Simplices with Equiareal Faces
Discrete Comput Geom
Simplices with Equiareal Faces
P. McMullen 0
0 Department of Mathematics, University College London , Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, England
If all the edges of a d-simplex T have the same length, then T is regular. However, if d ¸ 3, then it is clear that the facets of T may have the same .d ¡ 1/-volume without T being regular. Here, the question of the extent to which the equality of r -volumes of the r -faces of T implies regularity of T is investigated, the case r D d ¡ 2 proving most fruitful.
In private communications, Horst Martini and Robert Connelly have both raised the
following question. Let 1 · r · d ¡ 1, and let T be a d -simplex, all of whose r -faces
have the same r -volume; we then say that T is r -equiareal. It is natural to ask: is an
r -equiareal d -simplex necessarily regular? In what follows, we give a partial solution of
this problem, and pose some resulting further questions.
Of course, the case r D 1 of the problem is trivial—if all the edges of a d -simplex
T have the same length, then T is regular. Henceforth, therefore, we may assume that
r ¸ 2.
It is also fairly clear that, if d ¸ 3, then there are many simplices whose facets all
have the same area (.d ¡ 1/-volume); we discuss this case in detail in Section 4. The
complete solution in case d D 3 then implies that 2-equiareal d -simplices are regular if
d ¸ 4. The interest therefore centres on the cases 3 · r · d ¡ 2 (and hence d ¸ 5). The
central question here is whether, for d ¸ 5, a .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d -simplex is necessarily
also .d ¡ 1/-equiareal. We should say at once that there is no obvious reason why this
should be so. However, the only examples thrown up by computer searches (admittedly
in small dimensions) all have this property. We discuss this question in Section 6.
Conversely, though, in Section 5 we show how to construct many .d ¡ 2/-equiareal
d -simplices; naturally, in view of what we have just said, these are also .d ¡ 1/-equiareal.
There are non-regular examples for d D 5 and each d ¸ 7, and even an example for
d D 11 which has no symmetry whatsoever. Further, as we show in Section 6, if the
central question has a positive answer, then an r -equiareal d-simplex would be regular
whenever 1 · r · d ¡ 3.
General references to the theory of convex polytopes are [
] and [
]; results about
polytopes for which no specific citation is made can be found there.
We begin the discussion with some preliminary remarks, and a useful normalization
A d-simplex in Ed may be written in the form
T D fx 2 Ed j hx ; ui i · ´i for i D 0; : : : ; dg;
where U D .u0; : : : ; ud / is a set of vectors which positively span Ed . (It is convenient
always to think of U as ordered. Furthermore, we often also identify U with the .d C1/£d
matrix whose rows are u0; : : : ; ud , coordinatized with respect to an orthonormal basis of
Ed .) We call ´j the support parameter of T corresponding to u j . Note that if we replace
u j by some positive multiple ¸u j , then we must similarly replace ´j by ¸´j .
Up to a constant factor, there is a unique linear relation among u0; : : : ; ud , say
the zero vector. If the u j are unit vectors, then the Minkowski relation for areas and
normal vectors of polytopes says that we may take ®j to be the area (.d ¡ 1/-volume)
vold¡1 Sj of the corresponding facet Sj of T .
Here, we find it more convenient to take an alternative normalization. If we assume
the vectors u j scaled so that
X ®i ui D o;
X ui D o;
ku j k D · vold¡1 Sj
then we call the set U standardized. This clearly means that, for some fixed · > 0,
for j D 0; : : : ; d. If we wish, we may suppose that · D 1, but later other scalings will
prove more convenient.
All simplices with U as their sets of normal vectors are homothetic. One advantage
of standardizing U is the following.
Proposition 2.1. Let T be a d-simplex with U as its standardized set of normal vectors.
Then the expression of T in (2.1) is such that ´j D ´ is constant for j D 0; : : : ; d if and
only if the centroid of T is o.
