A new mathematical model for tiling finite regions of the plane with polyominoes

  • Marcus Garvie University of Guelph
  • John Burkardt University of Pittsburgh


We present a new mathematical model for tiling finite subsets of $\mathbb{Z}^2$ using an arbitrary, but finite, collection of polyominoes. Unlike previous approaches that employ backtracking and other refinements of `brute-force' techniques, our method is based on a systematic algebraic approach, leading in most cases to an underdetermined system of linear equations to solve. The resulting linear system is a binary linear programming problem, which can be solved via direct solution techniques, or using well-known optimization routines.

We illustrate our model with some numerical examples computed in MATLAB. Users can download, edit, and run the codes from http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~jburkardt/m_src/polyominoes/polyominoes.html. For larger problems we solve the resulting binary linear programming problem with an optimization package such as CPLEX, GUROBI, or SCIP, before plotting solutions in MATLAB.