Copyright © Had2Know 2010-2021. All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact

Follow us on Facebook

Site Design by E. Emerson

# How to Generate Pythagorean Triples

Pythagorean triples are sets of three integers that represent the sides of a right triangle. Some of the most well-known primitive Pythagorean triples are (3, 4, 5), (5, 12, 13) and (8, 15, 17). (Primitive means that you cannot divide each number by a common factor, i.e. the GCD = 1.)

You can verify that these give the sides of a right triangle by using the Pythagorean Theorem:

a² + b² = c²,

where a and b are the lengths of the legs and c is the hypotenuse. (Example: 8² + 15² = 17².)

### Method 1: Two-Parameter Generator Set

Let m and n are positive integers with m > n, and leta = m² - n²

b = 2mn

c = m² + n²,

then (a, b, c) is a Pythagorean triple with legs a and b and hypotenuse c. This can be verified with algebra:

(m² - n²)² + (2mn)²

= m⁴ - 2m²n² + n⁴ + 4m²n²

= m⁴ + 2m²n² + n⁴

= (m² + n²)²

If GCD(m, n) = 1 and m and n are not both odd, then the generated triple will be primitive.

### Method 2: Using Two Pythagorean Triples to Generate Two More

Suppose (a, b, c) and (x, y, z) are two Pythagorean triples. Then(ax+by, |ay-bx|, cz) and (|ax-by|, ay+bx, cz)

are also Pythagorean triples. For example, take (3, 4, 5) and (8, 15, 17) as the original pair. Using the transformation above, we can construct two new Pythagorean triples:

(3*8+4*15, |3*15-4*8|, 5*17)

= (84, 13, 85) and

(|3*8-4*15|, 3*15+4*8, 5*17)

= (36, 77, 85)

To see why this works, examine the expression (ax+by)² + |ay-bx|². This can be expanded into

a²x² + 2abxy + b²y² + a²y² - 2abxy + b²x²

= a²x² + b²y² + a²y² + b²x²

= (a² + b²)(x² + y²)

= c²z²

= (cz)²

The same algebra can be applied to the second generated set.

© *Had2Know 2010
*