# 24-cell

Short description: Regular object in four dimensional geometry
1. REDIRECT Template:Infobox 4-polytope

In geometry, the 24-cell is the convex regular 4-polytope (four-dimensional analogue of a Platonic solid) with Schläfli symbol {3,4,3}. It is also called C24, or the icositetrachoron, octaplex (short for "octahedral complex"), icosatetrahedroid, octacube, hyper-diamond or polyoctahedron, being constructed of octahedral cells.

The boundary of the 24-cell is composed of 24 octahedral cells with six meeting at each vertex, and three at each edge. Together they have 96 triangular faces, 96 edges, and 24 vertices. The vertex figure is a cube. The 24-cell is self-dual.[lower-alpha 1] It and the tesseract are the only convex regular 4-polytopes in which the edge length equals the radius.[lower-alpha 2]

The 24-cell does not have a regular analogue in 3 dimensions. It is the only one of the six convex regular 4-polytopes which is not the four-dimensional analogue of one of the five regular Platonic solids. However, it can be seen as the analogue of a pair of irregular solids: the cuboctahedron and its dual the rhombic dodecahedron.

Translated copies of the 24-cell can tile four-dimensional space face-to-face, forming the 24-cell honeycomb. As a polytope that can tile by translation, the 24-cell is an example of a parallelotope, the simplest one that is not also a zonotope.

## Geometry

The 24-cell incorporates the geometries of every convex regular polytope in the first four dimensions, except the 5-cell, those with a 5 in their Schlӓfli symbol,[lower-alpha 3] and the polygons {7} and above. It is especially useful to explore the 24-cell, because one can see the geometric relationships among all of these regular polytopes in a single 24-cell or its honeycomb.

The 24-cell is the fourth in the sequence of 6 convex regular 4-polytopes (in order of size and complexity).[lower-alpha 4] It can be deconstructed into 3 overlapping instances of its predecessor the tesseract (8-cell), as the 8-cell can be deconstructed into 2 overlapping instances of its predecessor the 16-cell. The reverse procedure to construct each of these from an instance of its predecessor preserves the radius of the predecessor, but generally produces a successor with a smaller edge length.[lower-alpha 5]

### Coordinates

#### Squares

The 24-cell is the convex hull of its vertices which can be described as the 24 coordinate permutations of:

$\displaystyle{ (\pm1, \pm 1, 0, 0) \in \mathbb{R}^4 }$.

Those coordinates can be constructed as       , rectifying the 16-cell       with 8 vertices permutations of (±2,0,0,0). The vertex figure of a 16-cell is the octahedron; thus, cutting the vertices of the 16-cell at the midpoint of its incident edges produces 8 octahedral cells. This process also rectifies the tetrahedral cells of the 16-cell which become 16 octahedra, giving the 24-cell 24 octahedral cells.

In this frame of reference the 24-cell has edges of length 2 and is inscribed in a 3-sphere of radius 2. Remarkably, the edge length equals the circumradius, as in the hexagon, or the cuboctahedron. Such polytopes are radially equilateral.[lower-alpha 2]

The 24 vertices form 18 great squares[lower-alpha 6] (3 sets of 6 orthogonal[lower-alpha 8] central squares), 3 of which intersect at each vertex. By viewing just one square at each vertex, the 24-cell can be seen as the vertices of 3 pairs of completely orthogonal[lower-alpha 7] great squares which intersect at no vertices.[lower-alpha 11]

#### Hexagons

The 24-cell is self-dual, having the same number of vertices (24) as cells and the same number of edges (96) as faces.

If the dual of the above 24-cell of edge length 2 is taken by reciprocating it about its inscribed sphere, another 24-cell is found which has edge length and circumradius 1, and its coordinates reveal more structure. In this frame of reference the 24-cell lies vertex-up, and its vertices can be given as follows:

8 vertices obtained by permuting the integer coordinates:

(±1, 0, 0, 0)

and 16 vertices with half-integer coordinates of the form:

1/2, ±1/2, ±1/2, ±1/2)

all 24 of which lie at distance 1 from the origin.

Viewed as quaternions, these are the unit Hurwitz quaternions.

The 24-cell has unit radius and unit edge length[lower-alpha 2] in this coordinate system. We refer to the system as unit radius coordinates to distinguish it from others, such as the 2 radius coordinates used above.[lower-alpha 12]

The 24 vertices and 96 edges form 16 non-orthogonal great hexagons,[lower-alpha 13] four of which intersect[lower-alpha 11] at each vertex.[lower-alpha 15] By viewing just one hexagon at each vertex, the 24-cell can be seen as the 24 vertices of 4 non-intersecting hexagonal great circles which are Clifford parallel to each other.[lower-alpha 16]

The 12 axes and 16 hexagons of the 24-cell constitute a Reye configuration, which in the language of configurations is written as 124163 to indicate that each axis belongs to 4 hexagons, and each hexagon contains 3 axes.

#### Triangles

The 24 vertices form 32 equilateral great triangles[lower-alpha 17] inscribed in the 16 great hexagons.[lower-alpha 18]

#### Hypercubic chords Vertex geometry of the radially equilateral[lower-alpha 2] 24-cell, showing the 3 great circle polygons and the 4 vertex-to-vertex chord lengths.

The 24 vertices of the 24-cell are distributed at four different chord lengths from each other: 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Each vertex is joined to 8 others[lower-alpha 19] by an edge of length 1, spanning 60° = π/3 of arc. Next nearest are 6 vertices[lower-alpha 20] located 90° = π/2 away, along an interior chord of length 2. Another 8 vertices lie 120° = 2π/3 away, along an interior chord of length 3. The opposite vertex is 180° = π away along a diameter of length 2. Finally, as the 24-cell is radially equilateral, its center can be treated[lower-alpha 21] as a 25th canonical apex vertex,[lower-alpha 22] which is 1 edge length away from all the others.

To visualize how the interior polytopes of the 24-cell fit together (as described below), keep in mind that the four chord lengths (1, 2, 3, 4) are the long diameters of the hypercubes of dimensions 1 through 4: the long diameter of the square is 2; the long diameter of the cube is 3; and the long diameter of the tesseract is 4.[lower-alpha 23] Moreover, the long diameter of the octahedron is 2 like the square; and the long diameter of the 24-cell itself is 4 like the tesseract. In the 24-cell, the 2 chords are the edges of central squares, and the 4 chords are the diagonals of central squares.

