# Pick s Theorem. Tom Davis Oct 27, 2003

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1 Part I Examples Pick s Theorem Tom Davis Oct 27, 2003 Pick s Theorem provides a method to calculate the area of simple polygons whose vertices lie on lattice points points with integer coordinates in the x-y plane. The word simple in simple polygon only means that the polygon has no holes, and that its edges do not intersect. The polygons in Figure 1 are all simple, but keep in mind that the word simple may apply only in a technical sense a simple polygon could have a million edges! A B D F C E Figure 1: Pick s Theorem Examples Obviously for polygons with a large interior, the area is going to be roughly approximated by the number of lattice points in the interior. You might guess that a slightly better approximation can be gotten by adding about half the lattice points on the boundary since they are sort of half inside and half outside the polygon. But let s look at a few examples in Figure 1. For all the examples below, we ll leti be the number of interior vertices, andb be the number of boundary vertices. We will use the notation A(P) to indicate the area of polygon P. A: I = 0, B = 4, A(A) = 1, I +B/2 = 2. B: I = 0, B = 3, A(B) = 1/2, I +B/2 = 3/2. 1

2 C: I = 28, B = 26, A(C) = 40, I +B/2 = 41. D: I = 7, B = 12. A(D) = 12, I +B/2 = 13. E: It is a bit trickier to calculate the areas of polygons E and F. E can be broken into a6 3 rectangle and two identical triangles with base 3 and height 5, so we get I = 22, B = 24 A(E) = 33, I +B/2 = 34. F: It is even uglier to calculate the area for this one, but after some addition and subtraction of areas, we find that: I = 9, B = 26, A(F) = 21, I +B/2 = 22. What is amazing is that if you look at all six examples above, the estimate I + B/2 is always off by exactly one. It appears that for any lattice polygon P, the following formula holds exactly: A(P) = I p +B p /2 1, wherei p is the number of lattice points completely interior top andb p is the number of lattice points on the boundary of P. This is called Pick s Theorem. Try a few more examples before continuing. Part II Pick s Theorem for Rectangles Rather than try to do a general proof at the beginning, let s see if we can show that Pick s Theorem is true for some simpler cases. The easiest one to look at is latticealigned rectangles. m n Figure 2: Pick s Theorem for Rectangles The particular rectangle in Figure 2 is (m = 14 and n = 11), so it has area = 154. And it s easy to count the interior and boundary points there are 2

3 13 10 = 130 interior points, and there are 50 boundary points. I + B/2 1 = /2 1 = 154, so for this particular rectangle, Pick s Theorem holds. But what about an arbitrary m n rectangle? The area is clearly mn, and it s easy to convince yourself (by drawing a few examples, if necessary), that the number of interior points is given by I = (m 1)(n 1). You can also see that B = 2m+2n (why?), so for an m n rectangle: I +B/2 1 = (m 1)(n 1)+2(m+n)/2 1 = (mn m n+1)+(m+n) 1 = mn, which is exactly what we wanted to show. Part III Lattice-Aligned Right Triangles Just slightly harder is to show that the formula holds for right triangles where the legs of the triangle lie along lattice lines. The easiest way to show this is to think of such a triangle as half of one of the rectangles in the previous part where a diagonal is added. Some examples appear in Figure 3. Figure 3: Pick s Theorem for Right Triangles We will look at such a triangle T with legs of length m and n. The area is clearly mn/2, but how many interior and boundary points are there? As you can see from Figure 3, it is easy to count the boundary vertices along the legs, but sometimes the diagonal hits lots of lattice points, sometimes none, and sometimes it hits just a few of them. But it turns out that it doesn t matter. For an arbitrary right triangle with legs of lengths m andnand areamn/2, suppose there arek points on the diagonal, not counting those 3

4 on the ends (the triangle vertices). The number of boundary points is m+n+1+k (why?). The number of interior points is also easy to calculate. Before you added the diagonal to the rectangle, there were (m 1)(n 1) interior points. If you subtract from this the k points on the boundary, the remainder are split into two halves by the diagonal, so in total the triangle has ((m 1)(n 1) k)/2 interior points. Checking Pick s Theorem for a right triangle with lattice-aligned legs, we get: I +B/2 1 = (m 1)(n 1) k 2 + m+n+1+k 2 1 = mn 2 m 2 n k 2 + m 2 + n k 2 1 = mn 2 = A(T). Part IV Pick s Theorem for General Triangles A T B C Figure 4: Pick s Theorem for Triangles Assuming that we know that Pick s Theorem works for right triangles and for rectangles, we can show that it works for arbitrary triangles. In reality there are a bunch of cases to consider, but they all look more or less like variations of Figure 4, where there is an arbitrary triangle T that can be extended to a rectangle with the addition of a few right triangles. In the case of this figure, three additional right triangles are required: A, B, and C. Suppose that triangle A has I a interior points and B a boundary points, that triangle B has I b interior points and B b boundary points, et cetera. Call the rectangle R, and let R havei r interior andb r boundary points. Since we know that Pick s Theorem works 4

