Heron's formula

You can use Heron's formula to calculate the area of any triangle when you know the lengths of the three sides. If you call the lengths of the three sides a, b, and c, then here is the formula. 

S is called the semi-perimeter. The name makes sense because it is the perimeter divided by two.

A few examples showing how to use Heron's formula to calculate the area of triangles

Example #1:

Use Heron's formula to find the area of a triangle when a = 3 cm, b = 5 cm, and c = 4 cm

s = (3 + 5 + 4)/2 = 12/2 = 6

s − a = 6 − 3 = 3

s − b = 6 − 5 = 1

s − c = 6 − 4 = 2

s × (s − a) × (s − b) × (s − c) = 6 × 3 × 1 × 2 = 36

√(36) = 6

The area of this triangle is 6 cm2


Example #2:

Use Heron's formula to find the area of a triangle when a = 4 cm, b = 6 cm, and c = 8 cm

s = (4 + 6 + 8)/2 = 18/2 = 9

s − a = 9 − 4 = 5

s − b = 9 − 6 = 3

s − c = 9 − 8 = 1

s × (s − a) × (s − b) × (s − c) = 9 × 5 × 3 × 1 = 135

√(135) = 11.61

The area of this triangle is 11.61 cm2

Example #3:

Use Heron's formula to find the area of a triangle when a = 3/2 cm, b = 5/2 cm, and c = 2 cm

s = (3/2 + 5/2 + 2)/2 = (3/2 + 5/2 + 4/2)/2 = (12/2)/2 = 6/2 = 3

s − a = 3 − 3/2 = (6/2 − 3/2) = (6 − 3)/2 = 3/2

s − b = 3 − 5/2 = (6/2 − 5/2) = (6 − 5)/2 = 1/2

s − c = 3 − 2 = 1

s × (s − a) × (s − b) × (s − c) = 3 × 3/2 × 1/2 × 1 = 9/4

√(9/4) = 3/2

The area of this triangle is 1.5 cm2


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