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Trigonometry Realms

sin(x)
Overview
Quick view of definitions and graphs of
trigonometric functions.
Introduction
Detailed explanation relating the basic
trigonometric functions to the right
triangle.
Multiple choice problems concerning introductory
trigonometry.
Common Angles in a Circle
Values in degrees and radians for several usual
angles from 0 to 360 degrees, (or
0 to 2Pi radians).
Point Definitions for Trig Functions
Definitions of trig functions based on an (x, y)
point on the terminal side of the
input angle to the function.
Degrees, Minutes, and Seconds
How to go back and forth between a decimal
number representation of an angles
measurement and a representation of the
measurement in degrees, minutes, and
seconds.

The Radian
Often in mathematics angles are measured in
radians rather than in degrees. This
section explains the radian and its relationship to the
degree.
Solvers
Right Triangle Solvers
SineThe Graph of the Sine Function
The Right Triangle and the Sine Function
Relative to angle A, this is
how the sides of a right
triangle would be labeled.
The sine of angle A equals the length of the
opposite side divided by the length of the
hypotenuse.
We could write:
sin(A) = opp / hyp
So, for example, if the length of the opposite side
was 6 and the length of the
hypotenuse was 10, then we would write:
sin(A) = 6 / 10
sin(A) = 0.6000
CosineThe Graph of the Cosine Function

Above is the graph of the cosine function.


The Right Triangle and the Cosine Function
Relative to angle A, this is
how the sides of a right
triangle would be labeled.
The cosine of angle A equals the length of the
adjacent side divided by the length of the
hypotenuse.
We could write:
cos(A) = adj / hyp
So, for example, if the length of the adjacent side
was 8 and the length of the
hypotenuse was 10, then we would write:
cos(A) = 8 / 10
cos(A) = 0.8000
TangentThe Graph of the Tangent Function
The Right Triangle and the Tangent Function
Relative to angle A, this is
how the sides of a right
triangle would be labeled.
The tangent of angle A equals the length of the
opposite side divided by the length of
the adjacent side.
We could write:

tan(A) = opp / adj


So, for example, if the length of the opposite side
was 6 and the length of the adjacent
side was 8, then we would write:
tan(A) = 6 / 8
tan(A) = 0.7500
CosecantThe Graph of the Cosecant Function
The Right Triangle and the Cosecant Function
Relative to angle A, this is
how the sides of a right
triangle would be labeled.
The cosecant of angle A equals the length of the
hypotenuse divided by the length of
the opposite side.
We could write:
csc(A) = hyp / opp
So, for example, if the length of the hypotenuse
was 10 and the length of the opposite
side was 6, then we would write:
csc(A) = 10 / 6
csc(A) = 1.6667
SecantThe Graph of the Secant Function
The Right Triangle and the Secant Function

Relative to angle A, this is


how the sides of a right
triangle would be labeled.
The secant of angle A equals the length of the
hypotenuse divided by the length of the
adjacent side.
We could write:
sec(A) = hyp / adj
So, for example, if the length of the hypotenuse
was 10 and the length of the adjacent
side was 8, then we would write:
sec(A) = 10 / 8
sec(A) = 1.2500
CotangentThe Graph of the Cotangent Function
The Right Triangle and the Cotangent Function
Relative to angle A, this is
how the sides of a right
triangle would be labeled.
The cotangent of angle A equals the length of the
adjacent side divided by the length of
the opposite side.
We could write:
cot(A) = adj / opp

So, for example, if the length of the adjacent side


was 8 and the length of the opposite
side was 6, then we would write:
cot(A) = 8 / 6
cot(A) = 1.3333
Trigonometry and Right Triangles
First of all, think of a trigonometry function as you
would any general function. That is, a
value goes in and a value comes out. If that does not
seem quite clear, go see The
Definition of a Function and What is f(x)?
The names of the three primary trigonometry
functions are:
sine
cosine
tangent
These are abbreviated this way:
sine.....sin
cosine.....cos
tangent.....tan
So, instead of writing f(x) , we will write:
sin(x)
cos(x)
tan(x)

