In the previous post, we have shown that the sum of the interior angles of a polygon with sides is degrees. In this post, we explore the exterior angles of a polygon. The exterior angle is formed by extending the side of the polygon as shown in the following figure.
One observation about the exterior angles is that their angle sum is always . For instance, in the pentagon, the sum of the interior angles is . The next question is, is this observation always true? Is this always true for all polygons, even non-regular ones? Try a few more examples by drawing or by using a geometry software.
First we note that the measure of the exterior angle is
180 – measure of adjacent interior angle.
Second, the sum of the interior angles of a polygon is . Let us say, if and are measures of the angles of a 3-sided polygon (a triangle), then . Similarly, if we have a quadrilateral, . In general, if we have a polygon with sides, the equation
We will use these notations and equations so we can prove the theorems later, but before that…
The previous equation only shows the sum of all the interior angles of a polygon with sides. The 3-dot symbol is used to indicate that there are terms in between that were not written. The 3-dot symbol is used to shorten the equation. For instance, if we write , we mean the sum of all the positive integers from to .
The sum of the exterior angles of a polygon is .
We add all the exterior angles of a polygon with sides. From above, we have learned that the angle measure of a regular polygon is 180 minus the measure of its adjacent interior angle. Therefore, the exterior angle sum of a polygon is
Regrouping we have
Since there are ‘s, we have
But from above, , so
Simplifying, we have .
Therefore, the sum of the exterior angles of a polygon with sides is .