# EQUIDECOMPOSABILITY (SCISSORS CONGRUENCE) OF POLYHEDRA IN R 3 AND R 4 IS ALGORITHMICALLY DECIDABLE: HILBERT'S 3rd PROBLEM REVISITED

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1 EQUIDECOMPOSABILITY (SCISSORS CONGRUENCE) OF POLYHEDRA IN R 3 AND R 4 IS ALGORITHMICALLY DECIDABLE: HILBERT'S 3rd PROBLEM REVISITED Vladik Kreinovich Department of Computer Science University of Texas, El Paso, TX 79968, USA Hilbert's third problem: brief reminder. It is known that in a plane, every two polygons P and P of equal area A(P ) = A(P ) are scissors congruent (equidecomposable) i.e., they can be both decomposed into the same nite number of pair-wise congruent polygonal pieces: P = P 1... P p, P = P 1... P p, and P i P i. In one of the 23 problems that D. Hilbert formulated in 1900 as a challenge to the 20 century mathematics, namely, in Problem No. 3, Hilbert asked whether every two polyhedra P and P with the same volume V (P ) = V (P ) are equidecomposable (Hilbert 1900). This problem was the rst to be solved: already in 1900, Dehn proved (Dehn 1900, Dehn 1901) that there exist a tetrahedron of volume 1 which is not scissors congruent with a unit cube. He proved it by showing that for every additive function f : R R from real numbers to real numbers for which f(2π) = 0, the expression D f (P ) def = n l i f(α i ) is invariant under scissors congruence, where l i is the length of the i-th edge, and α i is the (dihedral) angle between the corresponding faces. Sydler (Sydler 1965) proved that, vice versa, if two polyhedra P and P have the same volume and the same Dehn invariants D f (P ) = D f (P ) for all f(x), then P and P scissors congruent. This proof has been later simplied and generalized; see, e.g., (Boltianskii 1978), (Neumann 1998), (Kellerhals 2000), and (Benko 2007). A similar result is known for polyhedra in R 4 ; see, e.g., (Boltianskii 1978).

2 A natural algorithmic question. Let us consider polyhedra which can be constructed by geometric constructions. It is well known that for such polyhedra, all vertices have algebraic coordinates (i.e., values which are roots of polynomials with integer coefcients); see, e.g., (Courant and Robbins 1996). A natural question arises: is there an algorithm for checking whether two given polyhedra with algebraic coordinates are scissors congruent? This question was raised, e.g., in (Mohanty 2004). This question is non-trivial. At rst glance (see, e.g., (Boltianskii 1978)), the answer to the above question is straightforward: let us compute and compare Dehn invariants. However, this idea does not automatically lead to an algorithm: rst, there are innitely many additive functions f(x) hence, innitely many Dehn invariants, and second, for each of these functions f(x), we must check equality of real numbers and in general, check equality of real numbers is not algorithmically possible; see, e.g., (Turing 1937, Kreinovich et al. 1998). To be more precise, checking equality of algebraic numbers is decidable; see, e.g., (Tarski 1951, Mishra 1997, Basu et al. 2006). However, the angles α i are not, in general, algebraic numbers: however, their sines and cosines are algebraic numbers. It is known that adding trigonometric functions like sin(x) to elementary geometry enables us to describe integers (as values for which sin(π x) = 0) and thus, we get rst order arithmetic and (due to Gödel's theorem) undecidability. Towards an algorithm for checking equidecomposability. Let us denote the sides and angles describing P by l 1,..., l n, α 1,..., α n, and the sides and angles describing P by l 1,..., l, n α 1,..., α n. To describe values of all possible additive functions f(x) on the angles α i and α i, it is sufcient to nd a 2π-basis B = {β 1,..., β m }

3 A def = {α 1,..., α n, α 1,..., α n } of the set A over rational numbers Q, i.e., a set B whose union with {2π} is Q-linearly independent, and for which α i = r i0 (2π) + m r ij β j and α i = r ij β j for some rational numbers r ij and r ij. The values j=1 f(α i ) and f(α i) of an arbitrary additive function f(x) are uniquely determined by its values f(β j ), so it is sufcient to consider m functions f 1 (x),..., f m (x) for which f j (β j ) = 1 and f j (β j ) = 0 for all j j. For each function f j (x), the equality of Dehn invariants means that n l i r ij = n l i r ij. Values on both sides of this equality are rational combinations of algebraic numbers, hence these values are themselves algebraic numbers, and we have already mentioned that checking equality of algebraic numbers is algorithmically decidable. Thus, to algorithmically check equidecomposability, it is sufcient to be able to algorithmically perform two things: nd a 2π-basis B A, and r i0 (2π)+ m nd the corresponding coefcients r ij and r ij. To nd the basis, let us rst check whether the set A {2π} is Q- linearly independent. This is equivalent to checking whether r 0 (2π) + j=1 n n r i α i + r i α i = 0 for some rational values r i, i.e., equivalently, to checking whether k n 0 (2π)+ k i α i + n k i α i = 0 for some integers k i. This, in turn, is equivalent to checking whether z k i i n (z i) k i = 1 for some integers k i and k i, def where z i = exp(i α i ) = cos(α i ) + i sin(α i ). We have already mentioned that the values z i and similar values z i are algebraic numbers, hence we can use the algorithm from (Ge 1993) n