Proof. For j D 0; : : : ; d, let the vertex of T opposite Sj be aj , so that we have
for each i 6D j . Thus
hui ; aj i D ´i
hu j ; aj i D ¡
X ´i D ¡d´j ;
for each j D 0; : : : ; d. It follows that the condition for the centroid of T to be o, namely
iD0 ai D o, reduces to
for each j D 0; : : : ; d. It is easy to see that the only solutions satisfy ´0 D ¢ ¢ ¢ D ´d , as
We say that T is in standard form if its normal vectors are standardized and its support
parameters are equal (so that o is the centroid of T ). For the most part, the actual common
value of the support parameters will not interest us, so that the standardized set U of
normal vectors determines T up to positive scalar multiple.
In fact, we shall invariably be concerned with the congruence classes of simplices
under euclidean isometry. In this case, the actual vectors ui can be replaced by the matrix
U U T D .hui ; u j i/ of their inner products. This is explained by
Proposition 2.2. There is a one to one correspondence between standardized sets of
normal vectors to d-simplices and positive semi-definite symmetric .d C 1/ £ .d C 1/
matrices of rank d whose rows sum to the zero vector o.
Proof. Certainly the matrix U U T has the given properties. For the converse, let Z be
such a matrix. Then there exists an invertible .d C 1/ £ .d C 1/ matrix V such that
where I is the d £ d identity matrix. We see at once that the .d C 1/ £ d matrix
VZVT D o
U :D V ¡1 ·I ¸
satisfies Z D U U T, as required.
An important criterion for r -equiareality of a simplex T will be expressed in terms
of the polar simplex T ¤. Recall that if o 2 int T (the interior of T ), then its polar is
T ¤ :D fy 2 Ed j hx ; yi · 1 for all x 2 T g:
Proposition 2.3. If the d-simplex T is in standard form, then so is its polar T ¤.
Proof. This is clear, since if there is a constant ´ > 0, such that ´j D ´ for j D 0; : : : ; d,
then the set of normals to T ¤ is just U ¤ D .´¡1a0; : : : ; ´¡1ad /, and we know that
iD0 ai D o from the definition of standard form.
As we shall see in Section 3, equiareality for T translates into a very similar property
for T ¤.
3. Volumes of Faces
Let T be a d-simplex in standard form. Thus the normal vector u j to the j th facet Sj of
T is normalized so that (2.2) holds, and T itself is then of the form
T D T .U; ´/ :D fx 2 Ed j hx ; ui i · ´ for i D 0; : : : ; dg
for some ´ > 0. We calculate the volumes of the various faces of T in terms of U D
.u0; : : : ; ud / and ´. Such expressions were previously found in [
], but the earlier forms
are not well suited to our applications. In any case, we give a quicker proof here.
If fa1; : : : ; ar g µ Ed is any set, then we define
Det.a1; : : : ; ar / :D det.hai ; aj i/1=2;
the r -volume of the parallelotope
( r )
X ¸i ai j 0 · ¸i · 1 for i D 1; : : : ; r ;
as in the geometry of numbers. (Of course, this volume is positive if and only if the vectors
a1; : : : ; ar are linearly independent.) Let 1 :D Det.u1; : : : ; ud /. Then we observe the
Lemma 3.1. If j .1/; : : : ; j .d/ are any distinct indices, then
Det.u j .1/; : : : ; u j .d// D 1:
Proof. Indeed, let j .0/; : : : ; j .d/ be 0; : : : ; d in some order. Then
Det.u j .0/; u j .2/; : : : ; u j .d// D Det ¡ X
u j .i/; u j .2/; : : : ; u j .d/
D Det.¡u j .1/; u j .2/; : : : ; u j .d//
D Det.u j .1/; u j .2/; : : : ; u j .d//;
and the lemma follows at once.
Observe, by the way, that such calculations as occur in the proof are easily justified
from the original definition; we employ them again below. An alternative way of looking
at this result is the following. Since the only eigenvectors of the .d C 1/ £ .d C 1/ matrix
U U T corresponding to the eigenvalue 0 are multiples of e :D .1; 1; : : : ; 1/, the adjoint
of U U T must be 1 J , with J the .d C 1/ £ .d C 1/ matrix all of whose entries are 1. Of
course, Det.u0; u1; : : : ; ud / D 0.
