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For the mechanical engineering and architecture usage, see isometric projection.

In mathematics, an isometry, isometric isomorphism or congruence mapping is a distance-preserving isomorphism between metric spaces. Geometric figures which can be related by an isometry are called congruent.

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.


The notion of isometry comes in two main flavors: global isometry and a weaker notion path isometry or arcwise isometry. Both are often called just isometry and one should guess from context which one is intended.

Let X and Y be metric spaces with metrics d_{X} and d_{Y}. A map f:X\to Y is called distance preserving if for any x,y\in X one has d_{Y}(f(x),f(y))=d_{X}(x,y). A distance preserving map is automatically injective.

A global isometry is a bijective distance preserving map. A path isometry or arcwise isometry is a map which preserves the lengths of curves (not necessarily bijective).

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


  • The map R\to R defined by x\mapsto |x| is a path isometry but not a global isometry.


  • Given a positive real number ε, an ε-isometry or almost isometry (also called a Hausdorff approximation) is a map f:X\to Y between metric spaces such that
    1. for x,x'\in X one has |d_{Y}(f(x),f(x'))-d_{X}(x,x')|<\epsilon , and
    2. for any point y\in Y there exists a point x\in X with d_{Y}(y,f(x))<\epsilon .
That is, an ε-isometry preserves distances to within ε and leaves no element of the codomain further than ε away from the image of an element of the domain. Note that ε-isometries are not assumed to be continuous.

See also

he:איזומטריה ja:等長写像 pl:Izometria ru:Изометрия