The Dancing Triangle and Its Applications

In the figure below, lines l and m are parallel lines. What can you say about the areas of triangle ABC and triangle ADC?

The distance between two parallel lines is equal at any point, so the two triangles have the same altitude (can you see why?). Further, the two triangles have a common base, therefore, their base lengths are equal. So, the areas of the two triangles are equal. In fact, you can choose any point P on line l and the areas of the triangle ACP will always equal to the areas of triangles ABC and ADC. We like to call this triangle the dancing triangle because using an applet, you can dance it by moving P without changing the area. In the applet below, move points B and D to dance the triangle.  » Read more

The Three Meanings of Similarity

We can say that two objects are similar if they look alike. In layman’s words, objects with the same shape, whether they have the same size or not are usually called similar. In mathematics, it is quite different. In this post, we are going to learn the three mathematical meanings of similarity.

In mathematics, two objects are similar when either one of the following three conditions is true.

1. When one figure is reduced or enlarged, it will become congruent with the other

The first meaning is based on the definition of congruence. That is, when two figures are similar, if one figure is enlarged or reduced, then they will become congruent with the other. This definition is better illustrated graphically, using a drawing or an applet just as the one shown below.  » Read more

Understanding Point Symmetry

In the previous post, we have learned about line symmetry. In this post, we are going to learn about point symmetry, another type of symmetry.

If a figure is rotated 180 degrees about a point and it coincides with its original position, then it is said that the figure has point symmetry. The point of rotation is called the point of symmetry.

The figure below shows the point symmetric polygon ABCDEF rotated clockwise about P, its point of symmetry. The polygon outlined by the dashed line segments shows its original position.  » Read more

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