What is the area of the smallest quadrilateral whose sides are all different integers and whose diagonals are perpendicular? Since the diagonals are perpindicular we can place the quadrilateral on an xy coordinate system as shown below. | |(0,y2) /|\ / | \ / | \ B/ | \A A^2 = x1^2 + y2^2 / | \ _______/_____|__________\_______ B^2 = y2^2 + x3^2 (x3,0)\ | /(x1,0) \ | / C^2 = x3^2 + y4^2 \ | / C\ | /D D^2 = y4^2 + x1^2 \ | / \|/ |(0,y4) | The Pythagorean equations imply A^2 + C^2 = B^2 + D^2 = x1^2 + y2^2 + x3^2 + y4^2 where A,B,C,D are distinct integers. Thus we need an integer expressible as a sum of two distinct squares in two ways. By Fermat's two-square theorem it follows that the smallest occurrance is the product of the first two primes of the form 4k+1. These primes are 5 and 13, and the number is 65 = 1^2 + 8^2 = 4^2 + 7^2. This lets us assign to A,B,C,D the absolute values 1, 4, 8, and 7, respectively. Of course, the lengths of the four sides of a quadralateral do not uniquely determine its shape. Moreover, even if we impose the requirement that the diagonals are perpendicular, it still doesn't uniquely determine the shape (and therefore the area). We essentially have one degree of freedom. It's also worth noting that the question didn't say the quadri- lateral had to be convex, so the corners don't all have to bend outward. Furthermore, the question didn't say the edges of the quadrilateral can't cross, so it doesn't rule out a "figure 8" shape. This is important because the definition of the "enclosed area" of a plane closed curve or polygon reverses the sign when lines cross. Thus, the absolute area of the figure 8 is zero (because one loop is positive and the other is negative). In general the signed area of a quadrilateral with the four vertices (x1,y1), (x2,y2), (x3,y3), (x4,y4) is given by 1 Area = --- [(x1y2-x2y1)+(x2y3-x3y2)+(x3y4-x4y3)+(x4y1-x1y4)] 2 The vertices of our figure are (x1,0), (0,y2), (x3,0), (0,y4) so the area is 1 Area = - [x1y2 - x3y2 + x3y4 - x1y4] = (x1-x3)(y2-y4)/2 2 Remember that we have ___________ ___________ y2 = / A^2 - x1^2 y4 = / D^2 - x1^2 so this gives the derivatives d y2 ___________ ---- = - x1 / / A^2 - x1^2 = - x1/y2 d x1 d y4 ___________ ---- = - x1 / / D^2 - x1^2 = - x1/y4 d x1 Similarly we have __________________ x3 = / B^2 - A^2 + x1^2 from which it follows that d x3 ---- = x1/x3 d x1 Therefore, letting apostrophes signify derivatives with respect to x1, we can different the (double) area with respect to x1 to give d Area 2 ------ = (x1-x3)(y2' - y4') + (y2-y4)(1-x3') d x1 = (x1-x3)( x1/y4 - x1/y2 ) + (y2-y4)(1 - x1/x3) _ _ | | = x1 |(x1-x3)(1/y4 - 1/y2) + (y2-y4)(1/x1 - 1/x3) | |_ _| = (x1) (2 Area) [ 1/(y2y4) +- 1/(x1x3) ] We've inserted the +- sign in the last expression to reflect the fact that we can reverse the signs of any one of the arguments independently of the others. This derivative vanishes (for non-zero x1 and Area) if and only if y2y4 = +-x1x3, corresponding to a maximum or a minimum depending on the signs of the arguments. In either case we have __________ __________ y2 y4 /A^2 - x1^2 /D^2 - x1^2 x1 = ------- = ----------------------------- x3 _________________ / B^2 - A^2 + x1^2 Squaring both sides, cancelling terms, and solving for x1 gives the result AD x1 = +- ------------- ___________ / B^2 + D^2 Taking A=1, B=4, C=8, and D=7, we can now compute x1, which then gives the remaining values x1 = +-7/sqrt(65) y2 = +-4/sqrt(65) x3 = +-32/sqrt(5) y4 = +-56/sqrt(5) and then substitute into the area equation (x1-x3)(y2-y4)/2 to give the result. If we give x1 and x3 opposite signs we have the maximum possible area for a quadrilateral with sides 1,4,8,7: |area_max| = (1/2)(60)(39)/65 = 18 and if we give x1 and x3 the same signs we have the minimum possible magnitude of signed area for a quadrilateral with sides 1,4,8,7: |signed_area_min| = (1/2)(52)(25)/65 = 10 Notice that this minimum quadrilateral is not convex, and has edges that cross each other, are shown below The areas of regions enclosed by clockwise and counter-clockwise paths as we traverse the loop P1,P2,P3,P4,P1 are given opposite signs, in accord with the definition of signed area. On the other hand, if we prohibit the corssing of edges, or insist on considering only unsigned area, then the minimum configurations are when the shortest edge collapse on one of its neighboring edges, leaving us with either a 3,7,8 triangle or a 4,6,8 triangle, with areas of 6sqrt(3)=10.39 and 3sqrt(15)=11.62 respectively.

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