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Topic: Why trig?
Replies: 21   Last Post: Apr 3, 1997 4:17 PM

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Registered: 12/4/04
Re: Why trig?
Posted: Apr 1, 1997 9:39 AM
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From Jack Roach:
> So far, every example given either has nothing to do with an application
> of trigonometry to a "real-life" probem or else it's of the form, "Trust
> me, kids. It's used to build atomic bombs." Out here in the "real world"
> folks do not spend a lot of time calculating the heights of various flag
> poles. This may not be clear to Mr. Price but it is to students.
> Jack

I thought the example of getting a computer to draw a circle
is pretty practical. There has been mention of solving problems
about triangles of one sort of another also. Is this not real
world? I thought it was still an open question whether teaching
is more effective using real world problems or just plain
interesting problems. (Don't ask me "what is interesting?")
It is quite a daring thing to throw out as obsolete a subject
so thoroughly embedded in mathematics as trigonometry. Indeed,
to have to argue that trig is useful in practical problems is
similar to having to argue that a hammer is a useful tool for
a carpenter.
Don Coleman | (606) 277-7678 (Home)
Mathematics Dept | 257-4802 (Office)
University of Kentucky | 257-4078 (Fax)
Lexington, KY 40506-0027 | email:

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