In mathematics, the trigonometric functions (also called circular functions) are functions of an angle. They are used to relate the angles of a triangle to the lengths of the sides of a triangle. Trigonometric functions are important in the study of triangles and modeling periodic phenomena, among many other applications.
The most familiar trigonometric functions are the sine, cosine, and tangent. The sine function takes an angle and tells the length of the ycomponent (rise) of that triangle. The cosine function takes an angle and tells the length of xcomponent (run) of a triangle. The tangent function takes an angle and tells the slope (ycomponent divided by the xcomponent). More precise definitions are detailed below. Trigonometric functions are commonly defined as ratios of two sides of a right triangle containing the angle, and can equivalently be defined as the lengths of various line segments from a unit circle. More modern definitions express them as infinite series or as solutions of certain differential equations, allowing their extension to arbitrary positive and negative values and even to complex numbers.
Trigonometric functions have a wide range of uses including computing unknown lengths and angles in triangles (often right triangles). In this use, trigonometric functions are used for instance in navigation, engineering, and physics. A common use in elementary physics is resolving a vector into Cartesian coordinates. The sine and cosine functions are also commonly used to model periodic function phenomena such as sound and light waves, the position and velocity of harmonic oscillators, sunlight intensity and day length, and average temperature variations through the year.
In modern usage, there are six basic trigonometric functions, which are tabulated here along with equations relating them to one another. Especially in the case of the last four, these relations are often taken as the definitions of those functions, but one can define them equally well geometrically or by other means and then derive these relations.
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The notion that there should be some standard correspondence between the lengths of the sides of a triangle and the angles of the triangle comes as soon as one recognizes that similar triangles maintain the same ratios between their sides. That is, for any similar triangle the ratio of the hypotenuse (for example) and another of the sides remains the same. If the hypotenuse is twice as long, so are the sides. It is these ratios that the trigonometric functions express.
In order to define the trigonometric functions for the angle A, start with any right triangle that contains the angle A. The three sides of the triangle are named as follows:
In ordinary Euclidean geometry, the inside angles of every triangle total 180° (π radians). Therefore, in a rightangled triangle, the two nonright angles total 90° (π/2 radians), so each of these angles must be in the range of 0° – 90°. The following definitions apply to angles in this 0° – 90° range. (They can be extended to the full set of real arguments by using the unit circle, or by requiring certain symmetries and that they be periodic functions.)
The trigonometric functions are summarized in the following table and described in more detail below. The angle θ is the angle between the hypotenuse and the adjacent line – the angle at A in the accompanying diagram.
Function  Abbreviation  Description  Identities (using radians) 

Sine  sin  
Cosine  cos  
Tangent  tan (or tg)  
Cotangent  cot (or ctg or ctn)  
Secant  sec  
Cosecant  csc (or cosec) 


The sine of an angle is the ratio of the length of the opposite side to the length of the hypotenuse. In our case
Note that this ratio does not depend on size of the particular right triangle chosen, as long as it contains the angle A, since all such triangles are similar.
The cosine of an angle is the ratio of the length of the adjacent side to the length of the hypotenuse. In our case
The tangent of an angle is the ratio of the length of the opposite side to the length of the adjacent side. In our case
The remaining three functions are best defined using the above three functions.
The cosecant csc(A), or cosec(A), is the reciprocal of sin(A), i.e. the ratio of the length of the hypotenuse to the length of the opposite side:
The secant sec(A) is the reciprocal of cos(A), i.e. the ratio of the length of the hypotenuse to the length of the adjacent side:
The cotangent cot(A) is the reciprocal of tan(A), i.e. the ratio of the length of the adjacent side to the length of the opposite side:
Equivalent to the righttriangle definitions the trigonometric functions can be defined in terms of the rise, run, and slope of a line segment relative to some horizontal line. The slope is commonly taught as "rise over run" or rise/run. The three main trigonometric functions are commonly taught in the order sine, cosine, tangent. With a unit circle, the following correspondence of definitions exists:
This shows the main use of tangent and arctangent: converting between the two ways of telling the slant of a line, i.e., angles and slopes. (Note that the arctangent or "inverse tangent" is not to be confused with the cotangent, which is cos divided by sin.)
While the radius of the circle makes no difference for the slope (the slope does not depend on the length of the slanted line), it does affect rise and run. To adjust and find the actual rise and run, just multiply the sine and cosine by the radius. For instance, if the circle has radius 5, the run at an angle of 1° is 5 cos(1°)
The six trigonometric functions can also be defined in terms of the unit circle, the circle of radius one centered at the origin. The unit circle definition provides little in the way of practical calculation; indeed it relies on right triangles for most angles.
