adjective); trapezium, plural trapezia (noun): The Greek word trapeza "table" was composed of tetra "four" and the Indo-European root ped- "foot." A Greek table must have had four feet (= legs). The suffix -oid (q.v.) means "looking like," so that a trapezoid is a figure that looks like a table (at least in somebody's imagination). Some Americans define a trapezoid as a quadrilateral with at least one pair of parallel sides. Under that definition, a parallelogram is a special kind of trapezoid. For other Americans, however, a trapezoid is a quadrilateral with one and only one pair of parallel sides, in which case a parallelogram is not a trapezoid. The situation is further confused by the fact that in Europe a trapezoid is defined as a quadrilateral with no sides equal. Even more confusing is the existence of the similar word trapezium, which in American usage means "a quadrilateral with no sides equal," but which in European usage is a synonym of what Americans call a trapezoid. Apparently to cut down on the confusion, trapezium is not used in American textbooks. The trapeze used in a circus is also related, since a trapeze has or must once have had four "sides": two ropes, the bar at the bottom, and a support bar at the top. JavaSketchpad exploration: Trapezoid

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Kite

A quadrilateral with two pairs of distinct adjacent sides equal in length. a = b, c = d theta = Pi/2 radians = 90o OB = OD = p/2, OA = h, OC = q - h h = sqrt(a2-p2/4) q = sqrt(a2-p2/4) + sqrt(c2-p2/4) P = 2(a+c) K = pq/2 JavaSketchpad exploration: Kite

Cyclic Quadrilateral

A quadrilateral all of whose vertices lie on a circle. Points A, B, C, and D lie on a circle of radius R. A + C = B + D = Pi radians = 180o K = sqrt[(s-a)(s-b)(s-c)(s-d)] (Brahmagupta's Formula) K = sqrt[(ab+cd)(ac+bd)(ad+bc)]/4*R p = sqrt[(ac+bd)(ad+bc)/(ab+cd)] q = sqrt[(ab+cd)(ac+bd)/(ad+bc)] R = sqrt[(ab+cd)(ac+bd)(ad+bc) / (s-a)(s-b)(s-c)(s-d)]/4 theta = arcsin[2K/(ac+bd)]

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Cyclic-Inscriptable

A quadrilateral within which a circle can be inscribed, tangent to all four sides. Points A, B, C, and D lie on a circle of radius R. Sides a, b, c, and d are tangent to a circle of radius r. m = distance between the centers of the two circles. A + C = B + D = Pi radians = 180o a+c=b+d K = sqrt[abcd] r = sqrt[abcd]/s R = sqrt[(ab+cd)(ac+bd)(ad+bc)/abcd]/4 1/(R+m)2 + 1/(R-m)2 = 1/r2 Back to Contents

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Square

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math Back to Quadrilateral Formulas Drag the red dots and observe the lengths of the sides of the square. This page requires a Java-compatible web browser.

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Rectangle

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Parallelogram

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Rhombus

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Trapezoid

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Kite

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Polyhedra: Formulas

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Irregular Tetrahedron

A tetrahedron is a polyhedron with four planar faces (each of which is a triangle), six edges, and four vertices. It is irregular if and only if the faces are not all equilateral triangles, which happens if and only if the edges do not all have the same lengths, which happens if and only if the face angles are not all of equal measure. The following method will find the volume of any tetrahedron, but there is a simpler formula if the tetrahedron is regular. Number the vertices of the tetrahedron 1, 2, 3, and 4. Let dij, 0 < i < j < 5 be the length of the edge connecting vertices i and j. Let V be the volume of the tetrahedron. Then 0 d122 d122 d132 d142 1 0 d232 d242 1 0 1 d342 1 0 1 1 0

Of course the distances must obey the triangle inequality for each face, and in addition, the value of the above determinant must be positive, in order for them to be the edge lengths of a tetrahedron. For example, the numbers {4,4,4,4,4,7} obey the triangle inequalities, but the value of the above determinant is negative (-1568), and no tetrahedron has edges with those lengths. This formula is given in J. V. Uspensky, The Theory of Equations (1948). Its original discoverer is unknown to me.

