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Regiomontanus' angle maximization problem

In mathematics, the Regiomontanus' angle maximization problem, is a famous optimization problem

[1]

posed by

the 15th-century German mathematician Johannes Müller

[2]

(also known as Regiomontanus). The problem is as

follows:

The two dots at eye level are possible locations of the viewer's eye.

A painting hangs from a wall.

Given the heights of the top and

bottom of the painting above the

viewer's eye level, how far from

the wall should the viewer stand

in order to maximize the angle

subtended by the painting and

whose vertex is at the viewer's

eye?

If the viewer stands too close to the

wall or too far from the wall, the angle

is small; somewhere in between it is as

large as possible.

The same approach applies to finding the optimal place from which to kick a ball in rugby.

[3]

For that matter, it is not

necessary that the alignment of the picture be at right angles: we might be looking at a window of the Leaning Tower

of Pisa or a realtor showing off the advantages of a sky-light in a sloping attic roof.

Solution by elementary geometry

There is a unique circle passing

through the top and bottom of the

painting and tangent to the eye-level

line. By elementary geometry, if the

viewer's position were to move along

the circle, the angle subtended by the

painting would remain constant. All

positions on the eye-level line except

the point of tangency are outside of the

circle, and therefore the angle

subtended by the painting from those

points is smaller.

By ElementsIII.36 (alternatively the

power-of-a-point theorem), the

distance from the wall to the point of tangency is the geometric mean of the heights of the top and bottom of the

painting. This means, in turn, that if we reflect the bottom of the picture in the line at eye-level and draw the circle

with the segment between the top of the picture and this reflected point as diameter, the circle intersects the line at

eye-level in the required position (by Elements II.14).

Regiomontanus' angle maximization problem

2

Solution by calculus

In the present day, this problem is widely known because it appears as an exercise in many first-year calculus

textbooks (for example that of Stewart

[4]

).

Let

a = the height of the bottom of the painting above eye level;

b = the height of the top of the painting above eye level;

x = the viewer's distance from the wall;

o = the angle of elevation of the bottom of the painting, seen from the viewer's position;

ß = the angle of elevation of the top of the painting, seen from the viewer's position.

The angle we seek to maximize is ß`o. The tangent of the angle increases as the angle increases; therefore it

suffices to maximize

Since b`a is a positive constant, we only need to maximize the fraction that follows it. Differentiating, we get

Therefore the angle increases as x goes from 0 to a(ab) and decreases as x increases from a(ab). The angle is

therefore as large as possible precisely when x=a(ab), the geometric mean of aandb.

Solution by algebra

We have seen that it suffices to maximize

This is equivalent to minimizing the reciprocal:

Observe that this last quantity is equal to

This is as small as possible precisely when the square is 0, and that happens when x=a(ab). Alternatively, we might

cite this as an instance of the inequality between the arithmetic and geometric means.

Notes

[1] Heinrich Dörrie,100 Great Problems of Elementary Mathematics. Their History And Solution, Dover, 1965, pp.369-370

[2] Eli Maor, Trigonometric Delights, Princeton University Press, 2002, pages 46b48

[3] [3] .

[4] James Stewart, Calculus. Early Transcendentals, Fifth Edition, Brooks/Cole, 2003, page340, exercise58

Regiomontanus

3

Regiomontanus

Regiomontanus

Regiomontanus

Born 6 June 1436

Unfinden, Holy Roman Empire, now part of Königsberg, Germany

Died 6 July 1476 (aged40)

Rome

Nationality German

Fields Mathematics, astronomy, astrology

Alma mater University of Leipzig

University of Vienna

Academic advisors Georg von Peuerbach

Basilios Bessarion

Notable students Domenico Novara da Ferrara

For the lunar crater, see Regiomontanus (crater).

Johannes Müller von Königsberg (6 June 1436 b 6 July 1476), today best known by his Latin toponym

Regiomontanus, was a German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator, instrument maker and Catholic

bishop.

He was born in the Franconian village of Unfinden (now part of Königsberg, Bavaria) c not in the more famous

East-Prussian Königsberg.

He was also known as Johannes der Königsberger (Johannes of Königsberg). His writings were published under the

toponym Joannes de Monte Regio. The name Regiomontanus was first coined by Phillip Melanchthon in 1534,

fifty-eight years after his death.

Regiomontanus

4

Life

Plaque at Regiomontanus' birthplace

At eleven years of age, he became a student at the university in

Leipzig, Saxony. In 1451 he continued his studies at Alma Mater

Rudolfina, the university in Vienna, Austria. There he became a

pupil and friend of Georg von Peurbach. In 1452 he graduated BA

and was awarded his dmagister artiume(Master of Arts) at the age

of 21 in 1457 and held lectures in optics and ancient literature.

He continued to work with Peuerbach learning and extending the

then known areas of astronomy, mathematics and instrument

making until Peuerbach's death in 1461.

