Various Views of Three Different Polyhedral Compounds: Those of (1) Five Cuboctahedra, (2) Five of Its Dual, the Rhombic Dodecahedron, and (3) Ten Components — Five Each, of Both Polyhedra.

Polyhedral compounds differ in the amount of effort needed to understand their internal structure, as well as the way the compounds’ components are assembled, relative to each other. This compound, the compound of five cuboctahedra, and those related to it, offer challenges not offered by all polyhedral compounds, especially those which are well-known.


The image above (made with Stella 4d, as are others in this post — software available here) is colored in the traditional style for compounds: each of the five cuboctahedra is assigned a color of its own. There’s a problem with this, however, and it is related to the triangular faces, due to the fact that these faces appear in coplanar pairs, each from a different component of the compound.


The yellow regions above are from a triangular face of the yellow component, while the blue regions are from a blue triangular face. The equilateral triangle in the center, being part of both the yellow and blue components, must be assigned a “compromise color” — in this case, green. The necessity of such compromise-colors can make understanding the compound by examination of an image more difficult than it with with, say, the compound of five cubes (not shown, but you can see it here, if you wish). Therefore, I decided to look at this another way: coloring each face of the five-cuboctahedra compound by face type, instead of by component.


Another helpful view may be created by simply hiding all the faces, revealing internal structure which was previously obscured.


Since the dual of the cuboctahedron is the rhombic dodecahedron, the dual of the compound above is the compound of five rhombic dodecahedra, shown, first, colored by giving each component a different color.

RD 5 colored by component

A problem with this view is that most of what’s “going on” (in the way the compound is assembled) cannot be seen — it’s hidden inside the figure. An option which helped above (with the five-cuboctahedra compound), coloring by face type, is not nearly as helpful here:

RD 5 colored by face type

Why wasn’t it helpful? Simple: all sixty faces are of the same type. It can be made more attractive by putting Stella 4d into “rainbow color” mode, but I cannot claim that helps with comprehension of the compound.

RD 5 colored rainbow

With this compound, what’s really needed is a “ball-and-stick” model, with the faces hidden to reveal the compound’s inner structure.

RD 5 colored hollow

Since the two five-part compounds above are duals, they can also be combined to form a ten-part compound: that of five cuboctahedra and five rhombic dodecahedra. In the first image below, each of the ten components is assigned its own color.

Compound of 5 Cuboctahedra and dual colored by component

In this ten-part compound, the coloring-problem caused in the first image in this post, coplanar and overlapping triangles of different colors, vanishes, for those regions of overlap are hidden in the ten-part compound’s interior. This is one reason why this coloring-scheme is the one I find the most helpful, for this ten-part compound (unlike the two five-part compounds above). However, so that readers may make this choice for themselves, two other versions are shown below, starting with coloring by face type.

Compound of 5 Cuboctahedra and dual colored by face typet

Finally, the hollow version of this ten-part compound. This is only a personal opinion, but I do not find this image quite as helpful as was the case with the five-part compounds described above.

Compound of 5 Cuboctahedra and dual colored rainbow

Which of these images do you find most illuminating? As always, comments are welcome.

About RobertLovesPi

I go by RobertLovesPi on-line, and am interested in many things. Welcome to my little slice of the Internet. The viewpoints and opinions expressed on this website are my own. They should not be confused with the views of my employer, nor any other organization, nor institution, of any kind.
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One Response to Various Views of Three Different Polyhedral Compounds: Those of (1) Five Cuboctahedra, (2) Five of Its Dual, the Rhombic Dodecahedron, and (3) Ten Components — Five Each, of Both Polyhedra.

  1. teachezwell says:

    I really like the hollow version of the 5-part compound. I didn’t realize that’s what I was seeing until then. I do love all those colors, though!

    Liked by 1 person

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