#### Geodesics Stereographic projection of the 24-cell's 16 central hexagons onto their great circles. Each great circle is divided into 6 arc-edges at the intersections where 4 great circles cross.

The vertex chords of the 24-cell are arranged in geodesic great circle polygons.[lower-alpha 25] The geodesic distance between two 24-cell vertices along a path of 1 edges is always 1, 2, or 3, and it is 3 only for opposite vertices.[lower-alpha 26]

The 1 edges occur in 16 hexagonal great circles (in planes inclined at 60 degrees to each other), 4 of which cross[lower-alpha 15] at each vertex.[lower-alpha 14] The 96 distinct 1 edges divide the surface into 96 triangular faces and 24 octahedral cells: a 24-cell. The 16 hexagonal great circles can be divided into 4 sets of 4 non-intersecting Clifford parallel geodesics, such that only one hexagonal great circle in each set passes through each vertex, and the 4 hexagons in each set reach all 24 vertices.[lower-alpha 16]

The 2 chords occur in 18 square great circles (3 sets of 6 orthogonal planes[lower-alpha 10]), 3 of which cross at each vertex.[lower-alpha 29] The 72 distinct 2 chords do not run in the same planes as the hexagonal great circles; they do not follow the 24-cell's edges, they pass through its octagonal cell centers.[lower-alpha 30] The 72 2 chords are the 3 orthogonal axes of the 24 octahedral cells, joining vertices which are 2 1 edges apart. The 18 square great circles can be divided into 3 sets of 6 non-intersecting Clifford parallel geodesics,[lower-alpha 24] such that only one square great circle in each set passes through each vertex, and the 6 squares in each set reach all 24 vertices.

The 3 chords occur in 32 triangular great circles in 16 planes, 4 of which cross at each vertex.[lower-alpha 32] The 96 distinct 3 chords[lower-alpha 17] run vertex-to-every-other-vertex in the same planes as the hexagonal great circles.[lower-alpha 18] They are the 3 edges of the 32 great triangles inscribed in the 16 great hexagons, joining vertices which are 2 1 edges apart on a great circle.[lower-alpha 33]

The 4 chords occur as 12 vertex-to-vertex diameters (3 sets of 4 orthogonal axes), the 24 radii around the 25th central vertex.[lower-alpha 22]

The sum of the squared lengths[lower-alpha 34] of all these distinct chords of the 24-cell is 576 = 242.[lower-alpha 35] These are all the central polygons through vertices, but in 4-space there are geodesics on the 3-sphere which do not lie in central planes at all. There are geodesic shortest paths between two 24-cell vertices that are helical rather than simply circular; they corresponding to diagonal isoclinic rotations rather than simple rotations.[lower-alpha 36]

The 1 edges occur in 48 parallel pairs, 3 apart. The 2 chords occur in 36 parallel pairs, 2 apart. The 3 chords occur in 48 parallel pairs, 1 apart.[lower-alpha 37]

The central planes of the 24-cell can be divided into 4 central hyperplanes (3-spaces) each forming a cuboctahedron. The great hexagons are 60 degrees apart; the great squares are 90 degrees or 60 degrees apart; a great square and a great hexagon are 90 degrees and 60 degrees apart.[lower-alpha 40] Each set of similar central polygons (squares or hexagons) can be divided into 4 sets of non-intersecting Clifford parallel polygons (of 6 squares or 4 hexagons).[lower-alpha 41] Each set of Clifford parallel great circles is a parallel fiber bundle which visits all 24 vertices just once.

Each great circle intersects[lower-alpha 11] with the other great circles to which it is not Clifford parallel at one 4 diameter of the 24-cell.[lower-alpha 42] Great circles which are completely orthogonal[lower-alpha 7] or otherwise Clifford parallel[lower-alpha 24] do not intersect at all: they pass through disjoint sets of vertices.[lower-alpha 43]

### Constructions

Triangles and squares come together uniquely in the 24-cell to generate, as interior features,[lower-alpha 21] all of the triangle-faced and square-faced regular convex polytopes in the first four dimensions (with caveats for the 5-cell and the 600-cell).[lower-alpha 44] Consequently, there are numerous ways to construct or deconstruct the 24-cell.

#### Reciprocal constructions from 8-cell and 16-cell

The 8 integer vertices (±1, 0, 0, 0) are the vertices of a regular 16-cell, and the 16 half-integer vertices (±1/2, ±1/2, ±1/2, ±1/2) are the vertices of its dual, the tesseract (8-cell). The tesseract gives Gosset's construction of the 24-cell, equivalent to cutting a tesseract into 8 cubic pyramids, and then attaching them to the facets of a second tesseract. The analogous construction in 3-space gives the rhombic dodecahedron which, however, is not regular.[lower-alpha 45] The 16-cell gives the reciprocal construction of the 24-cell, Cesaro's construction, equivalent to rectifying a 16-cell (truncating its corners at the mid-edges, as described above). The analogous construction in 3-space gives the cuboctahedron (dual of the rhombic dodecahedron) which, however, is not regular. The tesseract and the 16-cell are the only regular 4-polytopes in the 24-cell.

We can further divide the 16 half-integer vertices into two groups: those whose coordinates contain an even number of minus (−) signs and those with an odd number. Each of these groups of 8 vertices also define a regular 16-cell. This shows that the vertices of the 24-cell can be grouped into three disjoint sets of eight with each set defining a regular 16-cell, and with the complement defining the dual tesseract. This also shows that the symmetries of the 16-cell form a subgroup of index 3 of the symmetry group of the 24-cell.

