Trigonometry: Advanced Trigonometry Formulas

Today we will learn about advanced trigonometry formulas. Check out this video and the transcript below. And remember to take a look at all of our free math videos!

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Transcript: Advanced Trigonometry Formulas

Now we can talk about some advanced trigonometry formulas. In this video, I will discuss a few advanced formulas from trigonometry. As a general rule, you don’t need to have anything in this video memorized. I’m going to show you some complicated trigonometry formulas. You simply need to be able to work with the formulas if and when the test presents you with it.

Having some familiarity with these formulas ahead of time will make that much easier.

Trigonometry Formulas: Sign Rules

First of all, what I’ll call the sign rules, this first category has the rules for when the positive and negative signs of x changes. The sin (-x) = -sin (x), but the cos(-x) = just cos (x).

In the unit circle, starting from 0, if we move some angle clockwise and then the same angle counterclockwise, we’ll arrive at points that have opposite y-coordinates and the same x-coordinates. So in other words, we’re going to move this way, and this way. And those two points have the exact same x-coordinate, but they have opposite y-coordinates.

And so that’s why the sines, the sin of x are negatives of each other, but the cosines of x are identical.

Implications for the Shape of the Graph

These formulas have implications for the shape of the graph, the standard cosine graph is a reflection of itself over the y-axis. The sine graph is an image of itself under 180 degrees rotational symmetry around the origin.

Now, if you’re familiar with the ideas of an even function and an odd function, cosine is an even function and sine is an odd function. That’s a convenient thing to know, but the ACT does not ask about those kinds of symmetries.

Angle Addition and Subtraction Rules

Next, we’ll talk about the angle addition and subtraction rules. We can derive the exact values of sine and cosine for three acute angles.

Pi over 6, pi over 4, and pi over 3, those are our angles in the special triangles. If we add and subtract these angles in various combinations, we can get a few more angles. And mathematicians have derived the formulas for the sine or cosine of the sum or difference of two known angles. Assume that alpha and beta are angles for which we know the values of sine and cosine.

These four formulas are the sine of alpha plus beta, the sine of alpha minus beta. The cosine of alpha plus beta, and the cosine of alpha minus beta. So, again, you do not have to have these four complicated formulas memorized. The test will give you one of these if you’re expected to know it. But it’s useful to practice with them. So if you are given one in a problem, it is familiar.

Practice Problem

Here’s a practice problem, pause the video and then we’ll talk about this.

Okay. For Q1 angles, Quadrant 1 angles alpha and beta, the sin of alpha is three-fifths, and the cosine of beta is twelve-thirteenths. Given that, find the cosine of alpha + beta. Well, the first thing we need to do is we need to recognize that we’re dealing with some very important Pythagorean Triplets.

And if the idea of Pythagorean Triplets are not familiar to you. I’d suggest go back and watch the video Right Triangle in the section on Geometry. We’re dealing with these Pythagorean Triplets, 3, 4, 5, and 5, 12, 13. So notice that alpha has a sine of three-fifths so we see that the adjacent leg is 4. Beta has a cosine of twelve-thirteenths, so the opposite leg is 5.

And this means that we can find the cosine of alpha, that’s four-fifths, and the sine of beta, that’s five-thirteenths. So now that we have these four values we can plug into the formula. They give us the formula, cosine of alpha + beta = cosine alpha cosine beta minus sin alpha sin beta. So we plug all these values in and multiply, we get forty eight-sixty fifths minus fifteen-sixty fifths, which is thirty three-sixty fifths. And answer choice A is the answer.

Formulas for Non-Right Triangles

Next, we’ll talk about formulas for non-right triangles. The SOHCAHTOA relationships are wonderful for solving the sides of right triangles. But most triangles in geometry and many triangles in real life are not right triangles. For this, we will follow the conventions that vertices are denoted by capital letters, which also serve as the angle names.

And each side is the lower case of the same letter as its opposite vertex. So, for sample here, we see we have the three vertices, A, B and C. And opposite from the angle is the side indicated by the lower case letter of the same letter. So for any triangle, A,B,C, there are two important rules for these non-right triangles.

Law of Cosines and Sines

One of them is The Law of Cosines, which is kind of a generalized version of the Pythagorean Theorem and then The Law of Sines. So given the numerical values in a combination, SAS, that is to say, side, side, and an included angle. Or ASA, angle, angle, and an included side; or AAS, two angles and a non included side, or just all three sides, SSS.

Now, notice those are the four combinations that determine a triangle, they are good enough for triangle congruence. So if we’re given numerical values in any of those combinations, we could find all the other angles and sides of the triangle. Here is a practice problem. Pause the video and then we will talk about this.

Okay, so here we are given side, side, side. We are given the three side lengths, and we want to find the cosine of angle C, cosine of that larger angle. It kind of appears from the diagram that that angle is an obtuse angle, an angle greater than 90 degrees. So we’re actually expecting that the cosine of it will be negative. So that’s just a prediction, let’s see how this is borne out by the numbers.

Plugging in, we get 2 squared, which is 4 + 3 squared, which is 9 minus 12*cos(C) = 16. Subtract the 9 and the 4, so we get -12*cos(C) = 16 minus 9 minus 4, which is 3. Divided by -12, we get cosine of C = 3 divided by -12 or -3 over 12, which is negative one-quarter.

So, indeed, the cosine is negative and the answer is D. You do not need to have the rules discussed here memorized. But it’s good to do enough practice problems with them so you are familiar with them and are comfortable with using them. So that way if you have a problem and the test hands you the formula and says, use this, you’ll already be comfortable with it.

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  • Mike MᶜGarry

    Mike served as a GMAT Expert at Magoosh, helping create hundreds of lesson videos and practice questions to help guide GMAT students to success. He was also featured as "member of the month" for over two years at GMAT Club. Mike holds an A.B. in Physics (graduating magna cum laude) and an M.T.S. in Religions of the World, both from Harvard. Beyond standardized testing, Mike has over 20 years of both private and public high school teaching experience specializing in math and physics. In his free time, Mike likes smashing foosballs into orbit, and despite having no obvious cranial deficiency, he insists on rooting for the NY Mets. Learn more about the GMAT through Mike's Youtube video explanations and resources like What is a Good GMAT Score? and the GMAT Diagnostic Test.

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