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Equations

Dr. Philippe B. Laval

Kennesaw STate University

April 20, 2005

Abstract

This handout defines the inverse of the sine, cosine and tangent functions. It then shows how these inverse functions can be used to solve

trigonometric equations.

1

1.1

Quick Review

It is assumed that the student is familiar with the concept of inverse functions.

We will review this concept very briey. For further review, please visit section

2.7 or the handout given in class on inverse functions.

The student will recall that if f is a one-to-one function with domain A and

range B, then the inverse of f is the function denoted f 1 , with domain B and

range A such that

y = f 1 (x) x = f (y)

For a function to have an inverse, it must be one-to-one. Sometimes, when a

function is not one-to-one, one can restrict its domain to make it one-to-one.

For example, the function f (x) = x2 , with domain (, ) is not one-to-one;

it does not pass the horizontal line test. However, if we restrict

its domain to

Because of their periodic nature, the trigonometric functions are not one-toone.

1.2

Obviously, the graph of sin x does not pass the horizontal line test. Thus, sin x

is not one-to-one, hence not invertible. We would like to restrict its domain to

make it one-to-one. We would like to do it in such a way that we do not lose too

much information. In other words, we would like its range to be the same, that

is [1, 1]. There are many ways this can be done. The way it is usually done is

1

to restrict the domain of sin x to , . The graph below shows y = sin x. In

2 2

bold, it shows sin x restricted to , . It is easy to see that the restriction

2 2

of sin x passes the horizontal line test.

y 0.5

-8

-6

-4

-2

4x

-0.5

-1

Remembering that the domain of a function and the range of its inverse are the

same, we have:

1

Definition 1 The inverse

sine

function, denoted sin is the function with domain [1, 1], range ,

dened by

2 2

y = sin1 x x = sin y

The inverse sine function is also called arcsine, it is denoted by arcsin.

There are several important remarks to make at this point.

Remark 2 sin1 x is the number y in the interval ,

such that sin y = x.

2 2

As you know, since sin x is periodic, there is more than one number y such that

sin

y = x. There is an innite amount. We only want the one in the interval

2 2

2

2

a such that sin a = 1. a = + 2n will work. Out of all these numbers, the

2

only one we want is

2

2 2

Remark 3 From the general properties of inverse functions, we have

sin sin1 x = x for every x in [1, 1]

sin1 (sin x) = x for every x in ,

2 2

From the general properties of inverse functions, we deduce that the graph

of sin1 is a reection of the graph of sin (restricted to , ) about the line

2 2

y = x. The graph of sin1 is shown below.

1.5

y

0.5

-1

0

-0.8 -0.6 -0.4 -0.2

-0.5

0.2

0.4 x 0.6

0.8

-1

-1.5

1

Example 4 Find sin1 . Since sin = , and , , it follows that

2

6

2

6

2 2

1

sin1 = .

2

6

Example 5 Find sin1 .2. Here, we need to use our calculator. sin1 .2 =

0.20136.

Example 6 Find sin1 5.

Since the domain of sin1 is [1, 1], sin1 5 is not dened.

Remark 7 Given a, sin1 a is the angle such that sin = a. Thus, sin1 a is

an angle. When you use your calculator to perform this type of operations, you

must be aware of whether your calculator is set in degrees or radians; the answer

you get will be dierent, though it will represent the same angle. For example,

if your calculator is set in degrees, then sin1 .2 = 11.53696, yet above we found

.20136. These two numbers are dierent, yet they represent the same angle (do

the conversion). So, when writing the answer to such a question, you should

specify the units. For example, sin1 .2 = 0.20136 rad, or sin1 .2 = 11.53696 .

1.3

Things are similar for cosine. The main dierence is the interval on which we

restrict the cosine function to make it invertible. This interval is [0, ]. The

graph below shows cos x and its restriction to [0, ] in bold.

y 0.5

-8

-6

-4

-2

4x

-0.5

-1

Remembering that the domain of a function and the range of its inverse are the

same, we have:

Definition 8 The inverse cosine function, denoted cos 1 is the function with

domain [1, 1], range [0, ] dened by

y = cos1 x x = cos y

The inverse cosine function is also called arccosine, it is denoted by arccos.

There are several important remarks to make at this point.

Remark 9 cos1 x is the number y in the interval [0, ] such that cos y = x.

