Heronian triangle

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In geometry, a Heronian triangle is a triangle that has side lengths and area that are all integers.[1][2] Heronian triangles are named after Hero of Alexandria.[3] The term is sometimes applied more widely to triangles whose sides and area are all rational numbers,[4] since one can rescale the sides by a common multiple to obtain a triangle whose sides and area are integers.

Properties[edit]

Any right-angled triangle whose sidelengths are a Pythagorean triple is a Heronian triangle. The side lengths of such a triangle are integers, by definition. In any such triangle, one of the two shorter sides has even length, so the area (the product of these two sides, divided by two) is also an integer.

A triangle with sidelengths c, e and b + d, and height a.

An example of a Heronian triangle which is not right-angled is the isosceles triangle with sidelengths 5, 5, and 6, whose area is 12. This triangle is obtained by joining two copies of the right-angled triangle with sides 3, 4, and 5 along the sides of length 4. This approach works in general, as illustrated in the adjacent picture. One takes a Pythagorean triple (a, b, c), with c being largest, then another one (a, d, e), with e being largest, constructs the triangles with these sidelengths, and joins them together along the sides of length a, to obtain a triangle with integer side lengths c, e, and b + d, and with area

(one half times the base times the height).

If a is even then the area A is an integer. Less obviously, if a is odd then A is still an integer, as b and d must both be even, making b+d even too.

Some Heronian triangles cannot be obtained by joining two right-angled triangles with integer sides as described above. For example, a 5, 29, 30 Heronian triangle with area 72 cannot be constructed from two integer Pythagorean triangles since none of its altitudes are integers. Also no primitive Pythagorean triangle can be constructed from two smaller integer Pythagorean triangles.[5]: p.17  Such Heronian triangles are known as indecomposable.[5] However, if one allows Pythagorean triples with rational values, not necessarily integers, then a decomposition into right triangles with rational sides always exists.[6] The altitude of such a triangle must be a rational number, equal to twice the area divided by the base. So the Heronian triangle with sides 5, 29, 30 can be constructed from rational Pythagorean triangles with sides 7/5, 24/5, 5 and 143/5, 24/5, 29. The resulting decomposition into right triangles can be rescaled so that all dimensions are integers.

Other properties of Heronian triangles are as follows:

