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Published by Brent Koboroff
maths made easy
maths made easy

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Published by: Brent Koboroff on Aug 12, 2012
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Right Triangle Trigonometry

Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics involving the study of triangles, and has applications in fields such as engineering, surveying, navigation, optics, and electronics. Also the ability to use and manipulate trigonometric functions is necessary in other branches of mathematics, including calculus, vectors and complex numbers. Right-angled Triangles In a right-angled triangle the three sides are given special names. The side opposite the right angle is called the hypotenuse (h) – this is always the longest side of the triangle. The other two sides are named in relation to another known angle (or an unknown angle under consideration).

If this angle is known or under consideration



this side is called the opposite side because it is opposite the angle

This side is called the adjacent side because it is adjacent to or near the angle Trigonometric Ratios In a right-angled triangle the following ratios are defined sin θ = opposite side length o = hypotenuse length h cosineθ = adjacent side length a = hypotenuse length h

tangentθ =

opposite side length o = adjacent side length a

where θ is the angle as shown

These ratios are abbreviated to sinθ, cosθ, and tanθ respectively. A useful memory aid is Soh Cah Toa pronounced ‘so-car-tow-a’

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tan θ = opposite side adjacent side Substitute in the equation: (opposite side = b. Solve the equation for the unknown. Substitute values from given information.4 cm The known sides are the opposite side and the hypotenuse.6082 sin θ = opposite side = 13.7 sin θ = 0. The ratio that relates these two sides is the tangent ratio.4 tan 27° = (2) transpose to give θ In this triangle we know two sides and need to find the angle θ. The ratio that relates the opposite side and the hypotenuse is the sine ratio. 13. Examples Find the value of the indicated unknown (side length or angle) in each of the following diagrams. b 27o 42 In this problem we have an angle.6082.7cm. the opposite side and the adjacent side. 4. This means we need the angle whose sine is 0. Write the relevant equation.6082 from the calculator. or sin −1 0. Determine which ratio to use. ∴ θ = 42.4 sin θ = 19.90 Page 2 of 5 .7 cm opposite side hypotenuse 13. 19.Unknown sides and angles in right angled triangles can be found using these ratios. and θ = 27o) b 42 b = 42 × tan 27° b = 21. 2. 3. (1) Method 1. hypotenuse = 19. adjacent side = 42.4cm.

64 = 7.2 Page 3 of 5 .7 2 + x 2 x 2.29 + x 2 ∴10. h h 2 = a 2 + b 2 b a Pythagoras’ Theorem can be used to find a side length of a right angled triangle given the other two side lengths Example 1 find the value of h h =6 +8 ∴ h 2 = 100 ∴ h = 10 2 2 2 ∴ h 2 = 36 + 64 6 cm h Pythagoras’ Theorem for this triangle square root of 100 8 cm Note Measurements must be in the same units and the unknown length will be in these same units so h will be 10 cm Example 2 find the value of x 4.7 ∴17.Pythagoras’ Thoerem Pythagoras’ Theorem states that in a right angled triangle the square of the length of the hypotenuse side (h).35 = x 2 ∴ x = 3.2 2 = 2.22 4. is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.

(a) (b) 35o 4.Exercise Find the value of the indicated unknown (side length or angle) in each of the following diagrams.71 mm a 62o a 14 cm (c) 4.2 cm 20.5 α (e) 500 (f) b 34 27o 42 a Page 4 of 5 .8 cm (d) θ z 6.2 6.

tan 60o = 3 2 2 1 3 1 sin 30 o = .4 (f) 47. cos 30 o = . 1 1 .8cm. 45o and 60o can be found.6cm (c) z=7.7mm (b) 6. tan 45 o = 1 2 2 3 1 sin 60o = .80 (e) 44. α=37. tan 30 o = 2 2 3 sin 45 o = Answers Exercise (a) 2. sin.70 (d) 18.Special angles and exact values There are some special angles that enable us to obtain exact solutions for the functions and tan. exact answers for sine. cosine and tangent of the angles 30o. and apply the basic trigonometry rules for sine. cosine and tangent – sine = opposite hypotenuse cosine = adjacent hypotenuse tangent = opposite adjacent 60o 45o 2 2 1 30o 45o 1 3 1 From these two triangles. cos 60o = . cos If we take the two triangles below. cos 45 o = .1 Page 5 of 5 .

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