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**** This was originally written as a project for Mr. Shah’s Pre-Calculus Advanced class. I edited and rewrote many parts to refine it for Intersections but this paper requires an understanding of Pascal’s Triangle and general skills learned in Pre-Calculus. You could easily google an article on the elements of Pascal’s Simplices (line, triangle, tetrahedron etc.) and get very in depth and complicated explanations, but this paper goes over my thought process for “discovering” elements of the tetrahedron without using any outside sources. I specifically explain how to use Pascal’s Tetrahedron to aid in trinomial expansion.

I decided to explore the properties of Pascal’s Triangle. Pascal’s Triangle can be applied to many different mathematical situations, such as the chances of only flipping

heads on a quarter. In class this year and in past years I have learned how this triangle aids in expanding binomials without distributing each binomial to every other systematically. However, it never occurred to me until recently that Pascal’s discovery wasn’t limited to the second dimension, and I wondered, how does Pascal’s Triangle apply in the third dimension as a tetrahedron? Two-dimensional Pascal’s Triangle

1

1.1

1.2.1

1.3.3.1

1.4.6.4.1

1.5.10.10.5.1

1.6.15.20.15.6.1

1.7.21.35.35.21.7.1

Three-dimensional Pascal’s Pyramid (Layer 1)

1

(L2)

1.1

1

(L3)

1.2.1

2.2

1

(L4)

1.3.3.1

3.6.3

3.3

1

In Pascal’s Tetrahedron, rather than each layer being a line of numbers, each layer is a triangular arrangement of numbers. This made visualizing and creating the tetrahedron increasingly difficult as the layers went deeper. My first step was to model the tetrahedron. I used cubes with numbers written on them to represent the coefficients within each layer.

3.6.3 3.3 1 In Pascal’s Tetrahedron, rather than each layer being a line of numbers, each

Figure 1

Figure 2 The advantage of using cubes rather than drawing is that I can physically look

Figure 2

The advantage of using cubes rather than drawing is that I can physically look at the inside layers and take certain blocks away without confusing each layer or destroying too many erasers. However, as soon as I got to the fourth layer I came upon a block shortage. So I turned to second dimensional representations on paper. This is how I drew the deeper layers of the tetrahedron:

Figure 3 (Please ignore writing on the left-hand side) I recreated the two dimensional drawing with

Figure 3 (Please ignore writing on the left-hand side)

I recreated the two dimensional drawing with the cubes.

Figure 3 (Please ignore writing on the left-hand side) I recreated the two dimensional drawing with

Figure 4 (the red is a layer below the blue)

First I would draw the circles, as shown in figure 3, representing how many individual values there will be on the lower layer (these are the red values in figure 4). Next I would fill in the previouslayer’s values in the spaces between the circles in figure 3 (or the blue values shown in figure 4). Then I added each of the previouslayer’s values into every adjacent space.

Instead of two values sitting on top of one value,

 

2.2

4

 

there are three values sitting on top of

one value,

 

2.2

2

6

so imagine the 6 is on one layer lower than the 2s are, and the 2s form the

shape of a triangle, all on top of the 6.

Figure 5 Instead of only one or two values adding to create a value on a

Figure 5 Instead of only one or two values adding to create a value on a lower layer, there could be one, two, or three depending on the location of the values. If a value is on a plane, one of the three flat areas of the tetrahedron, only two values will be above it, therefore, that block will only be the sum of two values. If a block is on an edge, only one block will be above it, therefore, that block will be the sum of one value (the three edges going down the tetrahedron are lines made up of 1s). This makes visualizing the figure on paper difficult in any viewpoint except for a bird’s eye view.

Here’s a brief summary of how to use Pascal’s Triangle in binomial expansion:

First, we figure out which layer of Pascal’s Triangle we need to use:

values – layer number 1 – 0* 1.1 – 1 1.2.1 – 2 1.3.3.1 – 3 1.4.6.4.1 – 4

1.5.10.10.5.1

– 5

*(the reason for why this isn’t the first layer is because if the exponent of the binomial is 0, the result would be 1: not just the number 1, but that also means there is only one variable)

(x+y)5 is up at the 5th power, so we go to the 5th layer in Pascal’s Triangle:

  • 1.5.10.10.5.1 – 5

If we were to multiply out (x+y)5 using long lines of algebra, we would find the following combinations of x and y, ignoring coefficients:

x5 y0 +x4 y1 +x3 y2 +x2 y3 +x1 y4 +x0 y5

(notice that it’s risen to the 5th power, and the exponents don’t count above 5). They are put in the order such that exponents of x countdown from five, while exponents of y count up from 0.

Now, we input the coefficients given from Pascal’s Triangle’s 5th layer:

1x5 y0 +5x4 y1 +10x3 y2 +10x2 y3 +5x1 y4 +1x0 y5

(Simplified) x5 +5x4 y1 +10x3 y2 +10x2 y3 +5x1 y4 +y5

That is how Pascal’s Triangle can be used for binomial multiplication without long lines of algebra. Now how does this apply to Pascal’s etrahedron?

