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Rectifiable Curves

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You are on page 1of 3

K Phillips

December 9, 2015

Introduction

A fractal can be defined as a geometrical figure which is self-similar across any scale. One of the first fractals to be discovered

was the Koch Curve which first appeared in 1904 paper by Helge Von Koch [1]. The basic curve starts with a straight line,

but can be used to form a snowflake by having the starting shape be an equilateral triangle. The snowflake is a curve that

if unfolded would be an infinite circle, so the perimeter of the Snowflake is infinite. However the area bounded by the line

is finite and can be calculated which will be shown in this report.

The Koch curve is designed by taking a straight line into thirds, then replacing the middle third of the line with an

equilateral triangle and repeating the process for every straight line on the curve such that there are technically no more

straight lines as each one is made up of points. The construction of this, is done by first creating a function to divide a line

segment into thirds and adding an equilateral triangle to the middle third, then having a second function which uses the

previous function on every line and repeats for the desired amount of iterations [2]. Using these two functions the curve

can be shown iteration by iteration by adding the code below. [3]

for i in range(1, 3):

p = koch( [ [ (0,0),(1,0) ]], i ).show(axes=False,aspect_ratio=1)

The curve is then constructed about an equilateral triangle, forming the snowflake, the first three iterations of which

are shown below.

for i in range(1, 3):

kochsFractal( [ [ (0, 0), (1/2,sqrt(3/4))], [ (1/2,sqrt(3/4)), (1, 0) ],[ (1,0),(0,0) ]],

i).show(axes=False,aspect_ratio=1,)

Figure 2: The starting figure and first two iterations of the Koch Snowflake.

Infinite Perimeter

times, the fractal is formed. If we start with an equilateral triangle of side length S we break down each side

into thirds and subtract the middle third while adding

what equates to two thirds the length in the form of a

triangle giving the next iteration to be four thirds the

previous perimeter. [4]

Pn+1 = (4/3)Pn

(1)

length 1, P0 = 3 we get the recursive code:

def perimeter(n):

if n == 0:

return 3

return 4/3 * perimeter(n-1)

The above code can be used to plot a graph showing the trend of the perimeter as the number of iterations increases. This

shows that as limn (P ) = , which is an infinite perimeter.

Finite Area

The informal proof of there being finite area inside the curve is to place the curve within a polygon of known finite area

and perimeter.As the iterations of the curve increase the area never exceeds that of the polygon and thus must be finite.

The are of the polygon can also be a rough approximation of the area within the snowflake. To increase the accuracy of the

approximation by bringing the perimeter of the polygon closer and closer to the curve by increasing the number of sides.

However a more accurate way to calculate the area would be by calculating the new area added on by each iteration to get

an infinite series, the sum of which can be calculated using sage. Again presuming to start with an equilateral triangle of

side length S.[5]

Iteration: 0, Area:

3S

4

Iteration: 1, Area:

3S

4

+3

2

3( S

3)

4

The new area being added on here is three smaller equilateral triangles with base length one third the size of

the original.

Iteration: 2, Area:

3S

4

+3

2

3( S

3)

4

+34

2

3( S

9)

4

The new area for each side of the original triangle, four smaller triangles one third the base length of the previous

triangle.

This pattern repeats for every available side a triangle one third the area is placed on it so the infinite series is geometric.

AREA =

3S

4

+3

2

3( S

3)

4

+34

2

3( S

9)

4

+ 3 42

S 2

3( 27

)

4

In order to calculate the area, we can take out common factors to get an infinite geometric series the sum of which can be

2

calculated. All the elements in the sum have sqrt(3)S

as a common factor which can be taken out, leaving the equation as:

4

AREA =

3S 2

4 (1

At which point we can use basic algebra to have a better looking series by swapping the index on the indices round on the

1

4

3 . Then it would also be simpler to multiply by 4 to take the 4 into the fraction throughout the fraction, so we divide the

common factor by 4 to give the following:

AREA =

3S 2

16 (4

+3

41

9

+3

42

9

+3

43

9 ...)

We can remove a factor of 3 from the second term onward to get a more simple geometric series

AREA =

3S 2

16 (4

+ 3( 49 + ( 19 )2 + ( 49 )3 ...))

2

4n

9

X

4n

which using sage we can calculate

,

9

n=1

import math

f(x) = ((4/9) ^ x)

k = sum(f(x), x, 1, oo)

k

This returns

4

5

AREA =

3S 2

16 (4

+ 3( 45 )

sqrt(3) / 16 * ( 4 + 3 * k)

This gives the area finally to be:

AREA =

2 3S 2

5

If we were to use an equilateral triangle of side length 1 and iteratethe Koch curve an infinite number of times, we

2 (3)

would have a Koch Snowflake of infinite perimeter with a finite area of 5 .

Final Comments

Using the informal proof seen in Chapter 4 can be used for other shapes to show a finite area within an infinite perimeter,

a mock example of this would be to place a map of Wales within a rectangle as a rough approximation of the area

and perimeter, then increase the number of sides of the polygon as you bring it closer to the coastline, to get a closer

approximation of the area and a larger approximation of the perimeter. Once you get so close to the coastline, you

eventually get such a large perimeter that it tends to infinity, but the area of Wales still remains finite. A less mathematical

but still interesting way of seeing an (almost) infinite length bounding a finite area. Another mathematical way of seeing

how finite curves interact with space would be to calculate the area within the Anti-Koch Curve as seen in Fig 3 as it would

also be a finite area. My suggestion for this would to be to calculate the area iteration by iteration and then subtract the

new areas the curve forms from the original triangle.

References

[1] Helge Von Koch. On a continuous curve without tangent constructible from elementary geometry. Classics on Fractals

(Westview Press, 2004) pp, 25:45, 1993.

[2] 2d graphics. http://www.norsemathology.org/wiki/index.php?title=2D_Graphics, Accessed: 2015-12-04.

[3] Koch curve.

https://cloud.sagemath.com/projects/62ee05aa-fe61-4c83-85dc-d611bc6043c1/files/base%

20code%20for%20curve.sagews. Accessed: 2015-12-03.

[4] Perimeter. https://cloud.sagemath.com/projects/62ee05aa-fe61-4c83-85dc-d611bc6043c1/files/Perimeter.

sagews. Accessed: 2015-12-03.

[5] Area.

https://cloud.sagemath.com/projects/62ee05aa-fe61-4c83-85dc-d611bc6043c1/files/area.sagews.

Accessed: 2015-12-03.

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