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# Cutting Circles into Equal Area Pieces1

Prosenjit Bose Evangelos Kranakis Danny Krizanc Anil Maheshwari School of Computer Science Carleton University Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada. E-mail: jit,kranakis,krizanc,maheshwa @scs.carleton.ca

Jurek Czyzowicz Dept. Informatique ` Univ. du Qu bec a Hull e Hull, Qu bec J8X 3X7, e Canada. E-mail: czyzowic@UQAH.UQuebec.CA

Abstract We study several problems related to cutting circles into equal area pieces. Our objective is to minimize the total length of the cuts.

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supported in part by NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).

1 Introduction We consider the problem of cutting a circular domain into equal area pieces so as to minimize the total sum of the lengths of the cuts. In general, one may consider different and slightly more general variants of the problem. For example, circular could be replaced with any planar domain such as square, circle, ellipse, etc, and cuts may be interpreted to be straight lines, polygonal lines, curvilinear, etc. In general a cut is a rectiable curve. We are interested in the sum of the lengths of these cuts. In this paper we are concerned mostly with straight line cuts of circles. It will be shown that even these simple variants of the problem are interesting and challenging. In Section 2 we determine the optimal straight line cuts for a unit circle. To the best of our knowledge these problems have not previously appeared in the literature. There are several closely related problems that have been studied. Overmars and Welzl [4] studied the problem of cutting a polygon drawn on a piece of paper in the cheapest possible way. Frederickson [3] discusses several interesting problems related to geometric dissection. Also Croft, Falconer and Guy [2] discuss several problems related to tiling and dissection of circles and squares. 2 Cutting Circles Without loss of generality we consider the unit circle. Problem 2.1 What is the minimum length of a cut that cuts a circle into two equal area pieces? Theorem 2.1 Any curve that cuts a unit circle into two equal area pieces has length . Moreover, diameter of is an optimal cut.

a
C a

S O
b

## b Figure 1: Figure for Theorem 2.1

P ROOF (Proof by contradiction) Consider a curve that cuts the unit circle into two equal areas and has length . There are two cases depending upon whether is incident to the boundary of or not. Consider rst the case when is not incident to the boundary of . The curve encloses an area of (since ). The smallest perimeter gure that encloses a given area in the plane is a circle (see [1]). What is the perimeter of a circle which encloses an area of ? It turns out that the perimeter of this circle is equal to . Same contradiction arises if is incident to the boundary of at exactly one point. Consider the case when is incident to the boundary of at two points, say and (see Figure 1). Consider the chord . If passes through the center of , then , a contradiction. Assume that does not pass through the center. Let be the chord (a diameter) parallel to that passes through the center of . Since encloses half the area of , it must intersect . Consider points of that are in the half circle, say , dened by , and not containing the chord . Let be the point of in that is furthest from (if there are more than one furthest point, choose any). Let be the chord passing through and is parallel to . Consider the perpendicular bisector of and we know that it passes through the center of the
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## Figure 2: An optimal solution for cutting in the circle.

circle and let it intersect at . It is easy to show that , and any curve with endpoints at and and touching the chord at will have length , a contradiction. If is incident to the boundary of at more than two points, choose any two neighboring points, and call them and and apply the above contradiction. Problem 2.2 What is the minimum length of straight line cuts, that cut a circle into equal area pieces, and no two lines intersect in the interior of the circle? An optimal solution for this problem is presented in Figure 2 and furthermore, any optimal solution can be transformed to such a solution. In order to prove this, we need the following lemma. Lemma 2.1 (see Figure 3) Let be an inscribed triangle in a circle . Let , , and be the portion of the circle formed by the arc (respectively, , ) and the chord (respectively, , ) that excludes . Then Area min Area

P ROOF Without loss of generality assume that is the smallest side of and therefore the portion has minimum area among and . Form a inscribed isoceles triangle , such that .
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a C A

b B

Figure 3: Area

min Area

a C A C

c
m O O

b B B

Observe that Area Area , since the two triangles have the same base , but their height is different. We show that Area Area . There are two cases: Case I: does not contain the center of (see Figure 4a). Draw the tangent parallel to passing through . Let be the line passing through and is perpendicular to . Let and intersect at . Furthermore let be the point of intersection of and . Observe that forms a rectangle and Area Area Area .
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Figure 4: (a)

