Trigonometry (Encyclopedia of Science)
Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics concerned with the relationship between angles and their sides and the calculations based on them. First developed during the third century B.C. as a branch of geometry focusing on triangles, trigonometry was used extensively for astronomical measurements. The major trigonometric functionsncluding sine, cosine, and tangentere first defined as ratios of sides in a right triangle. Since trigonometric functions are a natural part of any triangle, they can be used to determine the dimensions of any triangle given limited information.
In the eighteenth century, the definitions of trigonometric functions were broadened by being defined as points on a unit circle. This development allowed the construction of graphs of functions related to the angles they represent, which were periodic. Today, using the periodic (regularly repeating) nature of trigonometric functions, mathematicians and scientists have developed mathematical models to predict many natural periodic phenomena.
The principles of trigonometry were originally developed around the relationship among the sides of a right triangle and its angles. The basic idea was that the unknown length of a side or size of an angle could be determined if the length or magnitude of some of the other sides or angles were known. Recall that a...
(The entire section is 848 words.)
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