Graphs of the six convex regular 4-polytopes
{3,3,3} {3,3,4} {4,3,3}
4-simplex t0.svg
4-cube t3.svg
4-cube t0.svg
{3,4,3} {5,3,3} {3,3,5}
24-cell t0 F4.svg
600-cell graph H4.svg
120-cell graph H4.svg

In geometry, a 4-polytope (sometimes also called a polychoron,[1] polycell, or polyhedroid) is a four-dimensional polytope.[2][3] It is a connected and closed figure, composed of lower-dimensional polytopal elements: vertices, edges, faces (polygons), and cells (polyhedra). Each face is shared by exactly two cells. The 4-polytopes were discovered by the Swiss mathematician Ludwig Schläfli before 1853.[4]

The two-dimensional analogue of a 4-polytope is a polygon, and the three-dimensional analogue is a polyhedron.

Topologically 4-polytopes are closely related to the uniform honeycombs, such as the cubic honeycomb, which tessellate 3-space; similarly the 3D cube is related to the infinite 2D square tiling. Convex 4-polytopes can be cut and unfolded as nets in 3-space.


A 4-polytope is a closed four-dimensional figure. It comprises vertices (corner points), edges, faces and cells. A cell is the three-dimensional analogue of a face, and is therefore a polyhedron. Each face must join exactly two cells, analogous to the way in which each edge of a polyhedron joins just two faces. Like any polytope, the elements of a 4-polytope cannot be subdivided into two or more sets which are also 4-polytopes, i.e. it is not a compound.


The convex regular 4-polytopes are the four-dimensional analogues of the Platonic solids. The most familiar 4-polytope is the tesseract or hypercube, the 4D analogue of the cube.

The convex regular 4-polytopes can be ordered by size as a measure of 4-dimensional content (hypervolume) for the same radius. Each greater polytope in the sequence is rounder than its predecessor, enclosing more content[5] within the same radius. The 4-simplex (5-cell) is the limit smallest case, and the 120-cell is the largest. Complexity (as measured by comparing configuration matrices or simply the number of vertices) follows the same ordering.

Regular convex 4-polytopes
Symmetry group A4 B4 F4 H4
Name 5-cell












Schläfli symbol {3, 3, 3} {3, 3, 4} {4, 3, 3} {3, 4, 3} {3, 3, 5} {5, 3, 3}
Coxeter mirrors                                                
Vertices 5 8 16 24 120 600
Edges 10 24 32 96 720 1200
Faces 10 triangles 32 triangles 24 squares 96 triangles 1200 triangles 720 pentagons
Cells 5 tetrahedra 16 tetrahedra 8 cubes 24 octahedra 600 tetrahedra 120 dodecahedra
Tori 1 5-tetrahedron 2 8-tetrahedron 2 4-cube 4 6-octahedron 20 30-tetrahedron 12 10-dodecahedron
Inscribed 120 in 120-cell 1 16-cell 2 16-cells 3 8-cells 5 24-cells x 5 5 600-cells x 2
Great polygons 2 𝝅/2 squares x 3 4 𝝅/2 rectangles x 3 4 𝝅/3 hexagons x 4 12 𝝅/5 decagons x 6 50 𝝅/15 dodecagons x 4
Petrie polygons 1 pentagon 1 octagon 2 octagons 2 dodecagons 4 30-gons 20 30-gons
Isocline polygons 1 {8/2}=2{4} x {8/2}=2{4} 2 {8/2}=2{4} x {8/2}=2{4} 2 {12/2}=2{6} x {12/6}=6{2} 4 {30/2}=2{15} x 30{0} 20 {30/2}=2{15} x 30{0}
Long radius 1 1 1 1 1 1
Edge length 5/2 ≈ 1.581 2 ≈ 1.414 1 1 1/ϕ ≈ 0.618 1/2ϕ2 ≈ 0.270
Short radius 1/4 1/2 1/2 2/2 ≈ 0.707 1 - (2/23φ)2 ≈ 0.936 1 - (1/23φ)2 ≈ 0.968
Area 10•8/3 ≈ 9.428 32•3/4 ≈ 13.856 24 96•3/4 ≈ 41.569 1200•3/2 ≈ 99.238 720•25+105/4 ≈ 621.9
Volume 5•55/24 ≈ 2.329 16•1/3 ≈ 5.333 8 24•2/3 ≈ 11.314 600•1/38φ3 ≈ 16.693 120•2 + φ/28φ3 ≈ 18.118
4-Content 5/24•(5/2)4 ≈ 0.146 2/3 ≈ 0.667 1 2 Short∙Vol/4 ≈ 3.907 Short∙Vol/4 ≈ 4.385


