Edge (geometry)

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Short description: Line segment joining two adjacent vertices in a polygon or polytope

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 polygon side. In a polyhedron or more generally a polytope, an edge is a line segment where two faces (or polyhedron sides) meet.[3] A segment joining two vertices while passing through the interior or exterior is not an edge but instead is called a diagonal.

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

[math]\displaystyle{ V - E + F = 2, }[/math]

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, ISBN 9780387943657, https://books.google.com/books?id=xd25TXSSUcgC&pg=PA51 .
  2. Weisstein, Eric W. "Polygon Edge". From Wolfram MathWorld.
  3. Weisstein, Eric W. "Polytope Edge". From Wolfram MathWorld.
  4. Senechal, Marjorie (2013), Shaping Space: Exploring Polyhedra in Nature, Art, and the Geometrical Imagination, Springer, p. 81, ISBN 9780387927145, https://books.google.com/books?id=kZtCAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA81 .
  5. Gorini, Catherine A., ed. (2000), "Bridges between geometry and graph theory", Geometry at work, MAA Notes, 53, Washington, DC: Math. Assoc. America, pp. 174–194 . 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, http://projecteuclid.org/euclid.pjm/1103037323 .
  7. Wenninger, Magnus J. (1974), Polyhedron Models, Cambridge University Press, p. 1, ISBN 9780521098595, https://books.google.com/books?id=N8lX2T-4njIC&pg=PA1 .
  8. "Constructing higher-dimensional convex hulls at logarithmic cost per face", Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC '86), 1986, pp. 404–413, doi:10.1145/12130.12172 .

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