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# Topic 3 Circular Functions and Trigonometry

## 3.1 The Circle

The radian is a measure of angles, similar to degrees but much more commonly used in senior
mathematics because of the simplicity they produce in the majority of applications such as the formulae
for arc lengths and areas of sectors.
There are 360 degrees in a full circle and the equivalent statement is:
There are 2 radians in a complete circle
Which means radians is equivalent to 180 degrees.
Therefore:
To convert from degrees to radians, multiply by
180
t

To convert from radians to degrees, multiply by
t
180

Arcs and Sectors:
If we draw a circle and two radii (not a diameter), the circumference of the circle is divided into major and
minor arcs whereas the area of the circle is divided into major and minor sectors.

Minor Sector
Major Sector
Major Arc
Minor Arc
Length of an arc:
Because the circumference of a circle is equal to r t 2 , the formula for the length of an arc through an
angle of u radians can be found using ratios:

|
.
|

\
|
=
t
u
t
2
2 r l
which is the circumference of a general circle multiplied by the fraction of
the full circle represented by angle u . This formula simplifies to the following:
u = r l

Area of a Sector:
Using a similar argument, we can show that, because the area of a circle is given by
2
r A =t and 2
represents a full circle, the area of a sector represented by an angle of u radians will be:

|
.
|

\
|
=
t
u
t
2
2
r A

Which can then be simplified to give:
u =
2
2
1
r A

Example 1:
In the diagram below, the length of the major arc ADB is
3
14t
cm.
The area of the major sector is
3
49t
cm
2
.
Find the value of r and u

Solution:
We have the two simultaneous equations:

3
49
2
1
3
14
2
t
u
t
u
=
=
r
r

Dividing equation 2 by equation 1 produces the equation
2
7
14
49
2
1
= = r = 3.5cm
Substituting this result into equation 1 gives us
3
14
5 . 3
t
u = and solving for u

3
4
7
2
3
14
3
14
5 . 3
t t
u
t
u
= =
=

A
C
B
D
r
u

3.2 Sine, Cosine and Tangent

The Unit Circle:
A unit circle is any circle of radius 1 unit. The functions of sine, cosine and tangent are all defined in terms
of a unit circle with centre at (0, 0). Angles are measured anti-clockwise from the positive x-axis in either

Sine and cosine are defined as the vertical and horizontal displacement described by the specified angle
respectively. The tangent of an angle is defined in terms of the projection of the angle to a tangent line
drawn at 1 = x but, using some simple geometry, it can be shown that:
u
u
u
cos
sin
tan =

Note: the actual geometric proof of this formula is not required in this SL course.

u

u sin
u cos
u tan
The relationship between gradients and the tangent function:
Consider the following linear graph:

The gradient of the line is u
u
u
tan
cos
sin
=

=
n
n
run
rise

Therefore, the gradient of any straight line is equal to the tangent of the angle the line forms with the
positive x-axis.
Which means that any straight line through the origin (y-intercept equal to zero) can be written as:

u tan x y =

Where u is the angle the line makes with the positive x-axis.

x
y
u

u sin = n Rise
u cos = n Run
n
Trigonometric Identities:
Looking at the unit circle again, we can extract a right angled triangle:

And since we have a right-angled triangle, we can use Pythagoras Theorem to show that:
( ) ( ) 1 cos sin
2 2
= + u u

Because the statement above is true for ANY value of u it is called a trigonometric IDENTITY.

Note also that ( )
2
sinu means the sine of angle u and then square the result, whereas ( )
2
sin u means the
sine of the square of angle u (In the latter case the angle is squared rather than the sine of the angle)

( )
2
sinu is commonly written as u
2
sin to avoid confusion.

u
u cos

u sin
u cos

u sin
u
1
Example 2:
Given that
13
12
sin = u , find the two possible values of u cos .

