Thanks to Gary Antonick of Numberplay for inviting me to contribute once more, with a problem on cutting a pizza that is somewhat related to my previous post on dividing the plane.

Rather than give any spoilers for that problem, I’ll offer a few other related problems.

Venn diagrams are traditionally drawn with circles. With 0 circles, you have 1 region. With 1 circle, 2 regions. With 2 circles, 4 regions. Why do we stop with 3 circles, 8 regions?

I’ve seen some interesting Venn diagrams for 5 sets. Most of them use ellipses:

while others use triangles, while some use …polyominoes? Let’s see, 5 sets will need 32 regions – is that the most we can make using ellipses? Using triangles? Why do I see these diagrams with 5 sets and not with 6 or more? You can make Venn diagrams with more than 5 sets, but they look pretty weird! Although when colored properly, these Venn diagrams can be quite beautiful.

The next post in this series will answer the questions about how many regions can be created using these various shapes and pose some new ones. Several of these images are from a great article about symmetric Venn diagrams — I’m more concerned here about counting the number of possible regions, like in the Numberplay column, rather than in ensuring that we have a Venn diagram (where every possible intersection of sets exists exactly once).

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