#### Diminishings

We can facet the 24-cell by cutting[lower-alpha 46] through interior cells bounded by vertex chords to remove vertices, exposing the facets of interior 4-polytopes inscribed in the 24-cell. One can cut a 24-cell through any planar hexagon of 6 vertices, any planar rectangle of 4 vertices, or any triangle of 3 vertices. The great circle central planes (above) are only some of those planes. Here we shall expose some of the others: the face planes[lower-alpha 47] of interior polytopes.[lower-alpha 48]

##### 8-cell

Starting with a complete 24-cell, remove 8 orthogonal vertices (4 opposite pairs on 4 perpendicular axes), and the 8 edges which radiate from each, by cutting through 8 cubic cells bounded by 1 edges to remove 8 cubic pyramids whose apexes are the vertices to be removed. This removes 4 edges from each hexagonal great circle (retaining just one opposite pair of edges), so no continuous hexagonal great circles remain. Now 3 perpendicular edges meet and form the corner of a cube at each of the 16 remaining vertices,[lower-alpha 49] and the 32 remaining edges divide the surface into 24 square faces and 8 cubic cells: a tesseract. There are three ways you can do this (choose a set of 8 orthogonal vertices out of 24), so there are three such tesseracts inscribed in the 24-cell.[lower-alpha 33] They overlap with each other, but most of their element sets are disjoint: they share some vertex count, but no edge length, face area, or cell volume. They do share 4-content, their common core.[lower-alpha 50]

##### 16-cell

Starting with a complete 24-cell, remove the 16 vertices of a tesseract (retaining the 8 vertices you removed above), by cutting through 16 tetrahedral cells bounded by 2 chords to remove 16 tetrahedral pyramids whose apexes are the vertices to be removed. This removes 12 great squares (retaining just one orthogonal set) and all the 1 edges, exposing 2 chords as the new edges. Now the remaining 6 great squares cross perpendicularly, 3 at each of 8 remaining vertices,[lower-alpha 51] and their 24 edges divide the surface into 32 triangular faces and 16 tetrahedral cells: a 16-cell. There are three ways you can do this (remove 1 of 3 sets of tesseract vertices), so there are three such 16-cells inscribed in the 24-cell. They overlap with each other, but all of their element sets are disjoint:[lower-alpha 52] they do not share any vertex count, edge length,[lower-alpha 53] or face area, but they do share cell volume. They also share 4-content, their common core.[lower-alpha 50]

#### Tetrahedral constructions

The 24-cell can be constructed radially from 96 equilateral triangles of edge length 1 which meet at the center of the polytope, each contributing two radii and an edge.[lower-alpha 2] They form 96 1 tetrahedra (each contributing one 24-cell face), all sharing the 25th central apex vertex. These form 24 octahedral pyramids (half-16-cells) with their apexes at the center.

The 24-cell can be constructed from 96 equilateral triangles of edge length 2, where the three vertices of each triangle are located 90° = π/2 away from each other on the 3-sphere. They form 48 2 tetrahedra (the cells of the three 16-cells), centered at the 24 mid-edge-radii of the 24-cell.[lower-alpha 53]

The 24-cell can be constructed directly from its characteristic simplex       , a fundamental region of its symmetry group F4, by reflection of that 4-orthoscheme in its own cells (which are 3-orthoschemes).[lower-alpha 54]

#### Relationships among interior polytopes

The 24-cell, three tesseracts, and three 16-cells are deeply entwined around their common center, and intersect in a common core.[lower-alpha 50] The tesseracts and the 16-cells are rotated 60° isoclinically[lower-alpha 55] with respect to each other. This means that the corresponding vertices of two tesseracts or two 16-cells are 3 (120°) apart.[lower-alpha 33]

The tesseracts are inscribed in the 24-cell[lower-alpha 56] such that their vertices and edges are exterior elements of the 24-cell, but their square faces and cubical cells lie inside the 24-cell (they are not elements of the 24-cell). The 16-cells are inscribed in the 24-cell[lower-alpha 57] such that only their vertices are exterior elements of the 24-cell: their edges, triangular faces, and tetrahedral cells lie inside the 24-cell. The interior[lower-alpha 58] 16-cell edges have length 2.

The 16-cells are also inscribed in the tesseracts: their 2 edges are the face diagonals of the tesseract, and their 8 vertices occupy every other vertex of the tesseract. Each tesseract has two 16-cells inscribed in it (occupying the opposite vertices and face diagonals), so each 16-cell is inscribed in two of the three 8-cells. This is reminiscent of the way, in 3 dimensions, two tetrahedra can be inscribed in a cube, as discovered by Kepler. In fact it is the exact dimensional analogy (the demihypercubes), and the 48 tetrahedral cells are inscribed in the 24 cubical cells in just that way.[lower-alpha 53]

The 24-cell encloses the three tesseracts within its envelope of octahedral facets, leaving 4-dimensional space in some places between its envelope and each tesseract's envelope of cubes. Each tesseract encloses two of the three 16-cells, leaving 4-dimensional space in some places between its envelope and each 16-cell's envelope of tetrahedra. Thus there are measurable 4-dimensional interstices[lower-alpha 59] between the 24-cell, 8-cell and 16-cell envelopes. The shapes filling these gaps are 4-pyramids,[lower-alpha 60] alluded to above.

#### Boundary cells

Despite the 4-dimensional interstices between 24-cell, 8-cell and 16-cell envelopes, their 3-dimensional volumes overlap. The different envelopes are separated in some places, and in contact in other places (where no 4-pyramid lies between them). Where they are in contact, they merge and share cell volume: they are the same 3-membrane in those places, not two separate but adjacent 3-dimensional layers.[lower-alpha 62] Because there are a total of 7 envelopes, there are places where several envelopes come together and merge volume, and also places where envelopes interpenetrate (cross from inside to outside each other).

Some interior features lie within the 3-space of the (outer) boundary envelope of the 24-cell itself: each octahedral cell is bisected by three perpendicular squares (one from each of the tesseracts), and the diagonals of those squares (which cross each other perpendicularly at the center of the octahedron) are 16-cell edges (one from each 16-cell). Each square bisects an octahedron into two square pyramids, and also bonds two adjacent cubic cells of a tesseract together as their common face.[lower-alpha 61]

As we saw above, 16-cell 2 tetrahedral cells are inscribed in tesseract 1 cubic cells, sharing the same volume. 24-cell 1 octahedral cells overlap their volume with 1 cubic cells: they are bisected by a square face into two square pyramids, the apexes of which also lie at a vertex of a cube.[lower-alpha 63] The octahedra share volume not only with the cubes, but with the tetrahedra inscribed in them; thus the 24-cell, tesseracts, and 16-cells all share some boundary volume.[lower-alpha 62]

### As a configuration

This configuration matrix represents the 24-cell. The rows and columns correspond to vertices, edges, faces, and cells. The diagonal numbers say how many of each element occur in the whole 24-cell. The non-diagonal numbers say how many of the column's element occur in or at the row's element.

