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Exploring the Sangaku puzzle


Introduction
Sangaku is a set of geometric problems written on wooden tablets in
shrines and temples in Japan. It can be traced back to the Edo period, the
time where in Japan traditional Japanese Mathematics was rising to its
prominence and was preferred over Western Mathematics. This is
emphasized by the fact that the problems often deal with circles which is not
too commonplace in geometry of the West and the original solutions do not
involve calculus. It became a tradition that, whenever anyone can solve a
Sangaku problem, they would go to the temple or shrine and write the
solution alongside the question tablet.
Tony Rothman, the co-author of Sacred Mathematics: Japanese Temple
Geometry, said that the advantage to the math used in sangaku problems
was that it was simplewhich opened the problems up to nearly anyone who
wished to try them. (Rothman helps reveal intricacies of ancient math
phenomenon1)
I have selected one of the Sangaku involving circles, semicircles and
tangents which I find very interesting and thoughts-provoking to work on.
The original problem is to prove that the ratio of the big circle to the small
circle is 3 to 2.

Figure 0

I have generated an extensive problem with requires a further understanding


of the diagram; to find the ratio of the triangle GDC to the area of the
triangle MCN.

Working methods

Assume for convenience that the side of the square is 10 units.

First, I wish to prove that CG is perpendicular to RN. (See Figure 1.)


Let K and V be the points of tangency between the semicircle to GC and RN
respectively. That means the line OK is perpendicular to GC and OV is
perpendicular to RN.
Then, let H be the point of tangency of OH and O2, and H be the point of
tangency of RN and O2. We have that the angle HHO and HHV are right
angles. Therefore, HH is parallel to KM and OV. Similarly, OH is parallel to
HV.
Hence, since KM lies on GC and MV lies on RN, we have proven that GC is
perpendicular to RN.
There is also an alternative proof. We can draw a line O2M so that it bisects
the angles O2 and M. Then, draw a line connecting points O and M. The angle
O2MO1 is a right angle. b

Next, I wish to prove that GDC and MCN are similar. We have that the
angles ADC and DCB are right angles. Also, the angle CMN is a right angle.
This means MCN and CNM add up to 90.
Then, since DCB is a right angle, it means that MCN and DCG add up to 90.
Therefore, DCG = CNM.

Respectively, we have that DGC = MCN. Therefore, GDC and MCN are
similar.

After proving GDC and MCN are similar, I wish to prove that CK is equal to
CB. Consider BO1KC. Since O1K and O1B are both the radii of the semicircle,
they are equal in length. Also, we have that O1BC is 90 because it is an
angle of a square and O1KC is 90 because KC is tangent to the semicircle
AB; O1KC = O1BC.
Now that we have CK = 10. I wish to find the length of KG.
Consider the quadrilateral O1AGK. Both O1A and O1K are radii of the
semicircle and therefore have the same value; 5. We also see that the angle
O1AG is 90 because it is an angle of a square and O1KG is 90 since K is the
point of tangency of CG and the semicircle. We shall express the length KG
using .
We shall now consider the triangle GDC. Using the knowledge of the
Pythagorean Theorem, the relationship between the lengths of the three
sides of the triangle can be expressed by:
H2 =

A2 + O2

where, given an angle , H is the hypotenuse side, A the adjacent side and O
the opposite side to the angle.

Now let us express the equation in terms of . We know that the hypotenuse
is the longest side, therefore we shall express it as 10+. The opposite is the
shortest side, therefore it is 10-. The adjacent side is a side of the square,
therefor it is 10. The second equation we have is:

(10+)2 = 102 + (10-)2


The value of obtained from solving the equation is 2.5.
Hence, the length of CG is equal to 12.5 and DG is 7.5.

Now, we can find the area of GDC using trigonometric formula:

1
a b sin ( c)
2

Where a and b are the legs of the angle c.


In this case, we have that a = 10, b= 7.5 and c = 90
Hence, we shall obtain the area of GDC to be 75 unit2.
(Figure 2)
Consider the quadrilateral DRMG. The line GM and DG are both tangent to
the circle O2 and meet at point G. So the angles GDR and GMR are both 90.
Also, the line RO2G can be drawn so that it passes through the centre of the
circle O2 and meet at point G. Therefore, we have that DR = RM and DG =
GM = 7.5. And since KG = 2.5, MK = 5.
We can now calculate the length CM by subtracting CG with MG: 12.5 -7.5 =
5.

Since we know that the triangle GDC is similar to the triangle MCN, we can
now find the ratio of length between the two triangles by comparing the
shortest side of each triangle. The shortest side of GDC is 7.5 units while
the shortest side of MCN is 5 units. The ratio of length of GDC to MCN is
therefore

7.5
5 . As a final step, to obtain the ratio of areas, we have to

square the ratio of length:


7.5
5

Conclusion

56.25
25

= 2.25

By using geometrical approaches, along with Pythagorean Theorem


and trigonometry, I am able to solve for the ratio of the areas of GDC to
MCN. Note that this might not be the most elegant method, since
assumption of value is involved. However, assumption is made only once,
and since the focus of the question is to find the ratio, not the exact value of
the areas, this method is appropriate.

Works Cited
1. Boutin Chad. 2006. Rothman helps reveal intricacies of ancient math
phenomenon. Princeton University.
http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S15/04/04O77/index.xml?
section=topstories Web. Accessed 1st April 2016.
2. Bogomolny. Alexander. Another Sangaku in Square from Interactive
Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles. Cut-the-Knot. http://www.cut-theknot.org/pythagoras/SangakuInSquare3.shtml#solution Accessed 2nd
April 2016