- The word
*motif*means a repeated design element. Mathematicians often use this word to refer to the smallest portion of a pattern that can be repeated to recreate the entire pattern. We will follow this convention, often using the word to refer to some "original" design element. We will use the word*image*to refer to each of the repeated copies of the motif that make up the design. You may wish to think of a motif as a rubber stamp and the images as the inked pictures. - An
*isometry*of an object or space is any contortion or movement of the object or space which doesen't change the distances between the points of that object or space. Isometric objects are congruent; you can turn one into the other by sliding and flipping, without stretching or bending or ripping it. - Two objects or figures are
*congruent*if there is an isometry taking one to the other.

If you're at a Macintosh with The Geometer's Sketchpad installed, you can experience an interactive version [GSP Help] of this illustration.

- A
*translation*is an isometry which is a shift of some specified direction and distance. - A
*rotation*is another isometry, determined by a center and an angle. - A
*reflection*is an isometry specified by a line of reflection, a.k.a. a mirror. - The
*product*, or*composition*, of two isometries is the isometry resulting from applying one and then the other in order. - A
*glide reflection*is the product of a reflection and a translation along the line of reflection. This produces a "footprint" pattern. - A
*symmetry*of a pattern or picture is any isometry that leaves the appearance of the pattern unchanged. For instance, a five pointed star can be rotated by seventy two degrees without changing its appearance.

Author: Chaim Goodman-Strauss, revised and edited by Heidi Burgiel

Comments to:
webmaster@geom.umn.edu

Created: Dec 7 1995 ---
Last modified: Jul 31 1996

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The Geometry Center
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