geometry assuming the parallel postulate of Euclid: in a plane, given a line and a point not on that line, there is exactly one line parallel to the given line through the given point.

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103
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3answers
14k views

Slice of pizza with no crust

The following question came up at a conference and a solution took a while to find. Puzzle. Find a way of cutting a pizza into finitely many congruent pieces such that at least one piece of pizza ...
99
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4answers
2k views

Hyperbolic critters studying Euclidean geometry

You've spent your whole life in the hyperbolic plane. It's second nature to you that the area of a triangle depends only on its angles, and it seems absurd to suggest that it could ever be otherwise. ...
90
votes
8answers
3k views

Probability that a stick randomly broken in five places can form a tetrahedron

Edit (June. 2015) This question has been moved to MathOverflow, where a recent write-up finds a similar approximation as leonbloy's post below; see here. Randomly break a stick in five places. ...
61
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1answer
3k views

About Euclid's Elements and modern video games

Update (6/19/2014) $\;$ Just wanted to say that this idea that I posted more than a year ago, has now become reality at: http://euclidthegame.com/ 12.292 users have played it in 96 different ...
59
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17answers
32k views

What is the most elegant proof of the Pythagorean theorem? [closed]

The Pythagorean Theorem is one of the most popular to prove by mathematicians, and there are many proofs available (including one from James Garfield). What's the most elegant proof? My favorite ...
38
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3answers
2k views

A generalization of IMO 1983 problem 6

Note: This question has a bounty that will expire in just a few days. Let $a,b,c$ and $d$ be the lengths of the sides of a quadrilateral. Show that $$ab^2(b-c)+bc^2(c-d)+cd^2(d-a)+da^2(a-b)\ge 0$$ ...
34
votes
2answers
2k views

Why can't three unit regular triangles cover a unit square?

A square with edge length $1$ has area $1$. An equilateral triangle with edge length $1$ has area $\sqrt{3}/4 \approx 0.433$. So three such triangles have area $\approx 1.3$, but it requires four ...
30
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is Euclidean geometry scale-invariant?

In Euclidean geometry, I frequently use concepts related to invariance under scaling. For example, I know that if two squares have different side lengths, the ratio of their side lengths is the ...
28
votes
3answers
1k views

A circle in the plane contains at most four lattice points?

Let $\cal C$ be a circle in ${\mathbb R}^2$ : $\cal C=\lbrace (x,y)\in{\mathbb R}^2 | (x-x_0)^2+(y-y_0)^2=r^2\rbrace$ for some constants $x_0,y_0,r$. What is the maximal number of points that can ...
27
votes
4answers
1k views

Two squares in a box.

According to Arthur Engel, "Problem Solving Strategies", this problem goes back to Erdős, but I cannot find the solution: Let $A$ and $B$ be two non-overlapping squares inside a unit square, of side ...
25
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4answers
1k views

Finding an invisible circle by drawing another line

A friend of mine taught me the following question. He said he found it in a book a few years ago. Though I've tried to solve it, I'm facing difficulty. Question: You know on a plane there is an ...
24
votes
5answers
1k views

Did Euclid prove that $\pi$ is constant?

Pi is defined the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, but of course different circles have different circumferences and diameters, so in order for it to be well-defined we need to ...
24
votes
2answers
422 views

When is a metric space Euclidean, without referring to $\mathbb R^n$?

Normally, the Euclidean space is introduced as $\mathbb R^n$. However, I've now been thinking about how one might define the $n$-dimensional Euklidean space only from the properties of the metric. ...
23
votes
7answers
17k views

Book recommendation on plane Euclidean geometry

I consider myself relatively good at math, though I don't know it at a high level (yet). One of my problems is that I'm not very comfortable with geometry, unlike algebra, or to restate, I'm much more ...
23
votes
2answers
625 views

Can I represent groups geometrically?

I have just taken up abstract algebra for my college and my professor was giving me an introduction to groups, but since I like geometric definitions or ways of looking at stuff, I kept thinking, "How ...
22
votes
1answer
519 views

If $d$ is a metric, is $d(x,y)/(1+d(x,0)+d(y,0))$ a metric?

I now that one can show that if $d$ is a metric on a vectorspace $X$ then so is $$\varrho(x,y):=\frac{d(x,y)}{1+d(x,y)}.$$ This easily follows from the fact that the function $s \mapsto \frac{s}{1+s}$ ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Does there exist a copy of Euclid's Elements with modern notation and no figures?

