Last modified on 4 January 2011, at 20:23

Trigonometry/For Enthusiasts/Regular Polygons

A regular polygon is a polygon with all its sides the same length and all its angles equal. A polygon can have any number (three or more) of sides so there are infinitely many different regular polygons.

Interior Angles of Regular PolygonsEdit

To demonstrate that a square can be drawn so that each of its four corners lies on the circumference of a single circle: Draw a square and then draw its diagonals, calling the point at which they cross the center of the square. The center of the square is (by symmetry) the same distance from each corner. Consequently a circle whose center is co-incident with the center of the square can be drawn through the corners of the square.

A similar argument can be used to find the interior angles of any regular polygon. Consider a polygon of n sides. It will have n corners, through which a circle can be drawn. Draw a line from each corner to the center of the circle so that n equal apex angled triangles meet at the center, each such triangle must have an apex angle of 2π/n radians. Each such triangle is isoceles, so its other angles are equal and sum to π - 2π/n radians, that is each other angle is (π - 2π/n)/2 radians. Each corner angle of the polygon is split in two to form one of these other angles, so each corner of the polygon has 2*(π - 2π/n)/2 radians, that is π - 2π/n radians.

This formula predicts that a square, where the number of sides n is 4, will have interior angles of π - 2π/4 = π - π/2 = π/2 radians, which agrees with the calculation above.

Likewise, an equilateral triangle with 3 equal sides will have interior angles of π - 2π/3 = π/3 radians.

A hexagon will have interior angles of π - 2π/6 = 4π/6 = 2π/3 radians which is twice that of an equilateral triangle: thus the hexagon is divided into equilateral triangles by the splitting process described above.