Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 January 2011
Let P be a set of n points in ℝ3, and let k ≤ n be an integer. A sphere σ is k-rich with respect to P if |σ ∩ P| ≥ k, and is η-non-degenerate, for a fixed fraction 0 < η < 1, if no circle γ ⊂ σ contains more than η|σ ∩ P| points of P.
We improve the previous bound given in  on the number of k-rich η-non-degenerate spheres in 3-space with respect to any set of n points in ℝ3, from O(n4/k5 + n3/k3), which holds for all 0 < η < 1/2, to O*(n4/k11/2 + n2/k2), which holds for all 0 < η < 1 (in both bounds, the constants of proportionality depend on η). The new bound implies the improved upper bound O*(n58/27) ≈ O(n2.1482) on the number of mutually similar triangles spanned by n points in ℝ3; the previous bound was O(n13/6) ≈ O(n2.1667) .