$\displaystyle{ \begin{bmatrix}\begin{matrix}24 & 8 & 12 & 6 \\ 2 & 96 & 3 & 3 \\ 3 & 3 & 96 & 2 \\ 6 & 12 & 8 & 24 \end{matrix}\end{bmatrix} }$

Since the 24-cell is self-dual, its matrix is identical to its 180 degree rotation.

## Symmetries, root systems, and tessellations The compound of the 24 vertices of the 24-cell (red nodes), and its unscaled dual (yellow nodes), represent the 48 root vectors of the F4 group, as shown in this F4 Coxeter plane projection

The 24 root vectors of the D4 root system of the simple Lie group SO(8) form the vertices of a 24-cell. The vertices can be seen in 3 hyperplanes,[lower-alpha 38] with the 6 vertices of an octahedron cell on each of the outer hyperplanes and 12 vertices of a cuboctahedron on a central hyperplane. These vertices, combined with the 8 vertices of the 16-cell, represent the 32 root vectors of the B4 and C4 simple Lie groups.

The 48 vertices (or strictly speaking their radius vectors) of the union of the 24-cell and its dual form the root system of type F4. The 24 vertices of the original 24-cell form a root system of type D4; its size has the ratio 2:1. This is likewise true for the 24 vertices of its dual. The full symmetry group of the 24-cell is the Weyl group of F4, which is generated by reflections through the hyperplanes orthogonal to the F4 roots. This is a solvable group of order 1152. The rotational symmetry group of the 24-cell is of order 576.

### Quaternionic interpretation The 24 quaternion elements of the binary tetrahedral group match the vertices of the 24-cell. Seen in 4-fold symmetry projection: * 1 order-1: 1 * 1 order-2: -1 * 6 order-4: ±i, ±j, ±k * 8 order-6: (+1±i±j±k)/2 * 8 order-3: (-1±i±j±k)/2.

When interpreted as the quaternions, the F4 root lattice (which is the integral span of the vertices of the 24-cell) is closed under multiplication and is therefore a ring. This is the ring of Hurwitz integral quaternions. The vertices of the 24-cell form the group of units (i.e. the group of invertible elements) in the Hurwitz quaternion ring (this group is also known as the binary tetrahedral group). The vertices of the 24-cell are precisely the 24 Hurwitz quaternions with norm squared 1, and the vertices of the dual 24-cell are those with norm squared 2. The D4 root lattice is the dual of the F4 and is given by the subring of Hurwitz quaternions with even norm squared.

Viewed as the 24 unit Hurwitz quaternions, the unit radius coordinates of the 24-cell represent (in antipodal pairs) the 12 rotations of a regular tetrahedron.

Vertices of other convex regular 4-polytopes also form multiplicative groups of quaternions, but few of them generate a root lattice.

### Voronoi cells

The Voronoi cells of the D4 root lattice are regular 24-cells. The corresponding Voronoi tessellation gives the tessellation of 4-dimensional Euclidean space by regular 24-cells, the 24-cell honeycomb. The 24-cells are centered at the D4 lattice points (Hurwitz quaternions with even norm squared) while the vertices are at the F4 lattice points with odd norm squared. Each 24-cell of this tessellation has 24 neighbors. With each of these it shares an octahedron. It also has 24 other neighbors with which it shares only a single vertex. Eight 24-cells meet at any given vertex in this tessellation. The Schläfli symbol for this tessellation is {3,4,3,3}. It is one of only three regular tessellations of R4.

The unit balls inscribed in the 24-cells of this tessellation give rise to the densest known lattice packing of hyperspheres in 4 dimensions. The vertex configuration of the 24-cell has also been shown to give the highest possible kissing number in 4 dimensions.

The dual tessellation of the 24-cell honeycomb {3,4,3,3} is the 16-cell honeycomb {3,3,4,3}. The third regular tessellation of four dimensional space is the tesseractic honeycomb {4,3,3,4}, whose vertices can be described by 4-integer Cartesian coordinates. The congruent relationships among these three tessellations can be helpful in visualizing the 24-cell, in particular the radial equilateral symmetry which it shares with the tesseract.[lower-alpha 2]

A honeycomb of unit edge length 24-cells may be overlaid on a honeycomb of unit edge length tesseracts such that every vertex of a tesseract (every 4-integer coordinate) is also the vertex of a 24-cell (and tesseract edges are also 24-cell edges), and every center of a 24-cell is also the center of a tesseract. The 24-cells are twice as large as the tesseracts by 4-dimensional content (hypervolume), so overall there are two tesseracts for every 24-cell, only half of which are inscribed in a 24-cell. If those tesseracts are colored black, and their adjacent tesseracts (with which they share a cubical facet) are colored red, a 4-dimensional checkerboard results. Of the 24 center-to-vertex radii[lower-alpha 64] of each 24-cell, 16 are also the radii of a black tesseract inscribed in the 24-cell. The other 8 radii extend outside the black tesseract (through the centers of its cubical facets) to the centers of the 8 adjacent red tesseracts. Thus the 24-cell honeycomb and the tesseractic honeycomb coincide in a special way: 8 of the 24 vertices of each 24-cell do not occur at a vertex of a tesseract (they occur at the center of a tesseract instead). Each black tesseract is cut from a 24-cell by truncating it at these 8 vertices, slicing off 8 cubic pyramids (as in reversing Gosset's construction, but instead of being removed the pyramids are simply colored red and left in place). Eight 24-cells meet at the center of each red tesseract: each one meets its opposite at that shared vertex, and the six others at a shared octahedral cell.

