Summary
In geometry, a polyhedron (: polyhedra or polyhedrons; ) is a three-dimensional shape with flat polygonal faces, straight edges and sharp corners or vertices. A convex polyhedron is a polyhedron that bounds a convex set. Every convex polyhedron can be constructed as the convex hull of its vertices, and for every finite set of points, not all on the same plane, the convex hull is a convex polyhedron. Cubes and pyramids are examples of convex polyhedra. A polyhedron is a 3-dimensional example of a polytope, a more general concept in any number of dimensions. Convex polyhedra are well-defined, with several equivalent standard definitions. However, the formal mathematical definition of polyhedra that are not required to be convex has been problematic. Many definitions of "polyhedron" have been given within particular contexts, some more rigorous than others, and there is not universal agreement over which of these to choose. Some of these definitions exclude shapes that have often been counted as polyhedra (such as the self-crossing polyhedra) or include shapes that are often not considered as valid polyhedra (such as solids whose boundaries are not manifolds). As Branko Grünbaum observed, "The Original Sin in the theory of polyhedra goes back to Euclid, and through Kepler, Poinsot, Cauchy and many others ... at each stage ... the writers failed to define what are the polyhedra". Nevertheless, there is general agreement that a polyhedron is a solid or surface that can be described by its vertices (corner points), edges (line segments connecting certain pairs of vertices), faces (two-dimensional polygons), and that it sometimes can be said to have a particular three-dimensional interior volume. One can distinguish among these different definitions according to whether they describe the polyhedron as a solid, whether they describe it as a surface, or whether they describe it more abstractly based on its incidence geometry.
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