Morley's trisector theorem
In plane geometry, Morley's trisector theorem states that in any triangle, the three points of intersection of the adjacent angle trisectors form an equilateral triangle, called the first Morley triangle or simply the Morley triangle. The theorem was discovered in 1899 by Anglo-American mathematician Frank Morley. It has various generalizations; in particular, if all of the trisectors are intersected, one obtains four other equilateral triangles.
There are many proofs of Morley's theorem, some of which are very technical. Several early proofs were based on delicate trigonometric calculations. The first published geometric proof was given by M. T. Naraniengar in 1909. Recent proofs include an algebraic proof by Alain Connes (1998, 2004) extending the theorem to general fields, and John Conway's elementary geometry proof. The latter starts with an equilateral triangle and shows that a triangle may be built around it which will be similar to any selected triangle. Morley's theorem does not hold in spherical and hyperbolic geometry.
One proof uses the trigonometric identity
which, by using of the sum of two angles identity, can be shown to be equal to
The last equation can be verified by applying the sum of two angles identity to the left side twice and eliminating the cosine.
Points are constructed on as shown. We have , the sum of any triangle's angles, so Therefore, the angles of triangle are and
From the figure
Also from the figure
The law of sines applied to triangles and yields
Express the height of triangle in two ways
where equation (1) was used to replace and in these two equations. Substituting equations (2) and (5) in the equation and equations (3) and (6) in the equation gives
Since the numerators are equal
Since angle and angle are equal and the sides forming these angles are in the same ratio, triangles and are similar.
Similar angles and equal , and similar angles and equal Similar arguments yield the base angles of triangles and
In particular angle is found to be and from the figure we see that
where equation (4) was used for angle and therefore
Similarly the other angles of triangle are found to be
Side and area
The first Morley triangle has side lengths
where R is the circumradius of the original triangle and A, B, and C are the angles of the original triangle. Since the area of an equilateral triangle is the area of Morley's triangle can be expressed as
Morley's theorem entails 18 equilateral triangles. The triangle described in the trisector theorem above, called the first Morley triangle, has vertices given in trilinear coordinates relative to a triangle ABC as follows:
- A-vertex = 1 : 2 cos(C/3) : 2 cos(B/3)
- B-vertex = 2 cos(C/3) : 1 : 2 cos(A/3)
- C-vertex = 2 cos(B/3) : 2 cos(A/3) : 1
Another of Morley's equilateral triangles that is also a central triangle is called the second Morley triangle and is given by these vertices:
- A-vertex = 1 : 2 cos(C/3 − 2π/3) : 2 cos(B/3 − 2π/3)
- B-vertex = 2 cos(C/3 − 2π/3) : 1 : 2 cos(A/3 − 2π/3)
- C-vertex = 2 cos(B/3 − 2π/3) : 2 cos(A/3 − 2π/3) : 1
The third of Morley's 18 equilateral triangles that is also a central triangle is called the third Morley triangle and is given by these vertices:
- A-vertex = 1 : 2 cos(C/3 − 4π/3) : 2 cos(B/3 − 4π/3)
- B-vertex = 2 cos(C/3 − 4π/3) : 1 : 2 cos(A/3 − 4π/3)
- C-vertex = 2 cos(B/3 − 4π/3) : 2 cos(A/3 − 4π/3) : 1
The first, second, and third Morley triangles are pairwise homothetic. Another homothetic triangle is formed by the three points X on the circumcircle of triangle ABC at which the line XX −1 is tangent to the circumcircle, where X −1 denotes the isogonal conjugate of X. This equilateral triangle, called the circumtangential triangle, has these vertices:
- A-vertex = csc(C/3 − B/3) : csc(B/3 + 2C/3) : −csc(C/3 + 2B/3)
- B-vertex = −csc(A/3 + 2C/3) : csc(A/3 − C/3) : csc(C/3 + 2A/3)
- C-vertex = csc(A/3 + 2B/3) : −csc(B/3 + 2A/3) : csc(B/3 − A/3)
A fifth equilateral triangle, also homothetic to the others, is obtained by rotating the circumtangential triangle π/6 about its center. Called the circumnormal triangle, its vertices are as follows:
- A-vertex = sec(C/3 − B/3) : −sec(B/3 + 2C/3) : −sec(C/3 + 2B/3)
- B-vertex = −sec(A/3 + 2C/3) : sec(A/3 − C/3) : −sec(C/3 + 2A/3)
- C-vertex = −sec(A/3 + 2B/3) : −sec(B/3 + 2A/3) : sec(B/3 − A/3)
An operation called "extraversion" can be used to obtain one of the 18 Morley triangles from another. Each triangle can be extraverted in three different ways; the 18 Morley triangles and 27 extravert pairs of triangles form the 18 vertices and 27 edges of the Pappus graph.
Related triangle centers
- Morley center = X(356) = cos(A/3) + 2 cos(B/3)cos(C/3) : cos(B/3) + 2 cos(C/3)cos(A/3) : cos(C/3) + 2 cos(A/3)cos(B/3).
- 1st Morley–Taylor–Marr center = X(357) = sec(A/3) : sec(B/3) : sec(C/3).
- Bogomolny, Alexander, Morley's Miracle, Cut-the-knot, retrieved 2010-01-02
- Coxeter (1967).
- J. Conway's proof, from Bogomolny.
- Conway, John (2006), "The Power of Mathematics", in Blackwell, Alan; Mackay, David (eds.), Power (PDF), Cambridge University Press, pp. 36–50, ISBN 978-0-521-82377-7, retrieved 2010-10-08
- Morley's Theorem in Spherical Geometry, Java applet.
- Weisstein, Eric W. "First Morley Triangle." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. 
- Guy (2007).
- Fox, M. D.; and Goggins, J. R. "Morley's diagram generalised", Mathematical Gazette 87, November 2003, 453–467.
- Connes, Alain (1998), "A new proof of Morley's theorem", Publications Mathématiques de l'IHÉS, S88: 43–46.
- Connes, Alain (December 2004), "Symmetries" (PDF), European Mathematical Society Newsletter, 54.
- Coxeter, H. S. M.; Greitzer, S. L. (1967), Geometry Revisited, The Mathematical Association of America, LCCN 67-20607
- Francis, Richard L. (2002), "Modern Mathematical Milestones: Morley's Mystery" (PDF), Missouri Journal of Mathematical Sciences, 14 (1).
- Guy, Richard K. (2007), "The lighthouse theorem, Morley & Malfatti—a budget of paradoxes" (PDF), American Mathematical Monthly, 114 (2): 97–141, JSTOR 27642143, MR 2290364, archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-04-01 Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Oakley, C. O.; Baker, J. C. (1978), "The Morley trisector theorem", American Mathematical Monthly, 85 (9): 737–745, doi:10.2307/2321680, JSTOR 2321680.
- Taylor, F. Glanville; Marr, W. L. (1913–14), "The six trisectors of each of the angles of a triangle", Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, 33: 119–131.