, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 487-507,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 01 Aug 2009

Irreducible Apollonian Configurations and Packings


An Apollonian configuration of circles is a collection of circles in the plane with disjoint interiors such that the complement of the interiors of the circles consists of curvilinear triangles. One well-studied method of forming an Apollonian configuration is to start with three mutually tangent circles and fill a curvilinear triangle with a new circle, then repeat with each newly created curvilinear triangle. More generally, we can start with three mutually tangent circles and a rule (or rules) for how to fill a curvilinear triangle with circles.

In this paper we consider the basic building blocks of these rules, irreducible Apollonian configurations. Our main result is to show how to find a small field that can realize such a configuration and also give a method to relate the bends of the new circles to the bends of the circles forming the curvilinear triangle.

S. Butler supported by an NSF Postdoctoral fellowship.