Suppose I have a bunch of identical matches. Their arrangement in space is subject to a single condition: Every matches touches at least another one, and touching matches must touch along their entire length and be aligned (i.e not in reverse orientation).

For instance, the two arrangements on the left below are okay (imagine the columns are touching), but not the right one. enter image description here

How do I call such an arrangement?

Edit. I used matches for a familiar example of a (near) geometrical cylinder. I am looking to arrange true cylinders in this manner, not literal matches.

  • 1
    What is wrong with aligned? Besides matches don't really touch each other along their entire length, only their extremities because their tip is larger than the rest of them.
    – MorganFR
    May 26, 2016 at 12:07
  • @MorganFR 'aligned' is also my first option for now, but I'd like to see whether there's some (arcane) word that emphasizes the arrangement need not be along a straight line. Matches were chosen because they're a familiar object with a similar shape to a geometrical cylinder.
    – Arrow
    May 26, 2016 at 12:16
  • looks like a discrete uniform distribution
    – JMP
    May 26, 2016 at 12:20
  • @JonMarkPerry I don't see how this is related at all. A uniform distribution on a finite set has nothing to do with orientation in space.
    – Arrow
    May 26, 2016 at 12:22
  • Must they touch or is that only an option?
    – bib
    May 26, 2016 at 12:23

3 Answers 3


You could call them contiguously parallel

Contiguous: Sharing a common border; touching

Parallel: (Of lines, planes, or surfaces) side by side and having the same distance continuously between them

Oxford Dictionaries Online


You could call it an array


4. Mathematics
  a. A rectangular arrangement of quantities in rows and columns, as in a matrix.
  • The problem is I don't want the arrangement to necessarily be rectangular. It could be of any possible shape - along a curve, along a circular base (including the interior) etc.
    – Arrow
    May 26, 2016 at 12:18
  • Not an array, then. But if you felt like being poetic, you could say they were 'in array'. May 26, 2016 at 12:54

A ruled surface with parallel rulings is usually called a scroll in mathematics. (There are also scrolls that are not parallel ruled, but they tend to be compounded with other jargon.) Basically, you have a lower curve and an upper curve. Each is planar, and the ruling lines (cylinder axes) run between them. In your case the upper and lower curves are congruent and stacked, and the rulings run between congruent points on the two curves.

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