MAA Writing Awards
Designing a Table Both Swinging and Stable
Award: George Pólya
Year of Award: 2009
Publication Information: College Mathematics Journal, vol. 39, no. 4, September 2008, pp. 258-266.
Summary: There exist hinged dissections of an equilateral triangle that transform the triangle into a square. Using such a hinged dissection, one can construct a table that can be transformed from a triangle shape to a square shape and back. The author reviews the history of these hinged dissections and then goes on to discuss the positioning of legs to make the table stable in both configurations. He presents a new hinged dissection that allows the construction of a hinged table with a single pedestal leg and such that both the square and triangular shapes are stable.
About the Author: (From Prizes and Awards, MathFest 2009) Greg Frederickson was born in Baltimore, MD. After graduating from Harvard University with an A.B. in economics, he taught mathematics in the Baltimore City public schools for three years before moving on to graduate school. He received a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Maryland in 1977. He then joined the faculty in the computer science department at the Pennsylvania State University, from which he moved to Purdue University in 1982.