  • The perimeter of a Heronian triangle is always an even number.[7] Thus every Heronian triangle has an odd number of sides of even length,[8]: p.3  and every primitive Heronian triangle has exactly one even side.
  • The semiperimeter s of a Heronian triangle with sides a, b and c can never be prime. This can be seen from the fact that s(s−a)(s−b)(s−c) has to be a perfect square and if s is a prime then one of the other terms must have s as a factor but this is impossible as these terms are all less than s.
  • The area of a Heronian triangle is always divisible by 6.[7]
  • All the altitudes of a Heronian triangle are rational.[9] This can be seen from the fact that the area of a triangle is half of one side times its altitude from that side, and a Heronian triangle has integer sides and area. Some Heronian triangles have three non-integer altitudes, for example the acute (15, 34, 35) with area 252 and the obtuse (5, 29, 30) with area 72. Any Heronian triangle with one or more non-integer altitudes can be scaled up by a factor equalling the least common multiple of the altitudes' denominators in order to obtain a similar Heronian triangle with three integer altitudes.
  • Heronian triangles that have no integer altitude (indecomposable and non-Pythagorean) have sides that are all divisible by primes of the form 4k+1.[5] However decomposable Heronian triangles must have two sides that are the hypotenuse of Pythagorean triangles. Hence all Heronian triangles that are not Pythagorean have at least two sides that are divisible by primes of the form 4k+1. All that remains are Pythagorean triangles. Therefore, all Heronian triangles have at least one side that is divisible by primes of the form 4k+1. Finally if a Heronian triangle has only one side divisible by primes of the form 4k+1 it has to be Pythagorean with the side as the hypotenuse and the hypotenuse must be divisible by 5.
  • All the interior perpendicular bisectors of a Heronian triangle are rational: For any triangle these are given by and where the sides are abc and the area is A;[10] in a Heronian triangle all of a, b, c, and A are integers.
  • There are no equilateral Heronian triangles.[9]
  • There are no Heronian triangles with a side length of either 1 or 2.[11]
  • There exist an infinite number of primitive Heronian triangles with one side length equal to a provided that a > 2.[11]
  • There are no Heronian triangles whose side lengths form a geometric progression.[12]
  • If any two sides (but not three) of a Heronian triangle have a common factor, that factor must be the sum of two squares.[13]
  • Every interior angle of a Heronian triangle has a rational sine. This follows from the area formula Area = (1/2)ab sin C, in which the area and the sides a and b are integers, and equivalently for the other interior angles.
  • Every interior angle of a Heronian triangle has a rational cosine. This follows from the law of cosines , c2 = a2 + b2 − 2ab cos C, in which the sides a, b, and c are integers, and equivalently for the other interior angles.
  • Because all Heronian triangles have all interior angles' sines and cosines rational, this implies that the tangent, cotangent, secant, and cosecant of each interior angle is either rational or infinite.
  • Half of each interior angle has a rational tangent because tan C/2 = sin C / (1 + cos C), and equivalently for other interior angles. Knowledge of these half-angle tangent values is sufficient to reconstruct the side lengths of a primitive Heronian triangle (see below).
  • For any triangle, the angle spanned by a side as viewed from the center of the circumcircle is twice the interior angle of the triangle vertex opposite the side. Because the half-angle tangent for each interior angle of a Heronian triangle is rational, it follows that the quarter-angle tangent of each such central angle of a Heronian triangle is rational. (Also, the quarter-angle tangents are rational for the central angles of a Brahmagupta quadrilateral, but is an unsolved problem whether this is true for all Robbins pentagons.) The reverse is true for all cyclic polygons generally; if all such central angles have rational tangents for their quarter angles then the cyclic polygon can be scaled to simultaneously have integer side lengths and integer area.
  • There are no Heronian triangles whose three internal angles form an arithmetic progression. This is because all plane triangles with interior angles in an arithmetic progression must have one interior angle of 60°, which does not have a rational sine.[14]
  • Any square inscribed in a Heronian triangle has rational sides: For a general triangle the inscribed square on side of length a has length where A is the triangle's area;[15] in a Heronian triangle, both A and a are integers.
  • Every Heronian triangle has a rational inradius (radius of its inscribed circle): For a general triangle the inradius is the ratio of the area to half the perimeter, and both of these are rational in a Heronian triangle.
  • Every Heronian triangle has a rational circumradius (the radius of its circumscribed circle): For a general triangle the circumradius equals one-fourth the product of the sides divided by the area; in a Heronian triangle the sides and area are integers.
  • In a Heronian triangle the distance from the centroid to each side is rational, because for all triangles this distance is the ratio of twice the area to three times the side length.[16] This can be generalized by stating that all centers associated with Heronian triangles whose barycentric coordinates are rational ratios have a rational distance to each side. These centers include the circumcenter, orthocenter, nine-point center, symmedian point, Gergonne point and Nagel point.[17]
  • All Heronian triangles can be placed on a lattice with each vertex at a lattice point.[18]

Exact formula for all Heronian triangles[edit]

The Indian mathematician Brahmagupta (598-668 A.D.) derived the parametric solution such that every Heronian triangle has sides proportional to:[19][20]

for integers m, n and k where:

.

The proportionality factor is generally a rational  pq  where  q = gcd(a, b, c)  reduces the generated Heronian triangle to its primitive and  p  scales up this primitive to the required size. For example, taking m = 36, n = 4 and k = 3 produces a triangle with a = 5220, b = 900 and c = 5400, which is similar to the 5, 29, 30 Heronian triangle and the proportionality factor used has p = 1 and q = 180.

The obstacle for a computational use of Brahmagupta's parametric solution is the denominator q of the proportionality factor. q can only be determined by calculating the greatest common divisor of the three sides ( gcd(a, b, c) ) and introduces an element of unpredictability into the generation process.[20] The easiest way of generating lists of Heronian triangles is to generate all integer triangles up to a maximum side length and test for an integral area.