Contributed by "Dr. Rob," Robert L. Ward

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Cylinder Formulas

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A cylinder is a surface generated by a family of all lines parallel to a given line (the generatrix) and passing through a curve in a plane (the directrix). A right section is the curve formed by the intersection of the surface and a plane perpendicular to the generatrix. The parallel bases of a cylinder may form any angle with the axis. More commonly, a cylinder includes the solid enclosed by a cylinder and two parallel planes. The region of either of the parallel planes enclosed by the surface is called a base of the cylinder. The perpendicular distance between the planes of the bases is the height of the cylinder. The line segment cut on any of the generating lines by the two parallel planes is called a lateral edge.

Circular Cylinder

A cylinder whose bases are circles. The line connecting the centers of the bases is called the axis.

Height: h Area of base: B Length of lateral edge: l Area of right section: A Perimeter of right section: P Lateral surface area: S Total surface area: T Volume: V S = lP T = lP + 2B V = hB = lA

A circular cylinder in which the axis is perpendicular to the bases. (If the axis of a circular cylinder is not perpendicular to the bases, it is called an oblique circular cylinder.) Height: h Radius of base: r Lateral surface area: S Total surface area: T Volume: V S = 2 Pi rh T = 2 Pi r(r+h) V = Pi r2h A = B = Pi r2 P = 2 Pi r l=h

For more about cylinders, visit: Ask Dr. Math: Surface Area and Volume of Cylinders The Geometry Center: Cylinders Back to Contents

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Cone Formulas

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Cone

A cone is a surface generated by a family of all lines through a given point (the vertex) and passing through a curve in a plane (the directrix). More commonly, a cone includes the solid enclosed by a cone and the plane of the directrix. The region of the plane enclosed by the directrix is called a base of the cone. The perpendicular distance from the vertex to the plane of the base is the height of the cone. Height: h Area of base: B Volume: V V = hB/3

Circular Cone

A cone whose base is a circle. The line connecting the center of the base to the vertex is called the axis of the circular cone.

In a right circular cone, the axis is perpendicular to the base. (If the axis of a circular cone is not perpendicular to the base, it is called an oblique circular cone.) The length of any line segment connecting the vertex to the directrix is called the slant height of the cone. Height: h Radius of base: r Slant height: s Lateral surface area: S Total surface area: T Volume: V B = Pi r2 s = sqrt[r2+h2] S = Pi rs T = Pi r(r+s) V = Pi r2h/3 (Learn how to build a cone from paper or other flat material.)

The part of a right circular cone between the base and a plane parallel to the base whose distance from the base is less than the height of the cone.

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Height: h Radius of bases: r, R Slant height: s Lateral surface area: S Total surface area: T Volume: V s = sqrt([R-r]2+h2) S = Pi(r+R)s T = Pi(r[r+s]+R[R+s]) V = Pi(R2+rR+r2)h/3

For more about cones, visit: Ask Dr. Math: Lateral Surface of a Cone Volume of a Cone Volume of a Cone Volume and Surface Area of a Cone Frustum The Geometry Center: Cones Back to Contents

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Building a Cone

Building a Cone

Suppose you want to build a (right circular) cone out of some flat material, perhaps paper or metal. You cut out a sector of a circle and roll it up to make the cone. Let the radius of the sector be R, it central angle T (in radians), the height of the cone be h, the radius of its base r, and the vertex angle (i.e., the angle between its axis and any slant-height line) t (also in radians).

You are given two of {h,r,R,t,T}, and wish to determine the other three. There are ten cases, depending on what you are given: Case 1: You know h and r. Then t = Arctan(r/h), R = h/cos(t) = sqrt(h2+r2), T = 2*Pi*r/R. Case 2: You know h and t. Then r = h*tan(t), R = h/cos(t) = sqrt(h2+r2), T = 2*Pi*r/R = 2*Pi*sin(t). Case 3: You know h and R. Then r = sqrt(R2-h2), t = Arccos(h/R), T = 2*Pi*r/R. Case 4: You know h and T. Then r = h*T/sqrt(4*Pi2-T2), R = 2*Pi*r/T, t = Arctan(r/h). Case 5: You know r and R. Then

