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Using the pythagorean theorem to model an abstract problem

OSHA safety regulations require that the base of a ladder be placed 1 foot from the wall for every 4 feet of ladder length. Find the angle that a ladder of any length forms with the ground and the height at which the ladder touches the wall.

For any length of ladder, the base needs to be a distance from the wall equal to one fourth of the ladder’s length. Equivalently, if the base of the ladder is “ a” feet from the wall, the length of the ladder will be 4 a feet. See [link] .

Diagram of a right triangle with base length a, height length b, hypotenuse length 4a. Opposite the height is an angle of theta degrees, and opposite the hypotenuse is an angle of 90 degrees.

The side adjacent to θ is a and the hypotenuse is 4 a . Thus,

cos θ = a 4 a = 1 4 cos −1 ( 1 4 ) 75.5°

The elevation of the ladder forms an angle of 75.5° with the ground. The height at which the ladder touches the wall can be found using the Pythagorean Theorem:

a 2 + b 2 = ( 4 a ) 2 b 2 = ( 4 a ) 2 a 2 b 2 = 16 a 2 a 2 b 2 = 15 a 2 b = a 15

Thus, the ladder touches the wall at a 15 feet from the ground.

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Key concepts

  • When solving linear trigonometric equations, we can use algebraic techniques just as we do solving algebraic equations. Look for patterns, like the difference of squares, quadratic form, or an expression that lends itself well to substitution. See [link] , [link] , and [link] .
  • Equations involving a single trigonometric function can be solved or verified using the unit circle. See [link] , [link] , and [link] , and [link] .
  • We can also solve trigonometric equations using a graphing calculator. See [link] and [link] .
  • Many equations appear quadratic in form. We can use substitution to make the equation appear simpler, and then use the same techniques we use solving an algebraic quadratic: factoring, the quadratic formula, etc. See [link] , [link] , [link] , and [link] .
  • We can also use the identities to solve trigonometric equation. See [link] , [link] , and [link] .
  • We can use substitution to solve a multiple-angle trigonometric equation, which is a compression of a standard trigonometric function. We will need to take the compression into account and verify that we have found all solutions on the given interval. See [link] .
  • Real-world scenarios can be modeled and solved using the Pythagorean Theorem and trigonometric functions. See [link] .

Section exercises

Verbal

Will there always be solutions to trigonometric function equations? If not, describe an equation that would not have a solution. Explain why or why not.

There will not always be solutions to trigonometric function equations. For a basic example, cos ( x ) = −5.

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When solving a trigonometric equation involving more than one trig function, do we always want to try to rewrite the equation so it is expressed in terms of one trigonometric function? Why or why not?

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When solving linear trig equations in terms of only sine or cosine, how do we know whether there will be solutions?

If the sine or cosine function has a coefficient of one, isolate the term on one side of the equals sign. If the number it is set equal to has an absolute value less than or equal to one, the equation has solutions, otherwise it does not. If the sine or cosine does not have a coefficient equal to one, still isolate the term but then divide both sides of the equation by the leading coefficient. Then, if the number it is set equal to has an absolute value greater than one, the equation has no solution.

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Questions & Answers

f(x)=x/x+2 given g(x)=1+2x/1-x show that gf(x)=1+2x/3
Ken Reply
proof
AUSTINE
sebd me some questions about anything ill solve for yall
Manifoldee Reply
how to solve x²=2x+8 factorization?
Kristof Reply
x=2x+8 x-2x=2x+8-2x x-2x=8 -x=8 -x/-1=8/-1 x=-8 prove: if x=-8 -8=2(-8)+8 -8=-16+8 -8=-8 (PROVEN)
Manifoldee
x=2x+8
Manifoldee
×=2x-8 minus both sides by 2x
Manifoldee
so, x-2x=2x+8-2x
Manifoldee
then cancel out 2x and -2x, cuz 2x-2x is obviously zero
Manifoldee
so it would be like this: x-2x=8
Manifoldee
then we all know that beside the variable is a number (1): (1)x-2x=8
Manifoldee
so we will going to minus that 1-2=-1
Manifoldee
so it would be -x=8
Manifoldee
so next step is to cancel out negative number beside x so we get positive x
Manifoldee
so by doing it you need to divide both side by -1 so it would be like this: (-1x/-1)=(8/-1)
Manifoldee
so -1/-1=1
Manifoldee
so x=-8
Manifoldee
SO THE ANSWER IS X=-8
Manifoldee
so we should prove it
Manifoldee
x=2x+8 x-2x=8 -x=8 x=-8 by mantu from India
mantu
lol i just saw its x²
Manifoldee
x²=2x-8 x²-2x=8 -x²=8 x²=-8 square root(x²)=square root(-8) x=sq. root(-8)
Manifoldee
I mean x²=2x+8 by factorization method
Kristof
I think x=-2 or x=4
Kristof
x= 2x+8 ×=8-2x - 2x + x = 8 - x = 8 both sides divided - 1 -×/-1 = 8/-1 × = - 8 //// from somalia
Mohamed
1KI POWER 1/3 PLEASE SOLUTIONS
Prashant Reply
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Amit
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Dorbor
well
Biswajit
can u tell me concepts
Gaurav
Find the possible value of 8.5 using moivre's theorem
Reuben Reply
which of these functions is not uniformly cintinuous on (0, 1)? sinx
Pooja Reply
which of these functions is not uniformly continuous on 0,1
Basant Reply
solve this equation by completing the square 3x-4x-7=0
Jamiz Reply
X=7
Muustapha
=7
mantu
x=7
mantu
3x-4x-7=0 -x=7 x=-7
Kr
x=-7
mantu
9x-16x-49=0 -7x=49 -x=7 x=7
mantu
what's the formula
Modress
-x=7
Modress
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siame
what is trigonometry
Jean Reply
deals with circles, angles, and triangles. Usually in the form of Soh cah toa or sine, cosine, and tangent
Thomas
solve for me this equational y=2-x
Rubben Reply
what are you solving for
Alex
solve x
Rubben
you would move everything to the other side leaving x by itself. subtract 2 and divide -1.
Nikki
then I got x=-2
Rubben
it will b -y+2=x
Alex
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Nikki
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Rubben
how to get 8 trigonometric function of tanA=0.5, given SinA=5/13? Can you help me?m
Pab Reply
More example of algebra and trigo
Stephen Reply
What is Indices
Yashim Reply
If one side only of a triangle is given is it possible to solve for the unkown two sides?
Felix Reply
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Rubben
kya
Khushnama
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Dayo Reply
Okey tell me, what's your problem is?
Navin

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Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
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