The red tesseracts are filled cells (they contain a central vertex and radii); the black tesseracts are empty cells. The vertex set of this union of two honeycombs includes the vertices of all the 24-cells and tesseracts, plus the centers of the red tesseracts. Adding the 24-cell centers (which are also the black tesseract centers) to this honeycomb yields a 16-cell honeycomb, the vertex set of which includes all the vertices and centers of all the 24-cells and tesseracts. The formerly empty centers of adjacent 24-cells become the opposite vertices of a unit edge length 16-cell. 24 half-16-cells (octahedral pyramids) meet at each formerly empty center to fill each 24-cell, and their octahedral bases are the 6-vertex octahedral facets of the 24-cell (shared with an adjacent 24-cell).[lower-alpha 65]

Notice the complete absence of pentagons anywhere in this union of three honeycombs. Like the 24-cell, 4-dimensional Euclidean space itself is entirely filled by a complex of all the polytopes that can be built out of regular triangles and squares (except the 5-cell), but that complex does not require (or permit) any of the pentagonal polytopes.[lower-alpha 3]

### Rotations

The regular convex 4-polytopes are an expression of their underlying symmetry which is known as SO(4), the group of rotations about a fixed point in 4-dimensional Euclidean space.[lower-alpha 68]

#### The 3 Cartesian bases of the 24-cell

There are three distinct orientations of the tesseractic honeycomb which could be made to coincide with the 24-cell honeycomb, depending on which of the 24-cell's three disjoint sets of 8 orthogonal vertices (which set of 4 perpendicular axes, or equivalently, which inscribed basis 16-cell) was chosen to align it, just as three tesseracts can be inscribed in the 24-cell, rotated with respect to each other.[lower-alpha 33] The distance from one of these orientations to another is an isoclinic rotation through 60 degrees (a double rotation of 60 degrees in each pair of orthogonal invariant planes, around a single fixed point).[lower-alpha 69] This rotation can be seen most clearly in the hexagonal central planes, where the hexagon rotates to change which of its three diameters is aligned with a coordinate system axis.[lower-alpha 13]

#### Planes of rotation

Rotations in 4-dimensional Euclidean space can be seen as the composition of two 2-dimensional rotations in completely orthogonal planes. Thus the general rotation in 4-space is a double rotation. There are two important special cases, called a simple rotation and an isoclinic rotation.[lower-alpha 72]

##### Simple rotations

In 3 dimensions a spinning polyhedron has a single invariant central plane of rotation. The plane is called invariant because each point in the plane moves in a circle but stays within the plane. Only one of a polyhedron's central planes can be invariant during a particular rotation; the choice of invariant central plane, and the angular distance it is rotated, completely specifies the rotation. Points outside the invariant plane also move in circles (unless they are on the fixed axis of rotation perpendicular to the invariant plane), but the circles do not lie within a central plane.

When a 4-polytope is rotating with only one invariant central plane, the same kind of simple rotation is happening that occurs in 3 dimensions. The only difference is that instead of a fixed axis of rotation, there is an entire fixed central plane in which the points do not move. The fixed plane is the one central plane that is completely orthogonal[lower-alpha 7] to the invariant plane of rotation. In the 24-cell, there is a simple rotation which will take any vertex directly to any other vertex, also moving most of the other vertices but leaving at least 2 and at most 6 other vertices fixed (the vertices that the fixed central plane intersects). The vertex moves along a great circle in the invariant plane of rotation between adjacent vertices of a great hexagon, a great square or a great digon, and the completely orthogonal fixed plane is a digon, a square or a hexagon, respectively. [lower-alpha 43]

##### Double rotations

The points in the completely orthogonal central plane are not constrained to be fixed. It is also possible for them to be rotating in circles, as a second invariant plane, at a rate independent of the first invariant plane's rotation: a double rotation in two perpendicular non-intersecting planes of rotation at once.[lower-alpha 71] In a double rotation there is no fixed plane or axis: every point moves except the center point. The angular distance rotated may be different in the two completely orthogonal central planes, but they are always both invariant: their circularly moving points remain within the plane as the whole plane tilts sideways in the completely orthogonal rotation. A rotation in 4-space always has (at least) two completely orthogonal invariant planes of rotation, although in a simple rotation the angle of rotation in one of them is 0.

Double rotations come in two chiral forms: left and right rotations. In a double rotation each vertex moves in a spiral along two completely orthogonal great circles at once.[lower-alpha 70] Either the path is right-hand threaded (like most screws and bolts), moving along the circles in the "same" directions, or it is left-hand threaded (like a reverse-threaded bolt), moving along the circles in what we conventionally say are "opposite" directions (according to the right hand rule by which we conventionally say which way is "up" on each of the 4 coordinate axes).

##### Isoclinic rotations

When the angles of rotation in the two invariant planes are exactly the same, a remarkably symmetric transformation occurs: all the great circle planes Clifford parallel[lower-alpha 24] to the invariant planes become invariant planes of rotation themselves, through that same angle, and the 4-polytope rotates isoclinically in many directions at once. Each vertex moves an equal distance in four orthogonal directions at the same time.[lower-alpha 55] In the 24-cell any isoclinic rotation through 60 degrees in a hexagonal plane takes each vertex to a neighboring vertex, rotates all 16 hexagons by 60 degrees, and takes every great circle polygon (square,[lower-alpha 39] hexagon or triangle) to a Clifford parallel great circle polygon of the same kind 60 degrees away. An isoclinic rotation is also called a Clifford displacement, after its discoverer.[lower-alpha 69]

The 24-cell in the double rotation animation appears to turn itself inside out.[lower-alpha 73] It appears to, because it actually does, reversing the chirality of the whole 4-polytope just the way your bathroom mirror reverses the chirality of your image by a 180 degree reflection. Each 360 degree isoclinic rotation is as if the 24-cell surface had been stripped off like a glove and turned inside out, making a right-hand glove into a left-hand glove (or vice versa).

In a simple rotation of the 24-cell in a hexagonal plane, each vertex in the plane rotates first along an edge to an adjacent vertex 60 degrees away. But in an isoclinic rotation in two completely orthogonal planes one of which is a great hexagon,[lower-alpha 43] each vertex rotates first to a vertex two edge lengths away (3 and 120° distant).[lower-alpha 74] The double 60-degree rotation's helical geodesics pass through every other vertex, missing the vertices in between.[lower-alpha 75] Each 3 chord of the helical geodesic crosses between two Clifford parallel hexagon central planes, and lies in another hexagon central plane that intersects them both. The 3 chords meet at a 60° angle, but since they lie in different planes they form a helix not a triangle. The helix of 3 chords closes into a loop only after six 3 chords: a 720° rotation twice around the 24-cell on a skew hexagon with 3 edges. Even though all the vertices and all the hexagons rotate at once, a 360 degree isoclinic rotation hits only half the vertices in the 24-cell. After 360 degrees each helix has passed through 3 vertices, but has not arrived back at the vertex it departed from. Each central plane (every hexagon or square in the 24-cell) has rotated 360 degrees and been tilted sideways all the way around 360 degrees back to its original position (like a coin flipping twice), but the 24-cell's orientation in the 4-space in which it is embedded is now different. Because the 24-cell is now inside-out, if the isoclinic rotation is continued in the same direction through another 360 degrees, the moving vertices will pass through the other half of the vertices they missed on the first revolution (the 12 antipodal vertices of the 12 they hit the first time around), and each isoclinic geodesic will arrive back at the vertex it departed from, forming a closed hexagonal helix.[lower-alpha 76] It takes a 720 degree isoclinic rotation for each hexagram2 isoclinic geodesic to complete a circuit through its six vertices by winding around the 24-cell twice, returning the 24-cell to its original chiral orientation.

