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Trigonometric Functions:

A Unit Circle Approach

The Unit Circle

Definition. The unit circle is the circle of radius 1 centered at the origin in the -plane.
Its equation is 2 + 2 = 1.

Example 1. Show that the point (

3 6
, )
3 3

is on the unit circle. (This is easy! You just need to show

that the point satisfies the equation of the unit circle, that is, 2 + 2 = 1.)

Terminal Points on the Unit Circle

Suppose is a real number. Lets mark off a distance along the unit circle, starting at
the point (1,0) and moving in a counterclockwise direction if is positive or in a clockwise
direction if is negative.

In this we arrive at a point (, ) on the unit circle. The point (, ) obtained in this
way is called the terminal point determined by the real number .

The circumference of the unit circle is = 2 = 2(1) = 2. So if a point starts at


(1,0) and moves counterclockwise all the way around the unit circle and returns to (1,0),
it travels a distance of 2. To move halfway around the circle, it travels a distance of ___. To
move a quarter of the distance around the circle, it travels a distance of ___. Where does the
point end up when it travels these distances along the circle?

Terminal points determined by =

, ,
2

3
2

, 2.

9 7

Remark. Different values of can determine the same terminal point, e.g. ,
4

Example 2. Find the terminal point on the unit circle determined by each real number . (a) =

3 (b) = (c) =

Terminal points for some special values of .

Example 3. Find the terminal point determined by each given real number . (a) =
(c) =

(b) =

3
4

The Reference Number

Definition. Let be a real number. The reference number associated with is the
shortest distance along the unit circle between the terminal point determined by and the axis.

Remark. Since the reference number is a distance, it is always nonzero (zero or positive).

Example 4. Find the reference number for each value of . (a) =

= 5.80

5
6

(b) =

7
4

(c) =

2
3

(d)

USING REFERENCE NUMBERS TO FIND TERMINAL POINTS

To find the terminal point determined by any value of , we use the following steps:

1. Determine which quadrant contains . Write the signs of its coordinates. If it is in 1, write
(+___, +___); 2, write (___, +___); 3, write (___, ___); 4, write (+___, ___).
2. Find the terminal point (, ) determined by .
3. Get the values of and , neglect their signs, then plug them in the appropriate

(+___, +___), (+___, +___), (___, ___), (+___, ___).

Example 5. Find the terminal point determined by =

29
6

Remark. In finding the terminal point for very large , we express as a sum of a
multiple of and some other real number c. The terminal point of is the same as
that of c.

Solution. Since =

29
6

= 4 +

5
6

, the terminal point of =

29
6

is the same as that of

5
6

Quiz 1
3 4

1. Suppose that the terminal point determined by is ( , ). Find the terminal point
5 5

determined by

(a)
(b) 5 +
(c) 101
2. Find the reference number for each value of and the terminal point determined by .
(a)

31
6

41
(b)
4

Trigonometric Functions of Real Numbers

How do we relate the concept of terminal points to finding the trigonometric


functions of real numbers?
Recall. We previously defined the trigonometric functions of an acute angle in a
right triangle in terms of the lengths of the sides of the right triangle. Note that in a unit circle, the
coordinates of the terminal point of a real number form a right triangle inside the unit circle.

It is easy to see that the length of the side opposite to is the -coordinate of and that
the length of the side adjacent to is the -coordinate of . Thus, the sine and cosine of a real
number is the -coordinate and -coordinate of its terminal point in the unit circle.

Exercise. Derive the other trigonometric functions.

Values of the Trigonometric Functions

Remark. Note that a distance 2 on the unit circle also means an angle of 360. We define
another unit for measuring angles, called the radian, as 2 radians = 360 or equivalently,
radians = 180.

+ IDENTITIES

1. sin( + 90) = cos()


2. cos( + 90) = sin()
Exercise. Given this identity, derive the other four trigonometric functions of + 90.

3. sin( + 180) = sin()


4. cos( + 180) = cos()

Exercise. Given this identity, derive the other four trigonometric functions of + 180.

5. sin( + 270) = cos()


6. cos( + 270) = sin()
Exercise. Given this identity, derive the other four trigonometric functions of + 270.

Quiz 2
Use all of what you have learned to answer the following.

I.

Determine if the following statements are true or false.


1. The terminal points of 19.99 and 8.7 lie in the same quadrant.

2. cos(5) < 0
3. The midpoint of the line segment whose endpoints are the terminal points of 1 and
2 is (

sin(1)+sin(2) cos(1)+cos(2)
2

).

4. If cos() = cos() then = .


5. sec(2) < sec(3)

II.

Choose the letter of the correct answer


1. Which of the following is not a coordinate of a point on the unit circle?
A. (1,0)
B. (

2 2
, 2 )
2
1 1

C. ( , )
D. (

2 2
3 4
5

, 5)

2. Given that cos() > 0 and cot() < 0, which of the following statements is

true?
A. The terminal point of lies in the fourth quadrant.
B. The functions sin() , tan() , and csc() are all negative.
C. The terminal point of lies in the first quadrant.
D. All of the above

III.
1. Give all six trigonometric function values of the following real numbers.
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
(f)

3
5
6
9
4
13
4
19

6
2013
6

2. Give all six trigonometric function values of the following angles.


(a) 120
(b) 225
(c)390
(d) 630
(e) 780
(f) 945

3. Determine the exact value of


(a) cos(37) sin(37) tan(37) cot(37) sec(37) csc(37)
5

(b) sec ( ) + cot (


3

6
5

) + 2 tan ( 6 )

(c) sin(150) sec ( ) tan (


4

IV.

11
3

Find the trigonometric functions of if


213 313
, 13 )
13

(a) the terminal point of is (

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Well done is better than well said.
-Benjamin Franklin
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