Translation Transform

Given a vector V and a point P. A vector can be specified by its direction and length. Translation (often a parallel translation) P' of P by V is the point such that PP' equals the vector V. In other words, P' is located at the distance from P equal to the length of V and in the same direction.

P' exists for any P. Let's write TV(P) = P'. If P' = TV(P), then P is the translation of P' by -V: P = T-V(P'), where -V is the vector of the same length as V, but pointing in the opposite direction. Formally,

  TVT-V = I,

where I is the identity transform. If V is a non-zero vector the for no point TV(P) = P, i.e., a nontrivial translation has no fixed points.

The translation transform TV applies to arbitrary shapes point-by-point. Each point of a given shape S is translated by V, and the collection of these translations is the translated image of S: S' = TV(S). To determine TV(S) when S is a polygon, suffice it to translate its vertices. This is exactly what has been done in the applet below.

On the other hand, if S' is known to be a translated image of S, then for any points P and Q in S, PP' = QQ'. Therefore, the translation that maps S on S' is uniquely determined by any pair of points P/P'.

In the applet, you can create polygons with a desired number of vertices, drag the vertices one at a time, or drag the polygon as a whole. Vectors of translations can also be dragged. They rotate if dragged near their endpoints, or translate if dragged nearer their midpoint.


This applet requires Sun's Java VM 2 which your browser may perceive as a popup. Which it is not. If you want to see the applet work, visit Sun's website at http://www.java.com/en/download/index.jsp, download and install Java VM and enjoy the applet.


What if applet does not run?

The following observations are noteworthy:

  1. Translation preserves the orientation. For example, if a polygon is traversed clockwise, its translated image is likewise traversed clockwise.

  2. Translation is isometry: a translation preserves distances.

  3. Translation preserves angles.

  4. Translation maps parallel lines onto parallel lines and, moreover, a line and its image are also parallel.

  5. Except for the trivial translation by a zero vector, translation have no fixed points. All lines parallel to the vector of a translation are fixed by the translation.

  6. Successive translations result in a translation. Moreover,

      TVTU = TV+U.

  7. The order of translations does not matter: any two translations commute. In fact, for two vectors U and V,

      TUTV = TVTU.

Here is a list of several problems that are solved with the help of translation:

  1. A Property of Rhombi
  2. A Property of the Line IO
  3. Bottles in a Wine Rack
  4. Building a Bridge
  5. Building Bridges
  6. Circles with Equal Collinear Chords
  7. Find a Common Chord of Given Length
  8. Join Circles by Given Segment
  9. Translated Triangles

Geometric Transformations

|Activities| |Contact| |Front page| |Contents| |Geometry| |Store|

Copyright © 1996-2017 Alexander Bogomolny

 62056046

Search by google: