Inverse Trig Functions and Special AnglesDate: 01/25/2006 at 18:29:16 From: Alan Subject: inverse trig functions Find the exact value of the expression arctan(sqrt(3)). In the solutions manual for this problem it says tan(pi/3) = sqrt(3) but they don't say how they figured that out. I need to know how to figure that out without a calculator or graph because neither one is allowed on exams. I know that y = arctan(x) means that tan(y) = x and therefore y = arctan(sqrt(3)) means tan(y)=sqrt(3). How do I know what y is? Date: 01/26/2006 at 08:22:39 From: Doctor Fenton Subject: Re: inverse trig functions Hi Alan, Thanks for writing to Dr. Math. You are generally expected to know the values of the trigonometric functions at "special angles", which usually refers to those angles arising from the equilateral triangle (and the bisected equilateral triangle, which gives you a 30º-60º-90º triangle) and the isosceles right triangle. That means that you should know the exact value of sin, cos, and tan of 0, pi/6 (30º), pi/4 (45º), pi/3 (60º), and pi/2 (90º) (as well as any angle whose reference angle is one of these). There is a chart at: Trigonometry Formulas http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/formulas/faq.trig.html A mnemonic I like to use is what I call the "half square root" table: Write a blank chart x sin(x) cos(x) -------------------------------------- 0 sqrt( )/2 sqrt( )/2 pi/6 sqrt( )/2 sqrt( )/2 pi/4 sqrt( )/2 sqrt( )/2 pi/3 sqrt( )/2 sqrt( )/2 pi/2 sqrt( )/2 sqrt( )/2 . Now, just fill in the blanks with the numbers 0 through 4, going downward in the sin(x) column and upward in the cos(x) column. If you are familiar with the sine and cosine curves, you can remember that in the first quadrant the sine starts at 0 and rises to 1, while the cosine starts at 1 and falls to 0, which helps remember which way to put in the 0-4 values in this chart. x sin(x) cos(x) -------------------------------------- 0 sqrt(0)/2 sqrt(4)/2 pi/6 sqrt(1)/2 sqrt(3)/2 pi/4 sqrt(2)/2 sqrt(2)/2 pi/3 sqrt(3)/2 sqrt(1)/2 pi/2 sqrt(4)/2 sqrt(0)/2 . When you simplify, you get the usual chart for sin(x) and cos(x): x sin(x) cos(x) -------------------------------------- 0 0 1 pi/6 1/2 sqrt(3)/2 pi/4 sqrt(2)/2 sqrt(2)/2 pi/3 sqrt(3)/2 1/2 pi/2 1 0 . With this chart, you can find tan(x) and the value of any of the reciprocal functions cot(x), sec(x), and csc(x) by using the identity tan(x) = sin(x)/cos(x) and the necessary reciprocal identity (such as sec(x) = 1/cos(x) ). If you have any questions, please write back and I will try to explain further. - Doctor Fenton, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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