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Sine and Cosine Rules and the Area Formulae

The sine and cosine rules and area formulae
1
are equations that relate the
lengths of sides, area and angles of triangle using the sin and cosine functions
2
.
Let the triangle have sides of length a, b and c, with the angles opposite each side
having angles of A, B and C.









Sine Rule

sin
=

sin
=

sin


To use the sine rule either two sides with one of their opposite angles are given
or two angles and one of their opposite sides.



















1
Mathcentre Triangle Formulae - Guide : Exercises
2
Trigonometry
a
b
c
B
C
A
Example

Determine the angles A and C and the length of side c.


3cm
5cm C
A

25 c



Using the sine rule it follows that
3
sin25
=
5
sin
= 7.099.

Hence = 44.78. Since the internal angles of a triangle have the sum of
180, then = 110.22.

Using the sine rule it follows that

sin110
= 7.099.

Hence = 6.67cm.









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Cosine Rule

2
=
2
+
2
2

Alternatively:

2
=
2
+
2
2

2
=
2
+
2
2

To use the rule two either all three side lengths need to be known, or two sides
and the angle between them.
































16 = 9 +4 12 cos
Example

A triangle has sides of length 2cm, 3cm and 4cm. Find the internal angles.


B

4cm
2cm

A C
3cm

We have a=4cm, b=3cm, c=2cm. Any of the formulae above can be used to
progress with the solution, so we will work from the first one:

4
2
= 3
2
+2
2
23 2 cos .
Hence

Hence
cos = 0.25 and A=104.478.

To find another internal angle we may use either the sine or cosine rule. Using
the sine rule

sin
=

sin
gives
4
sin 104.478
=
3
sin
.
Hence
sin =
3
4
sin104.478 = 0.726 and B= 46.567.

Since all the internal angles sum to 180 then C=28.955.

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Area Formula

For the same general triangle the area of the triangle can be determined by any
one of the following formulae

area =
1
2
sin =
1
2
sin =
1
2
sin .


Example

A triangle has sides of length 2cm, 3cm and 4cm and the angle A (opposite the
4cm side) is 104.478
o
. Find the area.



area =
1
2
sin =
1
2
23sin(104.478
o
)=2.904 .