I am working through Euclid's Elements for fun, but I find the propositions difficult to understand without referencing the provided figures. Unfortunately, the figures usually give away the proofs, ...
21
votes
8answers
5k views

How to prove $\cos \frac{2\pi }{5}=\frac{-1+\sqrt{5}}{4}$?

I would like to find the apothem of a regular pentagon. It follows from $$\cos \dfrac{2\pi }{5}=\dfrac{-1+\sqrt{5}}{4}.$$ But how can this be proved (geometrically or trigonometrically)?
21
votes
5answers
933 views

Is there a deep reason why $(3, 4, 5)$ is pythagorean? [closed]

The triple $(3, 4, 5)$ is a pythagorean triple - it satisfies $a^2 + b^2 = c^2$ and, equivalently, its components are the lengths of the sides of a right triangle in the Euclidean plane. But of ...
21
votes
3answers
22k views

Check if a point is within an ellipse

I have an ellipse centered at $(h,k)$, with semi-major axis $r_x$, semi-minor axis $r_y$, both aligned with the Cartesian plane. How do I determine if a point $(x,y)$ is within the area bounded by ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it possible to solve any Euclidean geometry problem using a computer?

By "problem", I mean a high-school type geometry problem. If no, is there other set of axioms that allows that? If yes, are there any software that does that? I did a search, but was not able to ...
19
votes
6answers
1k views

What is the modern axiomatization of (Euclidean) plane geometry?

I have heard anecdotally that Euclid's Elements was an unsatisfactory development of geometry, because it was not rigorous, and that this spurred other people (including Hilbert) to create their own ...
19
votes
4answers
531 views

A problem with concyclic points on $\mathbb{R}^2$

I am thinking about the following problem: If a collection $\{P_1,P_2,\ldots,P_n\}$ of $n$ points are given on the $\mathbb{R^2}$ plane, has the property that for every $3$ points $P_i,P_j,P_k$ in ...
19
votes
7answers
932 views

Geometrical construction for Snell's law?

Snell's law from geometrical optics states that the ratio of the angles of incidence $\theta_1$ and of the angle of refraction $\theta_2$ as shown in figure1, is the same as the opposite ratio of the ...
19
votes
2answers
275 views

To whom do we owe this construction of angles and trigonometry?

I've come across what is, to me, the most precise, beautiful and thorough definition of what we know of as the angle between two vectors. I say this because most literature either skims over things ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Intersection of two parabolae

Problem: Consider two parabolae such that their axes of symmetry form a right angle. Prove that all four points of intersection lie on a common circle (it is an assumption that there exist such four ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Proof that every polygon with an inscribed circle is convex?

In many elementary (and not-so-elementary) Euclidean geometry texts, a (simple) polygon is said to be tangential  if it is convex and has an inscribed circle (i.e., a circle that intersects and ...
17
votes
1answer
109k views

Solving Triangles (finding missing sides/angles given 3 sides/angles)

What is a general procedure for "solving" a triangle—that is, for finding the unknown side lengths and angle measures given three side lengths and/or angle measures?
17
votes
1answer
120 views

If the Greeks had been four dimensional, would they have been able to derive the pi squared coefficient for the hypersphere volume without calculus?

I was reading about Archimedes' pre-calculus proof of the volume of the sphere and I realized that the trick he uses (volume of hemisphere + volume of cone = volume of cylinder) doesn't generalize to ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

The position of a ladder leaning against a wall and touching a box under it

I was reading a newspaper and there was a little math riddle, I thought "how funny, that's gonna be easy, let's do it" and here am I... The problem goes as follow : in a barn, there is a 1 meter ...
16
votes
3answers
679 views

Projection of tetrahedron to complex plane

It is widely known that: distinct points $a,b,c$ in the complex plane form equilateral triangle iff $ (a+b+c)^{2}=3(a^{2}+b^{2}+c^{2}). $ New to me is this fact: let $a,b,c,d$ be the images of ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Can a regular heptagon be constructed using a compass, straightedge, and angle trisector?

Euclid has a magical compass with which he can trisect any angle. Together with a regular compass and a straightedge, can he construct a regular heptagon?
16
votes
1answer
271 views

With what analytic functions can one construct the $(x,y)$ coordinate axes using a straightedge and a compass?

Given the graph of $y = \frac{1}{x}$, construct the $(x,y)$ coordinate axes using a straight edge and a compass. The solution to this problem is known (mouse over the spoiler text below for a ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a point?