In preparation for our general result, we first calculate the volume of T in terms of
the normal vectors u j and the support parameter ´.
Lemma 3.2. The volume of the standard simplex T is
.d C 1/d ´d
vold T D d! Det.u1; : : : ; ud / :
Proof. We adopt our earlier notation, so that aj is the vertex of T opposite the facet Sj
with outer normal u j . We see easily that, for i; j D 1; : : : ; d,
hai ¡ a0; u j i D ¡.d C 1/´±i j ;
with ±i j the usual Kronecker delta. There follows immediately
Det.a1 ¡ a0; : : : ; ad ¡ a0/ Det.u1; : : : ; ud / D ..d C 1/´/d :
Since vold T D Det.a1 ¡ a0; : : : ; ad ¡ a0/=d!, we obtain the result we sought.
Next we have the easily proved
Lemma 3.3. Suppose that the orthogonal projection of u j .i/ on the orthogonal
complement of linfu j .rC1/; : : : ; u j .d/g is vj .i/. Then, for any distinct indices j .1/; : : : ; j .d/,
Det.u j .1/; : : : ; u j .d// D Det.vj .1/; : : : ; vj .r// Det.u j .rC1/; : : : ; u j .d//:
We now have the main result.
Theorem 3.4. For distinct indices j .r C 1/; : : : ; j .d/, the r -volume of the r -face F :D
Sj .rC1/ \ ¢ ¢ ¢ \ Sj .d/ is given by
for i; k D 1; : : : ; r , since haj .i/ ¡ aj .0/; vj .k/i D 0 for i D 1; : : : ; r and k D r C 1; : : : ; d.
Exactly similar calculations to those of Lemma 3.2 then lead to
.d C 1/r ´r
volr F D r ! Det.vj .1/; : : : ; vj .r//
Substituting for Det.vj .1/; : : : ; vj .r// from Lemma 3.3 yields the theorem at once.
If a d-simplex T is in standard form, then we may take its set U of normal vectors as
the vertex-set of the polar simplex T ¤, up to some positive scaling factor. In fact,
T .U; ´/¤ D ´¡1 convfu0; : : : ; ud g:
To an r -face F of T then corresponds a .d ¡ r ¡ 1/-face Fb of T ¤, and hence a .d ¡ r
F :D conv.Fb [ fog/:
The equiareality criterion is then
Theorem 3.5. The d-simplex T is r -equiareal if and only if all the .d ¡ r /-simplices
F corresponding to the r -faces of T have the same .d ¡ r /-volume.
Proof. This is clear when we observe that, if F D Sj .rC1/ \ ¢ ¢ ¢ \ Sj .d/ as before, then
F D ´¡1 convfo; u j .rC1/; : : : ; u j .d/g, so that
In other words, from Theorem 3.4,
vold¡r F D
Det.´¡1u j .rC1/; : : : ; ´¡1u j .d//
.d ¡ r /!
Det.u j .rC1/; : : : ; u j .d// :
.d ¡ r /! ´d¡r
Theorem 3.4 shows that r -equiareality imposes ¡drCC11¢ conditions on the u j or, rather, in
view of Proposition 2.2, on the matrix Z :D U U T. Thus it is far from surprising that, as we
shall see in Section 4, .d ¡1/-equiareality is frequent. However, with .d ¡2/-equiareality,
we have exactly the same number of equations as variables, namely ¡ddC¡11¢Cd C1 D ¡d C22¢
on the ¡dC2¢ distinct entries of Z ; we should therefore expect finitely many solutions.
(The same applies to the case r D 1, but we recall that this implies regularity of T .) On
the other hand, when 2 · r · d ¡ 3, we have more equations than variables, and so
we would be surprised to find any but trivial solutions (that is, again when T is regular).
We have already confirmed this for the case r D 2. We investigate these problems in
4. Equiareal Facets
In this section we use the term “equiareal” (without any qualification) to mean “.d ¡
1/equiareal”. We shall see that equiareal simplices (in this sense) are very common. We
begin with a general result.