Example presentations of a 24-cell
Sectioning Net
Schlegel 2D orthogonal 3D orthogonal

4-polytopes cannot be seen in three-dimensional space due to their extra dimension. Several techniques are used to help visualise them.

Orthogonal projection

Orthogonal projections can be used to show various symmetry orientations of a 4-polytope. They can be drawn in 2D as vertex-edge graphs, and can be shown in 3D with solid faces as visible projective envelopes.

Perspective projection

Just as a 3D shape can be projected onto a flat sheet, so a 4-D shape can be projected onto 3-space or even onto a flat sheet. One common projection is a Schlegel diagram which uses stereographic projection of points on the surface of a 3-sphere into three dimensions, connected by straight edges, faces, and cells drawn in 3-space.


Just as a slice through a polyhedron reveals a cut surface, so a slice through a 4-polytope reveals a cut "hypersurface" in three dimensions. A sequence of such sections can be used to build up an understanding of the overall shape. The extra dimension can be equated with time to produce a smooth animation of these cross sections.


A net of a 4-polytope is composed of polyhedral cells that are connected by their faces and all occupy the same three-dimensional space, just as the polygon faces of a net of a polyhedron are connected by their edges and all occupy the same plane.

Topological characteristicsEdit

The topology of any given 4-polytope is defined by its Betti numbers and torsion coefficients.[6]

The value of the Euler characteristic used to characterise polyhedra does not generalize usefully to higher dimensions, and is zero for all 4-polytopes, whatever their underlying topology. This inadequacy of the Euler characteristic to reliably distinguish between different topologies in higher dimensions led to the discovery of the more sophisticated Betti numbers.[6]

Similarly, the notion of orientability of a polyhedron is insufficient to characterise the surface twistings of toroidal 4-polytopes, and this led to the use of torsion coefficients.[6]



Like all polytopes, 4-polytopes may be classified based on properties like "convexity" and "symmetry".


The following lists the various categories of 4-polytopes classified according to the criteria above:

The truncated 120-cell is one of 47 convex non-prismatic uniform 4-polytopes

Uniform 4-polytope (vertex-transitive):

Other convex 4-polytopes:

The regular cubic honeycomb is the only infinite regular 4-polytope in Euclidean 3-dimensional space.

Infinite uniform 4-polytopes of Euclidean 3-space (uniform tessellations of convex uniform cells)

Infinite uniform 4-polytopes of hyperbolic 3-space (uniform tessellations of convex uniform cells)

Dual uniform 4-polytope (cell-transitive):


The 11-cell is an abstract regular 4-polytope, existing in the real projective plane, it can be seen by presenting its 11 hemi-icosahedral vertices and cells by index and color.

Abstract regular 4-polytopes:

These categories include only the 4-polytopes that exhibit a high degree of symmetry. Many other 4-polytopes are possible, but they have not been studied as extensively as the ones included in these categories.

See alsoEdit

  • Regular 4-polytope
  • 3-sphere – analogue of a sphere in 4-dimensional space. This is not a 4-polytope, since it is not bounded by polyhedral cells.
  • The duocylinder is a figure in 4-dimensional space related to the duoprisms. It is also not a 4-polytope because its bounding volumes are not polyhedral.