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Building a Cone

T = 2*Pi*r/R, h = r*sqrt(4*Pi2-T2)/T, t = Arctan(r/h). Case 6: You know r and t. Then h = r*cot(t), R = r/sin(t), T = 2*Pi*r/R. Case 7: You know r and T. Then R = 2*Pi*r/T, h = sqrt(R2-r2), t = Arctan(r/h). Case 8: You know R and t. Then h = R*cos(t). r = R*sin(t), T = 2*Pi*sin(t), Case 9: You know R and T. Then r = R*T/(2*Pi), h = sqrt(R2-r2), t = Arctan(r/h). Case 10: You know t and T. Then the values of h, r, and R cannot be determined without further information. You can determine their ratios h/R, r/R, and h/r as follows: h/R = cos(t), r/R = sin(t) = T/(2*Pi), h/r = cot(t).

Building a Frustum

Building a Frustum

Suppose you want to build a frustum of a (right circular) cone out of some flat material, perhaps paper or metal. You cut out a sector of an annulus and roll it up to make the curved surface of the frustum. Let the major radius of the sector be Rb, its minor radius be Rs, its central angle T (in radians), the height of the frustum be h, the radius of its base rb, the radius of its top rs, and the vertex angle (i.e., the angle between its axis and any slant-height line) t (also in radians).

You are given some of {h, rb, rs Rb, Rs, t, T}, and wish to determine all the others. You need either three of the five lengths, or else two lengths and one of the two angles, to determine all of the others. There are thirty cases. If you know both angles and only one length, you can only determine the ratios of the unknown lengths. The relationships among these parameters boil down to the following: (rb-rs)/(Rb-Rs) = rs/Rs = rb/Rb = T/(2*Pi) = sin(t), (Rb-Rs)2 = h2 +(rb-rs)2, rb - rs = h*tan(t), Rb - Rs = h*sec(t). A typical situation is when you are given the three lengths h, rb, and rs. Then t = Arctan([rb-rs]/h), sin(t) = (rb-rs)/sqrt(h2 +[rb-rs]2), Rs = rs/sin(t), Rb = rb/sin(t), T = 2*Pi*sin(t).

Building a Frustum

Another typical situation is when you are given the two lengths Rb and Rs, and angle T. Then t = Arcsin(T/[2*Pi]), rs = Rs*T/(2*Pi), rb = Rb*T/(2*Pi), h = (Rb-Rs)*cos(t).

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Regular Polygon

Number of sides, all equal length a: n Number of interior angles, all equal measure beta: n Central angle subtending one side: alpha Perimeter: P Area: K Radius of circumscribed circle: R Radius of inscribed circle: r beta = Pi(n-2)/n radians = 180o(n-2)/n alpha = 2 Pi/n radians = 360o/n alpha + beta = Pi radians = 180o P = na = 2nR sin(alpha/2) K = na2 cot(alpha/2)/4 = nR2 sin(alpha)/2 = nr2 tan(alpha/2) = na sqrt(4R2-a2)/4 R = a csc(alpha/2)/2 r = a cot(alpha/2)/2 a = 2r tan(alpha/2) = 2R sin(alpha/2) To read about regular polygons, visit The Geometry Center.

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(For constructions using straightedge and compass, see examples below by Floor van Lamoen and John Conway.) Number of sides n = 5 Internal angles beta = 3 /5 radians = 108 degrees Central angles alpha = 2 /5 radians = 72 degrees Perimeter P = 5a = 5R sqrt(10-2 sqrt[5])/2 Area K = 5a2 sqrt(1+2/sqrt[5])/4 = 5R2 sqrt(10+2 sqrt[5])/8 = 5r2 sqrt(5-2 sqrt[5]) = 5a sqrt(4R2-a2)/4 Circumradius R = a sqrt(2+2/sqrt[5])/2 Apothem r = a sqrt(1+2/sqrt[5])/2 = R(1+sqrt[5])/4 Side a = 2r sqrt(5-2 sqrt[5]) = R sqrt(10-2 sqrt[5])/2

Number of sides n = 6 Internal angles beta = 2 /3 radians = 120 degrees Central angles alpha = /3 radians = 60 degrees Perimeter P = 6a = 6R Area K = 3a2 sqrt(3)/2 = 3R2 sqrt(3)/2 = 2r2 sqrt(3) = 3a sqrt(4R2-a2)/2 Circumradius R = a Apothem r = a sqrt(3)/2 = R sqrt(3)/2 Side a = 2r/sqrt(3) = R

