# Questions tagged [mg.metric-geometry]

Euclidean, hyperbolic, discrete, convex, coarse geometry, comparisons in Riemannian geometry, symmetric spaces.

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### 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 ...

**83**

votes

**11**answers

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### 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 ...

**78**

votes

**0**answers

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### 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 ...

**76**

votes

**20**answers

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### 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 ...

**75**

votes

**4**answers

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### 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
...

**75**

votes

**6**answers

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### 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 ...

**65**

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**0**answers

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### Converse to Euclid's fifth postulate

There is a fascinating open problem in Riemannian Geometry which I would like to advertise here because I do not think that it is as well-known as it deserves to be. Euclid's famous fifth postulate, ...

**64**

votes

**2**answers

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### Continuous maps which send intervals of $\mathbb{R}$ to convex subsets of $\mathbb{R}^2$

Let $f : \mathbb{R} \longrightarrow \mathbb{R}^2$ be a continuous map which sends any interval $I \subseteq \mathbb{R}$ to a convex subset $f(I)$ of $\mathbb{R}^2$. Is it true that there must be a ...

**61**

votes

**9**answers

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### 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 ...

**61**

votes

**3**answers

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

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

**58**

votes

**11**answers

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### 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 ...

**56**

votes

**2**answers

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### Does this geometry theorem have a name?

Start with a circle and draw two tangent circles inside. The (black) inner tangent lines to the smaller circles intersect the large circle. The (red) lines through these intersection points are ...

**55**

votes

**4**answers

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### $C^1$ 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 ...

**55**

votes

**8**answers

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### 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 $1/n$...

**51**

votes

**1**answer

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

Edit (June 2015): Addressing this problem is a brief project report from the Illinois Geometry Lab (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), dated May 2015, that appears here along with a foot-...

**50**

votes

**3**answers

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### The view from inside of a mirrored tetrahedron

Suppose you were standing inside a regular tetrahedron $T$ whose
internal face surfaces were perfect mirrors.
Let's assume $T$'s height is $3{\times}$ yours, so that your
eye is roughly at the ...

**48**

votes

**3**answers

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### Is the “Napkin conjecture” open? (origami)

The falsity of the following conjecture would be a nice counter-intuitive fact.
Given a square sheet of perimeter $P$, when folding it along origami moves, you end up with some polygonal flat figure ...

**45**

votes

**5**answers

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

Update: The answer to the title question is no, as pointed out by Tapio and Willie. I would be more interested in lower bounds.
Monsky's famous theorem with amazingly tricky proof says that if we ...

**45**

votes

**3**answers

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### 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 ...

**44**

votes

**7**answers

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### 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 ...

**43**

votes

**14**answers

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### Open problems in Euclidean geometry?

Which are some (research level) open problems in Euclidean geometry ?
(Edit: I ask just out of curiosity, to understand how -and if- nowadays this is not a "dead" field yet)
I should clarify a bit ...

**43**

votes

**6**answers

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### 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 ...

**43**

votes

**3**answers

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### 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 $...

**42**

votes

**5**answers

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### 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 ...

**42**

votes

**3**answers

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### 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 ...

**42**

votes

**4**answers

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### The maximum of a polynomial on the unit circle

Encouraged by the progress made in a recently posted MO problem, here is a "conceptually related" problem originating from a 2003 joint paper of Sergei Konyagin and myself.
Suppose we are given $n$ ...

**42**

votes

**2**answers

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### Randall Munroe's Lost Immortals

In Randall Munroe's book What If?, the "Lost Immortals" question asks:
If two immortal people were placed on opposite sides of an uninhabited Earthlike planet, how long would it take them to find ...

**42**

votes

**1**answer

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### 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

**1**answer

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### 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 ...

**40**

votes

**12**answers

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### 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 approximately equal to the area of the disc. Does the complement of S necessarily contain triangles ...

**39**

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**2**answers

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### Can one “hear” the shape of a polygon via external reflections?

This question is a rough analog of Kac's "Can One Hear the Shape of a Drum?"
A closer analog is the recent "Bounce Theorem" that says, roughly, the shape of a polygon is determined by its billiard-...

**39**

votes

**1**answer

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### Pach's “Animals”: What if the genus is positive?

Janos Pach asked a deep question 23 years ago (1988) that remains unsolved today:
Can every animal—a topological ball in $\mathbb{R^3}$ composed of unit cubes glued face-to-face—be ...

**38**

votes

**2**answers

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### Can we find lattice polyhedra with faces of area 1,2,3,…?

I asked this question two months ago on MSE, where it earned the rare
Tumbleweed badge for garnering zero votes, zero answers, and 25 views over 61 days.
Perhaps justifiably so! Here I repeat it with ...

**37**

votes

**6**answers

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### Is it possible to partition $\mathbb R^3$ into unit circles?

Is it possible to partition $\mathbb R^3$ into unit circles?

**37**

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**5**answers

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### 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
...

**37**

votes

**7**answers

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### Shortest path connecting two opposite points on a cube

Is it true, that a path connecting two opposite points (i.e. such that the segment joining them passes through the centre of mass of the cube) on the surface of the $d$-dimensional unit cube (with $d&...

**37**

votes

**4**answers

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### What polygons can be shrunk into themselves?

Let's call a polygon $P$ shrinkable if any down-scaled (dilated) version of $P$ can be translated into $P$. For example, the following triangle is shrinkable (the original polygon is green, the ...

**36**

votes

**3**answers

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### Parabolic envelope of fireworks

The envelope of parabolic trajectories from a common launch point is itself a parabola.
In the U.S. soon many will have a chance to observe this fact directly, as the 4th of July is traditionally ...

**36**

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**0**answers

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### 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 ...

**35**

votes

**10**answers

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### Algorithm for finding the volume of a convex polytope

It's easy to find the area of a convex polygon by division into triangles, but what is the optimal way of finding the volume of higher-dimensional convex bodies? I tried a few methods for dividing ...

**34**

votes

**4**answers

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### 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 ...

**33**

votes

**3**answers

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### 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.
&...

**33**

votes

**4**answers

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### 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 $\frac{S^\prime}{S}$.
...

**32**

votes

**5**answers

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### Tiling the plane with incongruent isosceles triangles

It is not difficult to tile the plane with incongruent triangles.
One could tile with equilateral triangles, and then partition
each equilateral into three triangles, displacing their common
...

**32**

votes

**4**answers

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### “Entropy” proof of Brunn-Minkowski Inequality?

I read in an information theory textbook the Brunn-Minkowski inequality follows from the Entropy Power inequality.
The first one says that if $A,B$ are convex polygons in $\mathbb{R}^d$, then
$$ m(...

**32**

votes

**3**answers

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### Do bubbles between plates approximate Voronoi diagrams?

For example, soap bubbles:
Image from UPenn:
"A 2-dimensional foam of wet soap bubbles squashed between glass plates, after 10 hours ...

**32**

votes

**4**answers

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### Intuitive proof that the first $(n-2)$ coordinates on a sphere are uniform in a ball

It is a classical fact that if $(x_1,\ldots,x_n)$ is a random vector uniformly distributed on the sphere $S^{n-1} \subseteq \mathbb{R}^n$, then the random vector $(x_1,\ldots,x_{n-2})$ is uniformly ...

**32**

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**4**answers

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### Does there exist a shot in ideal pocket billiards?

Assume you have one shot with the cue ball in pocket billiards (a.k.a. pool), with
the game idealized in that no spin is placed on the cue ball in
the initial shot, all collisions between billiard ...

**32**

votes

**2**answers

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### what-if.xkcd.com: stabbing (simply connected) regions on the 2-sphere with few geodesics

In the latest what-if Randall Munroe ask for the smallest number of geodesics that intersect all regions of a map. The following shows that five paths of satellites suffice to cover the 50 states of ...

**31**

votes

**5**answers

998 views

### Can every $\mathbb{Z}^2$ disk be pinball-reached?

Let every point of $\mathbb{Z}^2$ be surrounded by a mirrored disk of radius $r < \frac{1}{2}$,
except leave the origin $(0,0)$ unoccupied by a disk.
Q. Is it the case that every disk can be hit ...