## Using the Angle Sum and Difference Identities

Here is a short discussion of a common type of problem in trigonometry classes: finding a trig function of the sum or difference of two angles, given minimal information about them.

Here is a short discussion of a common type of problem in trigonometry classes: finding a trig function of the sum or difference of two angles, given minimal information about them.

(A new question of the week) It is not uncommon for students to ask about why they get different answers using different methods. Usually the answer is that the answers are really equivalent. This time, the answers really are different! This was partly the result of being taught an incomplete technique, omitting important cautions. And …

I have a very short problem this week: How deep will you go if you dig a straight tunnel through the earth, how long will it be, and what angle do you have to start at?

(A new question of the week) Two recent questions involved using trigonometric functions to model real-life (or nearly so) situations, one about breathing, the other about a Ferris wheel. Both can be done by writing a sinusoidal function; the second can be done in other interesting ways as well.

(A new question of the week) Proving a trigonometric identity can be a challenge; sometimes even when we read someone else’s proof, we can fail to see how they came up with a seemingly magical step. We’ll look at two such identities here, and consider how to bridge a gap when we are stuck.

Trigonometry can be a powerful tool for solving sides and angles in triangles. But you have to be careful with it! We’ll look at a classic type of error in solving an SSA triangle, get three explanations, and then see how knowing the context of a question can change our answer – to the point …

(A new question of the week) While I was looking through recent questions to choose one to post, I ran across one that deals with an error we see very commonly – in fact, a student I had worked with that very afternoon in face-to-face tutoring had done the same sort of thing. The context …

(A new question of the week) When you are given a problem about a triangle, there can be many ways to approach it: pure geometry, trigonometry, and analytic geometry come to mind. When the context doesn’t dictate a method (as turns out to be true here), you just have to try what feels right to …

A recent question about the resultant velocity of an airplane illustrates different ways to make a diagram showing the bearings of air velocity and wind velocity, and to work out angles without getting too dizzy.

(A new question of the week) A recent question dealt with an apparent conflict between the right-triangle definition of sines and cosines, and the unit-circle definition, pertaining to multiples of 90° (angles on the axes). This provides an opportunity to look closely at the relationship between those two definitions. Two definitions Recall that the right-triangle …