In 1460 the papal legate Basilios Bessarion came to Vienna on a

diplomatic mission, a humanist scholar and great fan of the

mathematical sciences Bessarion sought out Peuerbach's company. George of Trebizond who was Bessarion's

philosophical rival had recently produced a new Latin translation of Ptolemy's Almagest from the Greek, which

Bessarion, correctly, regarded as inaccurate and badly translated, so he asked Peuerbach to produce a new one.

Peuerbach's Greek was not good enough to do a translation but he knew the Almagest intimately so instead he started

work on a modernised, improved abridgement of the work. Bessarion also invited Peuerbach to become part of his

household and to accompany him back to Italy when his work in Vienna was finished. Peuerbach accepted the

invitation on the condition that Regiomontanus could also accompany them. However Peuerbach fell ill in 1461 and

died only having completed the first six books of his abridgement of the Almagest. On his death bed Peuerbach

made Regiomontanus promise to finish the book and publish it.

In 1461 Regiomontanus left Vienna with Bessarion and spent the next four years travelling around Northern Italy as

a member of Bessarion's household, looking for and copying mathematical and astronomical manuscripts for

Bessarion, who possessed the largest private library in Europe at the time. Regiomontanus also made the

acquaintance of the leading Italian mathematicians of the age such as Giovanni Bianchini and Paolo dal Pozzo

Toscanelli who had also been friends of Peuerbach during his prolonged stay in Italy more than twenty years earlier.

During his time in Italy he completed Peuerbach's Almagest abridgement, Epytoma in almagesti Ptolemei. In 1464,

he completed De Triangulis omnimodus. De Triangulis (On Triangles) was one of the first textbooks presenting the

current state of trigonometry and included lists of questions for review of individual chapters. In it he wrote:

dYou who wish to study great and wonderful things, who wonder about the movement of the stars, must read

these theorems about triangles. Knowing these ideas will open the door to all of astronomy and to certain

geometric problems.e

His work on arithmetic and algebra, Algorithmus Demonstratus, was among the first containing symbolic algebra.

[]

In 1465, he built a portable sundial for Pope Paul II.

In Epytoma in almagesti Ptolemei, he critiqued the translation of Almagest by George of Trebizond, pointing out

inaccuracies. Later Nicolaus Copernicus would refer to this book as an influence on his own work. He went to work

for János Vitéz, archbishop of Esztergom. There he calculated extensive astronomical tables and built astronomical

instruments. Later he went to Buda, and the court of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, for whom he built an astrolabe,

and where he collated Greek manuscripts for a handsome salary.

[]

In 1471 he moved to the Free City of Nuremberg, in Franconia, then one of the Empire's important seats of learning,

publication, commerce and art. He worked together with the humanist and merchant Bernhard Walther. Contrary to

popular belief there is no evidence that Regiomontanus ever erected an observatory,

[citation needed]

however he did

found the world's first scientific printing press and in 1472 he published the first printed astronomical textbook, the

Theoricae novae Planetarum of his teacher Georg von Peurbach.

Regiomontanus

5

In 1475 he went to Rome to work with Pope Sixtus IV on calendar reform. Regiomontanus died of unknown causes

in Rome, July 6, 1476, a month after his fortieth birthday. According to a rumor repeated by Gassendi in his

Regiomontanus biography he was assassinated by relatives of George of Trebizond whom he had criticized in his

writings. More likely he died in an epidemic raging in Rome at the time.

A prolific author, Regiomontanus was internationally famous in his lifetime. Despite having completed only a

quarter of what he had intended to write, he left a substantial body of work. Nicolaus Copernicus' teacher, Domenico

Maria Novara da Ferrara, referred to Regiomontanus as having been his own teacher. There is speculation that

Regiomontanus had arrived at a theory of heliocentrism before he died; a manuscript shows particular attention to

the heliocentric theory of the Pythagorean Aristarchus, mention was also given to the motion of the earth in a letter

to a friend.

[1]

In 1561, Daniel Santbech compiled a collected edition of the works of Regiomontanus, De triangulis planis et

sphaericis libri quinque (first published in 1533) and Compositio tabularum sinum recto, as well as Santbech's own

Problematum astronomicorum et geometricorum sectiones septem. It was published in Basel by Henrich Petri and

Petrus Perna.

The crater Regiomontanus on the Moon is named after him.

Astrology

Regiomontanus designed his own system in the 15th century, which was one of the most popular systems in Europe

in its time.

[]

Criticism

Much of the material on spherical trigonometry in Regiomontanus' On Triangles was taken directly and without

credit from the twelfth-century work of Jabir ibn Aflah otherwise known as Geber, as noted in the sixteenth century

by Gerolamo Cardano.

[2]

Notes

[1] Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers, Penguin Books, 1959, pp. 212.

