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Polygon Classification

Categories of polygons based on the number of sides.

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Polygons

The sum of the exterior angles of any polygon is 360. How is this possible?

Polygons

A polygon is a flat shape defined by straight lines. A polygon is usually classified by its number of sides, as shown in the table below.

Number of Sides

Name of Polygon

3

Triangle

4

Quadrilateral

5

Pentagon

6

Hexagon

7

Heptagon

8

Octagon

9

Nonagon (or enneagon)

10

Decagon

For a polygon with more than 10 sides, most people prefer to name it by its number of sides and the suffix “gon”. For example, a 40 sided polygon would be a “40-gon”.

A diagonal is a line segment that connects any two non-adjacent vertices of a polygon. A polygon is convex if all diagonals remain inside the polygon. Most polygons that you study in geometry will be convex. If a polygon is not convex then it is concave (or non-convex). The blue pentagon on the left is convex, while the pink quadrilateral on the right is concave.

A polygon is equilateral if all of its sides are the same length. A polygon is equiangular if all of its angles are the same measure. A polygon is regular if it is both equilateral and equiangular.

The sum of the measures of the three angles in a triangle is 180. You can use this fact to find the sum of the measures of the angles in any polygon.

The pentagon above has been divided into three triangles, and its interior angles have been marked. The sum of the measures of the angles of each triangle is 180. Therefore, the sum of the interior angles of the pentagon is 1803=540.

In general, the sum of the interior angles of a polygon with n sides is 180(n2).

If the polygon is regular (and thus equiangular), you can figure out the measure of each interior angle. Let's take a look at some example problems. 

Naming Polygons 

Name the regular polygon below and find the sum of its interior angles.

This regular polygon has 7 sides, and is therefore a heptagon. To find the sum of the interior angles, imagine dividing the polygon into triangles. There are 5 triangles, each with 180. Therefore, the sum of the interior angles is 1805=900.

Measuring Angles 

Find mG in the polygon from the previous problem.

Because this is a regular polygon, it is equiangular. This means that each of the seven interior angles has the same measure. The sum of the interior angles was 900. This means that each of the seven interior angles is 9007128.6.

Examining the Relationship Between Angles 

An exterior angle is the angle between one side of a polygon and the extension of an adjacent side. In the polygon below, an exterior angle has been marked at vertex G. How are exterior angles related to interior angles? What is the measure of the exterior angle at G?

The exterior angle and interior angle at the same vertex will always be supplementary because together they form a straight angle. In this case, the interior angle at point G was approximately 128.6. Therefore, the exterior angle is 180128.6=51.4.

 

Examples

Example 1

Earlier, you were asked how it's possible that the sum of the exterior angles of any polygon is 360.

There are many ways to think about the sum of the exterior angles of a polygon. One way is to first consider that the sum of all the straight angles through the vertices is 180n (where n is the number of sides of the polygon). These angles are marked in green in the sample polygon below.

If you only want the sum of the exterior angles, you must subtract the sum of the interior angles. The sum of the interior angles is 180(n2)=180n360. Therefore, the sum of the exterior angles is:

180n(180n360)=180n180n+360=360

Example 2

Find the sum of the interior angles of a nonagon.

A nonagon can be split into 7 triangles. The sum of the interior angles is 1807=1260.

Example 3

Find the measure of one interior angle of a regular nonagon.

The sum of the interior angles is 1260. Therefore, each interior angle is 12609=140.

Example 4

Find the measure of one exterior angle of a regular decagon.

36010=36

Review

1. What is the measure of an exterior angle of a regular 45-gon?

2. What is the sum of the interior angles of a 35-gon?

3. Draw an example of a convex polygon and a concave polygon.

4. What's the name of a polygon with 8 sides?

5. What's the name of a polygon with 10 sides?

6. What's the name of a polygon with 4 sides?

7. How could you use the dissection shown in the picture below to show why the sum of the interior angles of a hexagon is 720?

8. How could you use the dissection shown in the picture below to show why the sum of the interior angles of a hexagon is 720?

9. A regular polygon has an interior angle of 150. How many sides does the polygon have?

10. How could you use exterior angles to help you find the answer to #9?

11. What is the sum of the exterior angles of an 11-gon?

12. What is the sum of the interior angles of an 11-gon?

13. Solve for x:

14. Solve for x:

15. Solve for x:

 

Review (Answers)

To see the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 1.3. 

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Vocabulary

Concave

A concave polygon has at least one interior angle greater than 180 degrees. A common way to identify a concave polygon is to look for a "caved-in" side of the polygon.

Convex

A convex polygon contains no interior angles greater than 180 degrees.

Diagonal

A diagonal is a line segment in a polygon that connects nonconsecutive vertices

Exterior angles

An exterior angle is the angle formed by one side of a polygon and the extension of the adjacent side.

Interior angles

Interior angles are the angles inside a figure.

Polygon

A polygon is a simple closed figure with at least three straight sides.

Regular Polygon

A regular polygon is a polygon with all sides the same length and all angles the same measure.

Vertices

Vertices are points where line segments intersect.

Equilateral

A polygon is equilateral if all of its sides are the same length.

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