Solution:
13
5
169
25
cos
169
25
cos
169
144
1 cos
1 cos
169
144
1 cos
13
12
1 cos sin
2
2
2
2
2
2 2
=
=
=
=
= +
= +
|
.
|

\
|
= +
u
u
u
u
u
u u

3.3 Double angle formulae

Compound angle formulae:
In HL mathematics there are multiple angle formulae such as ( ) B A B A B A sin cos cos sin sin + = + but
fortunately these are not required for SL. You are, however required to know formulae for double angles:

A A A
A A A
2 2
sin cos 2 cos
cos sin 2 2 sin
=
=

Using the identity ( ) ( ) 1 cos sin
2 2
= + u u it can also be shown that:

u
u
2
2
sin 2 1 2 cos
1 cos 2 2 cos
=
=
A
A

In reality, it is not essential to memorise these last two formulas as they are given in your data booklet.
Memorising the two formulas given in the box above however is strongly recommended.

Example 3:
Given that A is an acute angle and
2
1
sin = A find the exact value of:
(a) A 2 sin
(b) A 2 cos

Solution:
Since A is an acute angle 0 cos > A .

2
3
2
3
2
1
2
cos sin 2 2 sin
4
3
cos
4
3
cos
1 cos
4
1
1 cos
2
1
1 cos sin
2
2
2
2
2 2
=
=
=
=
=
= +
= +
|
.
|

\
|
= +
A A A
A
A
A
A
A A

And for cos2A we can use the other formula:

2
1
4
1
4
3
2
1
4
3
sin cos 2 cos
2
2
2 2
=
=
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
= A A A

Example 4:
Given ( ) x x x f 8 cos 8 sin 4 = write ( ) x f in the form bx asin where Z b a e ,

Solution:

x
x x x x
x x x
x x x
16 sin 2
8 cos 8 sin 2 2 8 cos 8 sin 4
8 cos 8 sin 2 16 sin
cos sin 2 2 sin
=
=
=
=

Example 5:
Express the function ( ) 1 cos 4 2 cos 2 + = x x x f in the form ( ) c x b x a x f + + = cos cos
2

where Z c b a e , ,

Solution:

( )
1 cos 4 cos 4
1 cos 4 2 cos 4
1 cos 4 1 cos 2 2 1 cos 4 2 cos 2
1 cos 2 2 cos
2
2
2
2
=
+ =
+ = +
=
x x
x x
x x x x
x x

3.4 Graphs of Circular Functions

Domain and Range:
Because there are t 2 radians in a complete circle, the domain of the functions x x cos , sin and x tan is
usually t 2 0 < s x . However, it is possible to complete more than one full revolution, to restrict the
domain to part of the full circle or even to traverse the circle in a reverse direction. Hence, the usual
domain may be different. Questions must therefore specify the domain of all circular functions.
There is one exception, however. The function x tan is undefined for
2
t
= x and
2
3t
= x .
Since the radius of the unit circle is 1, the range of the functions x sin and x cos is 1 1 s s y . The range of
function x tan is all real numbers.

Graphs of circular functions:
To understand the graphs of x x cos , sin and x tan it is best to reconsider the unit circle:
Firstly, x sin

And this produces the graph for x y sin = as seen on the next page...

0 sin 0 = = x x
1 sin 0
2
0 < < < < x x
t

1 sin
2
= = x x
t

1 sin 0
2
< < < < x x t
t

0 sin = = x x t
0 sin 1
2
3
< < < < x x
t
t
1 sin
2
3
= = x x
t

0 sin 1 2
2
3
< < < < x x t
t

The graph of x y cos = can be found in a similar method:

Which produces the following graph:

