Symmetry (geometry)

In geometry, an object has symmetry if there is an operation or transformation (such as translation, scaling, rotation or reflection) that maps the figure/object onto itself (i.e., the object has an invariance under the transform).[1] Thus, a symmetry can be thought of as an immunity to change.[2] For instance, a circle rotated about its center will have the same shape and size as the original circle, as all points before and after the transform would be indistinguishable. A circle is thus said to be symmetric under rotation or to have rotational symmetry. If the isometry is the reflection of a plane figure about a line, then the figure is said to have reflectional symmetry or line symmetry;[3] it is also possible for a figure/object to have more than one line of symmetry.[4]

A drawing of a butterfly with bilateral symmetry, with left and right sides as mirror images of each other.

The types of symmetries that are possible for a geometric object depend on the set of geometric transforms available, and on what object properties should remain unchanged after a transformation. Because the composition of two transforms is also a transform and every transform has, by definition, an inverse transform that undoes it, the set of transforms under which an object is symmetric form a mathematical group, the symmetry group of the object.[5]


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