**68**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Light rays bouncing in twisted tubes

Imagine a smooth curve $c$ sweeping out a unit-radius disk that is
orthogonal to the curve at every point.
Call the result a tube.
I want to restrict the radius of curvature of $c$ to be at most 1.
I ...

**61**

votes

**11**answers

8k views

### Is it possible to capture a sphere in a knot?

You and I decide to play a game:
To start off with, I provide you with a frictionless, perfectly spherical sphere, along with a frictionless, unstretchable, infinitely thin magical rope. This rope ...

**56**

votes

**16**answers

5k views

### One-step problems in geometry

I'm collecting advanced exercises in geometry. Ideally, each exercise should be solved by one trick and this trick should be useful elsewhere (say it gives an essential idea in some theory).
If you ...

**55**

votes

**0**answers

3k views

### Volumes of Sets of Constant Width in High Dimensions

Background
The n dimensional Euclidean ball of radius 1/2 has width 1 in every direction. Namely, when you consider a pair of parallel tangent hyperplanes in any direction the distance between them ...

**51**

votes

**3**answers

4k views

### Is the sphere the only surface all of whose projections are circles? Or: Can we deduce a spherical Earth by observing that its shadows on the Moon are always circular?

Several ancient arguments suggest a curved Earth, such as
the observation that ships disappear mast-last over the
horizon, and
Eratosthenes'
surprisingly accurate calculation of the size of the
Earth
...

**50**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### Is there an analogue of curvature in algebraic geometry?

I am not an expert, but there seems to be an enormous technical difference between algebraic geometry and differential/metric geometry stemming from the fact that there is apparently no such thing as ...

**45**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### If a unitsquare is partitioned into 101 triangles, is the area of one at least 1%?

Update: The answer to the title question is not necessarily, as pointed out by Tapio and Willie. I would be more interested in lower bounds.
Monsky's famous and amazingly tricky proof says that if we ...

**43**

votes

**8**answers

4k views

### Fair but irregular polyhedral dice

I am interested in determining a collection of geometric conditions that will guarantee that a convex polyhedron
of $n$ faces is a fair die in the sense that, upon random rolling, it has an equal ...

**43**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### two tetrahedra in R^4

It is relatively easy to show (see below) that if we have two equilateral triangles of side 1 in $R^3$,
such that their union has diameter 1, then they must share a vertex.
I wonder whether we have an ...

**41**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### Geometric proof of the Vandermonde determinant?

The Vandermonde matrix is the $n\times n$ matrix whose $(i,j)$-th component is $x_j^{i-1}$, where the $x_j$ are indeterminates. It is well known that the determinant of this matrix is $$\prod_{1\leq ...

**41**

votes

**2**answers

936 views

### How many unit cylinders can touch a unit ball?

What is the maximum number $k$ of unit-radius cylinders with mutually disjoint interiors that can touch a unit ball?
By a cylinder I mean a set congruent to the Cartesian product of a line and a ...

**39**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Explicit metrics

Every surface admits metrics of constant curvature, but there is usually a disconnect between
these metrics, the shapes of ordinary objects, and typical mathematical drawings of surfaces.
Can ...

**38**

votes

**7**answers

4k views

### Riemannian surfaces with an explicit distance function?

I'm looking for explicit examples of Riemannian surfaces (two-dimensional Riemannian manifolds $(M,g)$) for which the distance function d(x,y) can be given explicitly in terms of local coordinates of ...

**37**

votes

**12**answers

2k views

### Can a discrete set of the plane of uniform density intersect all large triangles?

Let S be a discrete subset of the Euclidean plane such that the number of points in a large disc is
approximatively equal to the area of the disc. Does the complement of
S necessarily contain ...

**36**

votes

**7**answers

3k views

### Is there an algebraic approach to metric spaces?

It is well known that most topological spaces can be studied via their algebra of continuous real-valued (or complex-valued) functions. For instance, in the setting of compact Hausdorff spaces, there ...

**35**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Rolling a random walk on a sphere

A ball rolls down an inclined plane, encountering horizontal obstacles, at which it
rolls left/right with equal probability. There are regularly spaced staggered gaps that let the ball
roll down to ...

**34**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### What fraction of the integer lattice can be seen from the origin?

Consider the integer lattice points in the positive quadrant $Q$ of $\mathbb{Z}^2$.
Say that a point $(x,y)$ of $Q$ is visible from the origin if the
segment from $(0,0)$ to $(x,y) \in Q$ passes ...