5 for right triangles and rectangles we have: A(A) = I a +B a /2 1 A(B) = I b +B b /2 1 A(C) = I c +B c /2 1 A(R) = I r +B r /2 1. We want to show that A(T) = I t +B t /2 1. We know that A(T) = A(R) A(A) A(B) A(C) (1) = I r I a I b I c +(B r B a B b B c )/2+2. (2) Suppose that the rectanglerism n (so it has areaa(r) = mn, hasb r = 2m+2n, and has I r = (m 1)(n 1)). If we count the boundary points carefully, we have: B a +B b +B c = B r +B t, or B r = B a +B b +B c B t, (3) since the acute-angled vertices of the surrounding triangles are double-counted on both sides of the equation. Counting (again carefully) the interior points of the rectangle, we get: I r = I a +I b +I c +I t +(B a +B b +B c B r ) 3. (4) We need the final 3 in the equation above because now the corners of the triangles really are double-counted. Substitute the value of B r in Equation 3 into Equation 4: I r = I a +I b +I c +I t +B t 3. (5) Now we just substitute the values forb r andi r from Equations 3 and 5 into Equation 2 to obtain (after a bit of algebra): A(T) = I r I a I b I c +(B r B a B b B c )/2+2 = (I a +I b +I c +I t +B t 3) I a I b I c +((B a +B b +B c B t ) B a B b B c )/2+2 = I t +B t 3 B t /2+2 = I t +B t /2 1, which is exactly what we wanted to show. If you would like to check the equations above with the example in Figure 4, here are the values for all four triangles and the rectangle: 5

6 I B A = I +B/2 1 A = 10+18/2 1 B = 16+20/2 1 C = 15+16/2 1 T = 40+12/2 1 R = 90+42/2 1 Part V Pick s Theorem: General Case We now know that Pick s Theorem is true for arbitrary triangles with their vertices on lattice points. (Well, we do if we have checked a few additional cases that are similar to the one that appears in the previous section.) How do we show that it is true for an arbitrary simple polygon P with vertices that are lattice points? 1 Overview of the Proof Intuitively, what we will do is show that any such polygon can be constructed by putting together smaller polygons where we know that Pick s theorem is true. Roughly, we will go about it as follows. We have already shown that every 3-sided lattice polygon satisfies Pick s Theorem. Next, we show that if it s true for all 3-sided polygons, it is also true for all 4-sided polygons. Then we show that if it s true for all 3- and 4-sided polygons, it is true for all 5-sided polygons. Then we show that if it s true for all 3-, 4-, and 5-sided polygons, it is true for all 6-sided polygons, et cetera. This technique is officially known as generalized mathematical induction, and we will not, in practice, do all of the infinite number of steps that we began to describe in the previous paragraph. We will do the proof in two steps, the first of which has already been completed: 1. Show that the theorem is true for every lattice polygon having 3 sides. 2. Show that if the theorem is true for every lattice polygon having 3 or 4 or 5 or... ork 1 sides, then it is true for every lattice polygon having k sides. Since the second part of the proof works for any k, it effectively amounts to doing all of the infinite number of steps listed a couple of paragraphs previously. A particular example of the general idea is illustrated in Figure 5. We have a 23-sided polygon: ABC W. We will show that every such polygon with more than three sides has an interior diagonal (there are lots of examples in this figure, but we have chosen diagonal OW as an example), and such a diagonal will split the polygon into a pair of smaller polygons. In this case, into the 16-sided polygon ABC MNOW and the 9-sided polygon OPQ W. Since we are this stage in the proof, we know Pick s Theorem is true for all polygons having between 3 and 22 edges, then in particular it will be true for the 16- and 9-sided polygons above. We then show that if two 6