In geometry, what is a point? I have seen Euclid's definition and definitions in some text books. Nowhere have I found a complete notion. And then I made a definition out from everything that I know ...
15
votes
2answers
14k views

What is the difference between Euclidean and Cartesian spaces?

For me those are references to the same thing. On Wikipedia there are references to both but I still don't see the difference. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartesian_coordinate_system#Cartesian_space ...
15
votes
4answers
758 views

Why do we believe the equation $ax+by+c=0$ represents a line?

I'm going for quite a weird question here. As we know, the equation in Cartesian coordinates for a line in 2-dimensional Euclidean geometry is of the form $ax+by+c=0$. I'm wondering why do we ...
15
votes
7answers
353 views

Locating three sets of collinear points

Given any three distinct points $A,B,C$ and a circle $C(O)$, construct points $D,E,F$ on the circle such that $A,D,E$ are collinear, $B,E,F$ are collinear and, $C,F,D$ are collinear. One such ...
15
votes
2answers
502 views

Do there exist an infinite number of 'rational' points in the equilateral triangle $ABC$?

Let's call a point $P$ which satisfies the following condition 'a rational point'. Condition: Each distance $PA, PB, PC$ from a point $P$ to three vertices $A, B, C$ of an equilateral triangle $ABC$ ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there a dissection proof of the Pythagorean Theorem for tetrahedra?

Of the many nice proofs of the Pythagorean theorem, one large class is the "dissection" proofs, where the sum of the areas of the squares on the two legs is shown to be the same as the area of the ...
15
votes
1answer
929 views

Why are there so few Euclidean geometry problems that remain unsolved?

Stillwell mentions in his book Mathematics and its History that: Most of the really old unsolved problems in mathematics, in fact, are simple questions about the natural numbers... What is it ...
15
votes
1answer
277 views

Hypercube and Hyperspheres

Let $n,k\in\mathbb{N}$. In this problem, the geometry of $\mathbb{R}^n$ is the usual Euclidean geometry. The lattice hypercube $ Q(n,k)$ is defined to be the set $ \{1,2,...,k\}^n ...
14
votes
4answers
493 views

If any triangle has area at most 1 , points can be covered by a rectangle of area 2.

I am working on this problem for some time, and I am not able to finish the argument: There is a finite number of points in the plane, such that every triangle has area at most 1. Prove that the ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Finding the circles passing through two points and touching a circle

Given two points and a circle, construct a/the circle through the two points and touching the given circle. I came across this problem in History of Numerical Analysis by H. Goldstein. I spent some ...
14
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6answers
881 views

Why do we use the Euclidean metric on $\mathbb{R}^2$?

On the train home, I thought I would try to prove $\pi$ is irrational. I needed a definition, so I used: $\pi$ is the area of the unit circle. But what is a circle? A circle is the set of tuples ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Making a convex polyhedron with two sheets of paper

Suppose that we have two sheets of paper $S,T$ and that each of $S,T$ is in the shape of a convex quadrilateral. Also, suppose that the length of the perimeter of $S$ equals that of $T$. (Note that ...
14
votes
3answers
536 views

Succinct Proof: All Pentagons Are Star Shaped

Question: What is a succinct proof that all pentagons are star shaped? In case the term star shaped (or star convex) is unfamiliar or forgotten: Definition Reminder: A subset $X$ of ...
14
votes
2answers
388 views

Decomposable Families of Shapes

There are two types of golden triangles in the world, as shown in the following picture: Here $\varphi = \dfrac{1+\sqrt{5}}{2}$ denotes the golden ratio. Each of these golden triangles can be ...
14
votes
1answer
639 views

What's the average width of a convex polygon?

If one computes the average width of a triangle, then one gets $(s_1+s_2+s_3)/\pi$, where $s_1$, $s_2$, $s_3$ are the side lengths. I did this by brute force, using an integral which went through an ...
14
votes
1answer
126 views

Uniqueness of a configuration of $7$ points in $\Bbb R^2$ such that, given any $3$, $2$ of them are $1$ unit apart

This question from earlier today asks (paraphrasing here): Is there a configuration of $7$ points in the Euclidean plane such that, given any $3$ of the $7$ points, at least $2$ of them are $1$ ...
14
votes
5answers
228 views

Must perpendicular (resp. orthogonal) lines meet?

In geometry books in French, there has traditionally been a very clear distinction between 'orthogonal' lines and 'perpendicular' lines in space. Two lines are called perpendicular if they meet at a ...