Often, in general mathematics notation the


parentheses are dropped from the above
examples. Therefore, the notation will often look
like this:
sin x
cos x
tan x
In Zona Land we will keep the parentheses.
Now, as usual, the input value is x. This input value
usually represents an angle. For the
sine function, when the input value is 30 degrees, the
output value is 0.5. We would write
that statement this way:
0.5 = sin(30 )
Below is a listing of several popular input and output
values for the three main
trigonometry functions. You do not have work at
memorizing this table. After you use
trigonometry for a while, these values will be
remembered quite easily.
0.0000 = sin(0 ) 1.0000 = cos(0 ) 0.0000 = tan(0 )
0.5000 = sin(30 ) 0.8660 = cos(30 ) 0.5773 =
tan(30 )
0.7071 = sin(45 ) 0.7071 = cos(45 ) 1.000 = tan(45
)

0.8660 = sin(60 ) 0.5000 = cos(60 ) 1.7320 =


tan(60 )
1.0000 = sin(90 ) 0.0000 = cos(90 ) +infinity =
tan(90 )
At this point our central issues will revolve around
these questions:
Where do these numbers come from?
What do these numbers mean?
Why, for example, is the cosine of 30 degrees equal
to 0.8660?
The input value for these trigonometric functions is
an angle. That angle could be
measured in degrees or radians. Here we will
consider only input angles measured in
degrees from 0 degrees to 90 degrees. This input
value appears within the parentheses
throughout the above table.
The output value for these trigonometric functions is
a pure number. That is, it has no
unit. This output value appears to the left of the
equal sign throughout the above table.
There are several ways to understand why a certain
input angle produces a certain output
value. At first, the most important manner of
understanding this is tied to right triangles.

All of the trigonometric values for angles between 0


degrees and 90 degrees can be
understood by considering this diagram:
We will be concerned angle A. Notice that the sides
of the triangle are labeled
appropriately opposite side and adjacent side
relative to angle A. The hypotenuse is
not considered opposite or adjacent to the angle A.
We will also be concerned with length of the three
sides. For this discussion we will call
the length of the opposite side simply the
opposite. Similarly, the other two lengths
will be called adjacent and hypotenuse.
The value for the sine of angle A is defined as the
value that you get when you divide the
opposite side by the hypotenuse. This can be written:
sin(A) = opposite / hypotenuse
Or simply:
sin(A) = opp / hyp
Or, even more simply:
sin(A) = o / h
Suppose we measure the lengths of the sides of this
triangle. Here are some realistic
values:
This would mean that:

sin(A) = opposite / hypotenuse = 4.00 cm / 7.21 cm


= 0.5548
Or simply:
sin(A) = 0.5548
Now for the other two trig functions.
The value for the cosine of angle A is defined as the
value that you get when you divide
the adjacent side by the hypotenuse. This can be
written:
cos(A) = adjacent / hypotenuse
Or:
cos(A) = adj / hyp
Or:
cos(A) = a / h
Using the above measured triangle, this would mean
that:
cos(A) = adjacent / hypotenuse = 6.00 cm / 7.21 cm
= 0.8322
Or simply:
cos(A) = 0.8322
The value for the tangent of angle A is defined as the
value that you get when you divide
the opposite side by the adjacent side. This can be
written:
tan(A) = opposite / adjacent

Or:
tan(A) = opp / adj
Or:
tan(A) = o / a
Using the above measured triangle, this would mean
that:
tan(A) = opposite / adjacent = 4.00 cm / 6.00 cm =
0.6667
Or simply:
tan(A) = 0.6667
The angle A in the above triangle is actually very
close to 33.7 degrees. So, we would
say:
0.5548 = sin(33.7)
0.8322 = cos(33.7)
0.6667 = tan(33.7)
So, suppose that you wanted to know the
trigonometry values for 47.5 degrees? You
could carefully draw a right triangle using a ruler
and protractor that had an angle equal
to 47.5 degrees in the position of angle A. Then, you
could carefully measure the sides.
Lastly you could divide the appropriate sides to find
the values for the three trigonometric
functions. You would find that:

0.7373 = sin(47.5)
0.6755 = cos(47.5)
1.0913 = tan(47.5)
Someone has already done this, in a way, for all the
possible angles. All the input angles
and output values are listed in tables called trig
tables. They look like this:
Angle sin cos tan
0.0 0.0000 1.0000 0.0000
0.5 0.0087 0.9999 0.0087
1.0 0.0174 0.9998 0.0174
And so on...
These let you look up the trigonometric values for
any angle. Calculators and computers,
of course, will let you do the same.
Here is a demonstration that shows you these trig
calculations for several angles. Use the
slider to adjust the size of the angle. Notice how the
values are calculated for each trig
function depending upon the lengths of the sides of
the triangle.
Below is again the triangle from the above diagrams,
except now the other acute angle, B,
is marked. Also marked are the sides that are
adjacent and opposite to angle B.

