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In this section, you will:
  • Graph variations of  y=sin( x )  and  y=cos( x ).
  • Use phase shifts of sine and cosine curves.
A photo of a rainbow colored beam of light stretching across the floor.
Light can be separated into colors because of its wavelike properties. (credit: "wonderferret"/ Flickr)

White light, such as the light from the sun, is not actually white at all. Instead, it is a composition of all the colors of the rainbow in the form of waves. The individual colors can be seen only when white light passes through an optical prism that separates the waves according to their wavelengths to form a rainbow.

Light waves can be represented graphically by the sine function. In the chapter on Trigonometric Functions , we examined trigonometric functions such as the sine function. In this section, we will interpret and create graphs of sine and cosine functions.

Graphing sine and cosine functions

Recall that the sine and cosine functions relate real number values to the x - and y -coordinates of a point on the unit circle. So what do they look like on a graph on a coordinate plane? Let’s start with the sine function    . We can create a table of values and use them to sketch a graph. [link] lists some of the values for the sine function on a unit circle.

x 0 π 6 π 4 π 3 π 2 2 π 3 3 π 4 5 π 6 π
sin ( x ) 0 1 2 2 2 3 2 1 3 2 2 2 1 2 0

Plotting the points from the table and continuing along the x -axis gives the shape of the sine function. See [link] .

A graph of sin(x). Local maximum at (pi/2, 1). Local minimum at (3pi/2, -1). Period of 2pi.
The sine function

Notice how the sine values are positive between 0 and π , which correspond to the values of the sine function in quadrants I and II on the unit circle, and the sine values are negative between π and 2 π , which correspond to the values of the sine function in quadrants III and IV on the unit circle. See [link] .

A side-by-side graph of a unit circle and a graph of sin(x). The two graphs show the equivalence of the coordinates.
Plotting values of the sine function

Now let’s take a similar look at the cosine function    . Again, we can create a table of values and use them to sketch a graph. [link] lists some of the values for the cosine function on a unit circle.

x 0 π 6 π 4 π 3 π 2 2 π 3 3 π 4 5 π 6 π
cos ( x ) 1 3 2 2 2 1 2 0 1 2 2 2 3 2 1

As with the sine function, we can plots points to create a graph of the cosine function as in [link] .

A graph of cos(x). Local maxima at (0,1) and (2pi, 1). Local minimum at (pi, -1). Period of 2pi.
The cosine function

Because we can evaluate the sine and cosine of any real number, both of these functions are defined for all real numbers. By thinking of the sine and cosine values as coordinates of points on a unit circle, it becomes clear that the range of both functions must be the interval [ 1 , 1 ] .

In both graphs, the shape of the graph repeats after 2 π , which means the functions are periodic with a period of 2 π . A periodic function    is a function for which a specific horizontal shift    , P , results in a function equal to the original function: f ( x + P ) = f ( x ) for all values of x in the domain of f . When this occurs, we call the smallest such horizontal shift with P > 0 the period    of the function. [link] shows several periods of the sine and cosine functions.

Side-by-side graphs of sin(x) and cos(x). Graphs show period lengths for both functions, which is 2pi.

Looking again at the sine and cosine functions on a domain centered at the y -axis helps reveal symmetries. As we can see in [link] , the sine function    is symmetric about the origin. Recall from The Other Trigonometric Functions that we determined from the unit circle that the sine function is an odd function because sin ( x ) = sin x . Now we can clearly see this property from the graph.

