Consider the red rectangle in Figure 1. If you add to that rectangle a square of height equal to
the height of the rectangle, you get another rectangle which has has different ratios.
Figure 1. A poorly proportioned rectangle.
The greeks, keen on geometry, were interested in a rectangle such that, when
you added a square, maintained the same proprotions, as is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. A nicely proportioned rectangle.
To find out what the ratio of the sides is, let us represent the width
of the rectangle by 1 and the height by φ. Then, the width of the
second rectangle in Figure 2 is φ + 1. This is represented pictorially
in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Ratio of sides.
Thus, we want φ:1 = 1 + φ:φ, or
Multiply both sides by φ results in the equation:
φ2 = φ + 1
φ2 − φ − 1 = 0
Solving this for φ yeilds:
Because there are two possible values, we will
The golden ratio φ has some very nice properties:
- φ2 = φ + 1
- φ3 = 2 φ + 1
- φ4 = 3 φ + 2
- φ5 = 5 φ + 3
By this point, you probably recognize the Fibonacci sequence : 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ... . This
brings us to our next observation: if f1 = 1, f2 = 1, and we recursively
define fn = fn − 1 + fn − 2 as
the sum of the two previous values, then we get that:
Similarly, we note that φ-1 = φ - 1.
- φ-1 = φ − 1
- φ-2 = 2 − φ
- φ-3 = 2 φ − 3
- φ-4 = 5 − 3 φ
- φ-5 = 8 φ − 5
Therefore, it is always possible to calcuate powers of φ by using just
integer addition and multiplication.
Just like we can use the Fibonacci sequence to find φ, we can use φ to
find entries in the Fibonnacci sequence:
Additionally, you have probably seen the Sybase logo, a variation of the spiral shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Spiral resulting from the golden mean.