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What is Asymmetry in Math? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Emily Hume

Emily is a Reading Specialist and Literacy coach in a public elementary school with a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Asymmetry is all around us and can be found in math, too! In this lesson, you will learn what it means to have symmetry as well as the definition of asymmetry and how to recognize whether an image is asymmetrical or not.

What is Asymmetry?

Many plants and animals have symmetry, which is a mirror image on opposite sides of a dividing line. For example, if you drew a line down the center of your face, you would have the same things on each side: one eye, half a nose, half a mouth, one ear on each side, etc. If you could fold your face on that line, you'd be able to match up both sides perfectly!

Look at the picture of the crab! It does not have symmetry, so we say it has asymmetry. If you folded the picture on the white line, the crab's claws would not match up because it has one big one and one small one. If you folded the picture on the green line, it would not match up because the crab has eyes on top, but not on bottom. This crab has asymmetry!

Asymmetrical Crab with Lines
Asymmetrical Crab

Asymmetry in Math

There are many places you can find asymmetry! In math, you can find it in shapes, pictures, patterns, or even letters. If you can look at it, you can figure out if it has symmetry or not! Look at the number 100. If you printed that number on a large sheet of paper and folded it vertically (left side folding over to meet the right side), it would not match up evenly because the 1 would meet a 0 instead of another 1. It is asymmetrical this way because it does not have symmetry. But - try folding it horizontally (top side folding down to meet the bottom side), and what happens? The 1 folds perfectly in half, and so do the zeros, top to bottom. So when you fold it this way, it does have symmetry!

100 with Symmetry and Asymmetry
100 with Symmetry and Asymmetry

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