An Apollonian circle packing is a classical construction which is made by repeatedly inscribing circles into the triangular interstices in a Descartes configuration of four mutually tangent circles. Remarkably, if the original four circles have integer curvature, all of the circles in the packing will have integer curvature, making the packings of interest from a number theoretic point of view. Many of the natural arithmetic problems have required new and sophisticated tools to solve them. The reason for this difficulty is that the study of Apollonian packings reduces to the study of a subgroup of GL4(Z) that is thin in a sense that we describe in this article, and arithmetic problems involving thin groups have only recently become approachable in broad generality. In this article, we report on what is currently known about Apollonian packings in which all circles have integer curvature and how these results are obtained. This survey is also meant to illustrate how to treat arithmetic problems related to other thin groups.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Mathematics