Theorem 4.1. The following conditions on a d-simplex T are equivalent:
(a) T is equiareal;
(b) the in-centre and centroid of T coincide;
(c) the altitudes of T are equal.
Proof. To see this, we take T in standard form. For the equivalence of conditions (a)
and (b), note that equality of facet areas just says that the standardized normal vectors
have the same length, and since the support parameters are equal, this says that the facets
of T touch a sphere whose centre is the centroid of T . The equivalence of (a) (or (b))
with (c) is trivial.
As we said in Section 1, if d ¸ 3, then there are many different similarity classes of
equiareal d-simplices. To see this, we make a simple observation. There is no harm in
scaling such a simplex, so that its normal-set U comprises unit vectors ui , which satisfy
(2.2). Of course, since U is the normal-set to some simplex, the vectors ui must span Ed
(linearly), and hence must be in linearly general position, meaning that no d of them lie
in any hyperplane through o.
Since d ¸ 3, there are many ways of partitioning f0; : : : ; dg into two sets I and J ,
each of which contains at least two elements. Then
say, a non-zero vector. Let 8 be any sufficiently small rotation about o which fixes the
line through w, and define
ui D ¡
X ui D: w;
if i 2 I;
if i 2 J:
Since w8 D w, it is clear that V :D .v0; : : : ; vd / also consists of unit vectors satisfying
(2.2), and since 8 is small, they remain in linearly general position (indeed, the smallness
of 8 is irrelevant, as long as this condition holds). Observe that this idea actually gives
continuous families of solutions.
We now look at some small values of d. We begin with d D 3; here we have a complete
Theorem 4.2. A tetrahedron is equiareal if and only if its opposite pairs of edges have
the same lengths.
Proof. First, let the tetrahedron T be equiareal, with U D .u0; : : : ; u3/ its standardized
set of normal vectors. Thus the vectors u j have the same length. Now we have (for
example) u0 C u1 D ¡.u2 C u3/, from which it is easy to see that the half-turn about
the line joining §.u0 C u1/ permutes the pairs fu0; u1g and fu2; u3g. It follows that the
opposite pairs of edges determined by the remaining four pairs of normals have the same
length. The condition of the theorem follows at once.
Conversely, if the opposite edges of T have the same length, then its four faces are
congruent, and so have the same area. This completes the proof.
Of course, tetrahedra with all facets having a fixed area can have volumes varying
from 0 to the maximum, at a regular tetrahedron. This is in contrast with the result of
], which says that a flexible polyhedron, which can vary continuously while
keeping its edge-lengths fixed, has a fixed volume.
There is an immediate consequence of Theorem 4.2. If T is a 2-equiareal 4-simplex,
with vertices a0; : : : ; a4, say, then consideration of the facets of T which contain a given
edge convfai ; aj g shows that the opposite triangular face of T is equilateral. Hence T
must be regular. An easy induction argument then leads to
Theorem 4.3. If d ¸ 4, then a 2-equiareal d-simplex is regular.
We return to equiareality (the case r D d ¡ 1) for general d ¸ 4. To focus our ideas,
we pose the following question: given a .d ¡ 1/-simplex S, under what conditions is
S a facet of an equiareal d-simplex T , and to what extent is T unique? When d D 3,
the question has a straightforward answer—the triangle S must be acute-angled, and
uniqueness is guaranteed by Theorem 4.2. We look at the general case first, and then
describe specific examples when d D 4.
Let S0 :D S be a .d ¡ 1/-simplex with vold¡1 S D 1, situated with its centroid
at o in the hyperplane H orthogonal to the unit vector u0. Let S have facets R0 j and
corresponding standardized normals v0 j , for j D 1; : : : ; d. We try to make the R0 j ridges
of an equiareal d-simplex T lying in the half-space H ¡ :D fx 2 Ed j hx ; u0i · 0g. So,
we wish to find unit vectors u1; : : : ; ud of the form
u j D ½j v0 j ¡ ¾j u0;
which satisfy Pd
iD0 ui D o.