[2] [2] , p.4

Literature

· Irmela Bues, Johannes Regiomontanus (1436a1476). In: Fränkische Lebensbilder 11. Neustadt/Aisch 1984,

pp.28b43

· Rudolf Mett: Regiomontanus. Wegbereiter des neuen Weltbildes. Teubner / Vieweg, Stuttgart / Leipzig 1996,

ISBN 3-8154-2510-7

· Helmuth Gericke: Mathematik im Abendland. Von den römischen Feldmessern bis zu Descartes. Springer-Verlag,

Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-540-51206-3

· Günther Harmann (Hrsg.): Regiomontanus-Studien. (= Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften,

Philosophisch-historische Klasse, Sitzungsberichte, Bd. 364; Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Geschichte

der Mathematik, Naturwissenschaften und Medizin, volumes 28b30), Vienna 1980. ISBN 3-7001-0339-5

· Samuel Eliot Morison, Christopher Columbus, Mariner, Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1955.

·· Ralf Kern: Wissenschaftliche Instrumente in ihrer Zeit/Band 1. Vom Astrolab zum mathematischen Besteck.

Köln, 2010. ISBN 978-3-86560-865-9

Regiomontanus

6

External links

· "Regiomontanus" (http:/ /www.bautz.de/bbkl/r/ regiomontanus. shtml). Biographisch-Bibliographisches

Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German).

· Günther (1885), " Johannes Müller Regiomontanus (http://mdz10. bib-bvb.de/ ~db/bsb00008380/ images/

index.html?seite=566)", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German) 22, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot,

pp.564b581

· Folkerts, Menso ; Kühne, Andreas(1955)(in German)." Regiomontan(us) (http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.

de/ 0001/bsb00016318/ images/ index.html?seite=290) ". In Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB). 2. Berlin:

Duncker & Humblot. pp.270et seq..

· Adam Mosley, Regiomontanus Biography (http:/ /www.hps. cam. ac.uk/starry/regiomontanus.html), web site

at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Cambridge (1999).

· O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Regiomontanus" (http://www-history. mcs.st-andrews. ac. uk/

Biographies/Regiomontanus. html), MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.

· Electronic facsimile-editions of the rare book collection at the Vienna Institute of Astronomy (http://www.

univie.ac. at/hwastro)

· Regiomontanus and Calendar Reform (http:/ /www.hps.cam.ac. uk/ starry/ regiocalen. html)

· Polybiblio: Regiomontanus, Johannes/Santbech, Daniel, ed. De Triangulis Planis et Sphaericis libri quinque.

Basel Henrich Petri & Petrus Perna 1561 (http:/ /www. polybiblio.com/ marta/ 165. html)

· Engl. Biographie bei MacTutor (http://www-groups.dcs. st-and.ac.uk/ ~history/ Mathematicians/

Regiomontanus.html)

· Joannes Regiomontanus: Calendarium (http:/ /www. jnul. huji. ac.il/dl/books/ html/bk1262728. htm), Venedig

1485, Digitalisat

· Beitrag bei fAstronomie in Nürnbergd(http:// naa.net/ain/personen/ regiomontanus. asp)

· Digitalisierte Werke von Regiomontanus (http:// num-scd-ulp.u-strasbg. fr:8080/view/authors/

Regiomontanus,_Johannes. html) cSICD der Universitäten von Strasbourg

· "Regiomontanus". The American Cyclopædia. 1879.

· Baynes, T.S.; Smith, W.R., eds. (1886). "Regiomontanus". Encyclopaedia Britannica 20 (9th ed.).

· Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries (http:/ /hos. ou. edu/

galleries// 15thCentury/Regiomontanus/ ) High resolution images of works by and/or portraits of Regiomontanus

in .jpg and .tiff format.

Article Sources and Contributors

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Article Sources and Contributors

Regiomontanus' angle maximization problem Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=549904722 Contributors: ArnoLagrange, David Eppstein, Giftlite, Michael Hardy,

Powerslide, Siddhant, Topology Expert, 15 anonymous edits

Regiomontanus Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?oldid=554117596 Contributors: 1c33y37, Adam Bishop, Akasseb, Altenmann, Antandrus, Appleseed, Arsia Mons, Bbggae,

Bearcat, Bob Burkhardt, C.Fred, CRGreathouse, Carjoyg, Chris Weimer, Conversion script, Curps, D6, Dale Arnett, Davshul, Dayubcpd, Dunnhaupt, Etacar11, FeanorStar7, Francvs, Frietjes,

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Robomaeyhem, Samuel Grant, Samuella, Seaphoto, Selfworm, Selket, Siffler, Sjarm13, Skeptic2, SockPuppetForTomruen, Sphilbrick, Staffelde, Stevenj, Stevenmitchell, Stewartadcock,

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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

Image:Regiomontanus.problem.png Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Regiomontanus.problem.png License: Public Domain Contributors: Michael Hardy

Image:Regiomontanus.solution.png Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Regiomontanus.solution.png License: Public Domain Contributors: Auntof6, Michael Hardy

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