An Interactive Program for Learning Symmetry Elements and Operations

Written by David E. Meyer and Andrew L. Sargent
Department of Chemistry, East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina 27858 USA

SymmetryApp© is a JAVA program designed to help students learn about symmetry elements and their operations, both of which are critical to a solid understanding of molecular symmetry and group theory. The program is not a tutorial. User input is required to define the symmetry elements and means are available to allow these elements to be positioned anywhere in a molecule. Once the user has defined a symmetry element, the program executes the symmetry operation and generates a graphics image that allows the user to see firsthand the consequence of their choice.

A brief review of this work has been published (J. Chem. Educ. 2007, 84, 1551-1552). Click here for a more thorough description of the program design.

Downloading information

SymmetryApp requires the JAVA runtime environment to be installed on your computer. Most modern PCs have this pre-installed, but in case it isn’t, it can be obtained from

Download the JAVA jar file

Download a library containing Cartesian coordinates for 35 molecules with a wide range of symmetry characteristics. For easiest access on a PC, download the zip file to your C drive, unzip it, and place it in a folder named SymmetryApp.

Download Library

Set your screen resolution to 1024×768 or better.

Users Guide