Ceva’s theorem and Menalus’ theorem are widely applied in geometry problems in various ways. As long as the shape that Ceva’s theorem and Menalaus’ theorem is associated with appears in a geometric diagram, it is often useful to write down the expression of these theorem applied to the question and see if it of any use. However, these theorems are not only useful in relating the ratios of lengths. Consider the following problem from the recent APMO.
(APMO 2012 P1) Let be a point in the interior of a triangle , and let be the points of intersection of the line and the side of the triangle, of the line and the side , and of the line and the side respectively. Prove that the area of the triangle must be 6 if the area of each of the triangles and is 1.
This is a very popular diagram that often comes out in MO problems. There are several ratios involved in this diagram that makes it so accessible to problem setters. In particular, this triangle can form 6 Menalaus theorem relationships. To solve the problem above, we shall use the following three equations:
However, it is not very useful to find the ratios of lengths since we are not given any details about the segments in the triangles. However, we can use Menalaus’ theorem to relate the area of triangles. We let be the area of triangle , be the area of triangle and be the area of triangle . Replacing the ratio of lengths using the ratios of areas, we have the following system of simultaneous equations:
There are many ways to solve this simultaneous equation. It is possible to solve the system of equations using inequalities too. By rearranging and adding the equations in the system, we obtain . Using Ceva’s theorem to relate areas, we also have . Using AM-GM inequality, we know that . Since the equality case is only established when all terms are equal, we have and hence the area of the large triangle is 6.
Ceva’s theorem can also be used to relate angles too. From the above diagram, we also have:
Using this form of Ceva’s theorem, we can easily prove the three angle bisectors of a triangle are concurrent i.e. intersect at a common point. The following problem form IMO Shortlist 2001 yields a very beautiful application of Ceva’s theorem in its angular form:
Let be the center of the square inscribed in acute triangle with two vertices of the square on side . Thus one of the two remaining vertices of the square lies on side and the other on segment . Points and are defined in a similar way for inscribed squares with two vertices on sides and , respectively. Prove that lines are concurrent.
Sine rule helps in solving the above problem. Do give it a try.