# How to evenly space a number of points in a rectangle?

Say I have a rectangle, with variable width and height, for example lets use:

width = 20
height = 30


I would like to put n amount of evenly spaced points inside this rectangle:

no of points = 400


How could I calculate the x and y coordinates of each point? Note, that I would like the borders to also have points.

Very rough example, I needed 12 points (but I could have wanted more or less):

• Are we talking a simple rectangular grid here, like on graph paper, the dots at the intersections of the lines or mid points of the squares? – mvw Nov 26 '14 at 11:01
• Intersections are fine, as long as there are points on the edges also. – sprocket12 Nov 26 '14 at 11:01
• Is $\Delta x = \Delta y$? (little squares or little rectangles?) – mvw Nov 26 '14 at 11:11
• @mvw yes that would seem ok. Little squares would be evenly spaced (my example is very rough) – sprocket12 Nov 26 '14 at 11:14

## 1 Answer

Looking for a square grid of size $w \times h$ with $n$ points in total.

$n_x$ points in $x$-direction, spacing $\Delta x$: $$x_i = i \, \Delta x \quad i \in \{ 0, \ldots, n_x-1 \}$$ and $$(n_x -1) \, \Delta x = w$$

$n_y$ points in $y$-direction, spacing $\Delta y$: $$y_j = j \, \Delta y \quad j \in \{ 0, \ldots, n_y-1 \}$$ and $$(n_y -1) \, \Delta y = h$$

Total number of points: $$n = n_x \, n_y$$

Assuming $\Delta x = \Delta y$ one gets $$\Delta x = \frac{w}{n_x - 1} = \frac{h}{n_y - 1} = \Delta y \iff \\ n_y = \frac{h}{w} n_x + 1 - \frac{h}{w}$$ and then $$n = n_x n_y = \frac{h}{w} n_x^2 + \left( 1 - \frac{h}{w} \right) n_x \iff \\ \frac{w}{h} n + \frac{(w-h)^2}{4h^2} = \left( n_x + \frac{w-h}{2h} \right)^2$$ which after taking the square root gives the wanted equation for $n_x$ in terms of $n$, $w$ and $h$: $$n_x = \sqrt{\frac{w}{h} n + \frac{(w-h)^2}{4h^2}} - \frac{w-h}{2h} \quad (*)$$ (the negative solution was dropped). $n_x$ then should be put into $n_y = n / n_x$ and those values can be used to calculate the spacing $\Delta x = \Delta y$.

The interesting bit is that not every integer $n$ in $(*)$ will lead to an integer $n_x$ and then to another integer $n_y$.

### Example 1

Given are $n = 12$, $w = 3$, $h = 2$. We put this in equation $(*)$ and get $$n_x = \sqrt{\frac{3}{2}\cdot 12 + \frac{(3-2)^2}{4\cdot 2^2}} - \frac{3-2}{2\cdot 2} = \sqrt{18 + \frac{1}{16}} - \frac{1}{4} = \frac{17}{4} - \frac{1}{4} = 4$$ so we have $n_x = 4$ points along the $x$-direction. Further $n_y = n / n_x = 12 / 4 = 3$ points in $y$-direction. The spacing is $\Delta x = w / (n_x - 1) = 3 / (4 - 1) = 1$, a unit spacing and $\Delta y$ is the same.

### Example 2

Given are $n = 400$, $w = 20$, $h = 30$. From equation $(*)$ we get $n_x = 16.4974487803453$ and then $n_y = 24.2461731705179$. So this won't work.

But why not try $n = 17 \cdot 25 = 425\,$ with the given $w$ and $h$ values? And this is indeed confirmed by equation $(*)$. Here $\Delta x = \Delta y = 1.25$.

I hope it a got a little bit clear that not all combinations of the problem parameters $n$, $w$ and $h$ have a solution.

• yes unfortunately I discovered that also, that it doesn't add up when there are decimals involved. Its a problem as I do not have control over the w,h values, and they are decimals. – sprocket12 Nov 26 '14 at 15:52
• The $w$ and $h$ values must not be integers. Relevant is their ratio and how many points $n$ you can supply. – mvw Nov 26 '14 at 16:00