Questions & Answers

can you not take the square root of a negative number
Sharon Reply
No because a negative times a negative is a positive. No matter what you do you can never multiply the same number by itself and end with a negative
lurverkitten
Actually you can. you get what's called an Imaginary number denoted by i which is represented on the complex plane. The reply above would be correct if we were still confined to the "real" number line.
Liam
Suppose P= {-3,1,3} Q={-3,-2-1} and R= {-2,2,3}.what is the intersection
Elaine Reply
can I get some pretty basic questions
Ama Reply
In what way does set notation relate to function notation
Ama
is precalculus needed to take caculus
Amara Reply
It depends on what you already know. Just test yourself with some precalculus questions. If you find them easy, you're good to go.
Spiro
the solution doesn't seem right for this problem
Mars Reply
what is the domain of f(x)=x-4/x^2-2x-15 then
Conney Reply
x is different from -5&3
Seid
All real x except 5 and - 3
Spiro
***youtu.be/ESxOXfh2Poc
Loree
how to prroved cos⁴x-sin⁴x= cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
Don't think that you can.
Elliott
By using some imaginary no.
Tanmay
how do you provided cos⁴x-sin⁴x = cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
What are the question marks for?
Elliott
Someone should please solve it for me Add 2over ×+3 +y-4 over 5 simplify (×+a)with square root of two -×root 2 all over a multiply 1over ×-y{(×-y)(×+y)} over ×y
Abena Reply
For the first question, I got (3y-2)/15 Second one, I got Root 2 Third one, I got 1/(y to the fourth power) I dont if it's right cause I can barely understand the question.
Is under distribute property, inverse function, algebra and addition and multiplication function; so is a combined question
Abena
find the equation of the line if m=3, and b=-2
Ashley Reply
graph the following linear equation using intercepts method. 2x+y=4
Ashley
how
Wargod
what?
John
ok, one moment
UriEl
how do I post your graph for you?
UriEl
it won't let me send an image?
UriEl
also for the first one... y=mx+b so.... y=3x-2
UriEl
y=mx+b you were already given the 'm' and 'b'. so.. y=3x-2
Tommy
Please were did you get y=mx+b from
Abena
y=mx+b is the formula of a straight line. where m = the slope & b = where the line crosses the y-axis. In this case, being that the "m" and "b", are given, all you have to do is plug them into the formula to complete the equation.
Tommy
thanks Tommy
Nimo
0=3x-2 2=3x x=3/2 then . y=3/2X-2 I think
Given
co ordinates for x x=0,(-2,0) x=1,(1,1) x=2,(2,4)
neil
"7"has an open circle and "10"has a filled in circle who can I have a set builder notation
Fiston Reply
Where do the rays point?
Spiro
x=-b+_Гb2-(4ac) ______________ 2a
Ahlicia Reply
I've run into this: x = r*cos(angle1 + angle2) Which expands to: x = r(cos(angle1)*cos(angle2) - sin(angle1)*sin(angle2)) The r value confuses me here, because distributing it makes: (r*cos(angle2))(cos(angle1) - (r*sin(angle2))(sin(angle1)) How does this make sense? Why does the r distribute once
Carlos Reply
so good
abdikarin
this is an identity when 2 adding two angles within a cosine. it's called the cosine sum formula. there is also a different formula when cosine has an angle minus another angle it's called the sum and difference formulas and they are under any list of trig identities
Brad
strategies to form the general term
carlmark
consider r(a+b) = ra + rb. The a and b are the trig identity.
Mike
How can you tell what type of parent function a graph is ?
Mary Reply
generally by how the graph looks and understanding what the base parent functions look like and perform on a graph
William
if you have a graphed line, you can have an idea by how the directions of the line turns, i.e. negative, positive, zero
William
y=x will obviously be a straight line with a zero slope
William
y=x^2 will have a parabolic line opening to positive infinity on both sides of the y axis vice versa with y=-x^2 you'll have both ends of the parabolic line pointing downward heading to negative infinity on both sides of the y axis
William
y=x will be a straight line, but it will have a slope of one. Remember, if y=1 then x=1, so for every unit you rise you move over positively one unit. To get a straight line with a slope of 0, set y=1 or any integer.
Aaron
yes, correction on my end, I meant slope of 1 instead of slope of 0
William
what is f(x)=
Karim Reply
I don't understand
Joe
Typically a function 'f' will take 'x' as input, and produce 'y' as output. As 'f(x)=y'. According to Google, "The range of a function is the complete set of all possible resulting values of the dependent variable (y, usually), after we have substituted the domain."
Thomas
Sorry, I don't know where the "Â"s came from. They shouldn't be there. Just ignore them. :-)
Thomas
GREAT ANSWER THOUGH!!!
Darius
Thanks.
Thomas
Â
Thomas
It is the  that should not be there. It doesn't seem to show if encloses in quotation marks. "Â" or 'Â' ... Â
Thomas
Now it shows, go figure?
Thomas
Practice Key Terms 5

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Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
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