Constructible Polygon


Compass and straightedge geometric constructions dating back to Euclid were capable of inscribing regular polygons of 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 24, 30, 32, 40, 48, 60, 64, ..., sides. In 1796 (when he was 19 years old), Gauss gave a sufficient condition for a regular n-gon to be constructible, which he also conjectured (but did not prove) to be necessary, thus showing that regular n-gons were constructible for n=3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 20, 24, 30, 32, 34, 40, 48, 51, 60, 64, ... (OEIS A003401).

A complete enumeration of "constructible" polygons is given by those with central angles corresponding to so-called trigonometry angles.


Gardner (1977) and independently Watkins (Conway and Guy 1996, Krížek et al. 2001) noticed that the number of sides for constructible polygons with odd numbers of sides are given by the first 32 rows of the Sierpiński sieve interpreted as binary numbers, giving 1, 3, 5, 15, 17, 51, 85, 255, ... (OEIS A004729, Conway and Guy 1996, p. 140). In other words, every row is a product of distinct Fermat primes, with terms given by binary counting.

Wolfram Web Resources

Mathematica »

The #1 tool for creating Demonstrations and anything technical.

Wolfram|Alpha »

Explore anything with the first computational knowledge engine.

Wolfram Demonstrations Project »

Explore thousands of free applications across science, mathematics, engineering, technology, business, art, finance, social sciences, and more. »

Join the initiative for modernizing math education.

Online Integral Calculator »

Solve integrals with Wolfram|Alpha.

Step-by-step Solutions »

Walk through homework problems step-by-step from beginning to end. Hints help you try the next step on your own.

Wolfram Problem Generator »

Unlimited random practice problems and answers with built-in Step-by-step solutions. Practice online or make a printable study sheet.

Wolfram Education Portal »

Collection of teaching and learning tools built by Wolfram education experts: dynamic textbook, lesson plans, widgets, interactive Demonstrations, and more.

Wolfram Language »

Knowledge-based programming for everyone.