Uniform polyhedra may be regular (if also face and edge transitive), quasi-regular (if also edge transitive but not face transitive), or semi-regular (if neither edge nor face transitive). The faces and vertices need not be convex, so many of the uniform polyhedra are also star polyhedra.
There are two infinite classes of uniform polyhedra, together with 75 other polyhedra:
There are also many degenerate uniform polyhedra with pairs of edges that coincide, including one found by John Skilling called the great disnub dirhombidodecahedron (Skilling's figure).
Dual polyhedra to uniform polyhedra are face-transitive (isohedral) and have regular vertex figures, and are generally classified in parallel with their dual (uniform) polyhedron. The dual of a regular polyhedron is regular, while the dual of an Archimedean solid is a Catalan solid.
The concept of uniform polyhedron is a special case of the concept of uniform polytope, which also applies to shapes in higher-dimensional (or lower-dimensional) space.
The Original Sin in the theory of polyhedra goes back to Euclid, and through Kepler, Poinsot, Cauchy and many others continues to afflict all the work on this topic (including that of the present author). It arises from the fact that the traditional usage of the term “regular polyhedra” was, and is, contrary to syntax and to logic: the words seem to imply that we are dealing, among the objects we call “polyhedra”, with those special ones that deserve to be called “regular”. But at each stage— Euclid, Kepler, Poinsot, Hess, Brückner,…—the writers failed to define what are the “polyhedra” among which they are finding the “regular” ones.
Coxeter, Longuet-Higgins & Miller (1954) define uniform polyhedra to be vertex-transitive polyhedra with regular faces. They define a polyhedron to be a finite set of polygons such that each side of a polygon is a side of just one other polygon, such that no non-empty proper subset of the polygons has the same property. By a polygon they implicitly mean a polygon in 3-dimensional Euclidean space; these are allowed to be non-convex and to intersect each other.
There are some generalizations of the concept of a uniform polyhedron. If the connectedness assumption is dropped, then we get uniform compounds, which can be split as a union of polyhedra, such as the compound of 5 cubes. If we drop the condition that the realization of the polyhedron is non-degenerate, then we get the so-called degenerate uniform polyhedra. These require a more general definition of polyhedra. Grünbaum (1994) gave a rather complicated definition of a polyhedron, while McMullen & Schulte (2002) gave a simpler and more general definition of a polyhedron: in their terminology, a polyhedron is a 2-dimensional abstract polytope with a non-degenerate 3-dimensional realization. Here an abstract polytope is a poset of its "faces" satisfying various condition, a realization is a function from its vertices to some space, and the realization is called non-degenerate if any two distinct faces of the abstract polytope have distinct realizations. Some of the ways they can be degenerate are as follows:
The convex uniform polyhedra can be named by Wythoff construction operations on the regular form.
In more detail the convex uniform polyhedron are given below by their Wythoff construction within each symmetry group.
Within the Wythoff construction, there are repetitions created by lower symmetry forms. The cube is a regular polyhedron, and a square prism. The octahedron is a regular polyhedron, and a triangular antiprism. The octahedron is also a rectified tetrahedron. Many polyhedra are repeated from different construction sources, and are colored differently.
The Wythoff construction applies equally to uniform polyhedra and uniform tilings on the surface of a sphere, so images of both are given. The spherical tilings including the set of hosohedrons and dihedrons which are degenerate polyhedra.
These symmetry groups are formed from the reflectional point groups in three dimensions, each represented by a fundamental triangle (p q r), where p > 1, q > 1, r > 1 and 1/p + 1/q + 1/r < 1.
The remaining nonreflective forms are constructed by alternation operations applied to the polyhedra with an even number of sides.
Along with the prisms and their dihedral symmetry, the spherical Wythoff construction process adds two regular classes which become degenerate as polyhedra : the dihedra and the hosohedra, the first having only two faces, and the second only two vertices. The truncation of the regular hosohedra creates the prisms.
Below the convex uniform polyhedra are indexed 1–18 for the nonprismatic forms as they are presented in the tables by symmetry form.
For the infinite set of prismatic forms, they are indexed in four families:
(The sphere is not cut, only the tiling is cut.) (On a sphere, an edge is the arc of the great circle, the shortest way, between its two vertices. Hence, a digon whose vertices are not polar-opposite is flat: it looks like an edge.)
The tetrahedral symmetry of the sphere generates 5 uniform polyhedra, and a 6th form by a snub operation.
The tetrahedral symmetry is represented by a fundamental triangle with one vertex with two mirrors, and two vertices with three mirrors, represented by the symbol (3 3 2). It can also be represented by the Coxeter group A2 or [3,3], as well as a Coxeter diagram: .
There are 24 triangles, visible in the faces of the tetrakis hexahedron, and in the alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
The octahedral symmetry of the sphere generates 7 uniform polyhedra, and a 7 more by alternation. Six of these forms are repeated from the tetrahedral symmetry table above.
The octahedral symmetry is represented by a fundamental triangle (4 3 2) counting the mirrors at each vertex. It can also be represented by the Coxeter group B2 or [4,3], as well as a Coxeter diagram: .
There are 48 triangles, visible in the faces of the disdyakis dodecahedron, and in the alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
The icosahedral symmetry of the sphere generates 7 uniform polyhedra, and a 1 more by alternation. Only one is repeated from the tetrahedral and octahedral symmetry table above.
The icosahedral symmetry is represented by a fundamental triangle (5 3 2) counting the mirrors at each vertex. It can also be represented by the Coxeter group G2 or [5,3], as well as a Coxeter diagram: .
There are 120 triangles, visible in the faces of the disdyakis triacontahedron, and in the alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
The dihedral symmetry of the sphere generates two infinite sets of uniform polyhedra, prisms and antiprisms, and two more infinite set of degenerate polyhedra, the hosohedra and dihedra which exist as tilings on the sphere.
The dihedral symmetry is represented by a fundamental triangle (p 2 2) counting the mirrors at each vertex. It can also be represented by the Coxeter group I2(p) or [n,2], as well as a prismatic Coxeter diagram: .
Below are the first five dihedral symmetries: D2 ... D6. The dihedral symmetry Dp has order 4n, represented the faces of a bipyramid, and on the sphere as an equator line on the longitude, and n equally-spaced lines of longitude.
There are 8 fundamental triangles, visible in the faces of the square bipyramid (Octahedron) and alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
There are 12 fundamental triangles, visible in the faces of the hexagonal bipyramid and alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
There are 16 fundamental triangles, visible in the faces of the octagonal bipyramid and alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
There are 20 fundamental triangles, visible in the faces of the decagonal bipyramid and alternately colored triangles on a sphere:
There are 24 fundamental triangles, visible in the faces of the dodecagonal bipyramid and alternately colored triangles on a sphere.