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In this section, you will:
  • Solve linear trigonometric equations in sine and cosine.
  • Solve equations involving a single trigonometric function.
  • Solve trigonometric equations using a calculator.
  • Solve trigonometric equations that are quadratic in form.
  • Solve trigonometric equations using fundamental identities.
  • Solve trigonometric equations with multiple angles.
  • Solve right triangle problems.
Photo of the Egyptian pyramids near a modern city.
Egyptian pyramids standing near a modern city. (credit: Oisin Mulvihill)

Thales of Miletus (circa 625–547 BC) is known as the founder of geometry. The legend is that he calculated the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt using the theory of similar triangles , which he developed by measuring the shadow of his staff. Based on proportions, this theory has applications in a number of areas, including fractal geometry, engineering, and architecture. Often, the angle of elevation and the angle of depression are found using similar triangles.

In earlier sections of this chapter, we looked at trigonometric identities. Identities are true for all values in the domain of the variable. In this section, we begin our study of trigonometric equations to study real-world scenarios such as the finding the dimensions of the pyramids.

Solving linear trigonometric equations in sine and cosine

Trigonometric equations are, as the name implies, equations that involve trigonometric functions. Similar in many ways to solving polynomial equations or rational equations, only specific values of the variable will be solutions, if there are solutions at all. Often we will solve a trigonometric equation over a specified interval. However, just as often, we will be asked to find all possible solutions, and as trigonometric functions are periodic, solutions are repeated within each period. In other words, trigonometric equations may have an infinite number of solutions. Additionally, like rational equations, the domain of the function must be considered before we assume that any solution is valid. The period    of both the sine function and the cosine function is 2 π . In other words, every 2 π units, the y- values repeat. If we need to find all possible solutions, then we must add 2 π k , where k is an integer, to the initial solution. Recall the rule that gives the format for stating all possible solutions for a function where the period is 2 π :

sin θ = sin ( θ ± 2 k π )

There are similar rules for indicating all possible solutions for the other trigonometric functions. Solving trigonometric equations requires the same techniques as solving algebraic equations. We read the equation from left to right, horizontally, like a sentence. We look for known patterns, factor, find common denominators, and substitute certain expressions with a variable to make solving a more straightforward process. However, with trigonometric equations, we also have the advantage of using the identities we developed in the previous sections.

Solving a linear trigonometric equation involving the cosine function

Find all possible exact solutions for the equation cos θ = 1 2 .

From the unit circle    , we know that

cos θ = 1 2 θ = π 3 , 5 π 3

These are the solutions in the interval [ 0 , 2 π ] . All possible solutions are given by

θ = π 3 ± 2 k π   and   θ = 5 π 3 ± 2 k π

where k is an integer.

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Questions & Answers

x exposant 4 + 4 x exposant 3 + 8 exposant 2 + 4 x + 1 = 0
HERVE Reply
x exposent4+4x exposent3+8x exposent2+4x+1=0
HERVE
How can I solve for a domain and a codomains in a given function?
Oliver Reply
ranges
EDWIN
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Oliver
proof for set theory
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don't you know?
Inkoom
find to nearest one decimal place of centimeter the length of an arc of circle of radius length 12.5cm and subtending of centeral angle 1.6rad
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factoring polynomial
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find general solution of the Tanx=-1/root3,secx=2/root3
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the value of 2 sin square 60 Cos 60
Sanjay Reply
0.75
Lynne
0.75
Inkoom
when can I use sin, cos tan in a giving question
duru Reply
depending on the question
Nicholas
I am a carpenter and I have to cut and assemble a conventional roof line for a new home. The dimensions are: width 30'6" length 40'6". I want a 6 and 12 pitch. The roof is a full hip construction. Give me the L,W and height of rafters for the hip, hip jacks also the length of common jacks.
John
I want to learn the calculations
Koru Reply
where can I get indices
Kojo Reply
I need matrices
Nasasira
hi
Raihany
Hi
Solomon
need help
Raihany
maybe provide us videos
Nasasira
about complex fraction
Raihany
Hello
Cromwell
a
Amie
What do you mean by a
Cromwell
nothing. I accidentally press it
Amie
you guys know any app with matrices?
Khay
Ok
Cromwell
Solve the x? x=18+(24-3)=72
Leizel Reply
x-39=72 x=111
Suraj
Solve the formula for the indicated variable P=b+4a+2c, for b
Deadra Reply
Need help with this question please
Deadra
b=-4ac-2c+P
Denisse
b=p-4a-2c
Suddhen
b= p - 4a - 2c
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p=2(2a+C)+b
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b=p-2(2a+c)
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P=4a+b+2C
COLEMAN
b=P-4a-2c
COLEMAN
like Deadra, show me the step by step order of operation to alive for b
John
A laser rangefinder is locked on a comet approaching Earth. The distance g(x), in kilometers, of the comet after x days, for x in the interval 0 to 30 days, is given by g(x)=250,000csc(π30x). Graph g(x) on the interval [0, 35]. Evaluate g(5)  and interpret the information. What is the minimum distance between the comet and Earth? When does this occur? To which constant in the equation does this correspond? Find and discuss the meaning of any vertical asymptotes.
Kaitlyn Reply
The sequence is {1,-1,1-1.....} has
amit Reply

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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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