# Problem of the Month (April 2008)

Given a polyomino P and a positive integer n ≥ 2, what is the largest possible shape S so that n congruent non-overlapping copies of S can be packed inside P? (If P is a rectangle, or if n is a multiple of the area of P, then this problem is too easy, so we restrict our attention to the other cases.) Can you improve any of the results below? What about other polyforms? What about other shapes?

The following people sent in best-known solutions this month: Károly Hajba, Andrew Bayly, Joe DeVincentis, George Sicherman, Gabriele Carelli, Livio Zucca, Jeremy Galvagni, Maurizio Morandi, and Gavin Theobald. I later heard from Dick Hess, Yoshiyuki Kotani, and Robert Wainwright that they had considered this problem a decade ago. There was much improving upon other's ideas, so all these folks deserve credit.

Here are the best known non-trivial solutions:

Triomino In 2-20 Parts
Parts234567891011
Shape
Coverage111.959+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1.983+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
111
Joe
DeVincentis
.984+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)

Parts121314151617181920
Shape
Coverage 1.994+
Károly
Hajba
(Enlarge)
1
Joe
DeVincentis
11 .991+
Livio
Zucca
(Enlarge)
1 95961
Joe
DeVincentis

Tetrominoes In 2-14 Parts
Parts2345678
Shape
Coverage 1.962+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1.972+
Károly
Hajba
(Enlarge)
1.985+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1
Shape
Coverage 115161 .947+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
.942+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
.986+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1

Parts91011121314
Shape
Coverage 11.997+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1.985+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1
Shape
Coverage .987+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
.971+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
.978+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
1 .981+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)
.979+
Maurizio
Morandi
(Enlarge)

Pentominoes In 2 Parts
 .928+ (Dick Hess) (Enlarge)
 9⁄10 (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess)
 .871+ (Dick Hess) (Enlarge)
 .864+ (Dick Hess) (Enlarge)

Pentominoes In 3 Parts
 1 (Dick Hess)
 1–ε (Andrew Bayly)
 15⁄16 (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess)
 .925+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 9⁄10 (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess)
 .869+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Pentominoes In 4 Parts
 1
 .944+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 9⁄10 (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess)

Pentominoes In 6 Parts
 1 (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess) (Dick Hess)
 1–ε (Livio Zucca)
 .977+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .976+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 24⁄25 (Dick Hess) (Livio Zucca)
 .933+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge) (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .908+ (Gavin Theobald) (Enlarge)

Pentominoes In 7 Parts
 .981+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .970+ (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge) (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge)
 .967+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .966+ (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge)
 .960+ (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge)
 .957+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .956+ (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge)
 14⁄15 (Joe DeVincentis)

Pentominoes In 8 Parts
 1 (Erich Friedman)
 .980+ (Enlarge)
 .971+ (Enlarge)
 .966+ (Enlarge) (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .960+ (Enlarge) (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .958+ (Enlarge)
 19⁄20 (Joe DeVincentis)
(most by Maurizio Morandi)

Pentominoes In 9 Parts
 1 (Livio Zucca)
 .993+ (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge)
 .984+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .979+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .971+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .968+ (Livio Zucca) (Enlarge) (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge) (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 153⁄160 (Joe DeVincentis)
 .950+ (Bryce Herdt) (Enlarge)
 .949+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Pentominoes In 11 Parts
 .989+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .985+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 44⁄45 (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis)
 (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis)
 .969+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Pentominoes In 12 Parts
 1 (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis)
 (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis)
 .984+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .970+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 24⁄25 (Bryce Herdt)

Hexominoes In 2 Parts
 1–ε (Andrew Bayly) (Andrew Bayly) (Gavin Theobald) (Gavin Theobald)
 11⁄12
 5⁄6

Hexominoes In 3 Parts
 1–ε (Andrew Bayly) (Andrew Bayly) (Andrew Bayly) (Andrew Bayly)
 .935+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 11⁄12 (Maurizio Morandi)
 .878+ (Gavin Theobald) (Enlarge)
 5⁄6
 5⁄6–ε (George Sicherman)
 .821+ (Joe DeVincentis) (Enlarge)

Hexominoes In 4 Parts
 1–ε (Andrew Bayly)
 11⁄12 (Livio Zucca)
 .900+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .855+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 5⁄6

Hexominoes In 5 Parts
 1-ε (Maurizio Morandi)
 .9725+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 35⁄36
 .968+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .963+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .937+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 15⁄16 (Gavin Theobald)
 (Maurizio Morandi)
 14⁄15 (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .932+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .931+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 25⁄27 (Gavin Theobald) (Gavin Theobald) (Maurizio Morandi) (Maurizio Morandi) (Maurizio Morandi)
 .916+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .910+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 65⁄72 (Gavin Theobald)

Triangle in 5 Parts
 5(21√3-34)/12 = .988+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Triangle in 7 Parts
 .980+ (Károly Hajba) (Enlarge)

Triangle in 10 Parts
 5(48√3 - 35)/242 = .994+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Triamond in 5 Parts
 5(21√3 - 34)/12 = .988+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Triamond in 7 Parts
 7(32√3 - 55)/3 = .993+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Triamond in 8 Parts
 1 (Maurizio Morandi)

Pentiamonds in 2 Parts
 14⁄15 (George Sicherman)
 .903+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Pentiamonds in 3 Parts
 1 (Maurizio Morandi)
 .942+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 14⁄15 (Maurizio Morandi)
 9⁄10 (George Sicherman)

Pentiamonds in 4 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman)
 .951+ (Joe DeVincentis) (Enlarge)
 19⁄20 (Joe DeVincentis)
 .945+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Pentiamonds in 6 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman)
 591⁄610 (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 29⁄30 (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 24⁄25 (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Pentiamonds in 7 Parts
 279⁄280 (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .971+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .957+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 14⁄15 (George Sicherman)

Pentiamonds in 8 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman)
 .969+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .966+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .932+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Hexiamonds in 2 Parts
 1–ε (George Sicherman)

Hexiamonds in 3 Parts
 1–ε (George Sicherman) (Andrew Bayly)
 .894+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Hexiamonds in 4 Parts
 .932+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .928+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .906+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Hexiamonds in 5 Parts
 185⁄192 (Károly Hajba) (Enlarge)
 .950+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .948+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 .940+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 14⁄15 (Maurizio Morandi)
 .932+ (Károly Hajba) (Enlarge)
 .927+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)
 25⁄27 (George Sicherman)
 .923+ (Maurizio Morandi) (Enlarge)

Hexiamonds in 7 Parts
 35⁄36 (Enlarge)
 .972+ (Enlarge)
 .965+ (Enlarge)
 .950+ (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .949+ (Enlarge)
 .947+ (Enlarge)
 .941+ (Enlarge)
 14⁄15
 (most by Maurizio Morandi)

Heptiamonds in 2 Parts
 20⁄21
 13⁄14
 6⁄7
 6⁄7–ε (all by George Sicherman)

Heptiamonds in 3 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman) (George Sicherman)
 41⁄42
 20⁄21
 .951+ (Enlarge)
 .948+ (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .933+ (Enlarge)
 13⁄14
 .910+ (Enlarge)
 108⁄119 (Enlarge)
 .900+ (Enlarge)
 99⁄112 (Enlarge)
 .883+ (Enlarge)
 43⁄49 (Enlarge)
 6⁄7 (George Sicherman) (George Sicherman) (George Sicherman) (George Sicherman)
 (most by Maurizio Morandi)

Heptiamonds in 4 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman)
 .994+ (Enlarge)
 .990+ (Enlarge)
 27⁄28
 20⁄21 (George Sicherman) (George Sicherman)
 .935+ (Enlarge)
 .929+ (Enlarge)
 13⁄14
 .921+ (Enlarge)
 .918+ (Enlarge)
 .913+ (Enlarge)
 .912+ (Enlarge)
 .909+ (Enlarge)
 .907+ (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 19⁄21
 .899+ (Enlarge)
 44⁄49 (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .864+ (Enlarge)
 6⁄7 (George Sicherman)
 (most by Maurizio Morandi)

Heptiamonds in 5 Parts
 1
 20⁄21
(George Sicherman)
 355⁄378 (Enlarge)
 .937+ (Enlarge)
 .932+ (Enlarge)
 13⁄14 (Enlarge)
 .926+ (Enlarge)
 25⁄27 (Enlarge)
 .923+ (Enlarge)
 205⁄224 (Enlarge)
 32⁄35 (Enlarge)
 115⁄126 (Enlarge) (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 25⁄28 (George Sicherman)
 (most by Maurizio Morandi)

Heptiamonds in 6 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman)
 41⁄42 (Joe DeVincentis) (Joe DeVincentis)
 .967+ (Joe DeVincentis) (Enlarge)
 .957+ (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .956+ (Enlarge)
 .953+ (Enlarge)
 .952+ (Enlarge)
 .950+ (Enlarge)
 .945+ (Enlarge)
 .945+ (Enlarge)
 .943+ (Enlarge)
 33⁄35
 .942+ (Enlarge)
 .942+ (Enlarge)
 .938+ (Enlarge)
 .937+ (Enlarge)
 .934+ (Enlarge)
 .932+ (Enlarge)
 .926+ (Enlarge)
 789⁄854 (Enlarge)
 (most by Maurizio Morandi)

Heptiamonds in 8 Parts
 1 (George Sicherman)
 55⁄56 (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 48⁄49
 335⁄343 (Enlarge)
 .975+ (Enlarge)
 334⁄343 (Enlarge)
 .960+ (Enlarge)
 121⁄126 (Enlarge)
 .957+ (Enlarge)
 328⁄343 (Enlarge) (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 (Enlarge) (Enlarge) (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 .955+ (Enlarge)
 20⁄21
 72⁄77 (Enlarge) (Enlarge)
 13⁄14
 (most by Maurizio Morandi)

After Joe DeVincentis showed that (1-ε) of a particular hexomino could be covered by 3 pieces, Andrew Bayly proved that at least (1-ε) of any step polyomino could be covered by any number of pieces in this manner. His "proof by picture":

If you can extend any of these results, please e-mail me. Click here to go back to Math Magic. Last updated 3/24/17.