# What the heck is this paragraph saying?

1. Aug 11, 2011

### Miike012

What the heck is this paragraph saying?

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2. Aug 11, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Re: symmetry

In the first example, x + y + z, it's saying that if you swap, say, x and z, you get an different expression that has the same value.

IOW, x + y + z = z + y + x

In the second, bc + ca + ab, you can swap, say b for c, to get a new expression with the same value.
IOW, bc + ca + ab = cb + ba + ca.

bc = cb due to commutivity of multiplication, and ab = ba for the same reason. There's also some commutivity of addition going on, as ca + ab = ab + ca.

3. Aug 11, 2011

### Miike012

Re: symmetry

so its not talking about x, y, and origin symmetry?

4. Aug 12, 2011

### HallsofIvy

Re: symmetry

No, its is not. It is talking about interchanging the letter variables themselves:
3x+ 3y is "symmetric" in this sense but x+ 2y is not.

5. Aug 12, 2011

### Miike012

Re: symmetry

and x+ 2y is not symmetric because the x and y coefficients are not equal?

6. Aug 12, 2011

Re: symmetry

The type of symmetry being discussed here reminds me of binomial expansions.

$(x+y)^{4}=x^{4}+4x^{3}y+6x^{2}y^{2}+4xy^{3}+y^{4}$

Notice that the coefficients aren't the only cause of symmetry!

7. Aug 12, 2011

### Miike012

Re: symmetry

what do they mean by "symmetry?" what will knowing symmetry of an expression help me with?

8. Aug 12, 2011

Re: symmetry

If you can perform some type of transformation to an expression or equation (without murdering it!), then there is a relational symmetry. In other words, the output of a function does not vary when the arrangement of any or all of the variables within the function are changed.

I'm an amateur, though, so I'm sure HoI or Mark can put it more succinctly or correct anything I've said that is ambiguous, imprecise, or simply incorrect.

You will encounter situations where things can be assumed or proven because of symmetrical relationships, and it will often save you a lot of work!

9. Aug 17, 2011