4 j=1 (see also (Ge 1994, Babai et al. 1995, Buchmann and Eisenbrand 1999, Derksen et al. 2005)) to check whether such integers k i and k i exist. If A is not a 2π-basis, then we delete elements of A one by one and check until we nd a 2π-basis. There are only nitely many subsets of A, so we can algorithmically try them all. Once we nd a 2π-basis B, we must algorithmically nd, for every i, the values r ij for which α i = r m i0 (2π)+ r ij β j, i.e., equivalently, the integers k, k 0, and k j for which k α i = k 0 (2π)+ m This condition is equivalent to z k i = m j=1 j=1 t k j j, where z i and t j k j β j. exp(i β j ) are algebraic numbers. We know that B is a 2π-basis, so the desired combination of k, k 0, and k j exists. For each combination, checking the above condition simply means checking the equality of two algebraic numbers; thus, we can nd k, k 0, and k j and hence, r ij = k j /k 0 by simply testing all possible combinations. Thus, we indeed have an algorithm for checking whether two given polyhedra P and P are equidecomposable. Auxiliary question: how can we nd the actual scissor transformation? Once we know that the polyhedra are scissors congruent, how can we nd the actual scissor transformations? Sydler's proof is not fully constructive; see, e.g., (Mohanty 2004). Let us show that there exists an algorithm which is applicable to any two polyhedra P and P (with algebraic coordinates of its vertices) that are known to be scissors congruent, and which produces the corresponding scissor operations. Tarski's theory of elementary geometry: the basis for the desired algorithm. The existence of our algorithm easily follows from the fact that many related formulas can be described in the rst order theory of real numbers (also known as elementary geometry): a theory in which : variables run over real numbers, def =

5 terms t, t re obtained from variables by addition and multiplications, elementary formulas are of the type t = t, t < t, t t, and arbitrary formulas are constructed from the elementary ones by adding logical connectives & ( and ), ( or ), ( not ), and quantiers x and x. A well-known result by Tarski is that this theory of decidable, i.e., that there exists an algorithm which, given a formula from this language, decides whether this formula holds (Tarski 1951). The original Tarski's algorithm required an unrealistically large amount of computation time; however, later, faster algorithms have been invented; see, e.g., (Mishra 1997, Basu et al. 2006). For existential formulas of the type x 1... x m F (x 1,..., x m ), these algorithms (e.g., algorithms based on the Cylindrical Algebraic Decomposition ideas) not only return true or false when the formula is true, they actually return the values x i which make the formula F (x 1,..., x m ) true. Comment. The theoretical possibility of algorithmically returning such values x i comes from the known fact that every formula of elementary geometry holds in R if and only if it holds in the eld of all algebraic numbers. Thus, if the above existential formula holds, there exist algebraic values x i for which F (x 1,..., x m ) is true. We can constructively enumerate all algebraic numbers, and for each combination x i of these numbers, we can check whether F (x 1,..., x m ) holds for this combination until we nd the values for which F (x 1,..., x m ) holds. It is worth mentioning that this exhaustive search simply explains the theoretical possibility: the actual algorithms described in (Mishra 1997, Basu et al. 2006) are much faster. How we can apply the elementary geometry algorithms and nd the scissor operations. Let us show how the elementary geometry algorithms can be applied to nd the scissor operations which transform given polyhedra P and P into one another.

6 Each polyhedron can be decomposed into tetrahedra. So, without losing generality, we can assume that P can be decomposed into tetrahedra which can be then moved one-by-one and reassembled into P. We say that P and P are n-scissors congruent if they can be both decomposed into nitely many pair-wise congruent tetrahedra in such a way that a total number of all the vertices of all these tetrahedra does not exceed n. Let's x a coordinate system. Then a tetrahedron is described by the coordinates of its 4 vertices, i.e., by 12 (nitely many) real numbers. Let's denote these 12 numbers by a 12-dimensional vector x. The coordinates of the vertices of the tetrahedra which form a decomposition are also real numbers (no more than 3n of them, because there are no more than n vertices). Congruence can be expressed as equality of all the distances, which, in its turn, is equivalent to equality of their squares. So, it is expressible by an elementary formula of elementary geometry. The fact that P and P are n-scissors congruent (we will denote it by s n (P, P )) means that there exist a decomposition of P and a decomposition of P which are pair-wise congruent. Therefore, s n (P, P ) is constructed from elementary formulas by applying existential quantiers: s n (P, P ) x 1... x mn F n. Hence, s n (P, P ) is also a formula of elementary geometry. Thus, for every n, we can check whether s n (P, P ) holds or not; see, e.g., (Kreinovich and Kosheleva 1994). If we know that P and P are scissors congruent, this means that they are n-scissors congruent for some n. We can thus (algorithmically) check the formula s 1 (P, P ), s 2 (P, P ),..., until we nd the rst n for which the existential formula s n (P, P ) x 1... x mn F n (x 1,..., x mn ) holds. For this n, as we have mentioned, the elementary geometry algorithms also return the values x i for which F n (x 1,..., x mn ) holds, i.e., the coordinates of the tetrahedra which form the desired decompositions of P and P. The statement is proven.

