For questions about geometric shapes, congruences, similarities, transformations, as well as the properties of classes of figures, points, lines, angles.

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437
votes
19answers
42k views

Is value of $\pi = 4$?

What is wrong with this? SOURCE
397
votes
11answers
407k views

Is this Batman equation for real?

HardOCP has an image with an equation which apparently draws the Batman logo. Is this for real?
187
votes
7answers
25k views

V.I. Arnold says Russian students can't solve this problem, but American students can — why?

In a book of word problems by V.I Arnold, the following appears: The hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle (in a standard American examination) is 10 inches, the altitude dropped onto it ...
183
votes
27answers
34k views

Does the square or the circle have the greater perimeter? A surprisingly hard problem for high schoolers

An exam for high school students had the following problem: Let the point $E$ be the midpoint of the line segment $AD$ on the square $ABCD$. Then let a circle be determined by the points $E$, $B$ and ...
169
votes
14answers
12k views

Identification of a quadrilateral as a trapezoid, rectangle, or square

Yesterday I was tutoring a student, and the following question arose (number 76): My student believed the answer to be J: square. I reasoned with her that the information given only allows us to ...
151
votes
12answers
25k views

How can a piece of A4 paper be folded in exactly three equal parts?

This is something that always annoys me when putting an A4 letter in a oblong envelope: one has to estimate where to put the creases when folding the letter. I normally start from the bottom and on ...
142
votes
3answers
26k views

Why can a Venn diagram for 4+ sets not be constructed using circles?

This page gives a few examples of Venn diagrams for 4 sets. Some examples: Thinking about it for a little, it is impossible to partition the plane into the $16$ segments required for a complete $4$-...
137
votes
13answers
21k views

What's the intuition behind Pythagoras' theorem?

Today we learned about Pythagoras' theorem. Sadly, I can't understand the logic behind it. $A^{2} + B^{2} = C^{2}$ $C^{2} = (5 \text{ cm})^2 + (7 \text{ cm})^2$ $C^{2} = 25 \text{ cm}^2 + 49 \...
131
votes
9answers
212k views

How many sides does a circle have?

My son is in 2nd grade. His math teacher gave the class a quiz, and one question was this: If a triangle has 3 sides, and a rectangle has 4 sides, how many sides does a circle have? My first ...
114
votes
4answers
11k views

Can someone explain the math behind tessellation?

Tessellation is fascinating to me, and I've always been amazed by the drawings of M.C.Escher, particularly interesting to me, is how he would've gone about calculating tessellating shapes. In my ...
108
votes
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 ...
103
votes
5answers
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. ...
102
votes
4answers
13k views

What is the probability that a point chosen randomly from inside an equilateral triangle is closer to the center than to any of the edges?

My friend gave me this puzzle: What is the probability that a point chosen at random from the interior of an equilateral triangle is closer to the center than any of its edges? I tried to ...
98
votes
18answers
11k views

How to distinguish walking on a sphere or on a torus?

Imagine that you're a flatlander walking in your world. How could you distinguish if the world is a sphere or a torus ? I can't see the difference from this point of view. If you are interested, this ...
96
votes
10answers
18k views

How can I find the surface area of a normal chicken egg?

This morning, I had eggs for breakfast, and I was looking at the pieces of broken shells and thought "What is the surface area of this egg?" The problem is that I have no real idea about how to find ...
94
votes
8answers
4k 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. ...
92
votes
24answers
76k views

Software for drawing geometry diagrams

What software do you use to accurately draw geometry diagrams?
88
votes
18answers
8k views

Fastest way to meet, without communication, on a sphere?

I was puzzled by a question my colleague asked me, and now seeking your help. Suppose you and your friend* end up on a big sphere. There are no visual cues on where on the sphere you both are, and ...
86
votes
8answers
3k views

Prove the theorem on analytic geometry in the picture.

I discovered this elegant theorem in my facebook feed. Does anyone have any idea how to prove? Formulations of this theorem can be found in the answers and the comments. You are welcome to join in ...
85
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the smallest number of $45^\circ-60^\circ-75^\circ$ triangles that a square can be divided into?

What is the smallest number of $45^\circ-60^\circ-75^\circ$ triangles that a square can be divided into? The image below is a flawed example, from http://www.mathpuzzle.com/flawed456075.gif ...
77
votes
9answers
11k views

Is there a size of rectangle that retains its ratio when it's folded in half?

A hypothetical (and maybe practical) question has been nagging at me. If you had a piece of paper with dimensions 4 and 3 (4:3), folding it in half along the long side (once) would result in 2 inches ...
75
votes
7answers
10k views

Are non-circular manholes possible?

Circular manholes are great because the cover can not fall down the hole. If the hole were square, the heavy metal cover could fall down the hole and kill some man working down there. Circular ...
70
votes
17answers
14k views

Why is the volume of a sphere $\frac{4}{3}\pi r^3$?

I learned that the volume of a sphere is $\frac{4}{3}\pi r^3$, but why? The $\pi$ kind of makes sense because its round like a circle, and the $r^3$ because it's 3-D, but $\frac{4}{3}$ is so random! ...
70
votes
2answers
831 views

Modelling the “Moving Sofa”

I believe that many of you know about the moving sofa problem; if not you can find the description of the problem here. In this question I am going to rotate the L shaped hall instead of moving a ...
69
votes
1answer
4k views

Gerrymandering on a high-genus surface/can I use my powers for evil?

Somewhat in contrast to this question. Let's say the Supreme Court has just issued a ruling that the upper and lower roads of an overpass need not be in the same congressional district. This makes ...
68
votes
10answers
13k views

Is there a shape with infinite area but finite perimeter?