The first observation is that ½1 D ¢ ¢ ¢ D ½d D: ½, say, a constant, because Pd
o is essentially the only linear relation among the v0 j . Further, we must have Pd iD1 v0i D
iD1 ¾i D 1.
Finally, the condition that ku j k D 1 is ½2kvj k2 C ¾j2 D 1 for j D 1; : : : ; d.
Solving the last equations gives
¾j D "j 1 ¡ ½2kv0 j k2;
with "j D §1 for j D 1; : : : ; d. The range of possible ½ is clearly
0 < ½ · minfkv0 j k¡1 j j D 1; : : : ; dgI
for a predetermined choice of the "j , there may or may not be a suitable ½, namely one
Xd "i q1 ¡ ½2kv0 j k2 D 1:
However, in principle, we may determine all the (finitely many) solutions of the equations.
In fact, if we replace S by its scaled copy
fx 2 H j hx ; v0 j i · 1 for j D 1; : : : ; dg;
and let the vertices of T be a0; : : : ; ad (with aj opposite Sj as usual), then, for each
j 6D 0, we have ha0; u j i D hai ; u j i D hai ; ½v0 j ¡ ¾j u0i D ½, with any i 6D 0; j . Since
u0 D ¡ Pd
jD1 u j , there follows
¡ha0; u0i D d½ :
Because u0 is a unit vector, this says that T has altitude d½.
For our first example, we choose as S a tetrahedron in the linear hyperplane H of E4
orthogonal to e4; we take u0 :D ¡e4. In H , the normal-set to S is given by
v0 j :D
e1 C e2 C e3;
if j D 1; 2; 3;
if j D 4:
A brief inspection shows that we only obtain a solution for ½ if exactly one of the "j is
¡1 for j D 1; 2; 3 (and "4 D 1). This yields three equiareal 4-simplices T of which S is
We now vary S a little. We redefine
v0 j :D
½¡®j ej ;
®1e1 C ®2e2 C ®3e3;
if j D 1; 2; 3;
if j D 4;
with ®1 > ®2 > ®3 > 0 all close enough to 1. The same analysis applies, and we obtain
three mutually non-congruent equiareal 4-simplices of which S is a facet. Indeed, the
three corresponding values of ½ are distinct, and so, by the remark above, the resulting
4-simplices have different volumes.
Similar examples may be constructed for each d ¸ 5, with the conclusion that, even
if an equiareal d-simplex exists with a given .d ¡ 1/-simplex as facet, generally it will
not be unique.
5. Equiareal Ridges
We now show how to construct .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplices. The examples presented
here demonstrate that such simplices need not have much (or indeed any) symmetry. We
Lemma 5.1. Let T be a .d ¡ 1/-equiareal d-simplex. Then T is .d ¡ 2/-equiareal if
and only if there is some angle # , such that each dihedral angle of T is either # or ¼ ¡ # .
Proof. Let T have standardized normal vectors u0; : : : ; ud . Since T is .d ¡1/-equiareal,
we may assume that kui k D 1 for each i D 0; : : : ; d. Let the dihedral angle between the
facets Si and Sj of T be #i j . The criterion of Theorem 3.5 for .d ¡ 2/-equiareality says
that, for i 6D j ,
sin2 #i j D 1 ¡ cos2 #i j D kui k2ku j k2 ¡ hui ; u j i2 D Det.ui ; u j /2
is constant, independent of i and j . In other words, for some fixed angle # , we have
#i j D # or ¼ ¡ # . The converse is clear, which proves the lemma.
Henceforth, we suppose that the d-simplex T is .d ¡ 1/- and .d ¡ 2/-equiareal, and
also that the angle # of Lemma 5.1 is acute (it clearly cannot be ¼=2). Take any facet Si
of T . Let m of the dihedral angles #i j at Si be obtuse, and the remaining d ¡ m acute.
Let each Sj have area º. Consider the areas of the projections of the Sj with j 6D i on
the hyperplane aff Si ; these are counted with sign §1 according as #i j is acute or obtuse.
