Pentagon Area Using No TrigDate: 05/14/2001 at 12:49:05 From: Sandra Subject: Pentagon Area - Using NO Trig Dr. Math, I've been trying to find the area of a pentagon without the use of trigonometry. Where I am stumped is in finding the area of one of the five triangles. I can use trig to find the height of the triangle very easily, but the challenge is finding the height and thus the area without the use of trig. I also know the area of a pentagon is 1.720x^2, but I don't know the derivation of this equation either. Please help. Thank you, Sandra Date: 05/14/2001 at 17:04:04 From: Doctor Rick Subject: Re: Pentagon Area - Using NO Trig Hi, Sandra, and thanks for writing to Ask Dr. Math. Perhaps you've seen the item in our Dr. Math Archives about Finding the Area of a Regular Pentagon using trigonometry: http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/54071.html Trigonometry isn't necessary, however. We can find the area without it. First draw the diagonals of the pentagon. Each of the five diagonals is divided into three segments by the other diagonals. The outer two segments are equal in length; call their length a. Call the length of the center segment b. The length of a side of the pentagon is s. You can prove that certain triangles formed by the pentagon and its diagonals are similar. For one, the triangle formed by two adjacent sides and one diagonal of the pentagon is similar to the smaller triangle formed by one of these sides and two segments of length a. Also, you can prove that the triangle formed by one side, one segment of length a, and one segment of length a+b is isosceles. Therefore, a + b = s. Using these facts you can prove that the length of the diagonal of the pentagon is (sqrt(5)+1)/2. I will call this length d. Now we're ready to find the area of the pentagon without using trigonometry. Draw the two diagonals from the top vertex of the pentagon. These divide the pentagon into three isosceles triangles. You can find the altitude of each of these triangles using the Pythagorean theorem and the fact that the altitude of an isosceles triangle bisects the base. Now you know the altitude and base of each triangle, so you can find the area as half the product of the base and the altitude. Alternatively, you can use Heron's formula for the area of a triangle in terms of the side lengths alone. I used this approach. The sum of these areas is the area of the pentagon. I don't get a really neat formula, however. I get this formula using the value of d, which I'm leaving for you to calculate: K = (sqrt(4d^2 - 1)/4 + d*sqrt(4 - d^2)/2)s^2 = 1.720477 s^2 Perhaps you could calculate d, plug the value of d into the formula for K, and find a way to simplify the formula. I'll keep playing with it myself. - Doctor Rick, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ Date: 05/15/2001 at 18:36:33 From: Sandra Ward Subject: Re: Pentagon Area - Using NO Trig Dr. Math, I wanted to thank you for your timely response and insightful assistance to the pentagon problem. It certainly helped me out a bunch! Sandra |
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