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Trigonometric Functions:

A Unit Circle Approach

The Unit Circle

xy -

Definition. The unit circle is the circle of radius 1 centered at the origin in the

x 2+ y 2 =1 .

plane. Its equation is

Example 1. Show that the point

3 6
P( , ) is on the unit circle. (This is easy! You just need
3 3

to show that the point satisfies the equation of the unit circle, that is,

x 2+ y 2 =1 .)

Terminal Points on the Unit Circle

Suppose

is a real number. Lets mark off a distance

starting at the point

(1,0)

along the unit circle,

and moving in a counterclockwise direction if


positive or in a clockwise direction if t is negative.

is

In this we arrive at a point

P( x , y )

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


(1,0)

P( x , y )

t .

C=2 r =2 ( 1 )=2 . So if a point starts at

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

Remark. Different values of

9 7
,
.
4
4

3
t= , ,
,2 .
2
2

can determine the same terminal point, e.g .

4 ,

Example 2. Find the terminal point on the unit circle determined by each real number

t=3

(b)

t=

(c)

t=

2 .

Terminal points for some special values of

t .

Example 3. Find the terminal point determined by each given real number
(b)

t=

3
4

(c)

t=

t . (a)

t . (a)

t=

5
6

The Reference Number

is the shortest distance along the unit circle between the terminal point determined by

and the

x -axis.

associated with

Definition. Let

be a real number. The reference number

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

t=

2
3

(d)

t . (a)

t=

5
6

(b)

t=5.80

USING REFERENCE NUMBERS TO FIND TERMINAL POINTS

t=

7
4

(c)

To find the terminal point

determined by any value of

t , we use the following

steps:

1. Determine which quadrant contains

P . Write the signs of its coordinates. If it is in

,
,
,
,

Q1 , write
Q2 , write
Q3 , write
Q 4 , write
+ ;
;
;
+ .

Q(a , b)

2. Find the terminal point


3. Get the values of

appropriate

and

determined by

t
.

b , neglect their signs, then plug them in the

,
.

+
,
+ ,
+ ,

Example 5. Find the terminal point determined by

t=

29
6 .

Remark. In finding the terminal point for very large t , we express t as a sum
of a multiple of 2 and some other real number c. The terminal point of t is
the same as that of c.

Solution. Since

t=

29
5
=4 +
6
6 , the terminal point of

t=

29
6

is the same as that of

5
6 .

Quiz 1
t

1. Suppose that the terminal point determined by

is

3 4
( , ) . Find the terminal point
5 5

determined by

(a) t
(b) 5 + t
(c)

101 t

2. Find the reference number for each value of


t .
(a)

31
6

and the terminal point determined by

(b)

41
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

P'

and that the length of the side adjacent to

the sine and cosine of a real number

is the

terminal point in the unit circle.


Exercise. Derive the other trigonometric functions.

Values of the Trigonometric Functions

is the

is the

y -coordinate of

x -coordinate of

y -coordinate and

P' . Thus,

x -coordinate of its

Remark. Note that a distance

on the unit circle also means an angle of

define another unit for measuring angles, called the radian, as


or equivalently, radians 180 .

+n

1.

+90
()=cos ()
sin

IDENTITIES

360 . We

radians

360

2.

+ 90
=sin ()
cos

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

3.

+180
()=sin()
sin

4.

cos(+180 )=cos ()

+90 .

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

+18 0 .

5.

+ 270
()=cos ()
sin

6.

+ 270
()=sin ()
cos

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

+27 0 .

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

2.

19.99

and

8.7

lie in the same quadrant.

cos (5 ) <0

3. The midpoint of the line segment whose endpoints are the terminal points of
and 2 is (

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


,
) .
2
2

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


5. sec ( 2 ) < sec(3)

II.

x= y .

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

C.

1 1
( , )
2 2

D.

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.

sin ( ) , tan ( ) , and csc ( ) are all negative.


C. The terminal point of lies in the first quadrant.
B. The functions

D. All of the above

III.
1. Give all six trigonometric function values of the following real numbers.
(a)

(b)

5
6

(c)

9
4

(d)

13
4

(e)

19
6

(f)

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)
(b)
(c)

IV.

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

( 53 )+cot ( 56 )+2 tan ( 76 )


5
11
sin ( 150 ) sec ( ) tan (
4
3 )
sec

Find the trigonometric functions of

(a) the terminal point of

is

if

2 13 3 13
,
)
13
13

*******************
Well done is better than well said.
-Benjamin Franklin
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