A variant[edit]

The following method of generating all Heronian triangles was noted by Leonard Euler,[21] who was the first to provably parametrize all such triangles via

for integers m, n, p and q such that

Even if one chooses m, n, p, q without common divisors, it is still possible that the resulting integers a, b, c still contain a common divisor other than 2. If one chooses e.g. m = 2, n = 1, p = 7, q = 4, then one obtains: a = 2 · 65, b = 2 · 70, c = 2 · 75. If one divides by 2 as well as by 5 one obtains: a = 13, b = 14, c = 15, the same triple that one obtains if one sets m = 2, n = 1, p = 3, q = 2, except that b and c appear interchanged.

Faster algorithms have been derived by Kurz (2008).

There are infinitely many primitive and indecomposable non-Pythagorean Heronian triangles with integer values for the inradius and all three of the exradii, including the ones generated by[22]: Thm. 4 

There are infinitely many Heronian triangles that can be placed on a lattice such that not only are the vertices at lattice points, as holds for all Heronian triangles, but additionally the centers of the incircle and excircles are at lattice points.[22]: Thm. 5 

See also formulas for Heronian triangles with one angle equal to twice another, Heronian triangles with sides in arithmetic progression, and isosceles Heronian triangles.

All Heronian triangles from half-angle tangents[edit]

A triangle with side lengths and interior angles labeled. Capital A, B and C are the interior angles, and lower-case a, b, and c are the sides opposite them.

The tangent of half of any interior angle of a Heronian triangle is necessarily a positive rational number; see properties above. The reverse is also true; any triangle with rational half-angle tangents for all its interior angles can be scaled to be a Heronian triangle. In particular, any primitive Heronian triangle can be reconstructed from any two of its half-angle tangents values as follows.

These half angles are positive, and they sum to 90° (π/2 radians) because the interior angles (A, B, C) of any triangle sum to 180° (π radians). We start by choosing r = tan(A/2) and s = tan(B/2) to be any positive rational numbers satisfying rs < 1. The limit of 1 ensures that angle A/2 + B/2 is less than 90° and thus that the angle C/2 will be positive. The value t = tan(C/2) will also be a positive rational number because

We can compute the sine of any angle using the formula , so the sines of are respectively. These values are rational numbers because the values of r, s, and t are rational numbers.

We use the Law of sines to conclude that a triangle with interior angles A, B, and C can be scaled to have side lengths a, b, and c equal to these sines. The area of such a triangle is (ab sin C) / 2, which is one half the product of the three sines and will necessarily be a rational number. Integer values for the side lengths and area are obtained by multiplying the side-length values by the least common multiple of their denominators and then by dividing out by the greatest common factor of the results. Thus, we have computed the side lengths and area of a primitive Heronian triangle from two of its half-angle tangents.

When it is also the case that r, s, or t equals 1 then the corresponding interior angle will be a right angle and the three sides will also define a primitive Pythagorean triple. Starting with arbitrary positive rational numbers r = s < 1 will give all primitive isosceles Heronian triangles.

Examples[edit]

The list of primitive integer Heronian triangles, sorted by area and, if this is the same, by perimeter, starts as in the following table. "Primitive" means that the greatest common divisor of the three side lengths equals 1.

Area Perimeter side length b+d side length e side length c
6 12 5 4 3
12 16 6 5 5
12 18 8 5 5
24 32 15 13 4
30 30 13 12 5
36 36 17 10 9
36 54 26 25 3
42 42 20 15 7
60 36 13 13 10
60 40 17 15 8
60 50 24 13 13
60 60 29 25 6
66 44 20 13 11
72 64 30 29 5
84 42 15 14 13
84 48 21 17 10
84 56 25 24 7
84 72 35 29 8
90 54 25 17 12
90 108 53 51 4
114 76 37 20 19
120 50 17 17 16
120 64 30 17 17
120 80 39 25 16
126 54 21 20 13
126 84 41 28 15
126 108 52 51 5
132 66 30 25 11
156 78 37 26 15
156 104 51 40 13
168 64 25 25 14
168 84 39 35 10
168 98 48 25 25
180 80 37 30 13
180 90 41 40 9
198 132 65 55 12
204 68 26 25 17
210 70 29 21 20
210 70 28 25 17
210 84 39 28 17
210 84 37 35 12
210 140 68 65 7
210 300 149 148 3
216 162 80 73 9
234 108 52 41 15
240 90 40 37 13
252 84 35 34 15
252 98 45 40 13
252 144 70 65 9
264 96 44 37 15
264 132 65 34 33
270 108 52 29 27
288 162 80 65 17
300 150 74 51 25
300 250 123 122 5
306 108 51 37 20
330 100 44 39 17
330 110 52 33 25
330 132 61 60 11
330 220 109 100 11
336 98 41 40 17
336 112 53 35 24
336 128 61 52 15
336 392 195 193 4
360 90 36 29 25
360 100 41 41 18
360 162 80 41 41
390 156 75 68 13
396 176 87 55 34
396 198 97 90 11
396 242 120 109 13