1 cos 0 = = x x
1 cos 0
2
0 < < < < x x
t

0 cos
2
= = x x
t

0 cos 1
2
< < < < x x t
t

1 cos = = x x t
0 cos 1
2
3
< < < < x x
t
t
0 cos
2
3
= = x x
t

1 cos 0 2
2
3
< < < < x x t
t

Transformations of trigonometric graphs:
There are four ways we can transform a trigonometric graph:
- Change the amplitude (vertical distance between maximum and minimum points)
- Change the period (horizontal distance between maximums or minimums)
- Change the vertical position (move the graph up or down)
- Change the horizontal position (move the graph left or right)

1. Amplitude:
If we start with a reference function of x y sin = , we can show the amplitude is equal to 1:

If we now draw the graph of the function x y sin 2 = , the amplitude becomes 2:

Thus, we can conclude that the graph of x a y sin = will have an amplitude of a.
Amplitude = 1
Amplitude = 2
The question remains about what happens if the value of a is negative. What does a graph with an
amplitude of -1 look like, for example? If we look at the following graph of x y sin =

We can see that the amplitude is still 1, but the graph has been inverted. Therefore, we can conclude:

The graph x a y sin = will have an amplitude of a
If 0 < a the graph will be inverted (reflected in the x-axis)

For data analysis tasks, it is often useful to be able to determine the amplitude of a graph from a diagram.
We can therefore use the following formula:
2
min max
y y
a

=

2. Period
The period of a trigonometric graph is defined as the domain over which the graph repeats itself. For sine
and cosine graphs, this means the distance between two neighbouring maximum points or two
neighbouring minimum points. Period could therefore also be defined as twice the horizontal distance
between neighbouring maximum and minimum points.

The period of x y sin = is t 2 as shown on the following page:

Amplitude = 1

If we now plot the graph of x y 2 sin = , we notice that the period is equal to t :

Notice that as the coefficient of x doubled, the period of the graph halved. Therefore we can say:
The graph of bx y sin = will have a period of
b
t 2

If the value of b becomes negative, we obtain some unusual results which are different for sin, cos and tan:
( )
( )
( ) x x
x x
x x
tan tan
cos cos
sin sin
=
+ =
=

These results are interesting, but are not essential for SL mathematics.

t 2 = Period
t 2 = Period

t = Period
t = Period
3. Vertical position
If we compare the graphs of , sinx y = 1 sin + = x y and 1 sin = x y we can observe the following:

The graphs all have a identical amplitude and period. The difference is the vertical position of the graphs.
Notice also that for the graph d x y + = sin when 0 > d the graph is shifted in the positive vertical
direction (upwards) and if 0 < d the graph is shifted in the negative vertical direction (downwards).
The value of d can be determined from a graph by noting the maximum and minimum values of the graph:

2
min max
y y
d
+
=

This is not to be confused with the formula for amplitude!

4. Horizontal position
If we graph the functions ( ) 1 sin + = x y and x y sin = on the same set of axes, we observe that both graphs
have identical amplitude, period and vertical position. However, the horizontal position has been altered.
In the quadratics unit, we saw that the graph of ( )
2
1 + = x y was the graph of
2
x y = shifted 1 unit in the
negative horizontal direction. A similar result is seen for trigonometric functions:

x y sin =
1 sin + = x y
1 sin = x y

As can be seen in the above graphs, ( ) c x y + = sin is the graph of x y sin = shifted c units in the negative
horizontal direction. This means that the graph of ( ) c x y = sin will be the graph of x y sin = shifted c
units in the positive horizontal direction.
The best way to find the value of c from a graph is to note where the graph first crosses the negative x-axis.
Since x y sin = crosses at (0, 0) the point of crossing will be equal to c (NOTE THE NEGATIVE SIGN!)

The graph of tan(x):
Unlike the graphs of x y sin = and x y cos = the graph of x y tan = does not oscillate between maximum
and minimum points. To understand the graph of x y tan = , consider how we defined the tangent function.
x
x sin

x cos

x
x
x
cos
sin
tan =

0 0 1 0
2
t

1 0 Undefined
t 0 -1 0
2
3t

-1 0 Undefined
t 2 0 1 0
x y sin =
( ) 1 sin + = x y
1 unit
And this produces the following graph:

The graph has asymptotes at
2
t
= x and
2
3t
= x and has a period oft . With the exception of amplitude,
all the transformations discussed for x y sin = apply to x y tan = .

