arbelos and parbelos

The arbelos is the plane region bounded by three pairwise tangent semicircles with diametersMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath on the same line.

The arbelos was known already in classical Greek geometry.  It has many interesting properties; see e.g.  One is that the distanceMathworldPlanetmath between the two outermost points along the inner semicircles of the arbelos is the same as the distance along the outer semicircle, namely, its radius times π.

The parbelos, a parabolic analog of the arbelos, is the plane region bounded by the latus rectumMathworldPlanetmath ( arcs of three parabolasMathworldPlanetmath with latera recta AB, BC, AC, where the points A, B, C lie on a line.  Unlike in the arbelos, the arcs of the parbelos are not pairwise tangent: the inner two are tangent to the outer one, but not to each other.  The parbelos has several interesting properties which can be seen in Sondow’s article [1]; see also Tsukerman’s paper [2].

Some of them are analogous to the properties of the arbelos. For example, the distance between the two outermost two points of the parbelos along the inner arcs is the same as along the outer arc, namely, its semilatus rectum times the universal parabolic constant ( P.


  • 1 Jonathan Sondow: The parbelos, a parabolic analog of the arbelos. – Amer. Math. Monthly 120 (2013) 929–935.  Also in (2012).
  • 2 Emmanuel Tsukerman: Solution of Sondow’s problem: a synthetic proof of the tangency property of the parbelos.  – Amer. Math. Monthly 121 (2014) 438–443. Also in (2012).
Title arbelos and parbelos
Canonical name ArbelosAndParbelos
Date of creation 2014-06-29 8:56:48
Last modified on 2014-06-29 8:56:48
Owner pahio (2872)
Last modified by pahio (2872)
Numerical id 19
Author pahio (2872)
Entry type Topic
Classification msc 53A04
Classification msc 53-03
Classification msc 51M99
Classification msc 01A20
Classification msc 00A08
Defines arbelos
Defines parbelos