What Does Translation Mean in Math?

tyndyra/E+/Getty Images

In mathematics, translation means moving an object from one location to another. It is a term often used in geometry. In translation, the object is moved without rotating, reflecting or resizing it.

Translation is a type of transformation in math. A transformation refers to the four various ways wherein the shape of a point, a line or an object is manipulated. The object’s initial shape and position is called the pre-image while the final position and shape of the manipulated object is called the image under the transformation. Aside from translation, other types of transformations include reflection, rotation and dilation.

In translating an object, every point of the object’s shape must move in the same direction and the same distance. The properties of translated objects are given below.

  • The pre-image and the image are congruent, which means that both are identical in shape and size except for their positions.
  • The line segment that links the vertex of the pre-image to the corresponding vertex in the image are parallel and congruent.

To translate an object simply means sliding it somewhere else, either in a side to side direction or an up and down movement. One way to easily recall how translation is done is to remember that “tranSLate means SLide”.