  1. ^ N.W. Johnson: Geometries and Transformations, (2018) ISBN 978-1-107-10340-5 Chapter 11: Finite Symmetry Groups, 11.1 Polytopes and Honeycombs, p.224
  2. ^ Vialar, T. (2009). Complex and Chaotic Nonlinear Dynamics: Advances in Economics and Finance. Springer. p. 674. ISBN 978-3-540-85977-2.
  3. ^ Capecchi, V.; Contucci, P.; Buscema, M.; D'Amore, B. (2010). Applications of Mathematics in Models, Artificial Neural Networks and Arts. Springer. p. 598. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-8581-8. ISBN 978-90-481-8580-1.
  4. ^ Coxeter 1973, p. 141, §7-x. Historical remarks.
  5. ^ Coxeter 1973, pp. 292–293, Table I(ii): The sixteen regular polytopes {p,q,r} in four dimensions: [An invaluable table providing all 20 metrics of each 4-polytope in edge length units. They must be algebraically converted to compare polytopes of unit radius.]
  6. ^ a b c Richeson, D.; Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topoplogy, Princeton, 2008.
  7. ^ Uniform Polychora, Norman W. Johnson (Wheaton College), 1845 cases in 2005


  • H.S.M. Coxeter:
    • Coxeter, H.S.M. (1973) [1948]. Regular Polytopes (3rd ed.). New York: Dover.
    • H.S.M. Coxeter, M.S. Longuet-Higgins and J.C.P. Miller: Uniform Polyhedra, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Londne, 1954
    • Kaleidoscopes: Selected Writings of H.S.M. Coxeter, edited by F. Arthur Sherk, Peter McMullen, Anthony C. Thompson, Asia Ivic Weiss, Wiley-Interscience Publication, 1995, ISBN 978-0-471-01003-6 [1]
      • (Paper 22) H.S.M. Coxeter, Regular and Semi Regular Polytopes I, [Math. Zeit. 46 (1940) 380–407, MR 2,10]
      • (Paper 23) H.S.M. Coxeter, Regular and Semi-Regular Polytopes II, [Math. Zeit. 188 (1985) 559–591]
      • (Paper 24) H.S.M. Coxeter, Regular and Semi-Regular Polytopes III, [Math. Zeit. 200 (1988) 3–45]
  • J.H. Conway and M.J.T. Guy: Four-Dimensional Archimedean Polytopes, Proceedings of the Colloquium on Convexity at Copenhagen, page 38 und 39, 1965
  • N.W. Johnson: The Theory of Uniform Polytopes and Honeycombs, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Toronto, 1966
  • Four-dimensional Archimedean Polytopes (German), Marco Möller, 2004 PhD dissertation [2]

External linksEdit

Family An Bn I2(p) / Dn E6 / E7 / E8 / F4 / G2 Hn
Regular polygon Triangle Square p-gon Hexagon Pentagon
Uniform polyhedron Tetrahedron OctahedronCube Demicube DodecahedronIcosahedron
Uniform polychoron Pentachoron 16-cellTesseract Demitesseract 24-cell 120-cell600-cell
Uniform 5-polytope 5-simplex 5-orthoplex5-cube 5-demicube
Uniform 6-polytope 6-simplex 6-orthoplex6-cube 6-demicube 122221
Uniform 7-polytope 7-simplex 7-orthoplex7-cube 7-demicube 132231321
Uniform 8-polytope 8-simplex 8-orthoplex8-cube 8-demicube 142241421
Uniform 9-polytope 9-simplex 9-orthoplex9-cube 9-demicube
Uniform 10-polytope 10-simplex 10-orthoplex10-cube 10-demicube
Uniform n-polytope n-simplex n-orthoplexn-cube n-demicube 1k22k1k21 n-pentagonal polytope
Topics: Polytope familiesRegular polytopeList of regular polytopes and compounds