# Pentagon-Decagon Packing

Two regular pentagons and a regular decagon meet snugly at a vertex: their interior angles sum to 360°. However, they can’t tile the plane. However, they come fairly close, as shown in this picture by Greg Egan.

Two regular pentagons and a regular decagon meet snugly at a vertex: their interior angles sum to 360°. However, they can’t tile the plane. However, they come fairly close, as shown in this picture by Greg Egan.

This picture by Toby Hudson shows the densest known packing of the regular pentagon.

This picture by Toby Hudson shows the densest known packing of the regular heptagon. Of all convex shapes, the regular heptagon is believed to have the lowest maximal packing density.

Which shape is worst of all for packing the plane? That is, which has the lowest maximal packing density? Suppose we demand that our shape be convex and also centrally symmetric: that is, a subset $S \subseteq \mathbb{R}^2$ such that $x \in S$ implies $-x \in S$. Then a certain ‘smoothed octagon’ is conjectured to be the worst. Amazingly, this shape has a 1-parameter family of maximally dense packings, shown in this image created by Greg Egan.

This is the densest packing of regular octagons in the plane, drawn by Graeme McRae. It is interesting because it is a counterexample to the 2-dimensional analogue of a conjecture made in 3 dimensions by Stanislaw Ulam.

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