Number of sides n = 8 Internal angles beta = 3 /4 radians = 135 degrees

/4 radains = 45 degrees

Perimeter P = 8a = 8R sqrt(2-sqrt[2]) Area K = 2a2(sqrt[2]+1) = 2R2 sqrt(2) = 8r2(sqrt[2]-1) = 2a sqrt(4R2-a2) Circumradius R = a sqrt(sqrt[2]/2+1) Apothem r = a(sqrt[2]+1)/2 = R sqrt(2+sqrt[2])/2 Side a = 2r(sqrt[2]-1) = R sqrt(2-sqrt[2])

Here is a table of regular polygons constructible with straightedge and compass whose angles are whole numbers of degrees: n 3 4 5 6 8 10 12 15 20 24 30 40 60 120 alpha beta 120 90 72 60 45 36 30 24 18 15 12 9 6 3 60 90 108 120 135 144 150 156 162 165 168 171 174 177 a/R 1.7320508 = sqrt(3) 1.4142136 = sqrt(2) 1.1755705 = sqrt(5-sqrt[5])/2 1.0000000 = 1 0.7653669 = sqrt(2-sqrt[2]) 0.6180340 = (sqrt[5]-1)/2 0.5176381 = (sqrt[3]-1)/sqrt(2) 0.4158234 = (sqrt[3]sqrt[1-sqrt(5)]+sqrt[2]sqrt[5+sqrt(5)])/4 0.3128689 = (sqrt[2][1+sqrt(5)] - 2 sqrt[5-sqrt(5)])/4 0.2610524 = sqrt([4-sqrt(2)-sqrt(6)]/2) 0.2090569 = (sqrt[6]sqrt[5-sqrt(5)]-sqrt[5]-1)/4 0.1569182 = (sqrt[2]sqrt[2+sqrt(2)][1-sqrt(5)]+ 2 sqrt[2-sqrt(2)]sqrt[5+sqrt(5)])/(4 sqrt[2]) 0.1046719 = ([sqrt(3)+1][sqrt(5)-1]sqrt[2]+ 2[1-sqrt(3)]sqrt[5+sqrt(5)])/8 0.0523539 = ([sqrt(2-sqrt[2])+ sqrt(6+3 sqrt[2])][1+sqrt(5)-sqrt(30-6 sqrt[5])]+ [sqrt(2+sqrt[2])-sqrt(6-3 sqrt[2])][sqrt(3)+ sqrt(15)+sqrt(10-2 sqrt[5])])/16

The following messages were sent by and in answer to Professor John Conway of Princeton University's Mathematics Department to geometry discussion groups (geometry-puzzles, geometry-pre-college, geometrypuzzles) in answer to questions about constructing regular polygons. An alternative simple construction of a regular pentagon has been contributed by Floor van Lamoen ("Dr. Floor"); see also Inscribing a regular pentagon in a circle - and proving it, by Scott E. Brodie.

1. Polygons with compass and straightedge It's a VERY famous theorem of Gauss that the only regular polygons with a prime number of sides that can be constructed with straightedge and compass are those for which the prime is one of the Fermat primes 3, 5, 17, 257, 65537, ... (that is, primes of the form 2^n + 1). any Fermat primes larger than 65537. Nobody knows if there are

The only constructible regular polygons with an odd number of sides are those for which this number is a product of distinct Fermat primes (so for instance 15 = 3 times 5, 51 = 3 times 17), and the only ones with an even number of sides are those obtained by repeatedly doubling these numbers (including 1), thus:(1,2), 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, ... 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, ... 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, ... 15, 30, 60, ... 17, 34, 68,... 51, ... 85,... Some people might like the following little observation. Write out the Pascal triangle modulo 2 : 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 ...................

then by reading the first 31 rows as the binary expansions of numbers, you get 1, 3, 5, 15, 17, 51, 85, 255, 257, ... which give the first few odd-sided constructible polygons (and very probably all there are). John Conway

2. Construction of a regular pentagon Let N,S,E,W be the points of a circle with center O in the four compass directions, M be the midpoint of ON and MX (with X on the bisector of the angle OME:

OE)