Let’s assume each value (x or y) represents a dimension. So let’s add a third variable, z, and see if it follows the pattern of Pascal’s Triangle:

(x+y+z)0 1 1

(x+y+z)1 1.1 1x+1y+1z (is this just a coincidence? Let’s continue to check)

1

(x+y+z)2 1.2.1 1x2 +1y2 +1z2 +2xy+2yz+2xz

2.2

1

(x+y+z)3 1.3.3.1 1x3 +1y3 +1z3 +3x2 y+3x2 z+3y2 x+3y2 z+3z2 x+3z2 y+6xyz

3.6.3

3.3

1

(No coincidence) None of the variables are listed in a particular order, but on the third layer, for example, there should be six 3s, three 1s, and one 6. And when we multiply (x+y+z)3 by algebra, the coefficients of the variables are: six 3s, three 1s, and one 6.

We’ve discovered a pattern! However, with a line of numbers it was easy to tell which coefficients went with their respective x or y value. With a triangle, how would we put a 2 dimensional layer of coefficients onto a 1 dimensional line of an equation?

Well, one dimensional figures exist in a two dimensional space, and two dimensional figures exist in a three dimensional space, so applying a line of Pascal’s Triangleto binomials must exist somewhere in the procedure of applying a triangle of Pascal’s Tetrahedronto trinomials. After labeling each vertex with a variable, let’s treat each edge individually:

Figure 6 (This is 3rd layer, the tip of the tetrahedron is the 0th layer) Imagine

Figure 6 (This is 3rd layer, the tip of the tetrahedron is the 0th layer) Imagine we have every edge like so. At first, I thought only the vertexes had three labeled variables (for example, x0 z3 y0 ), but then I realized every coefficient on the edge of the triangle had an x, y, and z in it, but sometimes they were to the 0th power:

Figure 7 So far this lined up with the algebra I did. There’s a 3xy ​

Figure 7

So far this lined up with the algebra I did. There’s a 3xy2 , a 3xz2 and so on and so forth. But what about the 6 in the middle? How am I supposed to get a 6xyz? After looking at the triangle long enough, I thought about organizing it by layers of exponents. For example with z:

Figure 8 Maybe instead of the exponents of each variable counting down linearly on each edge,

Figure 8 Maybe instead of the exponents of each variable counting down linearly on each edge, they count down planarlydown the entire triangle.

This diagram is a bit messy, but the method is much cleaner than algebra. The exponential

This diagram is a bit messy, but the method is much cleaner than algebra. The exponential values of each exponent can be graphically triangulated using the three “axis” (x, y, and z). So the 6 in the middle has x1 , y1 , and z1 sections intersecting at that one point, so we would write 6xyz.

Without using outside research, I discovered how to use Pascal’s Tetrahedron to aid trinomial expansions without the need for long lines of algebra.

Thank you for reading. Hopefully this paper either introduced you to Pascal’s Triangle and Tetrahedron, or provided you clarification on this methodology.

Other patterns I looked at:

On Pascal’s triangle someone discovered the “hockey stick”pattern. If you go down in a straight line of coefficients through layers of the triangle then change direction once, the last coefficient you stop at is the sum of all of the previous coefficients selected, forming a “hockey stick” looking figure:

(look at the boldedor underlinedvalues)

 

1

1.1

1.2.1

 

1.3.3.1

 

1.4.6.4.1

 

1.5.10.10.5.1

1.6.15.20.15.6.1

1.7.21.35.35.21.7.1

Does this pattern appear in Pascal’s tetrahedron? The first thing I tried was slicing a layer off of one of the faces of the tetrahedron. Instead of using an enormous physical model, I managed to draw it layer by layer. The outer edge of each layer makes up the entire side of the tetrahedron, so to shear

off a side I needed to take off an edge off of each layer (the edges taken off are in bold)

 

1

1.1

1

1.2.1

2.2

1

 

1.3.3.1

 
 

3.6.3

3.3

1

1.

4.

6.

4.

1

4.12.12.4

6.12.6

 
 

4.4

1

The next side layer is:

4.12.12.4

3.6.3

2.2

1

Does the pattern work? No. Is there a pattern at all? Yes. If keep the “hockey stick” path for choosing coefficients of this side, we find the following:

Starting with a “handle” of zero, 1 2 (this may seem confusing but see boldedabove) Then a “handle” of one, 1 + 2 6 (underlinedabove) Of two, 1 + 2 +3 12 (italicizedabove)

The pattern is the b (blade) - h (handle) = a difference of n^triangle depending on how many units long h is. What is n triangled? Say we have 3 squared. Three squared would be instead of a length of 3, there is a square with side lengths of three, in total 9 units in area. So 3 triangled would be 6 because a triangle with side lengths of three has an area of 6 units. So the “hockey stick” pattern does apply, but not in the same way it does in a triangle.

Edge and side value increase:

I sliced off multiple layers in the same fashion as I did with the “hockey stick” pattern. The difference is I sliced off more than one. I sliced four layers and saw the following edges (from top of the tetrahedron to the bottom):

1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 1, 3, 6, 10, 15 1, 4,10, 20 Each edge increases based on the edge of the previous slice. By this I mean the first edge increases by nothing; there is no edge before it, so the increase is 0. The second edge increases by one each time; the previous edge was made up of 1s. The third edge increases by 1, then 2, then 3 etc., or by triangles. The fourth edge increases by 1, then 3, then 6, etc. At first I tried to see if they multiplied in any pattern, which they did, but viewing each increase as addition was both easier to discover and to explain.

There are most definitely many more applications and patterns in this incredible tetrahedron and triangle, but definitely too many to be covered in one exploration. Even though all of the “discoveries” I came across were already found long ago, the feeling of

discovering with just a pencil, some paper, and a couple of blocks, was absolutely phenomenal.