# Isometry

In mathematics, an **isometry** (or **congruence**, or **congruent transformation**) is a distance-preserving transformation between metric spaces, usually assumed to be bijective.^{[1]}

Given a metric space (loosely, a set and a scheme for assigning distances between elements of the set), an isometry is a transformation which maps elements to the same or another metric space such that the distance between the image elements in the new metric space is equal to the distance between the elements in the original metric space. In a two-dimensional or three-dimensional Euclidean space, two geometric figures are congruent if they are related by an isometry;^{[3]} the isometry that relates them is either a rigid motion (translation or rotation), or a composition of a rigid motion and a reflection.

Isometries are often used in constructions where one space is embedded in another space. For instance, the completion of a metric space *M* involves an isometry from *M* into *M'*, a quotient set of the space of Cauchy sequences on *M*. The original space *M* is thus isometrically isomorphic to a subspace of a complete metric space, and it is usually identified with this subspace. Other embedding constructions show that every metric space is isometrically isomorphic to a closed subset of some normed vector space and that every complete metric space is isometrically isomorphic to a closed subset of some Banach space.

An isometric surjective linear operator on a Hilbert space is called a unitary operator.

Let *X* and *Y* be metric spaces with metrics (e.g., distances) *d*_{X} and *d*_{Y}. A map *f* : *X* → *Y* is called an **isometry** or **distance preserving** if for any *a*,*b* ∈ *X* one has

An isometry is automatically injective;^{[1]} otherwise two distinct points, *a* and *b*, could be mapped to the same point, thereby contradicting the coincidence axiom of the metric *d*. This proof is similar to the proof that an order embedding between partially ordered sets is injective. Clearly, every isometry between metric spaces is a topological embedding.

A **global isometry**, **isometric isomorphism** or **congruence mapping** is a bijective isometry. Like any other bijection, a global isometry has a function inverse. The inverse of a global isometry is also a global isometry.

Two metric spaces *X* and *Y* are called **isometric** if there is a bijective isometry from *X* to *Y*. The set of bijective isometries from a metric space to itself forms a group with respect to function composition, called the **isometry group**.

A **path isometry** or **arcwise isometry** is a map which preserves the lengths of curves; such a map is not necessarily an isometry in the distance preserving sense, and it need not necessarily be bijective, or even injective. This term is often abridged to simply *isometry*, so one should take care to determine from context which type is intended.

**Theorem ^{[5]}^{[6]}** — Let

*A*:

*X*→

*Y*be a surjective isometry between normed spaces that maps 0 to 0 (Stefan Banach called such maps

**rotations**) where note that A is

*not*assumed to be a

*linear*isometry. Then A maps midpoints to midpoints and is linear as a map over the real numbers ℝ. If X and Y are complex vector spaces then A may fail to be linear as a map over ℂ.

By the Mazur–Ulam theorem, any isometry of normed vector spaces over **R** is affine.

An isometry of a manifold is any (smooth) mapping of that manifold into itself, or into another manifold that preserves the notion of distance between points. The definition of an isometry requires the notion of a metric on the manifold; a manifold with a (positive-definite) metric is a Riemannian manifold, one with an indefinite metric is a pseudo-Riemannian manifold. Thus, isometries are studied in Riemannian geometry.

A **local isometry** from one (pseudo-)Riemannian manifold to another is a map which pulls back the metric tensor on the second manifold to the metric tensor on the first. When such a map is also a diffeomorphism, such a map is called an **isometry** (or **isometric isomorphism**), and provides a notion of isomorphism ("sameness") in the category **Rm** of Riemannian manifolds.

A collection of isometries typically form a group, the isometry group. When the group is a continuous group, the infinitesimal generators of the group are the Killing vector fields.

The Myers–Steenrod theorem states that every isometry between two connected Riemannian manifolds is smooth (differentiable). A second form of this theorem states that the isometry group of a Riemannian manifold is a Lie group.

Riemannian manifolds that have isometries defined at every point are called symmetric spaces.