We frequently need to find the nearest hospital, surgery or supermarket. A map divided into cells, each cell covering the region closest to a particular centre, can assist us in our quest. Such a map is called a Voronoi diagram, named for Georgy Voronoi, a mathematician born in Ukraine in 1868. He is remembered today mostly for his diagram, also known as a Voronoi tessellation, decomposition, or partition. [TM108 or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com].

## Posts Tagged 'Geometry'

### Voronoi Diagrams: Simple but Powerful

Published February 2, 2017 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Algorithms, Geometry

### Unsolved: the Square Peg Problem

Published December 29, 2016 Occasional Leave a CommentTags: Geometry, Topology

The idiom “square peg in a round hole” expresses a mismatch or misfit, often referring to somebody in the wrong profession. It may also indicate a difficult or impossible task but, of course, it is quite simple to fit a square peg in a round hole, hammering it in until the corners are tight against the circular boundary of the hole. Since the peg may be oriented at any angle, there are an infinite number of ways to fit a square within a circle. In contract, for a boomerang-shaped hole, there is just one way to draw a square with its vertices on the curve.

### Kepler’s Magnificent Mysterium Cosmographicum

Published October 13, 2016 Occasional Leave a CommentTags: Astronomy, Geometry, History

Johannes Kepler’s amazing book, *Mysterium Cosmographicum*, was published in 1596. Kepler’s central idea was that the distance relationships between the six planets (only six were known at that time) could be represented by six spheres separated by the five Platonic solids. For each of these regular polyhedra, there is an inner and an outer sphere. The inner sphere is tangent to the centre of each face and the outer sphere contains all the vertices of the polyhedron.

Continue reading ‘Kepler’s Magnificent Mysterium Cosmographicum’

### Heron’s Theorem: a Tool for Surveyors

Published September 8, 2016 Occasional Leave a CommentTags: Geometry

Heron was one of the great Greek mathematicians of Alexandria, following in the tradition of Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and Apollonius. He lived in the first century, from about AD 10 to AD 70. His interests were in practical rather than theoretical mathematics and he wrote on measurement, mechanics and engineering. He devised a steam-powered device and a wind-wheel that operated an organ. He is regarded as the greatest experimenter of antiquity, but it is for a theorem in pure geometry that mathematicians remember him today.

### The Tunnel of Eupalinos in Samos

Published September 1, 2016 Irish Times Leave a CommentTags: Geometry, Pythagoras

The tunnel of Eupalinos on the Greek island of Samos, over one kilometre in length, is one of the greatest engineering achievements of the ancient world [TM098, or search for “thatsmaths” at irishtimes.com].

Approximate course of the tunnel of Eupalinos in Samos.

It is well-known that an ellipse is the locus of all points such that the sum of their distances from two fixed points, the foci, is constant. Thus, a gardener may map out an elliptical flower-bed by driving two stakes into the ground, looping a rope around them and pulling it taut with a pointed stick, tracing out a curve on the ground.

*You *can* put a square peg in a round hole.*

Shapes between circles and squares have proved invaluable to engineers and have also found their way onto our dinner tables. A plate in the shape of a `squircle’ is shown in this figure .