The hexagonal winding path that each vertex takes as it loops twice around the 24-cell forms a double helix bent into a Möbius ring, so that the two strands of the double helix form a continuous single strand in a closed loop. In the first revolution the vertex traverses one 3-vertex strand of the double helix; in the second revolution it traverses the second strand, moving in the same rotational direction with the same handedness (bending either left or right) throughout. Although this isoclinic ring is a closed spiral not a 2-dimensional circle, like a great circle it is a geodesic because it is the shortest path from vertex to vertex.[lower-alpha 36]

#### Clifford parallel polytopes

Two planes are also called isoclinic if an isoclinic rotation will bring them together.[lower-alpha 40] The isoclinic planes are precisely those central planes with Clifford parallel geodesic great circles. Clifford parallel great circles do not intersect, so isoclinic great circle polygons have disjoint vertices. In the 24-cell every hexagonal central plane is isoclinic to three others, and every square central plane is isoclinic to five others.[lower-alpha 31] We can pick out 4 mutually isoclinic (Clifford parallel) great hexagons (four different ways) covering all 24 vertices of the 24-cell just once (a hexagonal fibration).[lower-alpha 16] We can pick out 6 mutually isoclinic (Clifford parallel) great squares (three different ways) covering all 24 vertices of the 24-cell just once (a square fibration).

Two dimensional great circle polygons are not the only polytopes in the 24-cell which are parallel in the Clifford sense. Congruent polytopes of 2, 3 or 4 dimensions can be said to be Clifford parallel in 4 dimensions if their corresponding vertices are all the same distance apart. The three 16-cells inscribed in the 24-cell are Clifford parallels. Clifford parallel polytopes are completely disjoint polytopes.[lower-alpha 52] A 60 degree isoclinic rotation in hexagonal planes takes each 16-cell to a disjoint 16-cell. Like all double rotations, isoclinic rotations come in two chiral forms: there is a disjoint 16-cell to the left of each 16-cell, and another to its right.

All Clifford parallel 4-polytopes are related by an isoclinic rotation,[lower-alpha 69] but not all isoclinic polytopes are Clifford parallels (completely disjoint).[lower-alpha 79] The three 8-cells in the 24-cell are isoclinic but not Clifford parallel. Like the 16-cells, they are rotated 60 degrees isoclinically with respect to each other, but their vertices are not all disjoint (and therefore not all equidistant). Each vertex occurs in two of the three 8-cells (as each 16-cell occurs in two of the three 8-cells).[lower-alpha 33]

Isoclinic rotations relate the convex regular 4-polytopes to each other. An isoclinic rotation of a single 16-cell will generate[lower-alpha 80] a 24-cell. A simple rotation of a single 16-cell will not, because its vertices will not reach either of the other two 16-cells' vertices in the course of the rotation. An isoclinic rotation of the 24-cell will generate the 600-cell, and an isoclinic rotation of the 600-cell will generate the 120-cell. (Or they can all be generated directly by isoclinic rotations of the 16-cell, generating isoclinic copies of itself.) The convex regular 4-polytopes nest inside each other, and hide next to each other in the Clifford parallel spaces that comprise the 3-sphere. For an object of more than one dimension, the only way to reach these parallel subspaces directly is by isoclinic rotation.[lower-alpha 81]

### Rings

In the 24-cell there are sets of rings of five different kinds, described separately in detail in other sections of this article. This section describes how the different kinds of rings are intertwined.

The 24-cell contains three kinds of geodesic fibers (polygonal rings running through vertices): great circle squares, great circle hexagons, and isoclinic helix hexagrams. It also contains two kinds of cell rings (chains of octahedra bent into a ring in the fourth dimension): four octahedra connected vertex-to-vertex and bent into a square, and six octahedra connected face-to-face and bent into a hexagon.

Four unit-edge-length octahedra can be connected vertex-to-vertex along a common axis of length 42. The axis can then be bent into a square of edge length 2. Although it is possible to do this in a space of only three dimensions, that is not how it occurs in the 24-cell. Although the 2 axes of the four octahedra occupy the same plane, forming one of the 18 2 great squares of the 24-cell, each octahedron occupies a different 3-dimensional hyperplane,[lower-alpha 82] and all four dimensions are utilized. The 24-cell can be partitioned into 6 such rings (three different ways), mutually interlinked like adjacent links in a chain (but these links all have a common center). A simple rotation in the great square plane by a multiple of 90° takes each octahedron in the ring to an octahedron in the ring.

Six unit-edge-length octahedra can be connected face-to-face along a common axis that passes through their centers of volume, forming a stack or column with only triangular faces. In a space of four dimensions, the axis can then be bent 60° in the fourth dimension at each of the six octahedron centers, in a plane orthogonal to all three orthogonal central planes of each octahedron, such that the top and bottom triangular faces of the column become coincident. The column becomes a ring around a hexagonal axis. The 24-cell can be partitioned into 4 such rings (four different ways), mutually interlinked. Because the hexagonal axis joins cell centers (not vertices), it is not a great hexagon of the 24-cell.[lower-alpha 84] However, six great hexagons can be found in the ring of six octahedra, running along the edges of the octahedra. In the column of six octahedra (before it is bent into a ring) there are six spiral paths along edges running up the column: three parallel helices spiraling clockwise, and three parallel helices spiraling counterclockwise. Each clockwise helix intersects each counterclockwise helix at two vertices three edge lengths apart. Bending the column into a ring changes these helices into great circle hexagons.[lower-alpha 85] The ring has two sets of three great hexagons, each on three Clifford parallel great circles.[lower-alpha 86] The great hexagons in each parallel set of three do not intersect, but each intersects the other three great hexagons (to which it is not Clifford parallel) at two antipodal vertices. A simple rotation in any of the great hexagon planes by a multiple of 60° rotates all three parallel great hexagon planes similarly, and takes each octahedron in the ring to an octahedron in the ring.

