Law of Sines and Cosines

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  • Topic: Trigonometry, Law of cosines, Angle
  • Pages : 2 (356 words )
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  • Published : December 1, 2010
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Law of sines

In trigonometry, the law of sines (also known as the sine law, sine formula, or sine rule) is anequation relating the lengths of the sides of an arbitrary triangle to the sines of its angles. According to the law,

where a, b, and c are the lengths of the sides of a triangle, and A, B, and C are the opposite angles (see the figure to the right). Sometimes the law is stated using the reciprocal of this equation:

The law of sines can be used to compute the remaining sides of a triangle when two angles and a side are known—a technique known as triangulation. It can also be used when two sides and one of the non-enclosed angles are known. In some such cases, the formula gives two possible values for the enclosed angle, leading to an ambiguous case. The law of sines is one of two trigonometric equations commonly applied to find lengths and angles in a general triangle, the other being the law of cosines.

Law of cosines

In trigonometry, the law of cosines (also known as the cosine formula or cosine rule) is a statement about a general triangle that relates the lengths of its sides to the cosine of one of itsangles. Using notation as in Fig. 1, the law of cosines states that

where γ denotes the angle contained between sides of lengths a and b and opposite the side of lengthc. The law of cosines generalizes the Pythagorean theorem, which holds only for right triangles: if the angle γ is a right angle (of measure 90° or π/2 radians), then cos(γ) = 0, and thus the law of cosines reduces to

The law of cosines is useful for computing the third side of a triangle when two sides and their enclosed angle are known, and in computing the angles of a triangle if all three sides are known. By changing which legs of the triangle play the roles of a, b, and c in the original formula, one discovers that the following two formulas also state the law of...
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