Then the line through X perpendicular to OE hits the circle in two points of the regular pentagon that has a vertex at E. You can either get the other two points by stepping around the circle with a compass set to the edge-length so found for the pentagon, or by replacing X in the above by the point Y where the EXTERNAL bisector of OME meets OW. How about septagons? Well, for one thing the proper name is "heptagon", not "septagon." There isn't a construction for a regular heptagon using ruler and compass according to Euclid's rules, but there is a construction using an angle-trisector which you can find in "The Book of Numbers" that I wrote with Richard Guy. That book also gives an angle-trisector construction that uses ruler and compasses in a manner not sanctioned by Euclid, so you can combine them to give such a construction for the regular heptagon. The book also gives similar constructions for the regular polygons with 13 and 17 sides (for the regular 11-gon there's a construction using an angle-quinquesector, but it was too complicated for us to put into the book). John Conway

3. Construction of a 17-sided regular polygon The neatest construction I know is due to Richmond - I call it the "quadruple quadrisection constriction": 1) quadrisect the perimeter of the circle, by points 2) quadrisect the radius 3) quadrisect the angle ON OAE by the point A; by the line AB; N,S,E,W;

4) quadrisect the straight angle BAC by the line AD: N | | J C | F A | W---------G-D-O-B-----H-----E | | | | | | S I 5) draw the semicircle DFE, cutting ON in F;

6) draw the semicircle GFH, centred at B; 7) cut the semicircle WNE by the perpendiculars GI and HJ to WE.

Then I and J are points of the regular heptakaidecagon on the circle ENWS that has one vertex at E. I first saw this in Hardy and Wright's book on The Theory of Numbers, which is where I've just checked up on it. H & W confirm my impression of the history. They say that Gauss worked out the general theory in Paragraphs 335-366 of his Disquisitiones, but that the first explicit construction was given by Erchinger, for whom they refer to Gauss' Werke, vol II, pp186-187. This "Quadruple Quadrisection" construction (my name) is due to Richmond, who gave it in the Quarterly Journal of Math, 1893. Of the four or five constructions I have seen, it is definitely the nicest. If you intersect the other quadrisectors of that straight angle with WE and treat the resulting points similarly, you can get more vertices in the same way - but it's easier to use your compasses to step around the circle from the ones given,

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for which the constructing points are the most conveniently situated. John Conway

John, I discovered another nice construction by Henri Lebesgue. Let me tell the story: Henri Lebesgue published in 1937 the following paper: Lebesgue, Henri: Sur une construction du polygone regulier de 17 cotes, due a Andre-Marie Ampere, d'apres des documents conserves dans les archives de l'academie des sciences. C. R. Acad. Sci., Paris 204(1937) 925-928. [Republished in: Enseign. Math., II. Ser. 3(1957) 31-34] Also, he is the author of the book: Henri Lebesgue: Lecons sur les constructions geometriques au college de France en 1940-1941. Paris : Gauthier - Villars, 1950 In pp. 148- 49 he describes the construction of the r. heptakaidecagon (and in p. 145 of the r. pentagon). I haven't seen HL's paper/book, only brief descriptions of his constructions (in the book) published in a Greek periodical. Here is the construction of the r. heptakaidecagon: Let (O) be a circle of center O. Y A_6 | A_4 | K | | | | X--F*----D*-H--E*-C--O-F-D-----G-E----A | B | | | | | | Z 1. Draw the diameters XA perpendicular to YZ 2. Quadrisect the radius OZ by B.

3. Draw CB perpendicular to BA (C lies on OX) 4. Draw the semicircle (C, CB) intersecting XA at D, D* 5. Draw the semicircle (D, DB) intersecting XA at E,E* 6. Draw the semicircle (D*, D*B) intersecting XA at F,F* 7. Draw the semicircle of diameter AE*, intersecting OY at K 8. Draw the semicircle (F, FK) intersecting XA at G, H. 9. Draw the perpendiculars from G, H, intersecting the (O) at A_4, A_6. Now, A:=A_1, A_4, A_6 are vertices of the r. 17-gon. (We have arc(A_4A_6) = 4Pi/17. We bisect it to find A_5, and therefore the r.17-gon's side). It is a memorizable construction: 5 semicircles and 4 perpendiculars. The question is: Is it a construction of Andre-Marie Ampere (see paper above) or H. Lebesque's himself ? (My source calls it as Lebesgue's.) Antreas P. Hatzipolakis

Construction of a regular pentagon: Let N,S,E,W be the points of a circle C with center O in the four compass directions, and let M be the midpoint of ON. Let E' and E" be the points where the circle with center M through E meets the line NS. Finally, let P' and P" be the points where the circle with center E through E' meets C and let Q' and Q" be the points where the circle with center E through E" meets C. Then E, P', P", Q' and Q" form a regular pentagon.

