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Question: What does order of rotational symmetry mean? Is the order of rotational symmetry of a square 3 or 4? Does any shape have no order of rotational symmetry or is the order of rotational symmetry always at least 1 (i.e.. rotating the shape fully round to its original position)? 
 

Answer: When a shape is rotated about its centre, if it comes to rest in a position and looks exactly like the original, then it has rotational symmetry.

A shape like an equilateral triangle would therefore have an order of rotational symmetry of 3. The general rule for a regular polygon (shapes such as pentagons, heptagons, octagons etc. is, that the number of sides is the same as the number of lines of symmetry, which is also the same as the
rotational symmetry order). This means that a regular hexagon has 6 sides, 6 lines of symmetry and an order of rotational symmetry of 6.

Following from this, then a square, which is a regular polygon, has 4 sides, 4 lines of symmetry and an order of rotational symmetry of 4.

If a shape has rotational symmetry, it must have either line symmetry or point symmetry or both. For example, a five pointed star has 5 lines of symmetry and rotational symmetry of order 5, but does not have point symmetry. A parallelogram has no line of symmetry, but has rotational symmetry of order 2 and also point symmetry.

Only a shape which has line symmetry or point symmetry can have rotational symmetry. When there is point symmetry and also rotational symmetry, the order of the latter is even. For example, the letter 'S' has rotational symmetry of order 2, the regular hexagon of order 6.

On this basis, we would suggest that the letter 'F' does not have a rotational symmetry order as it does not have either line symmetry or point symmetry. It doesn't have a centre around which you could rotate it. Sounds weird, but given the definitions, we think this is the case.
 

 

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