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Mario123

Problem Solving Article # 1

Geometry 1 – Parts of a Triangle

This lesson will focus on the parts of a triangle, which is a pivotal concept in the AMC’s. Many of the later problems in the AMC 10 and 12 (the 20-25 range of problems) include problems involving the parts of a triangle. In this problem solving article, I will be going over several important concepts, definitions, theorems, formulas, and problem solving strategies. We will be going over several problems which include these concepts, definitions, theorems, formulas, and problem solving strategies.

Angle Bisectors

The angle bisector of an angle splits the angle into two equal angles, and the angle bisector consists of all points that are equidistant from the sides of the angle. The three angle bisectors of a triangle are concurrent at the incenter, which is the center of the incircle, which is the circle that has the radius of inradius. The inradius is the common distance from the incenter to the sides of a triangle. Hence, the inradius is perpendicular to the sides of a triangle.

There are a couple useful results of angle bisectors. The first is the Angle Bisector Theorem: In the figure below, if BD is an angle bisector of angle ABC, then =

B

A D
A
D

C

The second important result is a formula I call the Inradius Formula:

Sr = A

Where S is the semiperimeter (the total perimeter of the triangle divided by 2), r is the inradius,

and A is the area of the triangle.

Perpendicular Bisectors

A perpendicular bisector of a line segment is the line that passes through the midpoint of the line segment and is also perpendicular to the line segment. The circumcenter is the point where the perpendicular bisectors of the sides of a triangle are concurrent. The circumcenter is also the center of the circle which circumscribes the original triangle. The circumradius is simply the radius of the circle whose center is the circumcenter. Therefore, the line segment that

connects any of the three vertices of the circumscribed triangle to the circumcenter is a circumradius.

Medians

A median of a triangle connects the vertex of a triangle to the midpoint of the opposite side. The point where the medians of the triangle are concurrent is the centroid. There is a very useful result about the way the centroid divides the medians. In triangle ABC below, let

B D E A F C
B
D
E
A
F
C

Let’s call the centroid G. The important result is that =

=

=

Altitudes

An altitude of a triangle is the perpendicular segment that connects a vertex to the opposite base(extended if necessary). The altitudes are concurrent at the orthocenter. The position or location of the orthocenter is important to know. In an acute triangle, the orthocenter is located inside the triangle, the orthocenter of a right triangle is the vertex of the right angle, and the orthocenter of an obtuse triangle is outside the triangle.

Discussion Problems

These discussion problems will illustrate important problem solving approaches and strategies that I will summarize at the bottom of this article. Besides knowledge of parts of a triangle, several of these problems require some understanding of other basic geometric concepts, such as right triangles, similarity, etc. I suggest that you attempt these problems by yourself and then study the solution I provided afterwards.

Note: Although there are only four problems below, the actual Problem Solving Articles will contain at least 10 Discussion Problems. The four problems below are simply meant to give you a feel for the way the Discussion Problems work.

1. Nondegenerate triangle ABC has integer side lengths. BD is an angle bisector, AD = 3, and DC = 8. What is the smallest possible value of the perimeter?

Solution: The angle bisector in the problem makes us think of the angle bisector theorem

immediately:

= , so

=

. From this, we find that 3BC = 8BA. We know that BC and BA

are integers, so we are essentially looking for the lowest common multiple of 3 and 8, which happens to be 24. But when 3BC = 8BA = 24, we get BC = 8 and BA = 3. 8 + 3 = 11, so that creates a degenerate triangle. The next multiple lowest common multiple of 3 and 8 is 48, so when 3BC = 8BA = 48, BC = 16 and BA = 6. 16 + 6 > 11, so the triangle is nondegenerate. The perimeter of triangle ABC is 6 + 11 + 16 = 33

  • 2. Given AB = BC = 10 and AC = 12, find the circumradius.

Solution: The first thing we should is draw a nice diagram:

B

10 r 10 E r r 8-r A C 6 D 6
10
r
10
E
r
r
8-r
A
C
6
D
6

The r in the labeled diagram above is the circumradius, as E is the circumcenter. We know that ED is 8 – r because BD is 8 by the Pythagorean Triple of 6, 8, and 10. Hence, since triangle AED is right, we can use the Pythagorean Theorem to generate the following equation:

+ =

36 + 64 – 16 + 100 = 16r 25/ 4 = r r = 25/4

=

  • 3. In triangle ABC, the median from vertex A is perpendicular to the median from vertex B. The

lengths of sides AC and BC are 6 and 7, respectively. Find the length of side AB.

Solution: The first thing we should is draw a nice diagram:

B 7/2 E G 7/2 A 3 D 3 C
B
7/2
E
G
7/2
A
3
D
3
C

An important observation to make in this problem is that the point G, which is where AE and BD

intersect, is the centroid of the triangle. Hence, we know that =

= . So after making this

initial observation, let’s call BG = 2x, GD = x, AG = 2y, and GE = y. Now, we can use the Pythagorean Theorem on right triangles AGD and BGE. We get the following two equations:

+ = + = Let’s add the two equations together. We get:

+ = 85/4 Before we proceed, let’s keep in mind what we want to find in this problem. The problems asks

us to find the length of side AB, which is . Therefore, let’s manipulate the + = 85/4 equation to have a + value, and then we can take the square root of that value. So, we do the following steps:

(4/5)( + = 85/4) + = 17

= AB =

4. In the figure, BI bisects angle CBA, CI bisects angle ACB, and MN is parallel to BC. If AB = 12, BC = 24, and AC = 18, then find the perimeter of triangle AMN.

An important observation to make in this problem is that the point G, which is where

Solution: We are given that BI and CI are angle bisectors, and in the diagram they meet at point I. We know that point I must be the incenter because the point where two of the angle bisectors meet is also the point where the third angle bisector will meet. So let’s draw in the inradius from the incenter. By Herron’s formula, the area of triangle ABC is 27 . By the Inradius Formula, which states that Sr = A, the inradius of triangle ABC is A/S, where A = 27 , and S = 27, so the inradius = . Now let h be the length of the altitude from point A to side BC. We know the

area of triangle ABC, 27 is also equal , which is equal to 12h. So h =

. We also

know that triangles AMN and ABC are similar by AA similarity. The altitude from A to MN of

triangle AMN is

. So if we let P be the perimeter of triangle AMN the ratio

we can set up is the following:

=

, which means that P = 30

Note: There is an easier way to do this problem. I used the above solution because I wanted to show you guys an application of the parts of a triangle. See if you can find the easier solution I am talking about!

Summary of Problem Solving Strategies

  • - One of the key Problem Solving Strategies is to identify parts of a triangle in a problem and exploit our knowledge of parts of a triangle in a problem, even if the problem itself does not directly state that there is a centroid, incenter, etc. This Problem Solving Strategy was especially important in Problem 4, where we identified the Incenter, and then, we exploited our knowledge of parts of a triangle. We also used this Problem Solving Strategy in Problem 3, where we identified the centroid and exploited our knowledge of medians.

  • - Often times in a problem, when there are two line segments, such as two angle bisectors, two medians, etc. drawn in, it helps to think about the third angle bisector, third median, etc. especially because we know the point of intersection between the two original angle bisectors, two original medians, etc. is the point where the third angle bisector, third median, etc. will intersect the two line segments.

  • - Drawing in extra lines, such as the medians, the inradii, the circumradius, etc. can be very useful. This Problem Solving Strategy was especially useful in Problem 1, where we drew in the cirumradii.

  • - Building right triangles and dropping altitudes is often a useful strategy.

  • - Utilize Similarity when you can. Parallel lines, such as those in Problem 4, often indicate similarity.

  • - Drawing an accurate and large diagram is often times the first step in solving a Geometry Problem.

  • - Algebra is often intertwined in Geometry. Declaring variables and manipulating algebraic expressions were key steps in Problem 3.