7 The above algorithms are not very fast, but it is OK because an algorithm for nding scissor operations cannot be very fast. It is known that algorithms for deciding elementary geometry cannot be very fast: e.g., for purely existential formulas like the ones we use, there is an exponential lower bound a n for the number of computational steps. However, this is OK, because a similar exponential lower bound exists for constructing scissor transformations even for polygons; see, e.g., (Kosheleva and Kreinovich 1994). Remaining open problems. Can we always check equidecomposability in exponential time? When can we check it faster? Can we translate Sydler's construction into faster algorithms? What happens in higher dimensions? in spherical and hyperbolic spaces? Acknowledgments. This work was supported in part by the Max Planck Institut für Mathematik, by NSF grants HRD , EAR , and EIA , and by Texas Department of Transportation grant No The author is greatly thankful to Dima Grigoriev, Thomas C. Hales, Emmanuel Jeandel, Olga Kosheleva, and Angus Macintyre for valuable help and useful discussions. References L. Babai, R. Beals, J-y. Cai, G. Ivanyos, and E. M. Luks, Multiplicative Equations Over Commuting Matrices, Princeton/Rutgers DIMACS Center, Technical Report, TR 95-32, S. Basu, R. Pollack, and M.-F. Roy, Algorithms in Real Algebraic Geometry, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, D. Benko, A new approach to Hilbert's third problem, American Mathematical Monthly, 2007, Vol. 114, pp V. G. Boltianskii, Hilbert's Third Problem, V. H. Winston & Sons, Washington, D.C., V. G. Boltianskii, Combinatorial geometry, In: R. V. Gamrkrelidze (ed.), Algebra, Topology, and Geometry, Moscow, VINITI Publ., 1981, Vol. 19, pp (in Russian). J. Buchmann and F. Eisenbrand, On factor renement in number elds, Mathematics Of Computation, 1999, Vol. 68, No. 225,

8 pp R. Courant and H. Robbins, Geometric constructions. The algebra of number elds, Ch. 3 in What Is Mathematics?: An Elementary Approach to Ideas and Methods, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, UK, 1996, pp M. Dehn, Über raumgleiche Polyeder, Nachr. Acad. Wiss. Gottingen Math.-Phys. Kl., 1900, pp M. Dehn, Über den Rauminhalt, Mathematische Annalen, 1901, No. 3, pp H. Derksen, E. Jeandel, and P. Koiran, Quantum automata and algebraic groups, Journal of Symbolic Computation, 39, 2005, pp G. Ge, Algorithms Related to Multiplicative Representation of Algebraic Numbers, PhD Dissertation, Department of Mathematics, University of California at Berkeley, G. Ge, Recognizing units in number elds, Mathematics of Computation, 1994, Vol. 63, No. 207, pp D. Hilbert, Mathematische Probleme, Nachrichten von der Königl. Gesellschaft der Wiss. zu Göttingen. 1900, pp ; English translation: Mathematical Problems, lecture delivered before the International Congress of Mathematics in Paris in 1900, translated in Bull. Amer. Math, Soc., 1902, Vol. 8, pp ; reprinted in F. E. Browder (ed.), Mathematical Developments Arising from Hilbert's Problems, American Math. Soc., Providence, Rhode Island, R. Kellerhals, Old and new on Hilbert's third problem, In: Proceedings of the 9th Meeting of European Women in Mathematics (EWM), Loccum, Germany, 1999, Hindawi Pub., Cairo, 2000, pp O. Kosheleva and V. Kreinovich. Geombinatorics, computational complexity, and saving environment: let's start, Geombinatorics, 1994, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp V. Kreinovich and O. Kosheleva, An application of logic to combinatorial geometry: how many tetrahedra are equidecomposable with a cube?. Mathematical Logic Quarterly, 1994, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp

9 V. Kreinovich, A. Lakeyev, J. Rohn, and P. Kahl, Computational Complexity and Feasibility of Data Processing and Interval Computations, Kluwer, Dordrecht, B. Mishra, Computational real algebraic geometry, in: Handbook on Discreet and Computational Geometry, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, Y. Mohanty, Construction of a 3/4-ideal hyperbolic tetrahedron out of ideal tetrahedra, Discrete and Computational Geometry, 2004, Vol. 32, pp W. D. Neumann, Hilbert's 3rd problem and invariants of 3- manifolds, Geom. Topol. Monogr., 1998, Vol. 1, pp J.-P. Sydler, Conditions nécessaires et sufsantes pour l'équivalence des polyedres de l'espace euclidean a trois dimensions, Comment. Math. Helv., 1965, Vol. 40, pp A. Tarski, A Decision Method for Elementary Algebra and Geometry, 2nd ed., Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1951, 63 pp. A. M. Turing. On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, 1936/37, Vol. 42, pp ; A correction, ibid, 1937, Vol. 43, pp

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