As you know, since cos x is periodic, there is more than one number y such that

cos y = x. There is an innite amount. We only want the one in the interval

[0, ]. For example, cos1 0 = because cos 0 = 1. There are other numbers a

2

such that cos a = 1. a = 2n will work. Out of all these numbers, the only one

we want is

2

Remark 10 From the general properties of inverse functions, we have

cos cos1 x = x for every x in [1, 1]

cos1 (cos x) = x for every x in [0, ]

From the general properties of inverse functions, we deduce that the graph

of cos1 is a reection of the graph of cos (restricted to [0, ]) about the line

y = x. The graph of cos1 is shown below.

3

2.5

2

y

1.5

1

0.5

-1

0.2

0.4 x 0.6

0.8

1

Example 11 Find cos 1 . Since cos = , and

[0, ], it follows that

2

3

2

3

1

cos1 = rad.

2

3

Example 12 Find cos1 .2. Here, we need to use our calculator. cos1 .2 =

1.3694 rad.

Remark 13 Like for sin , when computing cos1 a for a given, it is important

to know the units of the answer.

1.4

10

8

y

6

4

2

-8

-6

-4

-2

-2

4x

-4

-6

-8

-10

The function y = tan x is periodic of period . Its domain is all reals except

2

5

of y = tan x is all reals. To make it invertible, we restrict

it to the interval ,

.

2 2

Definition 14 The

tangent function, denoted tan1 is the function with

inverse

domain R, range ,

dened by

2 2

y = tan1 x x = tan y

The inverse tangent function is also called arctangent, it is denoted by arctan.

Remark 15 From the general properties of inverse functions, we have

tan tan1 x = x for every x in R

tan1 (tan x) = x for every x in ,

2 2

From the general properties of inverse functions, we deduce

the graph

that

) about the

of tan1 is a reection of the graph of tan (restricted to ,

2 2

line y = x. The graph of tan1 is shown below.

1

y

0.5

-4

-2

-0.5

-1

,

, it follows

4

4

2 2

that tan1 1 = .

4

1.5

1

It is often important

to

be

able

to

evaluate

expressions

of

the

form

tan

sin a ,

1

1

sin cos a , cos tan a , ...for a given value of a. This is the case in particular

in calculus. This can be done with a calculator. There is also an elegant way

to do it using triangles. This way gives a very accurate answer (exact most of

the time), while the calculator will only give an approximation. We illustrate it

with an example.

6

3

Example 17 Find sin cos1

.

5

We begin by looking

inverse trigonometric function. We say, let =

at the

1 3

1 3

cos

. Then, sin cos

= sin . So, we must nd sin . By denition, if

5

5

3

3

= cos1 , then cos = . The problem is now to nd sin , knowing cos .

5

5

We know how to do this. This is the problem of nding all the trigonometric

3

ratios, knowing one of them. We begin by drawing a triangle in which cos = .

5

Such a triangle is shown below:

Then, sin =

x

, so we need to nd x. Using the Pythagorean theorem, we have

5

x2 + 9 = 25

x = 4

Therefore, sin =

1.6

4

. Hence,

5

4

3

sin cos1

=

5

5

Practice Problems

Trigonometric Equations

functions.

2.1

2.1.1

Solving sin x = a, a given.

1

One solution

is x

= sin a. However, this will only give us the solution in the

interval , . In other words, it will only give us a solution which is either

2 2

in the rst quadrant, or in the fourth. If the solution is in the rst quadrant,

there is also an angle in the second quadrant, call it x for which the value of

the sine function is the same. If the solution is in the fourth quadrant, there

is also an angle in the third quadrant, call it x for which the value of the sine

function is the same. In both cases, the value of the second angle is x = x.

Once we have these two solutions x and x , because sin x is periodic, of period

2, x + 2n, and x + 2n where n is any integer. are also solutions.

where n is any integer, and x = sin1 a.

1

Example 19 Solve sin x = .

2

5

1 1

= . It follows that another solution is =

.

One solution is x = sin

2

6

6

6

5

+ 2n.

Therefore, all the solutions are + 2n and

6

6

2.1.2

1. Solve for sin x

2. Solve for x as explained above.

Example 20 Solve 2 sin x + 3 = 4

First, we solve for sin x

2 sin x + 3 = 4

2 sin x = 1

1

sin x =

2

Then, we solve for x. Since we have already done that in the previous example,

5

we know that the solutions are + 2n and

+ 2n.

6

6

2.2

2.2.1

Solving cos x = a, a given.

This is similar to the equation sin x = a, however there are some dierences.

One solution is x = cos1 a. This will give us a value for x in the interval [0, ].

8

the rst quadrant, then there is also a value in the fourth quadrant for which

the value of the cosine function is the same. This value is 2 x. If x is in

the second quadrant, then there is also a value in the third quadrant for which

the value of the cosine function is the same. This value is also 2 x. Then,

adding 2n to either solution will also be a solution, because cos x has period

2. Therefore, all the solutions of cos x = a are x + 2n and 2 x + 2n where

n is any integer, and x = cos1 a. However, we notice that 2 x + 2n is the

same thing as x + 2n. In summary, we have:

Proposition 21 All the solutions of cos x = a are x+2n and x+2n, where

n is any integer, and x = cos1 a.

First, we solve for cos x.

2 cos x + 3 = 0

3

cos x =

2

Next, we solve for x.

1

x = cos

5

6

x =

2.2.2

5

+ 2n

6

1. Solve for cos x

2. Solve for x as explained above.

Example 23 solve 2 cos2 x 1 = 0

First, we solve for cos x.

2 cos2 x 1 = 0

1

cos2 x =

2

1

cos x =

2

2

=

2

9

2

cos x =

2

2

1

x = cos

2

x =

4

Therefore, all the solutions of the rst equation are x = +2n, x = +2n.

4

4

The second equation gives us

2

cos x =

2

2

x = cos1

2

x =

3

4

3

3

+ 2n, x =

+

4

4

2

2n. Combining the two results, we get that the solutions of 2 cos x 1 = 0

3

3

are x = + 2n, x = + 2n, x =

+ 2n, x =

+ 2n. These can be

4

4

4

4

written as + n .

4

2

Therefore, all the solutions of the rst equation are x =

2.3

2.3.1

Solving tan x = a, a given.

. A solution of tan x = a is

of period

1

x = tan a, this is a solution in ,

. Because this interval contains a

2 2

full period of tangent, there are no other solutions, except the ones obtained by

adding multiples of (the period). Therefore, we have:

Proposition 24 All the solutions of tan x = a are x + n, where n is any

integer, and x = tan1 a.

2.3.2

1. Solve for tan x

2. Solve for x as explained above.

10

2.4

Trigonometric Equations

function. Solving it may require using all the algebra rules and trigonometric

identities you know. We illustrate this with a few examples. You should keep

in mind the following techniques to try:

Try writing everything in terms of the sine and cosine functions

Simplify the expression using identities.

Sometimes, squaring both sides helps. In this case, you must check your

solutions, some of them may not work.

Try factoring common factors.

Example 25 Solve cos2 x cos x = 0

cos2 x cos x = 0

cos x (cos x 1) = 0

A product is 0 if one of the factors is zero. Thus, we get cos x = 0 or cos x 1 =

0. We solve each equation separately. The rst equation gives us:

cos x = 0

x = cos1 0

x =

2

+ 2n and x =

Therefore all the solutions of this rst equation are x =

2

2

2

cos x 1

cos x

x

x

=

=

=

=

0

1

cos1 0

0

Therefore, all the solutions of the second equation are x = 2n. Combining the

solution of both equations, we see that the solutions of cos2 x cos x = 0 are

x = + n and x = 2n.

2

Remark 26 Sometimes, we only want the solutions in a given interval. In the

above problem, we might have asked to nd the solutions in [0, 2]. Out of all

the solutions we found,

we would only keep the ones in the given interval. In

3

, 2 .

this case, they would be 0, ,

2 2

11

sin x

sin x

cos x

tan x

x

x

Therefore, all the solutions are x =

= cos x

= 1

= 1

= tan1 1

=

4

+ n.

4

Here, we notice that this is an equation involving sin x only. So, we proceed in

two steps. First, we solve for sin x. Then, we solve for x.

Solving for sin x. To make things more readable, we let y = sin x. The

equation becomes y 2 y 2 = 0. This is a quadratic equation in y that

we can solve easily.

y2 y 2 = 0

(y 2) (y + 1) = 0

y = 2 or y = 1

We must solve sin x = 2 and sin x = 1.

Solution of sin x = 2. Since the range of sin x is [1, 1], sin x = 2 has no

solutions.

Solution of sin x = 1.

sin x = 1

x = sin1 (1)

x =

2

+ 2n.

2

2

3

In other words, x = + 2n and x =

2

2

generate the same solutions. Therefore, the solutions to sin2 xsin x2 =

0 are x = + 2n.

2

2.5

Practice Problems

12

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