The third kind of geodesic fiber, the isoclinic helix hexagrams, can also be found within a ring of six octahedral cells. Each of these geodesics runs through the six vertices of a skew hexagon of six 3 chords: a hexagon that does not lie in a single central plane, but is composed of six linked chords of six different hexagonal great circles. This geodesic fiber is the path of an isoclinic rotation, a helical rather than simply circular path around the 24-cell which links vertices two edge lengths apart and consequently must wrap twice around the 24-cell before completing its six-vertex loop.[lower-alpha 36] Rather than a flat hexagon, it forms a skew hexagram out of two three-sided 360 degree half-loops: open triangles joined end-to-end to each other in a six-sided Möbius loop.[lower-alpha 76] An isoclinic rotation in any of the great hexagon planes by 60° rotates all six great hexagon planes by 60°, and takes each octahedron in the ring to a non-adjacent octahedron in the ring.[lower-alpha 87]

Beginning at any vertex at one end of the column of six octahedra, we can follow an isoclinic path of 3 chords from octahedron to octahedron. In the 24-cell the 1 edges are great hexagon edges (and octahedron edges); in the column of six octahedra we see six great hexagons running along the octahedra's edges. The 3 chords are great hexagon diagonals, joining great hexagon vertices two 1 edges apart. We find them in the ring of six octahedra running from a vertex in one octahedron to a vertex in the next octahedron, passing through the face shared by the two octahedra (but not touching any of the face's 3 vertices). Each 3 chord is a chord of just one great hexagon (an edge of a great triangle inscribed in that great hexagon), but successive 3 chords belong to different great hexagons. At each vertex the isoclinic path of 3 chords bends 60 degrees in two completely orthogonal directions at once: 60 degrees around the great hexagon the current chord is part of, and 60 degrees orthogonally (sideways) into the plane of a different great hexagon entirely (that the next chord is part of).[lower-alpha 88] Thus the path follows one great hexagon from each octahedron to the next, but switches to another of the six great hexagons in the next link of the hexagram path. Followed along the column of six octahedra (and "around the end" where the column is bent into a ring) the path may at first appear to be zig-zagging between hexagonal central planes, but it is not: any isoclinic path we can pick out always bends either right or left, never changing its inherent chiral "direction", as it visits all six of the great hexagons in the 6-cell ring. When it has traversed one chord from each of the six great hexagons, after 720 degrees of isoclinic rotation (either left or right), it closes its skew hexagon and begins to repeat itself (still bending in the same direction).

### Characteristic orthoscheme

Every regular 4-polytope has its characteristic 4-orthoscheme, an irregular 5-cell.[lower-alpha 54] The characteristic 5-cell of the regular 24-cell is represented by the Coxeter-Dynkin diagram       , which can be read as a list of the dihedral angles between its mirror facets.[lower-alpha 89] It is an irregular tetrahedral pyramid based on the characteristic tetrahedron of the regular octahedron. The regular 24-cell is subdivided by its symmetry hyperplanes into 1152 instances of its characteristic 5-cell that all meet at its center.

The characteristic 4-orthoscheme has four more edges than its base 3-orthoscheme, joining the four vertices of the base to its apex (the fifth vertex of the 4-orthoscheme, at the center of the regular 24-cell).[lower-alpha 90] If the regular 24-cell has radius and edge length 1, its characteristic 5-cell's ten edges have lengths $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{12}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{4}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{3}} }$ (the exterior right triangle face, the characteristic triangle), plus $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{2}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{4}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{6}} }$ (the other three edges of the exterior 3-orthoscheme facet, the characteristic tetrahedron of the octahedron), plus $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{2}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{3}{4}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{2}{3}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{2}} }$ (edges that are the characteristic radii of the regular 24-cell). The 4-edge path along orthogonal edges of the orthoscheme is $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{4}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{12}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{6}} }$, $\displaystyle{ \sqrt{\tfrac{1}{2}} }$, first from a 24-cell vertex to a 24-cell edge center, then turning 90° to a 24-cell face center, then turning 90° to a 24-cell octahedral cell center, then turning 90° to the 24-cell center.

## Projections

### Parallel projections Projection envelopes of the 24-cell. (Each cell is drawn with different colored faces, inverted cells are undrawn)

The vertex-first parallel projection of the 24-cell into 3-dimensional space has a rhombic dodecahedral envelope. Twelve of the 24 octahedral cells project in pairs onto six square dipyramids that meet at the center of the rhombic dodecahedron. The remaining 12 octahedral cells project onto the 12 rhombic faces of the rhombic dodecahedron.

The cell-first parallel projection of the 24-cell into 3-dimensional space has a cuboctahedral envelope. Two of the octahedral cells, the nearest and farther from the viewer along the w-axis, project onto an octahedron whose vertices lie at the center of the cuboctahedron's square faces. Surrounding this central octahedron lie the projections of 16 other cells, having 8 pairs that each project to one of the 8 volumes lying between a triangular face of the central octahedron and the closest triangular face of the cuboctahedron. The remaining 6 cells project onto the square faces of the cuboctahedron. This corresponds with the decomposition of the cuboctahedron into a regular octahedron and 8 irregular but equal octahedra, each of which is in the shape of the convex hull of a cube with two opposite vertices removed.

The edge-first parallel projection has an elongated hexagonal dipyramidal envelope, and the face-first parallel projection has a nonuniform hexagonal bi-antiprismic envelope.

### Perspective projections

The vertex-first perspective projection of the 24-cell into 3-dimensional space has a tetrakis hexahedral envelope. The layout of cells in this image is similar to the image under parallel projection.

The following sequence of images shows the structure of the cell-first perspective projection of the 24-cell into 3 dimensions. The 4D viewpoint is placed at a distance of five times the vertex-center radius of the 24-cell.