The unit circle definition does, however, permit the definition of the trigonometric functions for all positive and negative arguments, not just for angles between 0 and π/2 radians.
It also provides a single visual picture that encapsulates at once all the important triangles. From the Pythagorean theorem the equation for the unit circle is:
In the picture, some common angles, measured in radians, are given. Measurements in the counterclockwise direction are positive angles and measurements in the clockwise direction are negative angles.
Let a line through the origin, making an angle of θ with the positive half of the xaxis, intersect the unit circle. The x and ycoordinates of this point of intersection are equal to cos θ and sin θ, respectively.
The triangle in the graphic enforces the formula; the radius is equal to the hypotenuse and has length 1, so we have sin θ = y/1 and cos θ = x/1. The unit circle can be thought of as a way of looking at an infinite number of triangles by varying the lengths of their legs but keeping the lengths of their hypotenuses equal to 1.
Note that these values can easily be memorized in the form
For angles greater than 2π or less than −2π, simply continue to rotate around the circle; sine and cosine are periodic functions with period 2π:
for any angle θ and any integer k.
The smallest positive period of a periodic function is called the primitive period of the function.
The primitive period of the sine or cosine is a full circle, i.e. 2π radians or 360 degrees.
Above, only sine and cosine were defined directly by the unit circle, but other trigonometric functions can be defined by:
So :
To the right is an image that displays a noticeably different graph of the trigonometric function f(θ)= tan(θ) graphed on the Cartesian plane.
Alternatively, all of the basic trigonometric functions can be defined in terms of a unit circle centered at O (as shown in the picture to the right), and similar such geometric definitions were used historically.
Using only geometry and properties of limits, it can be shown that the derivative of sine is cosine and the derivative of cosine is the negative of sine. (Here, and generally in calculus, all angles are measured in radians; see also the significance of radians below.) One can then use the theory of Taylor series to show that the following identities hold for all real numbers x:^{[3]}
These identities are sometimes taken as the definitions of the sine and cosine function. They are often used as the starting point in a rigorous treatment of trigonometric functions and their applications (e.g., in Fourier series), since the theory of infinite series can be developed from the foundations of the real number system, independent of any geometric considerations. The differentiability and continuity of these functions are then established from the series definitions alone.
Combining these two series gives Euler's formula: cos x + i sin x = e^{ix}.
Other series can be found.^{[4]} For the following trigonometric functions:
Tangent
When this series for the tangent function is expressed in a form in which the denominators are the corresponding factorials, and the numerators, called the "tangent numbers", have a combinatorial interpretation: they enumerate alternating permutations of finite sets of odd cardinality.^{[5]}
Cosecant
Secant
When this series for the secant function is expressed in a form in which the denominators are the corresponding factorials, the numerators, called the "secant numbers", have a combinatorial interpretation: they enumerate alternating permutations of finite sets of even cardinality.^{[citation needed]}
Cotangent
From a theorem in complex analysis, there is a unique analytic continuation of this real function to the domain of complex numbers. They have the same Taylor series, and so the trigonometric functions are defined on the complex numbers using the Taylor series above.
It can be shown from the series definitions^{[6]} that the sine and cosine functions are the imaginary and real parts, respectively, of the complex exponential function when its argument is purely imaginary:
This identity is called Euler's formula. In this way, trigonometric functions become essential in the geometric interpretation of complex analysis. For example, with the above identity, if one considers the unit circle in the complex plane, defined by e^{ ix}, and as above, we can parametrize this circle in terms of cosines and sines, the relationship between the complex exponential and the trigonometric functions becomes more apparent.
Furthermore, this allows for the definition of the trigonometric functions for complex arguments z:
where i^{ 2} = −1. Also, for purely real x,
It is also sometimes useful to express the complex sine and cosine functions in terms of the real and imaginary parts of their arguments.
This exhibits a deep relationship between the complex sine and cosine functions and their real and real hyperbolic counterparts.
In the following graphs, the domain is the complex plane pictured, and the range values are indicated at each point by color. Brightness indicates the size (absolute value) of the range value, with black being zero. Hue varies with argument, or angle, measured from the positive real axis. (more)
Both the sine and cosine functions satisfy the differential equation
That is to say, each is the additive inverse of its own second derivative. Within the 2dimensional function space V consisting of all solutions of this equation,
Since the sine and cosine functions are linearly independent, together they form a basis of V. This method of defining the sine and cosine functions is essentially equivalent to using Euler's formula. (See linear differential equation.) It turns out that this differential equation can be used not only to define the sine and cosine functions but also to prove the trigonometric identities for the sine and cosine functions.
Further, the observation that sine and cosine satisfies y′′ = −y means that they are eigenfunctions of the secondderivative operator.