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Circle Formulas

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Circle

All points on the circumference of a circle are equidistant from its center. Radius: r Diameter: d Circumference: C Area: K d = 2r C = 2 Pi r = Pi d K = Pi r2 = Pi d2/4 C = 2 sqrt(Pi K) K = C2/4 Pi = Cr/2 To read about circles, visit The Geometry Center.

Arc of a Circle

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A curved portion of a circle. Length: s Central angle: theta (in radians), alpha (in degrees) s = r theta = r alpha Pi/180

Segment of a Circle

Either of the two regions into which a secant or a chord cuts a circle. (However, the formulas below assume that the segment is no larger than a semi-circle.) Chord length: c Height: h Distance from center of circle to chord's midpoint: d Central angle: theta (in radians), alpha (in degrees) Area: K Arc length: s theta = 2 arccos(d/r) = 2 arctan(c/(2d)) = 2 arcsin(c/(2r)) h=r-d c = 2 sqrt(r2-d2) = 2r sin(theta/2) = 2d tan(theta/2) = 2 sqrt[h(2r-h)] d = sqrt(4r2-c2)/2 = r cos(theta/2) = c cot(theta/2)/2 K = r2[theta-sin(theta)]/2 = r2arccos([r-h]/r) - (r-h)sqrt(2rh-h2) = r2arccos(d/r) - d sqrt(r2-d2) theta = s/r K = r2[s/r - sin(s/r)]/2 For much more about segments of circles, see

Sector of a Circle

The pie-shaped piece of a circle 'cut out' by two radii. Central angle: theta (in radians), alpha (in degrees) Area: K Arc length: s K = r2theta/2 = r2alpha Pi/360 theta = s/r K = rs/2 Back to Contents

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Sphere Formulas

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Sphere

A three-dimensional figure with all of its points equidistant from its center. Radius: r Diameter: d Surface area: S Volume: V S = 4 Pi r2 = Pi d2 V = (4 Pi/3)r3 = (Pi/6)d3

Sector of a Sphere

The part of a sphere between two right circular cones that have a common vertex at the center of the sphere, and a common axis. (The interior cone may have a base with zero radius.) Radius: r Height: h Volume: V S = 2 Pi rh V = (2 Pi/3)r2h

Spherical Cap

The portion of a sphere cut off by a plane. If the height, the radius of the sphere, and the radius of the base are equal: h = r (= r1), the figure is called a hemisphere. Radius of sphere: r Radius of base: r1 Height: h Surface area: S Volume: V r = (h2+r12)/(2h) S = 2 Pi rh V = (Pi/6)(3r12+h2)h

Segment: the portion of a sphere cut off by two parallel planes. Zone: the curved surface of a spherical segment. Radius of sphere: r Radii of bases: r1, r2 Height: h Surface area: S Volume: V S = 2 Pi rh V = (Pi/6)(3r12+3r22+h2)h

Lune of a Sphere

The curved surface of the intersection of two hemispheres. Radius: r Central dihedral angle: theta (in radians), alpha (in degrees) Surface area: S Volume enclosed by the lune and the two planes: V S = 2r2theta = (Pi/90)r2alpha V = (2/3)r3theta = (Pi/270)r3alpha

For more about spheres, visit: Ask Dr. Math: Volume of a Sphere Volume of a Hemisphere Using Cavalieri's Theorem Volume of a Spherical Cap The Geometry Center: Spheres Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics: Sphere Back to Contents

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Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipse & Parabola Formulas

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"A conic (or conic section) is a plane curve that can be obtained by intersecting a cone with a plane that does not go through the vertex of the cone. There are three possibilities, depending on the relative position of the cone and the plane. If no line of the cone is parallel to the plane, the intersection is a closed curve, called an ellipse. If one line of the cone is parallel to the plane, the intersection is an open curve whose two ends are asymptotically parallel; this is called a parabola. Finally, there may be two lines in the cone parallel to the plane; the curve in this case has two open pieces, and is called a hyperbola." (See Conics, The Geometry Center.)