Here are the three trig functions for angle B:


sin(B) = opposite / hypotenuse = 6.00 cm / 7.21 cm
= 0.8322
cos(B) = adjacent / hypotenuse = 4.00 cm / 7.21 cm
= 0.5548
tan(B) = opposite / adjacent = 6.00 cm / 4.00 cm =
1.5000
If you look carefully you will notice that the sine of
angle B is the same value we
calculated above for the cosine of angle A. You
should also notice that the cosine of
angle B is equal to previous calculation for the sine
of angle A.
This is because the opposite side for angle B is the
adjacent side for angle A, and because
the adjacent side for angle B is the opposite side for
angle A.
This is demonstrated in the following diagram:
We could summarize this relationship this way:
sin(A) = As opposite / hypotenuse = 4.00 cm / 7.21
cm = 0.5548
cos(B) = Bs adjacent / hypotenuse = 4.00 cm / 7.21
cm = 0.5548
cos(A) = As adjacent / hypotenuse = 6.00 cm / 7.21
cm = 0.8322

sin(B) = Bs opposite / hypotenuse = 6.00 cm / 7.21


cm = 0.8322
Now, angle A and B form a pair of complementary
angles. That is, their measurements
add up to 90 degrees. This is because the
measurement of the interior angles for any
triangle must sum to 180 degrees, and in this triangle
90 of those degrees are taken up by
the right angle, so that leaves 90 degrees remaining
from the total of 180 to be split up
between angle A and B.
So, here we notice that the sine of an angle is equal
to the cosine of its complement, and
that the cosine of an angle is equal to the sine of its
complement.
Also, we will take note of the relationship between
the tangents of the complementary
angles A and B. The tangent of angle A is equal to
the reciprocal, or inverse, of the
tangent of angle B, and, likewise, the tangent of
angle B is equal to the reciprocal of the
tangent of its complement, angle A. This is
summarized in the following table:
tan(A) = As opposite / As adjacent = 4.00 cm /
6.00 cm = 0.6667

tan(B) = Bs opposite / Bs adjacent = 6.00 cm / 4.00


cm = 1.5000
Here is an easy way to remember these relationships
for trig functions and the right
triangle. Just write down this mnemonic:
SOH - CAH - TOA
It is pronounced so - ka - toe - ah.
The SOH stands for Sine of an angle is Opposite
over Hypotenuse.
The CAH stands for Cosine of an angle is Adjacent
over Hypotenuse.
The TOA stands for Tangent of an angle is
Opposite over Adjacent.
What is f(x) ?
Common Angles Around a Circle
The circle below can be thought of as being divided
into angles that are integer multiples
of 30, 45, 60, and 90 degree angles. Click one of the
points on the circle to see the angle
and its measurement in both degrees and radians.
See notes below.
The angles marked on this circle represent common
angles that are often used in
introductory geometry and trigonometry problems.

Try figuring out the angle measurement before you


click on the point. Then use this
applet to check your value.
All of the angles will be shown as arcs when they
are drawn. You should notice that all of
these angles are in standard position.
This Java applet will not print the value for pi as a
Greek letter. Instead, it is printed as
Pi. This, of course, approximately equals the value
3.14.
Trig Function Point Definitions
Quick Instructions:
The above applet starts with the sine function
active. Any of the six trigonometric
functions can be activated by choosing the
appropriate radio button at the top of
the applet.
The large square graph on the left is the (x, y)
coordinate plane. It extends from 10.0 to +10.0 along the x-axis and the y-axis.
The upper right rectangular graph shows the graph
of the currently active trig
function. For example, when the sine function is
active, this graph shows the

sin(a) vs. a, where a represents the angle.


Horizontally, this graph has a domain
from 0 radians to 2pi radians with markers every
pi/2 radians. Vertically, the
range of this graph runs from -2.0 to +2.0 for the
sine and cosine functions, and it
runs from -5.0 to +5.0 for the tangent, cotangent,
secant and cosecant functions.
Vertical marking occur every unit distance.
The lower right rectangular area shows the
calculation for the currently active trig
function at the current (x, y) point on the left graph.
When the sine function radio button is selected,
click somewhere on the left (x, y)
graph. Notice:
o The (x, y) coordinates are presented above the
selected point.
o The angle whose terminal side goes through this
(x, y) point is drawn. Its
value is presented in the upper right corner of this (x,
y) graph.
o The relevant quantities necessary for the sine
calculation are drawn on the
graph, (the y distance and the radius in this case).
The values for these

quantities are presented near their graphic


representations.
o The upper right hand graph shows the current
function, i. e., the sine
function. The current input angle and the current
output value for this
function are presented.
o In the lower right rectangle of the applet the value
for the current trig
function at the current angle is calculated using the
the relevant quantities
from the (x, y) graph.
All values are rounded to two decimal places.
Certainly more precise values for
the trig functions are available elsewhere. This
applet, though, is not meant to be a
calculator. It is meant to demonstrate the
interrelationships of several
trigonometric concepts.
Try different (x, y) positions and different trig
functions.
Further Discussion:
This material explains the definitions of the six
trigonometric functions in terms of an (x,

y) point located on the terminal side of the input


angle. You should be familiar with:
The (x, y) coordinate plane.
How to find the distance from the origin to an (x,
y) point.
The graphs of the trig functions.
Angles in standard position.
Radian measure for angles.
The six trigonometric functions, (sine, cosine,
tangent, cotangent, secant and cosecant),
are usually thought to accept an angle as input and
output a pure number. For the
purposes of the definitions this angle is to be placed
in standard position. We will be
concerned with any (x, y) point located on the
terminal side of this angle. These
definitions are based on such an (x, y) point.
These definitions also use the distance from the
origin to the (x, y) point. This distance
will be referred to as r and can be calculated like
this:
The six definitions are:
sin(angle) = y/r
cos(angle) = x/r
tan(angle) = y/x (x not equal to zero)

csc(angle) = r/y (y not equal to zero)


sec(angle) = r/x (x not equal to zero)
cot(angle) = x/y (y not equal to zero)
So, for example, the point (5, 7) is on the terminal
side of an angle in standard position
which has a measure of about 0.95 radians (about 54
degrees):
The distance from the origin to the point (5, 7) can
be calculated this way (approximate
result given):
Therefore, the six trigonometric function values for
this angle can be calculated as
follows (approximate results given):
sin(0.95) = y/r = 7/8.6 = 0.81
cos(0.95) = x/r = 5/8.6 = 0.58
tan(0.95) = y/x = 7/5 = 1.4
csc(0.95) = r/y = 8.6/7 = 1.2
sec(0.95) = r/x = 8.6/5 = 1.7
cot(0.95) = x/y = 5/7 = 0.71
In all of the above calculations approximate results
were given. Of course, if you are
doing more careful and important work you would
use measurements and calculations of
higher significance.

The definitions given here for the six trigonometric


functions are more powerful than the
right triangle definitions given in the introduction to
trigonometry section. The right
triangle definitions are only good for angles up to
pi/2 radians (90 degrees). These trig
definitions based upon an (x, y) point on the
terminal side of an angle are good for angles
of any measurement, positive or negative.
Degrees, Minutes, Seconds
There are several ways to measure the size of an
angle. One way is to use units of
degrees. (Radian measure is another way.)
In a complete circle there are three hundred and
sixty degrees.
An angle could have a measurement of 35.75
degrees. That is, the size of the angle in this
case would be thirty-five full degrees plus seventyfive hundredths, or three fourths, of an
additional degree. Notice that here we are expressing
the measurement as a decimal
number. Using decimal numbers like this one can
express angles to any precision - to
hundredths of a degree, to thousandths of a degree,
and so on.

There is another way to state the size of an angle,


one that subdivides a degree using a
system different than the decimal number example
given above. The degree is divided
into sixty parts called minutes. These minutes are
further divided into sixty parts called
seconds. The words minute and second used in this
context have no immediate
connection to how those words are usually used as
amounts of time.
In a full circle there are 360 degrees.
Each degree is split up into 60 parts, each part being
1/60 of a degree. These
parts are called minutes.
Each minute is split up into 60 parts, each part being
1/60 of a minute. These
parts are called seconds.
The size of an angle could be stated this way: 40
degrees, 20 minutes, 50 seconds.
There are symbols that are used when stating angles
using degrees, minutes, and seconds.
Those symbols are show in the following table.
Symbol for degree:
Symbol for minute:
Symbol for second:

So, the angle of 40 degrees, 20 minutes, 50


seconds is usually written this way:
How could you state the above as an angle using
common decimal notation? The angle
would be this many degrees, (* means times.):
40 + (20 * 1/60) + (50 * 1/60 * 1/60)
That is, we have 40 full degrees, 20 minutes - each
1/60 of a degree, and 50 seconds each 1/60 of 1/60 of a degree.
Work that out and you will get a decimal number of
degrees. Its 40.34722...
Going the other way is a bit more difficult. Suppose
we start with 40.3472 degrees. Can
we express that in units of degrees, minutes, and
seconds?
Well, first of all there are definitely 40 degrees full
degrees. That leaves 0.3472 degrees.
So, how many minutes is 0.3472 degrees? Well, how
many times can 1/60 go into
0.3472? Heres the same question: What is 60 times
0.3472? Its 20.832. So, there are 20
complete minutes with 0.832 of a minute remaining.
How many seconds are in the last 0.832 minutes.
Well, how many times can 1/60 go into

0.832, or what is 60 times 0.832? Its 49.92, or


almost 50 seconds.
So, weve figured that 40.3472 degrees is almost
exactly equal to 40 degrees, 20 minutes,
50 seconds.
(The only reason we fell a bit short of 50 seconds is
that we really used a slightly smaller
angle in this second half of the calculation
explanation. In the original angle, 40.34722...
degrees, the decimal repeats the last digit of 2
infinitely, so, the original angle is a bit
bigger than 40.3472.)
The Radian
The word radian describes a certain size of an angle.
In the Java animation below the blue
pie slice shape demonstrates an angle of one radian.
Notice that for an angle of one radian
the arc length along the edge of the circle is equal in
length to the radius. Read the details
below...
Usually, a person first learns how to measure the
size of an angle using degrees. There
are, of course, 360 degrees all the way around a
circle.

The degree, however, turns out to be not a very


mathematical way of measuring angles.
Perhaps the degree was originally created as
approximately the angle which the Earth
goes through per day as it orbits the Sun, since there
are about 360 days in the year.
The radian is used much more than the degree in
higher mathematics for measuring
angles.
A radian is defined this way:
If you have a circle with an angle whose vertex is
at the center of that circle...
And if that angle is of such a size that the amount
of the circumference of the
circle which that angle intercepts has an arc length
equal to the length of the
radius...
Then that angle has a measurement of one radian.
Heres another way to say it:
A central angle to a circle has a size of one radian if
it subtends an arc length on the circle
equal in length to the radius.
In other words, if you could pick up the radius of a
certain circle like it were a plastic rod

and bend it around the circumference of that circle,


then that bent radius length would
touch the sides of a central angle which had a
measurement of one radian. Look at the
following picture and then go back and look at the
animation.
One thing to understand about a radian is that it is
bigger than a degree. In fact:
1 radian = 57.2957 degrees
1 degree = 0.0174532 radians
The above values are to six significant figures,
truncated, not rounded. If you want to
know the exact size of the radian in terms of
degrees, take 360 and divide it by 2 times pi.
That number is how many degrees there are in a
radian.
What is the reasoning behind these values? It works
this way:
How many times can you trace an arc length equal to
the size of the radius as you move
around the circumference of a circle? Well, heres
the formula for the circumference of a
circle:
C is the circumference, and r is the radius.

Looks like there are two pi radii around the


circumference of a circle, or about 2 times
3.14, i.e., about 6.28, radii around the circumference
of a circle. Each one of these radius
lengths would designate one radian, so there are
about 6.28 radians in a full circle. The
following diagram shows this:
Therefore, there are 2 pi radians in a full circle.
We also know that there are 360 degrees in a circle.
So, there are 360 degrees per 2 pi radians. Dividing
360 by 2 pi give us the value of about
57.2957 degrees per radian. A radian is equal to
57.2957 degrees.
Also, by dividing 2 pi radians by 360 degrees we get
about 0.0174532 radians per degree.
A degree is equal to 0.0174532 radians.
In mathematics if you state the size of an angle as a
pure number, without the degree
unit marker after it, then the angle is taken to be in
radians. So, if the angle in question
is named A, and if someone were to write down:
A=4
Then that would mean that angle A has a
measurement of 4 radians and not 4 degrees.
Trigonometric Functions - Right Triangle Solvers

Here is a group of solvers that work with the


following right triangles.
In each of the above diagrams the acute angles of the
right triangle are named angle D
and angle E. The right angle is not named. The two
sides, or legs, of the triangle have
lengths named d and e. The length of the hypotenuse
is named f.
In each case you will be starting with known values
for two parts of the right triangle. For
example, in the first triangle you are starting with
known values for angle D and side
length d. You are to create these initial known
values.
In each case you are to find the other parts of the
right triangle. For example, in the first
triangle you are to find values for angle E and the
lengths of sides d and e and the length
of the hypotenuse f.