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Geometric transformations: FAQ

Frequently asked questions about geometric transformations

What are geometric transformations?

Geometric transformations are ways of moving or changing a shape on a coordinate plane. Four common types are translations, rotations, reflections, and dilations.

What's the difference between a translation and a rotation?

A translation moves a shape up, down, left, or right. A rotation, on the other hand, turns the shape around a fixed point.

What's the difference between a reflection and a dilation?

A reflection flips a shape over a line, while a dilation makes a shape bigger or smaller by a certain factor.

What are some properties and definitions we should know about transformations?

There are a few key vocabulary words and properties to keep in mind. For example, congruent shapes are exactly the same size and shape, while similar shapes have the same shape but may be different sizes.
Some transformations — like reflections, rotations, and translations — preserve congruence. But dilations do not preserve congruence, since a dilation changes the size of a figure.

Where are transformations used in the real world?

Transformations are all around us! For example, in art, artists might use reflections to create symmetry. In architecture or engineering, rotations and dilations might be used to create scale drawings or models.

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