The segments of a polygonal circuit are called its edges or sides, and the points where two edges meet are the polygon's vertices (singular: vertex) or corners. The interior of a solid polygon is sometimes called its body. An n-gon is a polygon with n sides; for example, a triangle is a 3-gon.
A simple polygon is one which does not intersect itself. Mathematicians are often concerned only with the bounding polygonal chains of simple polygons and they often define a polygon accordingly. A polygonal boundary may be allowed to cross over itself, creating star polygons and other self-intersecting polygons.
The word polygon derives from the Greek adjective πολύς (polús) "much", "many" and γωνία (gōnía) "corner" or "angle". It has been suggested that γόνυ (gónu) "knee" may be the origin of gon.
Some different types of polygon
Number of sides
Polygons are primarily classified by the number of sides. See the table below.
Convexity and non-convexity
Polygons may be characterized by their convexity or type of non-convexity:
Convex: any line drawn through the polygon (and not tangent to an edge or corner) meets its boundary exactly twice. As a consequence, all its interior angles are less than 180°. Equivalently, any line segment with endpoints on the boundary passes through only interior points between its endpoints.
Non-convex: a line may be found which meets its boundary more than twice. Equivalently, there exists a line segment between two boundary points that passes outside the polygon.
Simple: the boundary of the polygon does not cross itself. All convex polygons are simple.
Concave. Non-convex and simple. There is at least one interior angle greater than 180°.
Star-shaped: the whole interior is visible from at least one point, without crossing any edge. The polygon must be simple, and may be convex or concave. All convex polygons are star-shaped.
Self-intersecting: the boundary of the polygon crosses itself. The term complex is sometimes used in contrast to simple, but this usage risks confusion with the idea of a complex polygon as one which exists in the complex Hilbert plane consisting of two complex dimensions.
Star polygon: a polygon which self-intersects in a regular way. A polygon cannot be both a star and star-shaped.
Any polygon has as many corners as it has sides. Each corner has several angles. The two most important ones are:
Interior angle – The sum of the interior angles of a simple n-gon is (n − 2)πradians or (n − 2) × 180degrees. This is because any simple n-gon ( having n sides ) can be considered to be made up of (n − 2) triangles, each of which has an angle sum of π radians or 180 degrees. The measure of any interior angle of a convex regular n-gon is radians or degrees. The interior angles of regular star polygons were first studied by Poinsot, in the same paper in which he describes the four regular star polyhedra: for a regular -gon (a p-gon with central density q), each interior angle is radians or degrees.
Exterior angle – The exterior angle is the supplementary angle to the interior angle. Tracing around a convex n-gon, the angle "turned" at a corner is the exterior or external angle. Tracing all the way around the polygon makes one full turn, so the sum of the exterior angles must be 360°. This argument can be generalized to concave simple polygons, if external angles that turn in the opposite direction are subtracted from the total turned. Tracing around an n-gon in general, the sum of the exterior angles (the total amount one rotates at the vertices) can be any integer multiple d of 360°, e.g. 720° for a pentagram and 0° for an angular "eight" or antiparallelogram, where d is the density or starriness of the polygon. See also orbit (dynamics).
To close the polygon, the first and last vertices are the same, i.e., xn, yn = x0, y0. The vertices must be ordered according to positive or negative orientation (counterclockwise or clockwise, respectively); if they are ordered negatively, the value given by the area formula will be negative but correct in absolute value, but when calculating and , the signed value of (which in this case is negative) should be used. This is commonly called the shoelace formula or Surveyor's formula.
The areaA of a simple polygon can also be computed if the lengths of the sides, a1, a2, ..., an and the exterior angles, θ1, θ2, ..., θn are known, from:
If the polygon can be drawn on an equally spaced grid such that all its vertices are grid points, Pick's theorem gives a simple formula for the polygon's area based on the numbers of interior and boundary grid points: the former number plus one-half the latter number, minus 1.
Using the above methods for simple polygons, we allow that particular regions within the polygon may have their area multiplied by a factor which we call the density of the region. For example, the central convex pentagon in the center of a pentagram has density 2. The two triangular regions of a cross-quadrilateral (like a figure 8) have opposite-signed densities, and adding their areas together can give a total area of zero for the whole figure.
Considering the enclosed regions as point sets, we can find the area of the enclosed point set. This corresponds to the area of the plane covered by the polygon or to the area of one or more simple polygons having the same outline as the self-intersecting one. In the case of the cross-quadrilateral, it is treated as two simple triangles.
The idea of a polygon has been generalized in various ways. Some of the more important include:
An abstract polygon is an algebraic partially ordered set representing the various elements (sides, vertices, etc.) and their connectivity. A real geometric polygon is said to be a realization of the associated abstract polygon. Depending on the mapping, all the generalizations described here can be realized.
A polyhedron is a three-dimensional solid bounded by flat polygonal faces, analogous to a polygon in two dimensions. The corresponding shapes in four or higher dimensions are called polytopes. (In other conventions, the words polyhedron and polytope are used in any dimension, with the distinction between the two that a polytope is necessarily bounded.)
The word polygon comes from Late Latinpolygōnum (a noun), from Greek πολύγωνον (polygōnon/polugōnon), noun use of neuter of πολύγωνος (polygōnos/polugōnos, the masculine adjective), meaning "many-angled". Individual polygons are named (and sometimes classified) according to the number of sides, combining a Greek-derived numerical prefix with the suffix -gon, e.g. pentagon, dodecagon. The triangle, quadrilateral and nonagon are exceptions.
Beyond decagons (10-sided) and dodecagons (12-sided), mathematicians generally use numerical notation, for example 17-gon and 257-gon.
Exceptions exist for side counts that are more easily expressed in verbal form (e.g. 20 and 30), or are used by non-mathematicians. Some special polygons also have their own names; for example the regularstarpentagon is also known as the pentagram.
As with René Descartes' example of the chiliagon, the million-sided polygon has been used as an illustration of a well-defined concept that cannot be visualised. The megagon is also used as an illustration of the convergence of regular polygons to a circle.
To construct the name of a polygon with more than 20 and less than 100 edges, combine the prefixes as follows. The "kai" term applies to 13-gons and higher and was used by Kepler, and advocated by John H. Conway for clarity to concatenated prefix numbers in the naming of quasiregular polyhedra.
Naming conventions differ from those of mathematicians:[clarification needed (What is the difference?)]
A simple polygon is convex, planar, more easily handled by algorithms and hardware.
a concave polygon is a simple polygon having at least one interior angle greater than 180°.
A complex polygon may have arbitrary topology including holes, requiring more advanced algorithms (often systems will tesselate these into simple polygons).
Any surface is modelled as a tessellation called polygon mesh. If a square mesh has n + 1 points (vertices) per side, there are n squared squares in the mesh, or 2n squared triangles since there are two triangles in a square. There are (n + 1)2 / 2(n2) vertices per triangle. Where n is large, this approaches one half. Or, each vertex inside the square mesh connects four edges (lines).
The imaging system calls up the structure of polygons needed for the scene to be created from the database. This is transferred to active memory and finally, to the display system (screen, TV monitors etc.) so that the scene can be viewed. During this process, the imaging system renders polygons in correct perspective ready for transmission of the processed data to the display system. Although polygons are two-dimensional, through the system computer they are placed in a visual scene in the correct three-dimensional orientation.