**34**

votes

**1**answer

2k views

### Probability that a stick randomly broken in five places can form a tetrahedron

The following problem was brought to my attention by a doctoral dissertation on Mathematics Education, but - as far as I know - the solution remains unknown.
I have already asked this question on ...

**32**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### $C^1$ isometric embedding of flat torus into $\mathbb{R}^3$

I read (in a paper by Emil Saucan) that the flat torus may be isometrically embedded
in $\mathbb{R}^3$ with a $C^1$ map by the Kuiper extension of the Nash Embedding Theorem,
a claim repeated in this ...

**28**

votes

**0**answers

1k views

### Shortest closed curve to inspect a sphere

Let $S$ be a sphere in $\mathbb{R}^3$. Let $C$ be a closed curve in $\mathbb{R}^3$ disjoint from and
exterior to $S$
which has the property that every point $x$ on $S$ is visible to some point $y$ of ...

**27**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Maneuvering with limited moves on $S^2$

This question comes to me via a friend, and apparently has something to do with quantum physics. However, stripped of all physics, it seems interesting enough on its own. I assume someone has asked ...

**27**

votes

**6**answers

888 views

### Patterns among integer-distance points

Mark each point of $\mathbb{N}^2$ ($\mathbb{N}$ the natural numbers) if its
Euclidean distance from the origin is an integer. One obtains a plot like this, symmetric about the $45^\circ$ diagonal.
...

**26**

votes

**0**answers

809 views

### Concerning the various proofs from the axiom of choice that R^3 admits of surprising geometrical decompositions into circles, skew lines and so on: can we prove in any instance that there are no Borel such decompositions? Or that AC is required?

This question follows up on a comment I made on Joseph O'Rourke's
recent question, one of several questions here on mathoverflow
concerning surprising geometric partitions of space using the axiom
of ...

**25**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Polar body of a convex body that avoids a lattice

Let $K \subset {\bf R}^d$ be a symmetric convex body (an open bounded convex neighbourhood of the origin with $K = -K$) with the property that $K + {\bf Z}^d \neq {\bf R}^d$, i.e. the projection of ...

**25**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Is the ratio Perimeter/Area for a finite union of unit squares at most 4?

Update: As I have just learned, this is called Keleti's perimeter area conjecture.
Prove that if H is the union of a finite number of unit squares in the plane, then the ratio of the perimeter and ...

**25**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### When shorter means smaller?

Assume a convex figure $F\subset \mathbb R^2$ satisfies the following property: if $f:F\to \mathbb R^2$ is a distance-non-increasing map then its image $f(F)$ is congruent to a subset of $F$.
Is it ...

**24**

votes

**3**answers

887 views

### About the ratio of the areas of a convex pentagon and the inner pentagon made by the five diagonals

Question : Letting $S{^\prime}$ be the area of the inner pentagon made by the five diagonals of a convex pentagon whose area is $S$, then find the max of $\frac{S^\prime}{S}$.
...

**24**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Diameter of m-fold cover

Let $M$ be a closed Riemannian manifold.
Assume $\tilde M$ is a connected Riemannian $m$-fold cover of $M$.
Is it true that
$$\mathop{diam}\tilde M\le m\cdot \mathop{diam} M\ ?\ \ \ \ \ \ \ (*)$$
...

**23**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### Is Lebesgue's “universal covering” problem still open?

The following problem has been attributed to Lebesgue. Let "set" denote any subset of the Euclidean plane. What is the greatest lower bound of the diameter of any set which contains a subset congruent ...

**23**

votes

**2**answers

682 views

### The kissing number of a square, cube, hypercube?

How many nonoverlapping unit squares can (nonoverlappingly) touch one unit square?
By "nonoverlapping" I mean: not sharing an interior point.
By "touch" I mean: sharing a boundary point.
...

**22**

votes

**3**answers

649 views

### Tetrahedron insphere iteration

I know that iterating the following incircle construction approaches an equilateral triangle in the limit:
Starting with any triangle $T$, one forms $T'$ by connecting ...

**22**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Why is the half-torus rigid?

The half-torus surface that results from slicing a torus like a bagel,
depicted below (left), is isometrically rigid.
I know this from a remark of Alexandrov in
Mathematics: ...

**21**

votes

**6**answers

4k views

### How might M.C. Escher have designed his patterns?

I realize this question isn't strictly mathematical, and if it doesn't fit with the content on this site then feel free (moderators/high-rep users) to close it. But when I thought up the question it ...

**21**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Non-regular Connected Hausdorff Banach Manifold

After reading this MO post, I am wondering:
Is every (connected) Hausdorff Banach manifold a regular space?
Though unjustified, page 53 of this paper nonchalantly states: "Note that a Hausdorff ...

