Safely Footed Spiderwebs

… et je continue encore de fouler le parvis sacré de votre temple solennel…

Tri10 01

Let’s talk again a little about triangles. The last time I wrote about triangles is not quite a year ago, and it didn’t help.

Tri90 01

What you see in this post are all triangle that have their vertices at the same place, the third roots of unity, to be precise. They are, however, not Euclidean triangles with straight edges, but curved ones, with circular edges.

Tri240b 01

The first three are equiangular still, making angles of 10, 90 and 240 degrees at the corners, respectively. The spiderwebs are conformal images of polar coordinates on the disk, thus illustrating the Schwarz-Christoffel formula for circular polygons. The bat down below is a neat optical illusion, too: Would you think that the vertices are at the corners of an equilateral triangle?

Tri 1 1 3 01

The theory behind this is based on Schwarzian derivatives and the Schwarz reflection principle, so clearly Hermann Amandus Schwarz owns all this.
It is also intimately connected to hypergeometric functions and much more recent mathematics.

Bird 01

And there is some mystery, still. While circular triangles are safe (they are determined by their angles, up to a Möbius transformation, and the Schwarz-Christoffel formula will deliver), quadrilaterals are not. Even Euclidean straight & right quadrilaterals can be differently shaped rectangles, and things get worse with circular ones. In this case, the Schwarz-Christoffel formula will have some extra parameters, the so-called accessory parameters. Changing the will not change the conformal nature of the quadrilateral nor its angles, but its “bulge”. More about this later.


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