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Reflection symmetry

Reflection symmetry, line symmetry, mirror symmetry, mirror-image symmetry, is symmetry with respect to reflection. That is, a figure which does not change upon undergoing a reflection has reflectional symmetry.

In 2D there is a line/axis of symmetry, in 3D a plane of symmetry. An object or figure which is indistinguishable from its transformed image is called mirror symmetric. In conclusion, a line of symmetry splits the shape in half and those halves should be identical.

In formal terms, a mathematical object is symmetric with respect to a given operation such as reflection, rotation or translation, if, when applied to the object, this operation preserves some property of the object. The set of operations that preserve a given property of the object form a group. Two objects are symmetric to each other with respect to a given group of operations if one is obtained from the other by some of the operations (and vice versa).

The symmetric function of a two-dimensional figure is a line such that, for each perpendicular constructed, if the perpendicular intersects the figure at a distance 'd' from the axis along the perpendicular, then there exists another intersection of the shape and the perpendicular, at the same distance 'd' from the axis, in the opposite direction along the perpendicular.

Triangles with reflection symmetry are isosceles. Quadrilaterals with reflection symmetry are kites, (concave) deltoids, rhombi, and isosceles trapezoids. All even-sided polygons have two simple reflective forms, one with lines of reflections through vertices, and one through edges.

For an arbitrary shape, the axiality of the shape measures how close it is to being bilaterally symmetric. It equals 1 for shapes with reflection symmetry, and between 2/3 and 1 for any convex shape.

In certain contexts there is rotational as well as reflection symmetry. Then mirror-image symmetry is equivalent to inversion symmetry; in such contexts in modern physics the term parity or P-symmetry is used for both.

Animals that are bilaterally symmetric have reflection symmetry in the sagittal plane, which divides the body vertically into left and right halves, with one of each sense organ and limb pair on either side. Most animals are bilaterally symmetric, likely because this supports forward movement and streamlining.