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About Problem 587 – Project Euler


I started looking again at some problems on the Project Euler site. It’s not often that I manage to solve a recent problem. Below are a few hints about the math needed to provide an answer to problem 587.

I’ll not repeat the statement of the problem here, so please read it by following the above link. The idea is to find the ratio of the areas of some triangular shapes made of two segments and one circle arc. The breakdown of the problem is the following:

  • Note that the size of the square does not matter, since we need the result as a ratio, so we can consider that the square has side equal to 1. First note that the L-shape in the corner of the triangle has area equal to 1/8-\pi/32. We’ll need this in the end, to compute the ratio.
  • Secondly, the shape whose area we need to compute can be decomposed into a right-angled triangle and a complement of a part of the circle. In order to have precise information about these shapes we compute the intersection of the line y=x/n and the circle (x-0.5)^2+(y-0.5)^2=0.25. It is possible to find the value explicitly.
  • Once we have the coordinates of the point of intersection we can compute the area of the triangle. The area of the rounded part which remains is the difference between a rectangle and the circle portion PQON. In order to do find this difference it suffices to find the angle PSQ.
  • Once the mathematical part is done, the programming job is not that tough, since the numbers involved are not that high. I managed to write a Matlab solution in no time.fig587
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