Ellipse

Semi-axes: a, b Eccentricity: e = sqrt(a2-b2)/a Area: K Circumference: C

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipse & Parabola Formulas

K = Pi ab C = 4aE, where E is an elliptic integral with k = e, which can be used to derive the following formulas: C = (a+b)[1 + x2/4 + x4/64 + ...], where x = (a-b)/(a+b) C = (a+b)(1 + 3x2/[10 + sqrt(4 - 3x2)]), approximately

Segment of a Parabola

Height: h Chord length: c Area: K Length: s s = c[1+2(2h/c)2/3-2(2h/c)4/5+...] s = sqrt[4h2+c2/4]+[c2/(8h)] ln[(2h+sqrt[4h2+c2/4])/(c/2)] K = 2ch/3 K = 4T/3, where T is the area of the triangle formed by the chord and the point of tangency of a tangent to the parabola parallel to the chord

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipse & Parabola Formulas

To read more about ellipses and parabolas, visit: The Geometry Center: Ellipse, Parabola J. Wilson Coe: Assignments Paul Bourke: Classic Curves

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Ask Dr. Math 1994-2006 Drexel University. All rights reserved. http://mathforum.org/ The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel School of Education.

Circumference of an Ellipse

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math [Back to Ellipse & Parabola Formulas]

Preliminaries

The circumference C of an ellipse must be computed using calculus. To do this, we set up a Cartesian coordinate system. We put the origin at the center of the ellipse, the x-axis along the major axis, whose length is 2a, and the y-axis along the minor axis, whose length is 2b. The eccentricity e is defined by 0 <= e = sqrt(a2-b2)/a < 1. Then the equation of the ellipse is x2/a2 + y2/b2 = 1, a >= b > 0.

Now the formula for computing the arc length of any curve given by the parametric equations x = f(t), y = g(t), over the range c <= t <= d is d s = INTEGRAL sqrt[(dx/dt)2+(dy/dt)2] dt. c

Derivation

For the above ellipse, we can use the parametric equations x = a sin(t), y = b cos(t), 0 <= t <= 2 , C = s, dx/dt = a cos(t), dy/dt = -b sin(t). Then

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.ellipse.circumference.html (1 of 4) [5/25/2006 11:53:48 AM]

2 C = INTEGRAL sqrt(a2cos2[t]+b2sin2[t]) dt. 0 We can use the 4-fold symmetry of the ellipse to rewrite this as /2 C = 4 INTEGRAL sqrt(a2cos2[t]+b2sin2[t]) dt. 0 This can be further rewritten, using cos2(t) = 1 - sin2(t), and the definition of the eccentricity e, as /2 C = 4a INTEGRAL 0 sqrt(1-e2sin2[t]) dt.

Now this integral is a famous one. It is called a "complete elliptic integral of the second kind." It is one of those integrals that cannot be expressed in closed form in terms of the familiar functions of calculus, except if e = 0, when we have a circle. That means that this is the simplest formula possible for the circumference of a general ellipse. Another way to write this is C = 4aE( /2,e).

Evaluation

This integral can be evaluated numerically, of course. Another way to compute its value is using an infinite series. Set x = (a-b)/(a+b). Then infinity (a+b)(1 + SUM [(2n-2)!/(n![n-1]!22n-1)]2x2n), n=1 (a+b)(1 + + + + x2/4 x4/64 x6/256 25x8/16384 + ...).

C =

C =

This series converges pretty rapidly, especially when x is small, that is, when a and b are close together, that is, when e is small.

Example

If a = 15, b = 6, e = sqrt(21)/5, and x = 3/7, you find

http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.ellipse.circumference.html (2 of 4) [5/25/2006 11:53:48 AM]

C = (15+6) (1 + + + + + = 21 (1 + + + + +

= 21(3.1415926536)(1.046471589), = 69.039336580, approximately. With six terms, we get 7 significant figures of accuracy for this value of x (the correct answer being 69.03933778699452855...), even though a and b are not close together (and e = 0.916515... is not very small).

Approximation

The approximate formula C = 2 sqrt((a2+b2)/2)

can be found in Mathematical Tables from the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 10th ed. (1954), p. 315. The idea seems to be to use 2 r, but for r use the root-mean-square of the semi-major and semi-minor axes. Then a > r > b, so one shouldn't be too far off. In fact, 2 sqrt[(a2+b2)/2] = (a+b) (1 + x2/2 - x4/8 + ...),

so the first order term is right, and the second order term is double what it should be, so this is not too awful an approximation, but not very good, either. It's about as good as using r = (a+b)/2. Better would be to use C ~~ = (sqrt[(a2+b2)/2] + [a+b]/2), (a+b)(1 + x2/4 - x4/16 + ...),

which agrees in both first and second order terms. If x4/16 is negligibly small, then this gives right answers, whereas the original approximation does only if x2/4 is negligible. A short search of the Dr. Math archives turned up the following approximation due to Ramanujan: C ~~ (3a + 3b - sqrt[(a+3b)(b+3a)])

This is even better, because (3a + 3b - sqrt[(a+3b)(b+3a)]) = which agrees even in the third-order term! However, in the same paper [Ramanujan, S., "Modular Equations and Approximations to ," Quart. J. Pure. Appl. Math., vol. 45 (1913-1914), pp. 350-372], he gives another, even better approximation: C ~~ (a+b)(1+3x2/[10+sqrt(4-3x2)]) (a+b)(1 + x2/4 + x4/64 + x6/512 + ...),

which has a relative error of about (3/217)x10 for small values of x, since this function has series expansion (a+b)(1 + + + + + x2/4 x4/64 x6/256 25x8/16384 95x10/131072 + ...),

agreeing with the actual series for C through terms of the fifth order, and even having sixth order term close to right! For a relatively compact formula, this is clearly the winner, although it's rarely clear how Ramanujan derived his formulas. Anyone interested enough to read this far would probably greatly enjoy taking a detour to read about his fascinating life and contributions to mathematics in the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Contributed by "Dr. Rob," Robert L. Ward Submit your own question to Dr. Math [Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use] Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. Math 1994-2006 Drexel University. All rights reserved. http://mathforum.org/ The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel School of Education.

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipsoid, Torus, Spherical Polygon

Geometric Formulas: Contents || Ask Dr. Math || Dr. Math FAQ || Search Dr. Math

Ellipsoid

A three-dimensional figure all planar cross-sections of which are either ellipses or circles.

Semi-axes: a, b, c (the semi-axis is half the length of the axis, and corresponds to the radius of a sphere) Volume: V V = (4 Pi/3)abc

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipsoid, Torus, Spherical Polygon

Prolate Spheroid

Semi-axes: a, b, b (a > b) Surface area: S S = 2 Pi b(b+a arcsin[e]/e), where e = sqrt(a2-b2)/a

Oblate Spheroid

Semi-axes: a, b, b (a < b) Surface area: S S = 2 Pi b(b+a arcsinh[be/a]/[be/a]), where e = sqrt(b2-a2)/b

To read more, visit: The Geometry Center: Quadrics Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics: Ellipsoid Prolate Spheroid Oblate Spheroid

The surface of a three-dimensional figure shaped like a doughnut.

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipsoid, Torus, Spherical Polygon

Major radius (of the large circle): R Minor radius (of circular cross-section): r Surface area: S Volume: V S = 4 Pi2Rr V = 2 Pi2Rr2

To read more, visit: The Geometry Center: Torus Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics: Torus

Spherical Polygon

A closed geometric figure on the surface of a sphere formed by the arcs of great circles. Radius: r S = (theta-[n-2]Pi)r2 = (alpha-180[n-2])Pi r2/180 Number of sides: n Sum of Angles: theta (in radians), alpha (in degrees) Surface area: S

Math Forum: Ask Dr. Math FAQ: Ellipsoid, Torus, Spherical Polygon

spherical triangle

spherical quadrilateral

To read more, visit: Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics: Spherical polygon Great circle Spherical triangle Back to Contents

Ask Dr. Math 1994-2006 Drexel University. All rights reserved. http://mathforum.org/ The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel School of Education.

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