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Concept# Petrie polygon

Summary

In geometry, a Petrie polygon for a regular polytope of n dimensions is a skew polygon in which every n – 1 consecutive sides (but no n) belongs to one of the facets. The Petrie polygon of a regular polygon is the regular polygon itself; that of a regular polyhedron is a skew polygon such that every two consecutive sides (but no three) belongs to one of the faces. Petrie polygons are named for mathematician John Flinders Petrie.
For every regular polytope there exists an orthogonal projection onto a plane such that one Petrie polygon becomes a regular polygon with the remainder of the projection interior to it. The plane in question is the Coxeter plane of the symmetry group of the polygon, and the number of sides, h, is the Coxeter number of the Coxeter group. These polygons and projected graphs are useful in visualizing symmetric structure of the higher-dimensional regular polytopes.
Petrie polygons can be defined more generally for any embedded graph. They form the faces of another embedding of the same graph, usually on a different surface, called the Petrie dual.
John Flinders Petrie (1907–1972) was the son of Egyptologists Hilda and Flinders Petrie. He was born in 1907 and as a schoolboy showed remarkable promise of mathematical ability. In periods of intense concentration he could answer questions about complicated four-dimensional objects by visualizing them.
He first noted the importance of the regular skew polygons which appear on the surface of regular polyhedra and higher polytopes. Coxeter explained in 1937 how he and Petrie began to expand the classical subject of regular polyhedra:
One day in 1926, J. F. Petrie told me with much excitement that he had discovered two new regular polyhedral; infinite but free of false vertices. When my incredulity had begun to subside, he described them to me: one consisting of squares, six at each vertex, and one consisting of hexagons, four at each vertex.
In 1938 Petrie collaborated with Coxeter, Patrick du Val, and H.T. Flather to produce The Fifty-Nine Icosahedra for publication.

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