It is worth noting that questions regarding the tangent function are much less common than questions

Example 6:
The graph of ( ) d c bx a y + + = sin is shown below. The values of a, b, c and d are all positive.

The graph has maximum points at
|
.
|

\
|
5 ,
2
t
and
|
.
|

\
|
5 ,
2
3t
and minimum points at (0, -1) and ( ) 1 , t
Find the value of a, b, c and d.

Solution:
3
2
6
2
1 5
2
min max
=
=

=

=
a
y y
a

2
2
2
2 2
3
=
=
=
=
=
b
Period
b
Period
t
t
t
t
t t

2
2
1 5
2
min max
=

=
+
=
d
y y
d

To work out the value of c we have to do some thinking. x y sin = has a maximum at
2
t
= x and therefore
x y 2 sin = has a maximum at
4
t
= x . Since the graph above has a maximum at
2
t
= x , the graph has been
shifted in the positive direction
4
t
units. This would give a value of
4
t
= c BUT since c is positive, we need
to say that the graph has been shifted in the negative horizontal direction. Because the period of the graph
is t , the smallest positive value is
4
3
4
t t
t = = c .

3.5 Solving Trigonometric Equations

Two special triangles:
When solving common trigonometric equations, the following triangles can be VERY useful...

Using the relations
e Hypoteneus
Opposite
= u sin ,
e Hypoteneus
= u cos and
Opposite
= u tan we can easily show:

2
3
3
sin =
t
and
2
1
4
tan =
t
for example.

It should be noted however that exact values for sine, cosine and tangent are not actually required
knowledge and decimal approximations to the values stated above ARE acceptable on all forms of
assessment.
1
2
3

60
3
=
t

30
6
=
t

1
1
2

45
4
=
t

45
4
=
t

The inverse trigonometric functions:
To solve trigonometric equations, it is first important to learn the inverse trigonometric functions.
If x y sin = then y x
1
sin

1
sin

## is found using the [2

nd
] function button on most
calculators. x
1
sin

## is not to be confused with

x sin
1
which is a reciprocal function rather than an inverse.
x
1
sin

1
cos

and x
1
tan

## which are sometimes called x arccos and x arctan .

All trigonometric equations will be given for a specified domain. It is ESSENTIAL that all your answers fall
within this domain, otherwise they are INCORRECT.
This can be problematic, as your calculator does not always produce answers within the required domain.
Also, it is highly likely that the equations will have multiple solutions within the given domain and your
calculator will only provide one solution.

To illustrate this point, consider the equation t 2 0 ;
2
1
sin < s = x x . The obvious answer (as found using

30 = x which is
6
t
radians (as required by the domain). However,
|
.
|

\
|
6
5
sin
t
is also equal
to
2
1
as can be illustrated using a unit circle:

u
u
2
1
= height
2
1
= height
6
t

6
5t

If drawing a unit circle seems too time consuming, additional solutions to trigonometric equations can be
found algebraically using the following relations:

( )
( )
( ) u t u
u t u
u t u
+ =
=
=
tan tan
2 cos cos
sin sin

In addition to this, t 2 can be added to or subtracted from any solution to obtain another solution (which
may or may not be within the required solution domain).
Solving the previous equation t 2 0 ;
2
1
sin < s = x x using the above relation for x sin would produce the
following solution:

6
5
,
6
6
,
6
2
1
sin
2 0 ;
2
1
sin
1
t t
t
t
t
t
=
=
|
.
|

\
|
=
< s =

x
x
x x

Which are the same two answers as we obtained geometrically.
There is a third method for obtaining these solutions using the GDC using graphs:
Write the equations for both
graphs in separate equation lines.