Hence we have
X º cos #i j D .d ¡ m/º cos # ¡ mº cos # D .d ¡ 2m/º cos #;
Observe that m must thus be the same for each facet Si of T , and that, to avoid degeneracy,
we must have d ¡ 2m > 1, and hence d ¡ 2m ¸ 2.
We deduce the following angle criterion:
Theorem 5.2. Let T be a .d ¡ 1/- and .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex. Then there is some
number m ¸ 1 with d ¸ 2m C 2, such that at each facet of T there are d ¡ m dihedral
angles # and m dihedral angles ¼ ¡ # , where
We now introduce the obtuseness graph G of T ; its nodes are the facets of T , and
there is a branch joining two nodes if the dihedral angle between the corresponding facets
is obtuse. Thus G is an m-regular graph (that is, each node of G has degree m), with m
given by Theorem 5.2. If M :D M .G/ is the adjacency matrix of G (so that M is the
.d C 1/ £ .d C 1/ matrix, whose .i; j / entry is 1 or 0 according as the nodes i and j
are or are not joined by a branch), then the matrix of inner products between the pairs of
normal vectors is given by
.d ¡ 2m/U U T D .d ¡ 2m C 1/I ¡ J C 2M:
Here, I is the .d C 1/ £ .d C 1/ identity matrix, and J is the .d C 1/ £ .d C 1/ matrix
all of whose entries are 1.
We now have the adjacency matrix criterion:
Theorem 5.3. There exist unit vectors u0; : : : ; ud (necessarily in linearly general
position) which satisfy (5.2) if and only if the matrix K :D .d ¡ 2m C 1/I ¡ J C 2M is
positive semi-definite of rank d.
Proof. This is clear; the sole eigenvector with eigenvalue 0 is e D .1; : : : ; 1/.
Before we come to specific examples, we discuss this situation in general terms. Let
M be the adjacency matrix of an m-regular graph G with d C 1 nodes. Thus M is a
symmetric .0; 1/-matrix, with constant row (and column) sum m. Now clearly M has
the eigenvector e D .1; : : : ; 1/, with eigenvalue m; we call this eigenvector trivial. Let
v D .¯1; : : : ; ¯a/ be any eigenvector of M . If ¯ :D maxfj¯i j j i D 1; : : : ; d C 1g, with
the maximum achieved at i D j , say, then, by considering the j -coordinate of b M , we
conclude that the corresponding eigenvalue ¹ satisfies
j¹¯j · mj¯j;
giving j¹j · m.
We ask when M gives rise to a .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex. We employ the adjacency
matrix criterion of Theorem 5.3. The trivial eigenvector of M is also one of K , with
eigenvalue 0. Thus we need only look at a non-trivial eigenvector v of M , belonging to
the eigenvalue ¹ say, for which v J D o (we may always suppose that v is orthogonal to
e). The corresponding eigenvalue ¸ of K is given by
¸v D v K D .d ¡ 2m C 1/v ¡ v J C 2v M D .d ¡ 2m C 1 C 2¹/v;
or ¸ D d ¡ 2m C 1 C 2¹. In view of j¹j · m, we see that we can ensure that ¸ > 0, if
d > 2m ¡ 1 C 2 max j¹j, or d ¸ 4m.
In fact, we can improve on this a little. The adjacency matrix M can have eigenvalue
¹ D ¡m if and only if G has a bipartite component. (This can be seen by a similar
argument to that giving max j¹j; we thank Imre Leader for bringing this fact to our
attention.) In other words, if G has no bipartite component, then, whenever d ¸ 4m ¡ 1,
¸ D d ¡ 2m C 1 C 2¹ ¸ 4m ¡ 1 ¡ 2m C 1 C 2¹ D 2.m C ¹/ > 0;
Summarizing, we have
Theorem 5.4. Let G be an m-regular graph on d C 1 nodes. Then G is the obtuseness
graph of a .d ¡ 1/- and .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex whenever d ¸ 4m, or, if G has no
bipartite component, whenever d ¸ 4m ¡ 1.
