In this chapter, we will explore applications of trigonometry that will enable us to solve many different kinds of problems, including finding the height of a tree. We extend topics we introduced in Trigonometric Functions and investigate applications more deeply and meaningfully.
- 10.1: Prelude to Further Applications of Trigonometry
- The world’s largest tree by volume, named General Sherman, stands 274.9 feet tall and resides in Northern California. Just how do scientists know its true height? A common way to measure the height involves determining the angle of elevation, which is formed by the tree and the ground at a point some distance away from the base of the tree. This method is much more practical than climbing the tree and dropping a very long tape measure.
- 10.2: Non-right Triangles - Law of Sines
- In this section, we will find out how to solve problems involving non-right triangles. The Law of Sines can be used to solve oblique triangles. According to the Law of Sines, the ratio of the measurement of one of the angles to the length of its opposite side equals the other two ratios of angle measure to opposite side. There are three possible cases: ASA, AAS, SSA. Depending on the information given, we can choose the appropriate equation to find the requested solution.
- 10.3: Non-right Triangles - Law of Cosines
- Unfortunately, while the Law of Sines enables us to address many non-right triangle cases, it does not help us with triangles where the known angle is between two known sides, a SAS (side-angle-side) triangle, or when all three sides are known, but no angles are known, a SSS (side-side-side) triangle. In this section, we will investigate another tool for solving oblique triangles described by these last two cases.
- 10.4: Polar Coordinates
- When we think about plotting points in the plane, we usually think of rectangular coordinates (x,y) in the Cartesian coordinate plane. However, there are other ways of writing a coordinate pair and other types of grid systems. In this section, we introduce to polar coordinates, which are points labeled (r,θ) and plotted on a polar grid. The polar grid is represented as a series of concentric circles radiating out from the pole, or the origin of the coordinate plane.
- 10.5: Polar Coordinates - Graphs
- A polar equation describes a relationship between r and θ on a polar grid. It is easier to graph polar equations if we can test the equations for symmetry. There are three symmetry tests that indicate whether the graph of a polar equation will exhibit symmetry. If an equation fails a symmetry test, the graph may or may not exhibit symmetry.
- 10.6: Polar Form of Complex Numbers
- In this section, we will focus on the mechanics of working with complex numbers: translation of complex numbers from polar form to rectangular form and vice versa, interpretation of complex numbers in the scheme of applications, and application of De Moivre’s Theorem.
- 10.7: Parametric Equations
- We begin this section with a look at the basic components of parametric equations and what it means to parameterize a curve. Then we will learn how to eliminate the parameter, translate the equations of a curve defined parametrically into rectangular equations, and find the parametric equations for curves defined by rectangular equations.
- 10.8: Parametric Equations: Graphs
- In this section, we’ll discuss parametric equations and some common applications, such as projectile motion problems.
- 10.9: Vectors
- Ground speed refers to the speed of a plane relative to the ground. Airspeed refers to the speed a plane can travel relative to its surrounding air mass. These two quantities are not the same because of the effect of wind. In an earlier section, we used triangles to solve a similar problem involving the movement of boats. Later in this section, we will find the airplane’s ground speed and bearing, while investigating another approach to problems of this type.
Thumbnail: A polar equation describes a curve on the polar grid. The graph of a polar equation can be evaluated for three types of symmetry. Ths image shows one type with a graph is symmetric with respect to the vertical line.
- Lynn Marecek (Santa Ana College) and MaryAnne Anthony-Smith (formerly of Santa Ana College). This content produced by OpenStax and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license.