**21**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### What is the best way to peel fruit?

A mango made me wonder about this. (See also this question, which is in a similar spirit.)
Fix $L >0$ and a smooth body (possibly nonconvex—pears or bananas are fair game!) $B \subset ...

**20**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### Volumes of n-balls: what is so special about n=5?

I am reposting this question from math.stackexchange where it has not yet generated an answer I had been looking for.
The volume of an $n$-dimensional ball of radius $R$ is given by the classical ...

**20**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### Can a unit square be cut into rectangles that tile a rectangle with irrational sides?

For arbitrary positive integers $m$ and $n$, if we dissect a unit square into an $m\times n$ rectangular grid of $1/m\times 1/n$ rectangles, we can reassemble these $mn$ rectangles into an $n/m\times ...

**20**

votes

**7**answers

693 views

### Is there always a maximum anti-rectangle with a corner square?

Let $C$ be an axis-parallel orthogonal polygon with a finite number of sides. Define an anti-rectangle in $C$ as a set of small squares in $C$, such that no two of them are covered by a single large ...

**20**

votes

**3**answers

722 views

### “Paradoxes” in $\mathbb{R}^n$

One may think of this question as a duplicate of this one. I see it more like an extension.
The "inscribed sphere paradox" discussed in the aforementioned question states that if you inscribe a ...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

5k views

### Is the Jaccard distance a distance?

Wikipedia defines the Jaccard distance between sets A and B as $$J_\delta(A,B)=1-\frac{|A\cap B|}{|A\cup B|}.$$ There's also a book claiming that this is a metric. However, I couldn't find any ...

**20**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Rolling-ball game

The analyses
in two recent MO questions,
"Rolling a random walk on a sphere"
and
"Maneuvering with limited moves on $S^2$,"
suggest a Rolling-Ball Game, as follows.
A unit-radius ball sits on a grid ...

**20**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### A Weak Form of Borsuk's Conjecture

Problem: Let P be a d-dimensional polytope with n facets. Is it always true that P can be covered by n sets of smaller diameter?
Background and motivation
The Borsuk conjecture (disproved in ...

**20**

votes

**0**answers

564 views

### Boundaries of noncompact contractible manifolds

It is known that a manifold $B$ bounds a compact contractible topological manifold if and only if $B$ is a homology sphere. The "only if" direction follows by excising a small ball in the interior of ...

**19**

votes

**4**answers

935 views

### Surfaces filled densely by a geodesic

Which smooth, closed surfaces $S \subset \mathbb{R}^3$ have no
single geodesic $\gamma$ that fills $S$ densely?
Say a geodesic $\gamma$ "fills $S$ densely" if the closure of the set of points
...

**19**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Covering a unit ball with balls half the radius

This is a direct (and obvious) generalization of the recent MO question, "Covering disks with smaller disks":
How many balls of radius $\frac{1}{2}$ are needed to cover completely a ball of radius ...

**19**

votes

**4**answers

543 views

### Do random projections (approximately) preserve convexity?

The Johnson-Lindenstrauss lemma implies that any set of $k$ points in $\mathbb{R}^d$ can be randomly projected into $d' \approx \log(k)/\epsilon^2$ dimensions such that the distances between each pair ...

**19**

votes

**5**answers

1k views

### Easy proof of the fact that isotropic spaces are Euclidean

Let $X$ be a finite-dimensional Banach space whose isometry group acts transitively on the set of lines (or, equivalently, on the unit sphere: for every two unit-norm vectors $x,y\in X$ there exist a ...

**19**

votes

**1**answer

249 views

### Hidden points in polygons

Let $h(n)$ be the largest number of mutually invisible points that can be located in a
polygon $P$ of $n$ vertices. Two points $x$ and $y$ are mutually invisible if the segment
$xy$ contains a point ...

**19**

votes

**1**answer

443 views

### Voronoi cell of lattices with the same profile

Definition 1. Given a body $V$ in $\mathbb R^n$,
the function $p_V\colon \mathbb R_+\to \mathbb R_+$
$$p_V(r)=\mathop{\rm vol} [V\cap B_r(0)]$$
will be called profile of $V$.
Definition 2. Define ...

**18**

votes

**5**answers

778 views

### Lightray trapped between two mirror disks: Computation formulation?

I would like to calculate the angle of a ray $r$ from a given
point $p$ such that it gets "stuck" reflecting between
two congruent mirror-disks.
For why there is such a ray, see the (amazing!) answer
...