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Concept# Symmetry (geometry)

Summary

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). Thus, a symmetry can be thought of as an immunity to change. 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; it is also possible for a figure/object to have more than one line of symmetry.
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.
The most common group of transforms applied to objects are termed the Euclidean group of "isometries", which are distance-preserving transformations in space commonly referred to as two-dimensional or three-dimensional (i.e., in plane geometry or solid geometry Euclidean spaces). These isometries consist of reflections, rotations, translations, and combinations of these basic operations. Under an isometric transformation, a geometric object is said to be symmetric if, after transformation, the object is indistinguishable from the object before the transformation. A geometric object is typically symmetric only under a subset or "subgroup" of all isometries. The kinds of isometry subgroups are described below, followed by other kinds of transform groups, and by the types of object invariance that are possible in geometry.

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In geometry, a point group is a mathematical group of symmetry operations (isometries in a Euclidean space) that have a fixed point in common. The coordinate origin of the Euclidean space is conventionally taken to be a fixed point, and every point group in dimension d is then a subgroup of the orthogonal group O(d). Point groups are used to describe the symmetries of geometric figures and physical objects such as molecules. Each point group can be represented as sets of orthogonal matrices M that transform point x into point y according to y = Mx.

In geometry, a point group in three dimensions is an isometry group in three dimensions that leaves the origin fixed, or correspondingly, an isometry group of a sphere. It is a subgroup of the orthogonal group O(3), the group of all isometries that leave the origin fixed, or correspondingly, the group of orthogonal matrices. O(3) itself is a subgroup of the Euclidean group E(3) of all isometries. Symmetry groups of geometric objects are isometry groups. Accordingly, analysis of isometry groups is analysis of possible symmetries.

In mathematics, a Euclidean group is the group of (Euclidean) isometries of a Euclidean space ; that is, the transformations of that space that preserve the Euclidean distance between any two points (also called Euclidean transformations). The group depends only on the dimension n of the space, and is commonly denoted E(n) or ISO(n). The Euclidean group E(n) comprises all translations, rotations, and reflections of ; and arbitrary finite combinations of them.

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