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## contains the center

Corollary 2.1 Let be an open simple convex polygonal curve inscribed in a circle , consisting of straight line segments and possibly arcs of . By removing from , can be partitioned into several components. Then the area of is strictly bigger than the minimum among the areas of the components. Corollary 2.2 Consider a subdivision of into equal area pieces formed by straight line segments such that no two lines intersect in the interior of . Every face of the subdivision is bounded by at most two segments. P ROOF Proof by contradiction. Suppose that there is a face whose boundary consists of more than two segments. The area of is and from Corollary 2.1 we know that the area of is strictly bigger than the minimum of the areas of the components that it cuts off . . A contradiction. The area of each of these components is at least Theorem 2.2 Figure 2 represents an optimal solution for cutting a circle into equal area pieces by straight line segments, where no two lines intersect in the interior of . Moreover any optimal solution for this problem can be transformed to the solution presented in the gure. P ROOF Consider an optimal solution. From Corollary 2.2 we know that each face in the subdivision consists of at most two segments on its boundary. Consider the dual graph of this subdivision, excluding
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Case II: contains the center of (see Figure 4b). Reect the triangle along . Let the reection of falls on to We show that by proving that and The angle since . Now we show that Observe that . Since the triangles and are isoceles, . Therefore .

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. . . ,

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sin x

## Figure 5: Figure for Observation 2.1

the external face, this graph is a path. Fixing the segment corresponding to one end of the path, we can move other segments one by one so as to obtain the solution presented in Figure 2. Problem 2.3 What is the minimum length of the straight line cuts, that cut a circle into equal area pieces, where the lines intersect in at most one Steiner point in ? Before we present the solution we need the following geometric relation. Observation 2.1 Consider a unit circle with center O and a Steiner point S as in Figure 5. Consider the diameter passing through and let be a point on the boundary of and project onto the diameter. The part of the area of the circle enclosed by is given by Area Area Area and the length of segment SA is given by

Theorem 2.3 If a unit circle is cut into equal area pieces by straight lines in such a way that the lines intersect in at most one
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## Figure 6: Figure for the case when

Steiner point in then the sum of the lengths of the cut is always . Moreover, the optimal cut is realized when the Steiner point is the center of . P ROOF Consider rst the case when is even. From Theorem 2.1 we know that any curve that cuts the circle into two equal area pieces has . Since is even we can pair up the curves so that each length pair splits into two equal area pieces and hence has a length . It follows that if is even then the sum of the length of the cuts is . It is easy to see that an optimal cut is realized when Steiner point is the center of and each cut is a straight line. Consider the case when is odd and suppose we cut the circle into equal area pieces as shown in Figure 6. Observe that if Area then Area . The total length of the cuts, say , is given by the following equation:

a  |u  zyY

E  E  

is odd. (

x
is not a cut)

 

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since , it is enough to show that if

## Consider Figure 6 and arcs following inequalities can be established:

From the above inequalities it follows that Thus in order to show that

These inequalities follow from the observation that the lengths of arcs, , are maximized when Steiner point is at the center of the circle. In addition we have the following inequalities:

and

. The

Recall that

and therefore . Therefore, we need to show that From Claim 2.1 this follows.

Claim 2.1 The following identity holds, where P ROOF Observe that

Therefore it is enough to show that Let Note that and observe that

## , and the claim follows.

3 Open Problems As mentioned in the introduction there are many problems that can be studied by varying the domain and the set of rectiable curves. Moreover imposing constraints on the number and the placement of Steiner points opens up another dimension to these problems. Acknowledgments Many thanks to Jorge Urrutia and Christos Kaklamanis for useful conversations. References [1] Yu.D.Burago and V.A. Zalgaller, Geometric Inequalities, Springer-Verlag, page 1, 1988.
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is odd. , since

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[2] H.T. Croft, K.J.Falconer and R.K. Guy, Unsolved problems in geometry, Springer-Verlag, 1991. [3] G.N. Frederickson, Dissections: Plane and Fancy, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997. [4] M.H. Overmars and E. Welzl, The complexity of cutting paper, Proc. 1st ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, pp. 316321, 1985.

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