Cell-first perspective projection In this image, the nearest cell is rendered in red, and the remaining cells are in edge-outline. For clarity, cells facing away from the 4D viewpoint have been culled. In this image, four of the 8 cells surrounding the nearest cell are shown in green. The fourth cell is behind the central cell in this viewpoint (slightly discernible since the red cell is semi-transparent). Finally, all 8 cells surrounding the nearest cell are shown, with the last four rendered in magenta.
Note that these images do not include cells which are facing away from the 4D viewpoint. Hence, only 9 cells are shown here. On the far side of the 24-cell are another 9 cells in an identical arrangement. The remaining 6 cells lie on the "equator" of the 24-cell, and bridge the two sets of cells. Animated cross-section of 24-cell A stereoscopic 3D projection of an icositetrachoron (24-cell). File:Cell24Construction.ogvIsometric Orthogonal Projection of: 8 Cell(Tesseract) + 16 Cell = 24 Cell

## Visualization

The 24-cell is bounded by 24 octahedral cells. For visualization purposes, it is convenient that the octahedron has opposing parallel faces (a trait it shares with the cells of the tesseract and the 120-cell). One can stack octahedrons face to face in a straight line bent in the 4th direction into a great circle with a circumference of 6 cells. The cell locations lend themselves to a hyperspherical description. Pick an arbitrary cell and label it the "North Pole". Eight great circle meridians (two cells long) radiate out in 3 dimensions, converging at the 3rd "South Pole" cell. This skeleton accounts for 18 of the 24 cells (2 + 8×2). See the table below.

There is another related great circle in the 24-cell, the dual of the one above. A path that traverses 6 vertices solely along edges resides in the dual of this polytope, which is itself since it is self dual. These are the hexagonal geodesics described above.[lower-alpha 16] One can easily follow this path in a rendering of the equatorial cuboctahedron cross-section.

Starting at the North Pole, we can build up the 24-cell in 5 latitudinal layers. With the exception of the poles, each layer represents a separate 2-sphere, with the equator being a great 2-sphere. The cells labeled equatorial in the following table are interstitial to the meridian great circle cells. The interstitial "equatorial" cells touch the meridian cells at their faces. They touch each other, and the pole cells at their vertices. This latter subset of eight non-meridian and pole cells has the same relative position to each other as the cells in a tesseract (8-cell), although they touch at their vertices instead of their faces.

Layer # Number of Cells Description Colatitude Region
1 1 cell North Pole Northern Hemisphere
2 8 cells First layer of meridian cells 60°
3 6 cells Non-meridian / interstitial 90° Equator
4 8 cells Second layer of meridian cells 120° Southern Hemisphere
5 1 cell South Pole 180°
Total 24 cells

The 24-cell can be partitioned into cell-disjoint sets of four of these 6-cell great circle rings, forming a discrete Hopf fibration of four interlocking rings. One ring is "vertical", encompassing the pole cells and four meridian cells. The other three rings each encompass two equatorial cells and four meridian cells, two from the northern hemisphere and two from the southern.

Note this hexagon great circle path implies the interior/dihedral angle between adjacent cells is 180 - 360/6 = 120 degrees. This suggests you can adjacently stack exactly three 24-cells in a plane and form a 4-D honeycomb of 24-cells as described previously.

One can also follow a great circle route, through the octahedrons' opposing vertices, that is four cells long. These are the square geodesics along four 2 chords described above. This path corresponds to traversing diagonally through the squares in the cuboctahedron cross-section. The 24-cell is the only regular polytope in more than two dimensions where you can traverse a great circle purely through opposing vertices (and the interior) of each cell. This great circle is self dual. This path was touched on above regarding the set of 8 non-meridian (equatorial) and pole cells.

The 24-cell can be equipartitioned into three 8-cell subsets, each having the organization of a tesseract. Each of these subsets can be further equipartitioned into two interlocking great circle chains, four cells long. Collectively these three subsets now produce another, six ring, discrete Hopf fibration.

## Three Coxeter group constructions

There are two lower symmetry forms of the 24-cell, derived as a rectified 16-cell, with B4 or [3,3,4] symmetry drawn bicolored with 8 and 16 octahedral cells. Lastly it can be constructed from D4 or [31,1,1] symmetry, and drawn tricolored with 8 octahedra each.

## Related complex polygons

The regular complex polygon 4{3}4,   or   contains the 24 vertices of the 24-cell, and 24 4-edges that correspond to central squares of 24 of 48 octahedral cells. Its symmetry is 44, order 96.

The regular complex polytope 3{4}3,   or   , in $\displaystyle{ \mathbb{C}^2 }$ has a real representation as a 24-cell in 4-dimensional space. 3{4}3 has 24 vertices, and 24 3-edges. Its symmetry is 33, order 72.

Related figures in orthogonal projections
Name {3,4,3},       4{3}4,   3{4}3,   Symmetry [3,4,3],       , order 1152 44,   , order 96 33,   , order 72
Vertices 24 24 24
Edges 96 2-edges 24 4-edge 24 3-edges
Image 24-cell in F4 Coxeter plane, with 24 vertices in two rings of 12, and 96 edges. 4{3}4,   has 24 vertices and 32 4-edges, shown here with 8 red, green, blue, and yellow square 4-edges. 3{4}3 or   has 24 vertices and 24 3-edges, shown here with 8 red, 8 green, and 8 blue square 3-edges, with blue edges filled.

## Related 4-polytopes

Several uniform 4-polytopes can be derived from the 24-cell via truncation:

• truncating at 1/3 of the edge length yields the truncated 24-cell;
• truncating at 1/2 of the edge length yields the rectified 24-cell;
• and truncating at half the depth to the dual 24-cell yields the bitruncated 24-cell, which is cell-transitive.

The 96 edges of the 24-cell can be partitioned into the golden ratio to produce the 96 vertices of the snub 24-cell. This is done by first placing vectors along the 24-cell's edges such that each two-dimensional face is bounded by a cycle, then similarly partitioning each edge into the golden ratio along the direction of its vector. An analogous modification to an octahedron produces an icosahedron, or "snub octahedron."

The 24-cell is the unique convex self-dual regular Euclidean polytope that is neither a polygon nor a simplex. Relaxing the condition of convexity admits two further figures: the great 120-cell and grand stellated 120-cell. With itself, it can form a polytope compound: the compound of two 24-cells.

## Related uniform polytopes

The 24-cell can also be derived as a rectified 16-cell: