1.1. TILINGS 3
Figure 1.3. A patch of a chair tiling
The pinwheel tiling [Rad] of Figure 1.5 has two kinds of tiles: a 1-2-
5 right triangle and its mirror image. However, each kind appears in an
infinite number of orientations! Like the Penrose tiling, this tiling has a
statistical rotational symmetry. Any pattern that appears in the tiling also
appears rotated, and the rotations are uniformly distributed in SO(2).
So far our examples have all been tilings of the plane. However, the
definition of tiling makes sense in arbitrarily many dimensions. What’s
more, many of the interesting phenomena already appear in one dimension!
Figure 1.6 shows several interesting 1-dimensional tilings.
The first tiling, which we call “one black tile”, has two kinds of tiles,
both of length 1. One tile is black (say, on the interval [0, 1]), and all other
tiles are white. This tiling is not periodic, but it is still highly ordered. The
“half and half” tiling has white tiles to the left of the origin and black tiles
to the right. Like the “one black tile” tiling, it is not periodic, but is far
from random. The Thue-Morse and Fibonacci tilings have a hierarchical
structure, much like the chair tiling in two dimensions. In the Thue-Morse
tiling, tiles group into pairs (either ab or ba), which group into collections
of four (either abba or baab), which group into collections of eight, etc.
Our definition of tiling is unnecessarily broad, as it allows truly bizarre
arrangements of truly bizarre shapes. Most of the time we will study some-
thing much simpler:
Definition. A simple tiling of
is a tiling in which
(1) There are only a finite number of tile types, up to translation. Put
another way, there exists a finite collection of prototiles pi such that
each tile is a translated copy of one of the pi.
(2) Each tile is a polytope. In one dimension, that means an interval. In
2 dimensions, it means a polygon (not necessarily convex). In three
dimensions, it means a polyhedron.