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In mathematics, two quantities are in the silver ratio (also silver mean or silver constant) if the ratio between the sum of the smaller plus twice the larger of those quantities and the larger one is the same as the ratio between the larger one and the smaller (see below). This defines the silver ratio as an irrational mathematical constant, whose value of one plus the square root of 2 is approximately 2.4142135623. Its name is an allusion to the golden ratio; analogously to the way the golden ratio is the limiting ratio of consecutive Fibonacci numbers, the silver ratio is the limiting ratio of consecutive Pell numbers. The silver ratio is denoted by δS.
Mathematicians have studied the silver ratio since the time of the Greeks (although perhaps without giving a special name until recently) because of its connections to the square root of 2, its covergents, square triangular numbers, Pell numbers, octagons and the like.
The relation described above can be expressed algebraically:
The silver ratio can also be defined by the simple continued fraction [2; 2, 2, 2, ...]:
The convergents of this continued fraction (2/1, 5/2, 12/5, 29/12, 70/29, ...) are ratios of consecutive Pell numbers. These fractions provide accurate rational approximations of the silver ratio, analogous to the approximation of the golden ratio by ratios of consecutive Fibonacci numbers.
The silver ratio is a Pisot–Vijayaraghavan number (PV number), as its conjugate 1 − √ = −1/ ≈ −0.41 has absolute value less than 1. In fact it is the second smallest quadratic PV number after the golden ratio. This means the distance from δn
S to the nearest integer is 1/ ≈ 0.41n. Thus, the sequence of fractional parts of δn
S, n = 1, 2, 3, ... (taken as elements of the torus) converges. In particular, this sequence is not equidistributed mod 1.
The lower powers of the silver ratio are
The powers continue in the pattern
For example, using this property:
Using K0 = 1 and K1 = 2 as initial conditions, a Binet-like formula results from solving the recurrence relation
The silver ratio is intimately connected to trigonometric ratios for π/ = 22.5°.
So the area of a regular octagon with side length a is given by
The paper sizes under ISO 216 are rectangles in the proportion 1:√ (approximately 1:1.4142135 decimal), sometimes called "A4 rectangles". Removing a largest possible square from a sheet of such paper leaves a rectangle with proportions 1:√−1 which is the same as 1+√:1, the silver ratio. Removing a largest square from one of these sheets leaves one again with aspect ratio 1:√. A rectangle whose aspect ratio is the silver ratio is sometimes called a silver rectangle by analogy with golden rectangles. Confusingly, "silver rectangle" can also refer to the paper sizes specified by ISO 216.
Removing the largest possible square from either kind yields a silver rectangle of the other kind, and then repeating the process once more gives a rectangle of the original shape but smaller by a linear factor of 1+√.
However, only the √ rectangles (rectangles with the shape of ISO 216 paper) have the property that by cutting the rectangle in half across its long side produces two smaller rectangles of the same aspect ratio.
The silver rectangle is connected to the regular octagon. If a regular octagon is partitioned into two isosceles trapezoids and a rectangle, then the rectangle is a silver rectangle with an aspect ratio of 1:δS, and the 4 sides of the trapezoids are in a ratio of 1:1:1:δS. If the edge length of a regular octagon is t, then the inradius of the octagon (the distance between opposite sides) is δSt, and the area of the octagon is 2δSt2.