Deriving Finite Sphere Packings

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Deriving Finite Sphere Packings

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Title: Deriving Finite Sphere Packings
Author: Arkus, Natalie; Manoharan, Vinothan N.; Brenner, Michael P.

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Arkus, Natalie, Vinothan N. Monoharan, and Michael P. Brenner. 2011. Deriving Finite Sphere Packings. SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics 25(4): 1860-1901.
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Abstract: Sphere packing problems have a rich history in both mathematics and physics; yet, relatively few analytical analyses of sphere packings exist, and answers to seemingly simple questions are unknown. Here, we present an analytical method for deriving all packings of n spheres in R3 satisfying minimal rigidity constraints (≥ 3 contacts per sphere and ≥ 3n − 6 total contacts). We derive such packings for n ≤ 10 and provide a preliminary set of maximum contact packings for 10 < n ≤ 20. The resultant set of packings has some striking features; among them are the following: (i) all minimally rigid packings for n ≤ 9 have exactly 3n−6 contacts; (ii) nonrigid packings satisfying minimal rigidity constraints arise for n ≥ 9; (iii) the number of ground states (i.e., packings with the maximum number of contacts) oscillates with respect to n; (iv) for 10 ≤ n ≤ 20 there are only a small number of packings with the maximum number of contacts, and for 10 ≤ n < 13 these are all commensurate with the hexagonal close-packed lattice. The general method presented here may have applications to other related problems in mathematics, such as the Erdos repeated distance problem and Euclidean distance matrix completion problems.
Published Version: doi:10.1137/100784424
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