Lists of primitive Heronian triangles whose sides do not exceed 6,000,000 can be found at "Lists of primitive Heronian triangles". Sascha Kurz, University of Bayreuth, Germany. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.

Heronian triangles with perfect square sides[edit]

Heronian triangles with perfect square sides are related to the Perfect cuboid problem. As of February 2021, it is known about only two primitive Heronian triangles with perfect square sides:

(1853², 4380², 4427², Area=32918611718880) discovered by Pantelimon Stănică and coauthors[23] at 2013,

(11789², 68104² , 68595², Area=284239560530875680) found by Randall L. Rathbun[24] at April 4, 2018.

Equable triangles[edit]

A shape is called equable if its area equals its perimeter. There are exactly five equable Heronian triangles: the ones with side lengths (5,12,13), (6,8,10), (6,25,29), (7,15,20), and (9,10,17),[25][26] though only four of them are primitive.

Almost-equilateral Heronian triangles[edit]

Since the area of an equilateral triangle with rational sides is an irrational number, no equilateral triangle is Heronian. However, a sequence of isosceles Heronian triangles that are "almost equilateral" can be developed from the duplication of right-angled triangles, in which the hypotenuse is almost twice as long as one of the legs. The first few examples of these almost-equilateral triangles are listed in the following table (sequence A102341 in the OEIS):

Side length Area
a b=a c
5 5 6 12
17 17 16 120
65 65 66 1848
241 241 240 25080
901 901 902 351780
3361 3361 3360 4890480
12545 12545 12546 68149872
46817 46817 46816 949077360

There is a unique sequence of Heronian triangles that are "almost equilateral" because the three sides are of the form n − 1, n, n + 1. A method for generating all solutions to this problem based on continued fractions was described in 1864 by Edward Sang,[27] and in 1880 Reinhold Hoppe gave a closed-form expression for the solutions.[28] The first few examples of these almost-equilateral triangles are listed in the following table (sequence A003500 in the OEIS):

Side length Area Inradius
n − 1 n n + 1
3 4 5 6 1
13 14 15 84 4
51 52 53 1170 15
193 194 195 16296 56
723 724 725 226974 209
2701 2702 2703 3161340 780
10083 10084 10085 44031786 2911
37633 37634 37635 613283664 10864

Subsequent values of n can be found by multiplying the previous value by 4, then subtracting the value prior to that one (52 = 4 × 14 − 4, 194 = 4 × 52 − 14, etc.), thus:

where t denotes any row in the table. This is a Lucas sequence. Alternatively, the formula generates all n for positive integers t. Equivalently, let A = area and y = inradius, then,

where {n, y} are solutions to n2 − 12y2 = 4. A small transformation n = 2x yields a conventional Pell equation x2 − 3y2 = 1, the solutions of which can then be derived from the regular continued fraction expansion for 3.[29]

