A dihedral group is the group of symmetries of a regular polygon, including both rotations and reflections. Here comes my question:

How can I show that rotations and reflections are the only symmetries of a regular polygon?

I have found no proof for such a statement when the dihedral groups are introduced in lots of textbooks. It might be a starting point to show first that an isometry (symmetry) on a regular polygon maps the vertices to vertices and then the center must be a fixed point of the isometry. But I get stuck with showing that reflections are the only possible isometries besides the rotations.


An isometry must fix the center of a polygon (thought of as a solid polygon) and so the only isometries of the plane which could induce a symmetry of the polygon are reflections, and rotations. (This assumes that we know the isometries of the plane are generated by translations, and reflections across lines through the origin)

  • $\begingroup$ So one might also need to show that the isometries of a regular polygon must be induced from those of the plane? $\endgroup$ – Jack Sep 3 '13 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose that needs to be proved, but I imagine it follows rather easily from the fact that isometries of the circle extend to isometries of the disk, extend to isometries of the plane. $\endgroup$ – Dan Rust Sep 3 '13 at 1:27

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