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Trigonometry

# Trigonometry

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10/25/2010

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Trigonometry
"Trig" redirects here. For other uses, seeTrig (disambiguation).
TheCanadarm2robotic manipulator on theInternational Space Stationis operated by controlling the angles of its joints. Calculating the final position of the astronaut at the end of the armrequires repeated use of the trigonometric functions of those angles.All of thetrigonometric functionsof an angle
θ
can be constructed geometrically in terms of aunit circle centered at
O
.
Trigonometry
(fromGreek
"triangle" +
"measure")
is a branchof mathematicsthat studiestriangles, particularlyright triangles. Trigonometry deals with relationships between the sides and the angles of triangles and with thetrigonometric functions,which describe those relationships, as well as describing angles in general and the motionof wavessuch as sound and light waves.Trigonometry is usually taught insecondary schoolseither as a separate course or as part of aprecalculuscourse. It has applications in both pure mathematicsand inapplied mathematics, where it is essential in many branches of science and technology. A branch of trigonometry,calledspherical trigonometry, studies triangles onspheres, and is important inastronomyandnavigation.
History
Ancient EgyptianandBabylonian mathematicianslacked the concept of an angle measure, but they studied the ratios of the sides of similar triangles and discovered some properties of theseratios. AncientGreek mathematicianssuch asEuclidandArchimedesstudied the properties of  thechordof an angle and proved theorems that are equivalent to modern trigonometric formulae,although they presented them geometrically rather than algebraically. The modernsine functionwas first defined in the
and its properties were further documented bythe 5th centuryIndian mathematicianand astronomer Aryabhata.
These Indian works were

translated and expanded bymedieval Islamic mathematicians. By the 10th century, Islamicmathematicians were using all six trigonometric functions, had tabulated their values, and wereapplying them to problems inspherical geometry.At about the sametime,Chinesemathematicians developed trigonometry independently, although it was not amajor field of study for them. Knowledge of trigonometric functions and methods reachedEurope viaLatin translationsof the works of Persian and Arabic astronomerssuch asAl
One of the earliest works on trigonometry by a Europeanmathematician is
De Triangulis
by the 15th centuryGermanmathematicianRegiomontanus. Trigonometry was still so little known in 16th century Europe that Nicolaus Copernicusdevotedtwo chapters of
to explaining its basic concepts.OverviewIn this right triangle: sin
A
=
a
/
c
; cos
A
=
b
/
c
;tan
A
=
a
/
b
.If oneangleof a triangle is 90 degrees and one of the other angles is known, the third is therebyfixed, because the three angles of any triangle add up to 180 degrees. The two acute anglestherefore add up to 90 degrees: they arecomplementary angles. Theshapeof a right triangle is completely determined, up tosimilarity, by the angles. This means that once one of the other angles is known, theratiosof the various sides are always the same regardless of the overall sizeof the triangle. These ratios are given by the followingtrigonometric functionsof the knownangle
A
, where
a
,
b
and
c
refer to the lengths of the sides in the accompanying figure:The
sine
function (sin), defined as the ratio of the side opposite the angle to thehypotenuse.The
cosine
function (cos), defined as the ratio of the adjacent leg to the hypotenuse.The
tangent
function (tan), defined as the ratio of the opposite leg to the adjacent leg.The
hypotenuse
is the side opposite to the 90 degree angle in a right triangle; it is the longestside of the triangle, and one of the two sides adjacent to angle
A
. The
is the other side that is adjacent to angle
A
. The
opposite side
is the side that is opposite to angle
A
. Theterms
perpendicular
and
base
are sometimes used for the opposite and adjacent sidesrespectively. Many people find it easy to remember what sides of the right triangle are equal tosine, cosine, or tangent, by memorizing the word SOH-CAH-TOA (see belowunder Mnemonics).Thereciprocalsof these functions are named the
cosecant
(csc or cosec),
secant
(sec)and
cotangent
(cot), respectively. Theinverse functionsare called the
arcsine
,
arccosine
,and
arctangent
, respectively. There are arithmetic relations between these functions, which areknown astrigonometric identities.With these functions one can answer virtually all questions about arbitrary triangles by usingthelaw of sinesand thelaw of cosines.These laws can be used to compute the remaining angles and sides of any triangle as soon as two sides and an angle or two angles and a side or three sides

are known. These laws are useful in all branches of geometry, since every polygonmay bedescribed as a finite combination of triangles.

Graphing process of
y
= sin(
x
) using a unit circle.Graphing process of
y
=tan(
x
) using a unit circle.Graphing process of
y
=csc(
x
) using a unit circle.
Extending the definitions
Graphs of the functions sin(
x
) and cos(
x
), where the angle
x
is measured in radians.The above definitions apply to angles between 0 and 90 degrees (0 and π/2radians) only. Usingtheunit circle, one can extend them to all positive and negative arguments (seetrigonometric  function

). The trigonometric functions are periodic,with a period of 360 degrees or 2π radians.That means their values repeat at those intervals.The trigonometric functions can be defined in other ways besides the geometrical definitionsabove, using tools fromcalculusandinfinite series. With these definitions the trigonometric functions can be defined for complex numbers .The complex function
cis
is particularly usefulSeeEuler'sandDe Moivre'sformulas.
Mnemonics
A common use of mnemonicsis to remember facts and relationships in trigonometry. For example, the
sine
,
cosine
, and
tangent
ratios in a right triangle can be remembered byrepresenting them as strings of letters, as in SOH-CAH-TOA.
S
ine =
O
pposite ÷
H
ypotenuse
C
osine =
A
djacent ÷
H
ypotenuse
T
angent =
O
pposite ÷
A
djacentThe memorization of this mnemonic can be aided by expanding it into a phrase, such as"
S
ome
O
fficers
H
ave
C
urly
A
uburn
H
air
T
ill
O
ld
A
ge".
Any memorable phrase constructed of words beginning with the letters S-O-H-C-A-H-T-O-A will serve.
Calculating trigonometric functions
Trigonometric functions were among the earliest uses for mathematical tables. Such tables wereincorporated into mathematics textbooks and students were taught to look up values and howtointerpolatebetween the values listed to get higher accuracy.Slide ruleshad special scales for  trigonometric functions.Todayscientific calculatorshave buttons for calculating the main trigonometric functions (sin,cos, tan and sometimes cis) and their inverses. Most allow a choice of angle measurementmethods: degrees, radians and, sometimes,grad. Most computer  programming languagesprovide

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