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Math Help - Need some help understanding what this question is asking.

  1. #1
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    Need some help understanding what this question is asking.

    The question is as follows:

    "A diagonal is a line connecting any 2 points in a polygon. How many diagonals are there in a heptagon?

    If the question really means ANY two points then isn't there an infinite number of diagonals? Or if there is a equation to solve this, I certainly haven't learned it. Since this unit is trying to teach applications of permutations and combinations, I'm assuming the question is really only asking about the corner points in which case wouldn't the question be solved by _{7}C_{2}?
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  2. #2
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    Re: Need some help understanding what this question is asking.

    Quote Originally Posted by DEADTERMINATOR View Post
    "A diagonal is a line connecting any 2 points in a polygon. How many diagonals are there in a heptagon?

    If the question really means ANY two points then isn't there an infinite number of diagonals?
    I agree, this definition of a diagonal seems sloppy. Wikipedia and MathWorld define a diagonal as a line segment joining two nonadjacent vertices of a polygon.

    Quote Originally Posted by DEADTERMINATOR View Post
    Since this unit is trying to teach applications of permutations and combinations, I'm assuming the question is really only asking about the corner points in which case wouldn't the question be solved by _{7}C_{2}?
    Yes, if you include the sides, i.e., segment joining adjacent vertices. Otherwise, the answer is \frac{7\cdot 4}{2}.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Need some help understanding what this question is asking.

    We can also use the formula (n/2)(n - 3) noting that a heptagon is a polygon having 7 sides. So, let n = 7 and simplify.

    (n/2)(n - 3) =

    Let n = 7

    (7/2)(7 - 3) =

    (7/2)(4) =

    (7)(2) = 14 diagonals.
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