In particular cases, as we shall see below, an even smaller (relative) value of d will
We now apply these techniques. First, we give a direct construction (this provided us
with our initial examples). Pick any proper divisor m C1 of d C1, such that m · 21 .d ¡2/
(thus the quotient 2 is not permitted; this also implies that d ¸ 5). Write n C 1 D
.d C 1/=.m C 1/, and let L ; M0; : : : ; Mn be mutually orthogonal linear subspaces of Ed
of dimensions n; m; : : : ; m, respectively. (Note that n C .n C 1/m D d, as required.) In
L, let v0; : : : ; vn be the unit normals to some regular n-simplex, and similarly in each
Mi let wi0; : : : ; wim be the unit normals to some regular m-simplex. Finally, for each
i D 0; : : : ; n and j D 0; : : : ; m, and ¸; ¹ > 0 to be determined, define
We first scale so that each ui j is a unit vector, which implies that
ui j :D ¸vi C ¹wi j :
¸2 C ¹2 D 1:
Let #i j be the dihedral angle of the resulting simplex T at its ridge (.d ¡ 2/-face)
Ri j D Si \ Sj , so that we shall have to have #i j D # or ¼ ¡ # for some # with
0 < # < ¼=2. We can ensure this by setting
for i D 0; : : : ; m and 0 · j < k · n, and
¸ ¡ m
D hui j ; uik i D cos #;
for 0 · h < i · m, and any j and k. It is easy to see that these equations are satisfied by
¸2 D d ¡n2m ;
d ¡ 2m ¡ n ;
d ¡ 2m
(The last equation is just as expected.) In other words, we have a .d ¡ 2/-equiareal
dsimplex, whenever d C1 D .m C1/.n C1/ for some m and n satisfying 1 · m · 21 .d ¡2/
and n ¸ 2.
In this example, the obtuseness graph G has n C 1 components, each of which is a
complete graph on m C 1 nodes. Notice that the case n D 2, with d D 3m C 2, is not
covered by Theorem 5.4.
Next, we fill most of the gaps in the range of values of d covered by this construction.
Let the obtuseness graph G consist of a single circuit of d C 1 nodes and edges in order
0; 1; : : : ; d; 0; thus m D 2. Then .d ¡ 3/I C J ¡ 2M is a circulant matrix, whose
nonzero eigenvalues are d ¡ 3 C 4 cos.2k¼=.d C 1// (corresponding to the eigenvectors
.1; !k ; !2k ; : : : ; !dk / with ! :D e2i¼=.dC1/) for k D 1; : : : ; d. For d ¸ 8, these are
always positive, as required. The case d D 7, for which k D 4 is not allowed, has been
dealt with by the case m D 1 of the previous construction.
However, for d D 6, we have
giving a negative eigenvalue. It is not too hard to see that there is no obtuseness graph on
seven nodes which can make our construction work. Only m D 2 is permitted (because
we need 2m · 7 ¡ 2 D 5), and the two possibilities for G are a single heptagon (the
case just considered), and a triangle and a square (the latter component being bipartite,
which brings Theorem 5.4 into play).
Theorem 5.4 also permits an alternative obtuseness graph when d D 7, namely that
with two circuits, a triangle and a pentagon. Two squares, on the other hand, are excluded.
Finally, as another example of what Theorem 5.4 will do for us, we take m D 3. It
is not too hard to find a connected 3-regular graph on 12 nodes (even planar) which is
not bipartite, and has no non-trivial automorphisms. (We need d odd, because m is odd.)
For example, we can take the graph to be
Since 11 ¸ 4 ¢ 3 ¡ 1, and the graph has odd circuits (and so cannot be bipartite),
Theorem 5.4 tells us that the corresponding 11-simplex is 9-equiareal. However, as is
easy to see, the simplex has no non-trivial symmetries since the graph has none.
The constructions of Section 5, which give .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplices which are not
regular, lead us to pose several questions. The examples are all of one specific kind, and
it is unclear whether such simplices exist which are not of this kind. The constructions
thus raise what we call the central question.