Make sure the calculator is set to
appropriate window settings.

Plot both graphs and look for
points of intersection.

Use the function INTERSECT once
for each point of intersection,
remembering to place the guess
as close to the intersection point
as possible.

Consider the equation t s s = x x x 0 ; 2 cos sin which at first glance looks simple until we notice that one
side of the equation contains a double angle and the other does not. To solve this equation by a non-
graphical method, we need to use the identity x x
2
sin 2 1 2 cos = :

0 1 sin sin 2
sin 2 1 sin
2 cos sin
2
2
= +
=
=
x x
x x
x x

Which is a quadratic equation in disguise...

We can factorise and then use the null factor law to obtain our solutions:

( )( )
1 sin ,
2
1
sin
1 sin , 1 sin 2
0 1 sin 1 sin 2
0 1 sin sin 2
2
= =
= =
= +
= +
x x
x x
x x
x x

1 sin = x has only one solution: t = x

6 2
1
sin
1
t
= |
.
|

\
|
=

x and, using algebra or symmetry of the unit circle, we also have the solution
6
5t
= x .

Therefore, our solutions are t
t t
,
6
5
,
6
= x

Example 7:
Solve the equation

360 0 ; 0 3 sin 4 s s = + x x

Solution:
Method 1 Algebraic:

6 . 48 . 0
4
3
sin
4
3
sin
3 sin 4
0 3 sin 4
1
=
|
.
|

\
|
=

=
=
= +

x
x
x
x

311 = x . However,
we are probably looking for a second solution... So, using the fact that ( ) x x = 180 sin sin , our second
solution is ( )

229 6 . 48 180 = = x

311 , 229 = x

Method 2 Graphical:
Sketch the graph of 3 sin 4 + x on

Make sure the mode is set to
degrees!

Using Zoom Trig will give the
most appropriate window setting.

We are looking for the points at
which the function is zero, so
select ZERO.

Since there are two points of
interest, we have to repeat the

Example 8:
Solve t 2 0 ; cos 3 sin < s = x x x .

Solution:
Method 1 Algebraic
3 tan
3
cos
sin
cos 3 sin
=
=
=
x
x
x
x x

Using the first of the special triangles given previously, we can obtain the solution
3 1
3
3
tan
t t
= =
|
.
|

\
|
x
And since ( ) x x tan tan = +t we get a second solution
3
4
3
t
t
t
= + = x . Which is 1.05 and 4.19 to 3sf.

Method 2 Graphical
Sketch the graphs of x sin and
x cos 3 simultaneously.

Make sure the mode is set to

Set the zoom to ZTrig to best fit
both graphs on the screen.

Calc Intersect will find the
points of intersection, or where
x x cos 3 sin =

Since there are two solutions, we
need to repeat the process a
second time.

significant figures are
19 . 4 , 05 . 1 = x as before.

3.6 Solution of Triangles

Naming Sides and Angles in Triangles:
For any triangle, there is a standard form of naming the three sides a, b and c whereas the angles are
named A, B and C. Angle A is defined as the angle opposite side a as shown in the following diagram:

The Cosine Rule:
If you know the side lengths of a triangle and want to find the angles, or if you know two side lengths and
the angle between them and want to know the other side length, the cosine rule is very useful.
There are three different versions of the cosine rule:

C ab b a c
B ac c a b
A bc c b a
cos 2
cos 2
cos 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
+ =
+ =
+ =

Although, in reality they are identical statements and it is only necessary to remember one. The most
common version of the cosine rule is the third version.

