TypeArchimedean solid
Schläfli symbol
Symmetry groupOctahedral symmetry
Tetrahedral symmetry
Dihedral angle (degrees)approximately 125°
Dual polyhedronRhombic dodecahedron
vector equilibrium,
Rupert property
Vertex figure

A cuboctahedron is a polyhedron with 8 triangular faces and 6 square faces. A cuboctahedron has 12 identical vertices, with 2 triangles and 2 squares meeting at each, and 24 identical edges, each separating a triangle from a square. As such, it is a quasiregular polyhedron, i.e., an Archimedean solid that is not only vertex-transitive but also edge-transitive.[1] It is radially equilateral. Its dual polyhedron is the rhombic dodecahedron.


The cuboctahedron can be constructed in many ways:

From all of these constructions, the cuboctahedron has 14 faces: 8 equilateral triangles and 6 squares. It also has 24 edges and 12 vertices.[5]

The Cartesian coordinates for the vertices of a cuboctahedron with edge length centered at the origin are:[6]


Measurement and other metric properties

The surface area of a cuboctahedron can be determined by summing all the area of its polygonal faces. The volume of a cuboctahedron can be determined by slicing it off into two regular triangular cupolas, summing up their volume. Given that the edge length , its surface area and volume are:[5]

The dihedral angle of a cuboctahedron can be calculated with the angle of triangular cupolas. The dihedral angle of a triangular cupola between square-to-triangle is approximately 125°, that between square-to-hexagon is 54.7°, and that between triangle-to-hexagon is 70.5°. Therefore, the dihedral angle of a cuboctahedron between square-to-triangle, on the edge where the base of two triangular cupolas are attached is 54.7° + 70.5° approximately 125°. Therefore, the dihedral angle of a cuboctahedron between square-to-triangle is approximately 125°.[7]

The process of jitterbug transformation

Buckminster Fuller found that the cuboctahedron is the only polyhedron in which the distance between its center to the vertex is the same as the distance between its edges. In other words, it has the same length vectors in three-dimensional space, known as vector equilibrium.[8] The rigid struts and the flexible vertices of a cuboctahedron may also be transformed progressively into a regular icosahedron, regular octahedron, regular tetrahedron. Fuller named this the jitterbug transformation.[9]

A cuboctahedron has the Rupert property, meaning there is a polyhedron of the same or larger size that can pass through its hole.[10]

Symmetry and classification

3D model of a cuboctahedron

The cuboctahedron is an Archimedean solid, meaning it is a highly symmetric and semi-regular polyhedron, and two or more different regular polygonal faces meet in a vertex.[11] The cuboctahedron has two symmetries, resulting from the constructions as has mentioned above: the same symmetry as the regular octahedron or cube, the octahedral symmetry , and the same symmetry as the regular tetrahedron, tetrahedral symmetry .[12] The polygonal faces that meet for every vertex are two equilateral triangles and two squares, and the vertex figure of a cuboctahedron is . The dual of a cuboctahedron is rhombic dodecahedron.[13]

Radial equilateral symmetry

In a cuboctahedron, the long radius (center to vertex) is the same as the edge length; thus its long diameter (vertex to opposite vertex) is 2 edge lengths. Its center is like the apical vertex of a canonical pyramid: one edge length away from all the other vertices. (In the case of the cuboctahedron, the center is in fact the apex of 6 square and 8 triangular pyramids). This radial equilateral symmetry is a property of only a few uniform polytopes, including the two-dimensional hexagon, the three-dimensional cuboctahedron, and the four-dimensional 24-cell and 8-cell (tesseract). Radially equilateral polytopes are those that can be constructed, with their long radii, from equilateral triangles which meet at the center of the polytope, each contributing two radii and an edge. Therefore, all the interior elements which meet at the center of these polytopes have equilateral triangle inward faces, as in the dissection of the cuboctahedron into 6 square pyramids and 8 tetrahedra.

Each of these radially equilateral polytopes also occurs as cells of a characteristic space-filling tessellation: the tiling of regular hexagons, the rectified cubic honeycomb (of alternating cuboctahedra and octahedra), the 24-cell honeycomb and the tesseractic honeycomb, respectively. Each tessellation has a dual tessellation; the cell centers in a tessellation are cell vertices in its dual tessellation. The densest known regular sphere-packing in two, three and four dimensions uses the cell centers of one of these tessellations as sphere centers.

Because it is radially equilateral, the cuboctahedron's center is one edge length distant from the 12 vertices.

Related polyhedra and honeycomb

The cuboctahedron, cubohemioctahedron, and octahemioctahedron.

The cuboctahedron shares its skeleton with the two nonconvex uniform polyhedra, the cubohemioctahedron and octahemioctahedron. These polyhedrons are constructed from the skeleton of a cuboctahedron in which the four hexagonal planes bisect its diagonal, intersecting its interior. Adding six squares or eight equilateral triangles results in the cubohemicotahedron or octahemioctahedron, respectively.[14]

The cuboctahedron 2-covers the tetrahemihexahedron, which accordingly has the same abstract vertex figure (two triangles and two squares: ) and half the vertices, edges, and faces. (The actual vertex figure of the tetrahemihexahedron is , with the factor due to the cross.)[15]

The dissection into square pyramids and tetrahedrons

The cuboctahedron can be dissected into 6 square pyramids and 8 tetrahedra meeting at a central point. This dissection is expressed in the tetrahedral-octahedral honeycomb where pairs of square pyramids are combined into octahedra.[16]


The graph of a cuboctahedron

The skeleton of a cuboctahedron may be represented as the graph, one of the Archimedean graph. It has 12 vertices and 24 edges. It has 12 vertices and 24 edges. It is quartic graph, which is four vertices connecting each vertex.[17]

The graph of a cuboctahedron may be constructed as the line graph of the cube, making it becomes the locally linear graph.[18]


The cuboctahedron was probably known to Plato: Heron's Definitiones quotes Archimedes as saying that Plato knew of a solid made of 8 triangles and 6 squares.[19]



  1. ^ Coxeter 1973, pp. 18–19, §2.3 Quasi-regular polyhedra.
  2. ^
  3. ^ van Leeuwen, Freixa & Cano 2023, p. 50.
  4. ^ Linti 2013, p. 41.
  5. ^ a b Berman 1971.
  6. ^ Coxeter 1973, p. 52, §3.7 Coordinates for the vertices of the regular and quasi-regular solids.
  7. ^ Johnson 1966.
  8. ^ Cockram 2020, p. 53.
  9. ^ Verheyen 1989.
  10. ^ Chai, Yuan & Zamfirescu 2018.
  11. ^ Diudea 2018, p. 39.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Williams 1979, p. 74.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Grünbaum 2003, p. 338.
  16. ^ Posamentier et al. 2022, p. 233–235.
  17. ^ Read & Wilson 1998, p. 269.
  18. ^ Fan 1996.
  19. ^ Turnball 1931.

Works cited