Is this really possible? Is there any other example of this other than the Koch Snowflake? If so can you prove that example to be true?
66
votes
5answers
9k views

Why is a circle in a plane surrounded by 6 other circles?

When you draw a circle in a plane you can perfectly surround it with 6 other circles of the same radius. This works for any radius. What's the significance of 6? Why not some other numbers? I'm ...
65
votes
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 ...
64
votes
17answers
38k 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 ...
62
votes
10answers
17k views

What's a proof that the angles of a triangle add up to 180°?

Back in grade school, I had a solution involving "folding the triangle" into a rectangle half the area, and seeing that all the angles met at a point. However, now that I'm in university, I'm not ...
62
votes
6answers
5k views

Area covered by a constant length segment rotating around the center of a square.

This is an idea I have had in my head for years and years and I would like to know the answer, and also I would like to know if it's somehow relevant to anything or useless. I describe my thoughts ...
62
votes
8answers
5k views

What is Cauchy Schwarz in 8th grade terms?

I'm an 8th grader. After browsing aops.com, a math contest website, I've seen a lot of problems solved by Cauchy Schwarz. I'm only in geometry (have not started learning trigonometry yet). So can ...
60
votes
3answers
1k views

Volumes of n-balls: what is so special about n=5?

The volume of an $n$-dimensional ball of radius $1$ is given by the classical formula $$V_n=\frac{\pi^{n/2}}{\Gamma(n/2+1)}.$$ For small values of $n$, we have $$V_1=2\qquad$$ $$V_2\approx 3.14$$ $$...
59
votes
14answers
10k views

Why is radian so common in maths?

I have learned about the correspondence of radians and degrees so 360° degress equals $2\pi$ rad. Now we mostly use radians (integrals and so on) My question: Is it just mathematical convention that ...
59
votes
9answers
32k views

Why is $\pi $ equal to $3.14159…$?

Wait before you dismiss this as a crank question :) A friend of mine teaches school kids, and the book she uses states something to the following effect: If you divide the circumference of any ...
58
votes
17answers
11k views

Why is a circle 1-dimensional?

In the textbook I am reading, it says a dimension is the number of independent parameters needed to specify a point. In order to make a circle, you need two points to specify the $x$ and $y$ position ...
57
votes
6answers
6k views

How come $32.5 = 31.5$?

Below is a visual proof (!) that $32.5 = 31.5$. How could that be?
56
votes
7answers
6k views

What is the oldest open problem in geometry?

Geometry is one of the oldest branches of mathematics, and many famous problems have been proposed and solved in its long history. What I would like to know is: What is the oldest open problem in ...
56
votes
6answers
13k views

Why is a full turn of the circle 360°? Why not any other number?

I was just wondering why we have 90° degrees for a perpendicular angle. Why not 100° or any other number? What is the significance of 90° for the perpendicular or 360° for a circle? I didn't ever ...
55
votes
8answers
30k views

Why is the derivative of a circle's area its perimeter (and similarly for spheres)?

When differentiated with respect to $r$, the derivative of $\pi r^2$ is $2 \pi r$, which is the circumference of a circle. Similarly, when the formula for a sphere's volume $\frac{4}{3} \pi r^3$ is ...
53
votes
2answers
2k views

Geometry problem involving infinite number of circles

What is the sum of the areas of the grey circles? I have not made any progress so far.
53
votes
10answers
62k views

Why is the volume of a cone one third of the volume of a cylinder?

The volume of a cone with height $h$ and radius $r$ is $\frac{1}{3} \pi r^2 h$, which is exactly one third the volume of the smallest cylinder that it fits inside. This can be proved easily by ...
52
votes
4answers
5k views

How far can one see over the ocean?

Since Earth is a sphere, one has only a limited visibility radius. How far is that, actually? This Q&A was inspired by this question, about whether or not Legolas can see the 24km distant Riders ...
52
votes
2answers
2k views

Geometric intuition for the tensor product of vector spaces

First of all, I am very comfortable with the tensor product of vector spaces. I am also very familiar with the well-known generalizations, in particular the theory of monoidal categories. I have ...
51
votes
9answers
23k views

What is the meaning of the third derivative of a function at a point

(Originally asked on MO by AJAY.) What is the geometric, physical, or other meaning of the third derivative of a function at a point? If you have interesting things to say about the meaning of the ...
50
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a name for this type of polygon?

Is there a name for a polygon in which you could place a light bulb that would light up all of its area? (for which there exists a point so that for all points inside it the line connecting those two ...
49
votes
6answers
8k views

Why does the Cauchy-Schwarz Inequality even have a name?

When I came across the Cauchy-Schwarz inequality the other day, I found it really weird that this was its own thing, and it had lines upon lines of proof. I've always thought the geometric definition ...
47
votes
4answers
3k views

A circle rolls along a parabola

I'm thinking about a circle rolling along a parabola. Would this be a parametric representation? $(t + A\sin (Bt) , Ct^2 + A\cos (Bt) )$ A gives us the radius of the circle, B changes the frequency ...
47
votes
4answers
2k views

How to identify surfaces of revolution

Given a surface $f(x,y,z)=0$, how would you determine whether or not it's a surface of revolution, and find the axis of rotation? The special case where $f$ is a polynomial is also of interest. A ...
46
votes
4answers
4k views

Do circles divide the plane into more regions than lines?

In this post it is mentioned that $n$ straight lines can divide the plane into a maximum number of $(n^{2}+n+2)/2$ different regions. What happens if we use circles instead of lines? That is, what ...