C ab b a c cos 2
2 2 2
+ =

When the angle C is a right-angle, because 0 90 cos =

## , the cosine rule in this special case becomes

simplified to
2 2 2
b a c + = which is Pythagoras Theorem. The cosine rule can therefore be seen as a
generalisation of Pythagoras Theorem which, in turn can be seen as a special case of the cosine rule.
a
b
c
C
A
B
The Sine Rule:
If you know one side length and two angles or one angle and two side lengths (where the angle is NOT the
angle between the two known sides) the sine rule can be used to determine the missing sides or angles.
The sine rule, put simply, states that the ratio of a side to the sine of the opposite angle is constant:

c
C
b
B
a
A sin sin sin
= =

Ambiguous case of the Sine Rule:
Unlike the cosine rule, the sine rule can occasionally produce two different, correct answers when you are
trying to calculate a missing angle.
For example, if we know a triangle has

## 30 , 5 , 4 = = = A b a and we want to know the size of angle B we

could use the sine rule as follows:

7 . 38
sin 625 . 0
sin
4
30 sin 5
5
sin
4
30 sin
sin sin
=
=
=
=
=
B
B
B
B
b
B
a
A

BUT 625 . 0 141 sin =

also. So we have the two possible values of B 38.7 and 141 degrees.

Although this seems confusing at first, the two different angles found will ALWAYS add to 180 degrees in all
ambiguous cases of the sine rule.

Area of a Triangle:

The area of a triangle is normally given as h b A =
2
1
. But since C
a
h
sin = we can write C a h sin =
So our area of a triangle formula becomes:

C ab A sin
2
1
=

Where C is the angle between sides a and b.

h
a
b
C
Example 9:
Find the values of each of the pronumerals in the diagram below:

Solution:
This question is best done using the sine rule twice:

6 . 48
10
30 sin 15
sin
10
30 sin 15
sin
10
30 sin
15
sin
1
=
|
|
.
|

\
|
=

=
=

y
y
y

And since the internal angles of a triangle add to

180

4 . 101
180 6 . 48 30
=
= + +
x
x

Now we use the sine rule again to find Z:

cm
z
z
6 . 19
30 sin
4 . 101 sin 10
30 sin
10
4 . 101 sin
=

=
=

NOTE: In the first part of the solution, the ambiguous case of the sine rule may give an alternative value for
y of

131 but since the diagram provided gives y as an acute angle, this second possibility can be ignored.

15 cm

30
x
y
Z 10 cm
Example 10:
Find the size of the largest angle of a triangle with side lengths 77 cm, 85 cm and 120 cm.

Solution:
Start by sketching a triangle and write in the side lengths. The largest angle is always opposite the longest
side, so mark this angle also:

Now we can use the cosine rule to write an equation to be solved:

radians or 67 . 1 5 . 95
85 77 2
120 85 77
cos
85 77 2
120 85 77
cos
120 85 77 cos 85 77 2
cos 85 77 2 85 77 120
2 2 2
1
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2

=
|
|
.
|

\
|

+
=

+
=
+ =
+ =

u
u
u
u

u
77 cm
85 cm
120 cm
Example 11:
Find the area of a triangle with side lengths 5.5 cm, 6.8 cm and 8.3 cm.

Solution:
In this example it does not matter if we use degrees or radians, as we are trying to find an AREA. The
answer will be the same regardless of which angle measure we use.
First, draw a diagram and include an unknown angle because the area of a triangle formula requires an
angle:

We can now use the cosine rule to find the missing angle:

2 . 84
8 . 6 5 . 5 2
3 . 8 8 . 6 5 . 5
cos
85 5 . 5 2
3 . 8 8 . 6 5 . 5
cos
3 . 8 8 . 6 5 . 5 cos 8 . 6 5 . 5 2
cos 8 . 6 5 . 5 2 8 . 6 5 . 5 3 . 8
2 2 2
1
2 2 2
2 2 2
2 2 2
=
|
|
.
|

\
|

+
=

+
=
+ =
+ =

u
u
u
u

And we can now use the area of a triangle formula to find the required answer:

2
6 . 18
2 . 84 sin 8 . 6 5 . 5
2
1
sin
2
1
cm
C ab Area
=
=
=

u
5.5 cm
6.8 cm
8.3 cm