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Vannesa Woods A5

Laws of Sines and Cosines

When learning how to use trigonometry to solve triangles, it is very

important to learn what both sine and cosine are used for and how to use them.

There are first a few things you must learn before you are able to efficiently use

the law of sines. You must first understand that side a is the opposite of the angle

A, side b is the opposite of angle B, and side c is the opposite of angle C. The law of

sines is only useful when you're finding a missing angle but are given an angle and

two sides, or when given a side and two angles to find a missing side.


If you are solving for AC in the triangle above, you would plug in the values

to the equation. 5/sin of 33 degrees equals AC/ sin of 67 degrees. You would next

multiply sin of 67 degrees to both sides, crossing one out and leaving you with 5 sin

of 67 degrees/ sin of 33 degrees equals AC. AC would then approximately be 8.45.

In trigonometry, the law of cos relates the lengths of the sides of a triangle

to the cos of one of its angles. The law of cosines is useful for finding the third

side of a triangle when two sides and their enclosed angle are known. To use the

law of cos, you follow an equation, written much like the pythagorean theorem.

If you were finding angle B on the triangle, you would plug in the triangle as

follows with the equation. (AC)2=(AB)2+(BC)22(AB)(BC)cos(B), or(5)2=(10)2+(6)2

2(10)(6)cos(B). You would next simplify all of your numbers down, 25= 100 + 36 -

120 cos (B). Simplify again and end up with 120 cos(B) = 111, your solution should be


In class we have been able to use both sin and cos on triangles and circles.

We have connected it with real world situations like on ferris wheels and on other

situations that we now realize would be helpful in a real world situation.