Joe Maller.com

I’m easily obsessed with minutiae*. Today I while working on some more filters, and I found myself wondering about the names of regular polygons (there was a reason). I knew most of them up to 10 and was right about 12 too. This lead to about an hour trying to track down a complete polygon name list with Google. After wading through a lot of “pentagon, hexagon, octagon”, which almost universally omitted the seven sided heptagon, I had a pretty complete list going. As I was starting to build a big table, I finally found the following sites by searching for uncommon polygon names like heptadecagon. These sites contain listings of polygon names up to 100 and the naming schemes for polygons with up to 1 million sides:


I prefer the style of naming without the “kai” in the middle as it breaks the vocal rhythm of the series. Apparently the mathematician Johannes Kepler used the “kai” notation, this fact and the ability to easily separate the Greek numerical prefix seem to be making that notation more popular among mathematicians.

To make things more confusing, what are considered the wrong terms for 9-sided and 11-sided polygons seem to be more popular than the preferred terms. Based on Google popularity indexing (number of pages containing the search term) nonagon leads enneagon 1600 to 218, and undecagon
leads hendecagon is leading 186 to 160.


While reading about all this stuff, one diversion lead me to Penrose Tiles, which I definitely want to come back to later. They reminded me of one day in fifth grade playing with a set of blue and white cardboard tiles which were either Penrose kites and darts or just equilateral triangles. They had curved blue shapes on them which would line up no matter how the tiles were aligned. I was fascinated with all the possible the shapes and patterns but somehow only got to use them once.


* I can’t believe I spelled minutiae right on the first try. Of course it should have a ligature, minutiæ, but as I read recently on splorp, the internet is pushing hard-coded ligatures into the dustbin of history. Did I really just say “dustbin of history”?

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link: Dec 09, 2001 8:50 pm
posted in: misc.