Newsgroups: sci.math From: pmontgom@cwi.nl (Peter L. Montgomery) Subject: Re: Heron's Formula Date: Thu, 16 Mar 1995 05:30:27 GMT In article <3k8572\$2cv@uwm.edu> radcliff@alpha2.csd.uwm.edu (David G Radcliffe) writes: >Heron's Formula is as follows. Let a,b,c be the sides of a triangle, >and let A be the area of the triangle. Then A^2 = s(s-a)(s-b)(s-c), >where s = (a+b+c)/2. > >I can derive this formula using analytic geometry and some tricky >factorization, but there should be an easier way. Let C be the angle separating the sides of lengths a and b. Then 2 ab cos C = a^2 + b^2 - c^2 (law of cosines) A = (ab/2) sin C (draw altitude on side of length b) 16A^2 = (2ab sin C)^2 = (2ab)^2 - (2ab cos C)^2 = (2ab)^2 - (a^2 + b^2 - c^2)^2 = (2ab + a^2 + b^2 - c^2) (2ab - a^2 - b^2 + c^2) = (a + b + c)(a + b - c)(c + a - b)(c - a + b) -- Peter L. Montgomery pmontgom@cwi.nl San Rafael, California Mathematically gifted, unemployed, U.S. citizen. Interested in computer architecture, program optimization, computer arithmetic, cryptography, compilers, computational mathematics. 17 years industrial experience.