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Joseph Guy Maths Project

A farmer has exactly 1000 meters of fencing and wants to fence off a plot of level land. She is not concerned about the shape of the plot, but it must have a perimeter of 1000m. Which shape, with a perimeter of 1000m has the maximum possible area? The area of an isosceles triangle can be computed by using the Area= base x height formula. Let us start of with the equilateral triangle. Then each side has length 1000/3=333.4. We need to calculate the height. For this we use trigonometry. The height(h) divides the triangle in two identical right angles. All the angles are equal and add up to 180 so angle C is 60. tan C= height/adjacent we have that height=tanC x adjacent So area of triangle is x 166.67 x 333.34 x tan 60 = 48114.4 Next you shorten the base so that its 300 m in length. Then the other two sides are 350 m each. Here you dont know the angles but we can use Pythagoras theorem to obtain the height. You get 150^2+h^2=350^2 which means h^2= 350^2-150^2=100000 and h=316.2 So area of triangle is x 300 x 316.2=47434.2 Next you shorten the base consecutively another four times and perform the same calculation. The results are displayed in the table below. Base m 334.34 300 250 200 150 100 Side m 333.34 350 375 400 425 450 Area m^2 48114.4 47434.2 44194.2 38729.8 31374.8 22360.7

It is clear from the table that the area decreases and that the equilateral triangle has the largest area. Next is rectangles. A square with a perimeter of 1000 m has sides of length 250 m and thus the area 250x250=62 500 squared meters.

Joseph Guy Maths Project


Lets stretch the square by 25 meters to 275. To keep the 1000 m perimeter the horizontal sides shorten to 225. The area is 275x225=61875. You repeat this to and show the results in the table below. Height m 250 275 300 325 350 375 Width m 250 225 200 175 150 125 Area m^2 62000 61875 60000 56875 52500 46875

You can see that the square has the greatest area and that the area decreases as the square is stretched. You can see that the area would eventually be zero as the wiidth gets smaller and smaller and close to zero. Also you see that the square has a greater area than the triangle. Lets examine shapes with more sides to see if the area increases. Therefore you should calculate the area of a regular pentagon. It can be divided into 5 isosceles triangles with each of the sides as a base. Using the same procedure as when you calculated the area of the equilateral triangle you can calculate the area of the triangle in the pentagon. Multiplying by 5 you get the area of the pentagon. Each side has length 1000/5= 200. The angle at the centre is 360/5=72. As this is an isosceles triangle you get that the other two angles are (180-72)/2=54. So height=tan54 x 100 and the area of the triangle is 200 x tan 54 x 100=13763.8. Now you need to multiply by 5 to get the area of the triangle. You get Area= 68819.1 m. This is bigger than the square. Lets construct a formula for the general n-sided polygon. The length of each side is 1000/n. The central angle is 360/n. So the other two angles are (180-360/n)/2 which simplifies to 90 180/n. That gives the formula for the height as h=tan(90 180/n) x (1000/2n) and the area of triangle is 1000/n x tan(90 180/n) x (1000/2n). You then need to multiply the number of sides which gives Area=500 x tan(90 180/n) x 500/n. Using this formula you calculate areas for a n sided polygon as n increases. The results are shown in the table below.

Joseph Guy Maths Project


Number of sides 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 15 30 1000 Side length 200 166.7 142.9 125 111.1 100 90.1 66 33.3 1 Area 68819.1 72168.8 74161.5 75444.2 76318.8 76942.1 77401.9 78410.5 79286.4 79577.2

It is clear that as the number of sides increases so does the area. But as the number of sides increases you get closer and closer to the shape of a circle which can be thought of as the an infinitely sided polygon. This means the shape with the largest area is the circle. What is the area of a circle with perimeter of 1000m? 2x Pi x radius=1000 so radius=159.2. From the formula for the area of a circle, Pi x r^2, you get the area 79622.53 which is the largest area of them all.