# Trigonometry

## Law of Sines vs Law of Cosines: Which is Better?

Last month, four students from the same class wrote to us with the same question: Which is more accurate, the Law of Sines or the Law of Cosines? Those led to a couple deeper discussions, as we explored the context.

## Finding an Unknown Angle: Trig or Geometry

I am always interested in problems that can be solved in different ways, particularly because this can give a student a chance to be creative, as well as learning from experience that you don’t have to do it “the teacher’s way”. Here we’ll use trigonometry, and two different ways to add lines to a figure …

## More On Mixing Trig Functions

I’ve had several occasions in face-to-face tutoring lately to refer to a past post on mixing (that is, composition) of trig and inverse trig functions. Several recent questions have touched directly or indirectly on this same general idea and extended it, so I thought I’d post them.

## A Challenging Triangle Trigonometry Problem

(A new question of the week) Trigonometry identities can be hard to prove, and more so when they are specifically about a triangle.

## Trig Terminology: What Do Those Words Mean?

Students sometimes wonder why the trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent, secant, and so on) have the names they do, and how they relate to the corresponding terms in geometry. How are the tangent and secant functions related to tangent and secant lines in trigonometry? And what in the world is a sine? Here we’ll look …

## Inverse Trig Notation: What Do sin^-1 and arcsin Mean?

Since we’ve been looking at an example of ambiguity in notation, let’s look at a very different one. There is a lot to be confused by in inverse trigonometry! We’ll try to untangle the notations of $$\sin^{-1}$$ and $$\arcsin$$.

## Two Triangle and Circle Problems

(A new question of the week) Several interesting geometry problems about triangles and circles came in recently. We’ll look at two today, and a third next week.

## Three Trigonometric Inequalities

(A new question of the week) We often solve basic trigonometric equations; but a recent set of questions dealt with challenging trigonometric inequalities, which bring with them a new set of issues. We’ll look at several of those here, which combine trig with polynomials, rational functions, and more. Each will illustrate something new to watch …

## Euler’s Formula: Complex Numbers as Exponents

Last week we explored how the polar form of complex numbers gives multiplication a simple geometric meaning. Here we’ll go one more step, and express polar form exponentially, which makes DeMoivre’s theorem trivial, and gives us a simple notation to replace “cis”.

## Complex Numbers: Multiplication and Rotation

Having looked at the idea of complex numbers and how to perform basic operations on them, we are ready for one of the most important features for applications: their relationship to rotation. We’ll see this first in describing complex numbers by a length and an angle (polar form), then by discovering the meaning of multiplication …