Marjorie Rice

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Marjorie Rice
Born(1923-02-16)February 16, 1923
St. Petersburg, Florida
DiedJuly 2, 2017(2017-07-02) (aged 94)
San Diego, California
Known forDiscovery of four new tessellating pentagons

Marjorie Rice (née Jeuck)[1] was an American amateur mathematician most famous for her discoveries in geometry.[2] Rice was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and died in California, where she lived with her son and daughter-in-law.


In December 1975, Rice came across a Scientific American article on tessellations. Despite having only a high-school education, she began devoting her free time to discovering new pentagonal tilings, ways to tile the plane using pentagons. She developed her own system of notation to represent the constraints on and relationships between the sides and angles of the polygons and used it to discover four new types of tessellating pentagons and over sixty distinct tessellations by pentagons by 1977.[2] Doris Schattschneider helped Martin Gardner validate and popularize the pentagon tiling discoveries of Rice.[3] Schattschneider lauded Rice's work as an exciting discovery by an amateur mathematician.[4]

Representative tilings of the four tiling pentagons discovered by Marjorie Rice
Type 9 Type 11 Type 12 Type 13
P5-type9-chiral coloring.png P5-type11 chiral coloring.png P5-type12-chiral coloring.png P5-type13-chiral coloring.png
Prototile p5-type9.png
b = c = d = e
2A + C = D + 2E = 360°
Prototile p5-type11.png
2a + c = d = e
A = 90°, 2B + C = 360°
C + E = 180°
Prototile p5-type12.png
2a = d = c + e
A = 90°, 2B + C = 360°
C + E = 180°
Prototile p5-type13.png
d = 2a = 2e
B = E = 90°, 2A + D = 360°


  • One of the tilings discovered by Rice was cut into glazed ceramic tiles, and installed in the foyer of the headquarters of the Mathematical Association of America in Washington DC.[5]
  • Her papers and materials in support of her mathematical discoveries are preserved at the Eugène Strens Recreational Mathematics Collection at the University of Calgary Library, Alberta, Canada. [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wolchover, Natalie (July 11, 2017), "Marjorie Rice's Secret Pentagons", Quanta Magazine
  2. ^ a b Perplexing Pentagons Archived 2016-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Cole, K. C. (March 11, 1998), "Beating the Pros to the Punch", Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Doris Schattschneider. "In praise of amateurs." In David A. Klarner, editor, The Mathematical Gardner, pages 140–166. Prindle, Weber & Schmidt, Boston, 1981
  5. ^ "Marjorie Rice - The Most Remarkable Housewife You've Never Heard Of". Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Marjorie Rice (16 February 1923–2 July 2017)". Retrieved 8 October 2019.

External links[edit]