Question 6.1. Let d ¸ 5. Is a .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex necessarily also .d ¡
There is no obvious reason why the central question should have a positive answer
(which is why we have posed it as a question rather than a conjecture). As we remarked
in Section 1, a computer enumeration (by Robert Connelly) in small dimensions only
produced .d ¡1/-equiareal examples. A .d ¡2/-equiareal d-simplex which is not .d
¡1/equiareal would have to satisfy a number of somewhat curious extra conditions, but we
have not (so far) found any inconsistency in them. Indeed, as we saw in Section 5, as d
gets larger, a .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex may be less and less regular, until at d D 11
it need have no symmetry whatsoever. Thus it is conceivable that, for even larger d, the
property of .d ¡ 1/-equiareality may be lost as well.
Now, once again, let T be a .d ¡ 1/- and .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex. Let G be the
obtuseness graph of T , with degree m at each node. Since m · 21 .d ¡ 2/, given any two
nodes i and j , say, there is a third node k which is joined in G to neither i nor j . The
normal vectors to the facets of T may be chosen to be unit vectors, and (as we saw in
Section 5) the corresponding normal vector vi j to the facet (ridge) Ri j D Si \ Sj of Si at
Sj is then a vector of length sin # (with cos # D 1=.d ¡ 2m/). Hence the dihedral angle
'i jk D 'ik j in the facet Si between its two facets Ri j and Rik is given by
¡ cos 'i jk D
hvi j ; vik i
hu j ¡ hui ; u j iui ; uk ¡ hui ; uk iui i
hu j ; uk i ¡ hui ; u j ihui ; uk i :
1 ¡ cos2 #
Now hui ; uk i D hu j ; uk i D ¡ cos # , whereas hui ; u j i D § cos # as the dihedral angle
between Si and Sj is obtuse or acute. The corresponding values are thus given by
cos 'i jk D
8 ¡ cos # C cos2 #
>>>> 1 ¡ cos2 #
> ¡ cos # ¡ cos2 #
>>>> 1 ¡ cos2 #
D ¡ 1 C cos #
with m given by Theorem 5.2; observe that these angles then fix m. A particular choice of
the dihedral angle of T at any given facet of S as # or ¼ ¡ # (with cos # D 1=.d ¡ 2m/)
then determines all the other dihedral angles of T ; only one of the two choices will give
m obtuse dihedral angles. In other words,
Theorem 6.2. If a .d ¡ 1/-simplex S is a facet of a .d ¡ 1/- and .d ¡ 2/-equiareal
d-simplex T , then T is unique up to congruence.
That is, we can effectively reconstruct T from S. It is thus natural to ask, more generally,
Question 6.3. Is there, up to congruence, at most one .d ¡ 2/-equiareal d-simplex, one
of whose facets is a given .d ¡ 2/-equiareal .d ¡ 1/-simplex?
Of course, if the central Question 6.1 has a positive answer, then Theorem 6.2 shows
that Question 6.3 has also.
We now glance at r -equiareal d-simplices, when r < d ¡2. However, since the central
question is still open, the discussion is necessarily somewhat tentative. Nevertheless, it
is worth posing the following
Conjecture 6.4. If 3 · r · d ¡ 3, then an r -equiareal d-simplex is regular.
We have already observed, in Section 3, that the normal vectors of an r -equiareal
d-simplex, with 3 · r · d ¡ 3, satisfy more more equations than they have degrees of
freedom, and thus the conjecture is likely to hold.
It is clearly enough, to prove Conjecture 6.4, to consider the case r D d ¡3. (Clearly, if,
for a given r , it holds for a particular dimension d, then it holds for all larger dimensions.)
The results above establish
Theorem 6.5. If Question 6.3 (or Question 6.1) has a positive answer, then
Conjecture 6.4 holds.
Note added in proof. We have recently constructed examples of .d ¡ 2/-equiareal
dsimplices which are not .d ¡ 1/-equiareal, even for rather small d, thus giving a negative
answer to Question 6.1. Details will appear later.
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Received January 30 , 1999 . Online publication May 9 , 2000 .