Asymmetry is colloquially the opposite of symmetry. From Asymmetry is only present when there is also symmetrical shapes in the respective area.


In mathematics, a relation that does not satisfy the condition of symmetry, not called symmetric relation, and such, if they are also fulfilled the conditions of asymmetry, referred to as asymmetric relation.

Be distinguished from the concept of antisymmetry; also an anti-symmetric relation can not be symmetrical.


In mechanics asymmetry often brings disadvantages, for example, unbalanced load by external forces. In construction, it also seeks often to avoid unbalanced designs. For example, the effects of earthquakes, but also from wind forces to a balanced high-rise buildings are somewhat lower, and this property is especially important in the construction of foundations.

But asymmetry is intentionally made ​​as the mechanical eccentric, in certain applications of the law of the lever or the passing beam of car headlights for some applications.

Communications Engineering

In the jargon of communications technology, the unbalanced signal transmission is often referred to briefly as " asymmetric" or " unbalanced ". For example, is meant by asymmetrical cord cable for unbalanced signal transmission.


In the cryptography encryption systems in which both sides of the transmitter and receiver, the same key will need to be symmetric. In contrast, there are encryption schemes in which the two sides use different keys that asymmetric cryptosystems.


In chemistry, speaks at the chiral ( optically active ) molecules of asymmetric atoms (better: stereogenic centers), especially in carbon compounds. In the so-called chirality, for example, has one carbon atom four different substituents. You can use the Fischer- rules or by the CIP system to assign such organic molecules unique names that describe the spatial (three-dimensional ) structure clearly.


In art asymmetry is often more appealing than mirror-like resemblance. So a painting or photo often appears flat when the main subject is placed exactly in the middle. Also a diagonal in the foreground enlivens almost every graphic, is how often to notice of linoleic or woodcuts.

Even the stage or in music more attention or voltage is achieved if the structure is not exactly mirror symmetry.

Economic Theory

The goal of private or commercial sale, it is either to make a profit or avoid possible losses. This was primarily due Asymmetric information using the psychology of selling is sought in the communication with the potential customers. The user should only appear to have the choice between the best alternatives offered by the provider. Subject to asymmetric information representation are regularly advertising, the sales pitch and the contract negotiation.

Social sciences

In communicating an asymmetric communication is given when the call parties are not equal. Example: conflict of interest between a supervisor and a subordinate employee.

Comparisons: Paul Watzlawick | Cybernetics

Linguistics / semiotics

Even in linguistics is much debate about the asymmetric nature of linguistic signs. Cf SIKarcevskij, you you assymétrique dualisme signe linguistique, in: Znakolog 6-7 (1994 /95), Trier 1996, 19-26 ( from the French by Henry Pfandl under the title: From the asymmetric dualism of the linguistic sign )


In general, for many subjects in art or in the design of facades, displays, gardens and so on is not a symmetrical layout is best, but one that comes close to the golden ratio ( approximately 5:8 ). Sometimes this is also true in the natural sciences or sociology.

Pictures of Asymmetry