Edge (geometry)

In geometry, an edge is a particular type of line segment joining two vertices in a polygon, polyhedron, or higher-dimensional polytope.[1] In a polygon, an edge is a line segment on the boundary,[2] and is often called a side. In a polyhedron or more generally a polytope, an edge is a line segment where two faces meet.[3] A segment joining two vertices while passing through the interior or exterior is not an edge but instead is called a diagonal.

Three edges AB, BC, and CA, each between two vertices of a triangle.

A polygon is bounded by edges; this square has 4 edges.

Every edge is shared by two faces in a polyhedron, like this cube.

Every edge is shared by three or more faces in a 4-polytope, as seen in this projection of a tesseract.
For edge in graph theory, see Edge (graph theory)

Relation to edges in graphs

In graph theory, an edge is an abstract object connecting two graph vertices, unlike polygon and polyhedron edges which have a concrete geometric representation as a line segment. However, any polyhedron can be represented by its skeleton or edge-skeleton, a graph whose vertices are the geometric vertices of the polyhedron and whose edges correspond to the geometric edges.[4] Conversely, the graphs that are skeletons of three-dimensional polyhedra can be characterized by Steinitz's theorem as being exactly the 3-vertex-connected planar graphs.[5]

Number of edges in a polyhedron

Any convex polyhedron's surface has Euler characteristic

where V is the number of vertices, E is the number of edges, and F is the number of faces. This equation is known as Euler's polyhedron formula. Thus the number of edges is 2 less than the sum of the numbers of vertices and faces. For example, a cube has 8 vertices and 6 faces, and hence 12 edges.

Incidences with other faces

In a polygon, two edges meet at each vertex; more generally, by Balinski's theorem, at least d edges meet at every vertex of a d-dimensional convex polytope.[6] Similarly, in a polyhedron, exactly two two-dimensional faces meet at every edge,[7] while in higher dimensional polytopes three or more two-dimensional faces meet at every edge.

Alternative terminology

In the theory of high-dimensional convex polytopes, a facet or side of a d-dimensional polytope is one of its (d  1)-dimensional features, a ridge is a (d  2)-dimensional feature, and a peak is a (d  3)-dimensional feature. Thus, the edges of a polygon are its facets, the edges of a 3-dimensional convex polyhedron are its ridges, and the edges of a 4-dimensional polytope are its peaks.[8]

See also


  1. Ziegler, Günter M. (1995), Lectures on Polytopes, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, 152, Springer, Definition 2.1, p. 51.
  2. Weisstein, Eric W. "Polygon Edge." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PolygonEdge.html
  3. Weisstein, Eric W. "Polytope Edge." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PolytopeEdge.html
  4. Senechal, Marjorie (2013), Shaping Space: Exploring Polyhedra in Nature, Art, and the Geometrical Imagination, Springer, p. 81, ISBN 9780387927145.
  5. Pisanski, Tomaž; Randić, Milan (2000), "Bridges between geometry and graph theory", in Gorini, Catherine A. (ed.), Geometry at work, MAA Notes, 53, Washington, DC: Math. Assoc. America, pp. 174–194, MR 1782654. See in particular Theorem 3, p. 176.
  6. Balinski, M. L. (1961), "On the graph structure of convex polyhedra in n-space", Pacific Journal of Mathematics, 11 (2): 431–434, doi:10.2140/pjm.1961.11.431, MR 0126765.
  7. Wenninger, Magnus J. (1974), Polyhedron Models, Cambridge University Press, p. 1, ISBN 9780521098595.
  8. Seidel, Raimund (1986), "Constructing higher-dimensional convex hulls at logarithmic cost per face", Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC '86), pp. 404–413, doi:10.1145/12130.12172.
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