7 A B L D C M H I O N P V W Q J K U T G E S R F Figure 5: Pick s Theorem: General Case such polygons that satisfy Pick s Theorem are attached together, the resulting polygon will also satisfy Pick s Theorem. We will show the second part first that if two polygons satisfy the theorem, then the joined version will also satisfy the theorem. 2 Joining Two Lattice Polygons Suppose the two sub-polygons of the original polygon P are P 1 and P 2, where P 1 has I 1 interior points and B 1 boundary points. P 2 has I 2 interior and B 2 boundary points. Let s also assume that the common diagonal of the original polygon between P 1 and P 2 contains m points. Let P have I interior and B boundary points. A(P) = A(P 1 )+A(P 2 ) = (I 1 +B 1 /2 1)+(I 2 +B 2 /2 1). Since any point interior to P 1 or P 2 is interior to P, and since m 2 of the common boundary points of P 1 and P 2 are also interior to P, I = I 1 + I 2 + m 2. Similar reasoning gives B = B 1 +B 2 2(m 2) 2. Therefore: I +B/2 1 = (I 1 +I 2 +m 2)+(B 1 +B 2 2(m 2) 2)/2 1 7

8 = (I 1 +B 1 /2 1)+(I 2 +B 2 /2 1) = A(P). 3 The Interior Diagonal To complete the proof of Pick s Theorem, we must show that any simple polygon has an interior diagonal a diagonal completely within the polygon that connects two of its vertices. A K G B J I L C Figure 6: Existence of an Interior Diagonal The proof goes as follows. Find an angle ABC such that the interior of the polygon is on the side of the angle less than 180. Then there are two cases. Either the line segment AC lies completely within the polyon in which case we are done, and AC is the required diagonal, or some part of the polygon (shown asgjkl in Figure 6) goes inside ABC. There are only a finite number of vertices of the polygon interior to ABC; for each of those, construct a line perpendicular to the angle bisector of ABC. Clearly, the line connecting B to the vertex with perpendicular closest to point B will lie completely within the polygon. If not, it had to cross another edge of the polygon, and one end of that edge would have a perpendicular to the angle bisector closer tob. Note that we cannot use the vertex closest to B. In Figure 6, J is the point nearest B, but clearly segment JB crosses segment KL. Part VI Polygons with Holes So far, all of the polygons we have considered are simple they have no holes. In figure 7 are five examples of polygons with holes. Polygons A, B and C have a single 8

9 A B C D E Figure 7: Polygons with holes hole, while polygonsd ande each have two holes. These examples are simple enough that it is not difficult to calculate the areas enclosed inside the outer polygon and outside the hole or holes. I B A I +B/2 1 A B C D E The table above shows the counts, including the actual area and the area predicted by the formula that works for polygons without holes. In the cases where there is one hole, there is an error of 1; in the cases where there are two holes, the error is 2. In fact, if you try a few more examples with one, two or more holes and add additional entries to the table above, you will find that the area seems to be given by the following formula, where n is the number of holes: A = I +B/2 1+n. Since we already know the formula for the areas of polygons without holes, we can use that information to work out the area of a polygon with holes. We will first work out the formula for the area of a polygon with a single hole and then we will extend that calculation to the general case of n holes. For the single hole case, we need to show that the area of the polygon is given by the formulai +B/2 1+1 = I +B/2. Suppose the outer polygon has areaa o, hasi o interior points andb o boundary points. The polygon that makes up the hole has area A h and has I h interior points and B h boundary points. 9

10 From our previous work, we know thata o = I o +B o /2 1 anda h = I h +B h /2 1. Since A = A o A h, we have A = I o I h +(B o B h )/2. If I and B are the number of interior and boundary points of the entire polygon that includes the hole, we havei = I o I h B h andb = B o +B h. Using these formulas and a little algebra, we obtain: I +B/2 = I I h +(B o B h )/2 = A, which is exactly what we were trying to prove. 4 The General Case with n Holes A similar calculation can be made for polygons with any number of holes. As before, let A o be the area of the outer polygon (with I o and B o interior and boundary points) have n holes with areas A, 1 i n and having I i and B i interior and boundary points. The area A of the holey polygon (having I and B interior and boundary points) is given by: n A = A o A i. i=1 Since A o = I o +B o /2 1 and A i = I i +B i /2 1 we have: A = I o +B o /2 1 n (I i +B i /2 1) i=1 = I o +B o /2 1+n n (I i +B i /2). It is easy to see that I = I o n i=i (I i +B i ) and that B = B o + n i=i B i. Thus: I +B/2 1+n = I o +B o /2 which is exactly what we were trying to prove. i=1 n (I i +B i /2) 1+n = A, i=1 10

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