The variable n is of the form , where k is 7, 97, 1351, 18817, …. The numbers in this sequence have the property that k consecutive integers have integral standard deviation.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carlson, John R. (1970), "Determination of Heronian Triangles" (PDF), Fibonacci Quarterly, 8: 499–506
  2. ^ Beauregard, Raymond A.; Suryanarayan, E. R. (January 1998), "The Brahmagupta Triangles" (PDF), College Mathematics Journal, 29 (1): 13–17, doi:10.2307/2687630, JSTOR 2687630
  3. ^ Peddie, Jon. (2013). The history of visual magic in computers : how beautiful images are made in CAD, 3D, VR and AR. London: Springer. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-1-4471-4932-3. OCLC 849634980.
  4. ^ Weisstein, Eric W. "Heronian Triangle". MathWorld.
  5. ^ a b c Yiu, Paul (2008), Heron triangles which cannot be decomposed into two integer right triangles (PDF), 41st Meeting of Florida Section of Mathematical Association of America
  6. ^ Sierpiński, Wacław (2003) [1962], Pythagorean Triangles, Dover Publications, Inc., ISBN 978-0-486-43278-6
  7. ^ a b Friche, Jan (2 January 2002). "On Heron Simplices and Integer Embedding". Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Universät Greiswald Publication. arXiv:math/0112239. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Buchholz, R. H.; MacDougall, J. A. (2001). "Cyclic Polygons with Rational Sides and Area". CiteSeerX Penn State University: 3. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.169.6336. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ a b Somos, M. (December 2014). "Rational triangles". Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Douglas W. (2013), "Perpendicular Bisectors of Triangle Sides", Forum Geometricorum 13, 53−59: Theorem 2.
  11. ^ a b Carlson, John R. (1970). "Determination of Heronian triangles" (PDF). San Diego State College. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Buchholz, R. H.; MacDougall, J. A. (1999). "Heron Quadrilaterals with sides in Arithmetic or Geometric progression". Bulletin of the Australian Mathematical Society. 59 (2): 263–269. doi:10.1017/s0004972700032883.
  13. ^ Blichfeldt, H. F. (1896–1897). "On Triangles with Rational Sides and Having Rational Areas". Annals of Mathematics. 11 (1/6): 57–60. doi:10.2307/1967214. JSTOR 1967214.
  14. ^ Zelator, K., "Triangle Angles and Sides in Progression and the diophantine equation x2+3y2=z2", Cornell Univ. archive, 2008
  15. ^ Bailey, Herbert, and DeTemple, Duane, "Squares inscribed in angles and triangles", Mathematics Magazine 71(4), 1998, 278–284.
  16. ^ Clark Kimberling, "Trilinear distance inequalities for the symmedian point, the centroid, and other triangle centers", Forum Geometricorum, 10 (2010), 135−139. http://forumgeom.fau.edu/FG2010volume10/FG201015index.html
  17. ^ Clark Kimberling's Encyclopedia of Triangle Centers "Encyclopedia of Triangle Centers". Archived from the original on 2012-04-19. Retrieved 2012-06-17.
  18. ^ Yiu, P., "Heronian triangles are lattice triangles", American Mathematical Monthly 108 (2001), 261–263.
  19. ^ Carmichael, R. D., 1914, "Diophantine Analysis", pp.11-13; in R. D. Carmichael, 1959, The Theory of Numbers and Diophantine Analysis, Dover Publications, Inc.
  20. ^ a b Kurz, Sascha (2008). "On the generation of Heronian triangles". Serdica Journal of Computing. 2 (2): 181–196. arXiv:1401.6150. Bibcode:2014arXiv1401.6150K. MR 2473583..
  21. ^ Leonard E. Dickson, History of the Theory of Numbers, volume 2, Chelsea, 1952, p. 193
  22. ^ a b Zhou, Li, "Primitive Heronian Triangles With Integer Inradius and Exradii", Forum Geometricorum 18, 2018, 71-77. http://forumgeom.fau.edu/FG2018volume18/FG201811.pdf
  23. ^ Stănică, Pantelimon; Sarkar, Santanu; Sen Gupta, Sourav; Maitra, Subhamoy; Kar, Nirupam (2013). "Counting Heron triangles with constraints". Integers. 13: Paper No. A3, 17pp. hdl:10945/38838. MR 3083465.
  24. ^ "LISTSERV - NMBRTHRY Archives - LISTSERV.NODAK.EDU".
  25. ^ Dickson, Leonard Eugene (2005), History of the Theory of Numbers, Volume Il: Diophantine Analysis, Dover Publications, p. 199, ISBN 9780486442334
  26. ^ Markowitz, L. (1981), "Area = Perimeter", The Mathematics Teacher, 74 (3): 222–3, doi:10.5951/MT.74.3.0222
  27. ^ Sang, Edward (1864), "On the theory of commensurables", Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 23 (3): 721–760, doi:10.1017/s0080456800020019. See in particular p. 734.
  28. ^ Gould, H. W. (February 1973), "A triangle with integral sides and area" (PDF), Fibonacci Quarterly, 11 (1): 27–39.
  29. ^ Richardson, William H. (2007), Super-Heronian Triangles
  30. ^ Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, OEISA011943.

External links[edit]