The tangent function is the unique solution of the nonlinear differential equation
satisfying the initial condition y(0) = 0. There is a very interesting visual proof that the tangent function satisfies this differential equation; see Needham's Visual Complex Analysis.^{[7]}
Radians specify an angle by measuring the length around the path of the unit circle and constitute a special argument to the sine and cosine functions. In particular, only those sines and cosines which map radians to ratios satisfy the differential equations which classically describe them. If an argument to sine or cosine in radians is scaled by frequency,
then the derivatives will scale by amplitude.
Here, k is a constant that represents a mapping between units. If x is in degrees, then
This means that the second derivative of a sine in degrees satisfies not the differential equation
but rather
The cosine's second derivative behaves similarly.
This means that these sines and cosines are different functions, and that the fourth derivative of sine will be sine again only if the argument is in radians.
Many identities exist which interrelate the trigonometric functions. Among the most frequently used is the Pythagorean identity, which states that for any angle, the square of the sine plus the square of the cosine is 1. This is easy to see by studying a right triangle of hypotenuse 1 and applying the Pythagorean theorem. In symbolic form, the Pythagorean identity is written
where sin^{2} x + cos^{2} x is standard notation for (sin x)^{2} + (cos x)^{2}.
Other key relationships are the sum and difference formulas, which give the sine and cosine of the sum and difference of two angles in terms of sines and cosines of the angles themselves. These can be derived geometrically, using arguments which go back to Ptolemy; one can also produce them algebraically using Euler's formula.


When the two angles are equal, the sum formulas reduce to simpler equations known as the doubleangle formulae.
These identities can also be used to derive the producttosum identities that were used in antiquity to transform the product of two numbers into a sum of numbers and greatly speed operations, much like the logarithm function.
For integrals and derivatives of trigonometric functions, see the relevant sections of List of differentiation identities, Lists of integrals and List of integrals of trigonometric functions. Below is the list of the derivatives and integrals of the six basic trigonometric functions. The number C is a constant of integration.
In mathematical analysis, one can define the trigonometric functions using functional equations based on properties like the sum and difference formulas. Taking as given these formulas and the Pythagorean identity, for example, one can prove that only two real functions satisfy those conditions. Symbolically, we say that there exists exactly one pair of real functions — and — such that for all real numbers and , the following equations hold:^{[citation needed]}
with the added condition that for .
Other derivations, starting from other functional equations, are also possible, and such derivations can be extended to the complex numbers. As an example, this derivation can be used to define trigonometry in Galois fields.
The computation of trigonometric functions is a complicated subject, which can today be avoided by most people because of the widespread availability of computers and scientific calculators that provide builtin trigonometric functions for any angle. In this section, however, we describe more details of their computation in three important contexts: the historical use of trigonometric tables, the modern techniques used by computers, and a few "important" angles where simple exact values are easily found.
The first step in computing any trigonometric function is range reduction — reducing the given angle to a "reduced angle" inside a small range of angles, say 0 to π/2, using the periodicity and symmetries of the trigonometric functions.
Prior to computers, people typically evaluated trigonometric functions by interpolating from a detailed table of their values, calculated to many significant figures. Such tables have been available for as long as trigonometric functions have been described (see History below), and were typically generated by repeated application of the halfangle and angleaddition identities starting from a known value (such as sin(π/2) = 1).
Modern computers use a variety of techniques.^{[8]} One common method, especially on higherend processors with floating point units, is to combine a polynomial or rational approximation (such as Chebyshev approximation, best uniform approximation, and Padé approximation, and typically for higher or variable precisions, Taylor and Laurent series) with range reduction and a table lookup — they first look up the closest angle in a small table, and then use the polynomial to compute the correction.^{[9]} On devices that lack hardware multipliers, an algorithm called CORDIC (as well as related techniques) which uses only addition, subtraction, bitshift and table lookup, is often used. All of these methods are commonly implemented in hardware floatingpoint units for performance reasons.
For very high precision calculations, when series expansion convergence becomes too slow, trigonometric functions can be approximated by the arithmeticgeometric mean, which itself approximates the trigonometric function by the (complex) elliptic integral.^{[10]}
Finally, for some simple angles, the values can be easily computed by hand using the Pythagorean theorem, as in the following examples. In fact, the sine, cosine and tangent of any integer multiple of π / 60 radians (3°) can be found exactly by hand.
Consider a right triangle where the two other angles are equal, and therefore are both π / 4 radians (45°). Then the length of side b and the length of side a are equal; we can choose a = b = 1. The values of sine, cosine and tangent of an angle of π / 4 radians (45°) can then be found using the Pythagorean theorem:
Therefore:
To determine the trigonometric functions for angles of π/3 radians (60 degrees) and π/6 radians (30 degrees), we start with an equilateral triangle of side length 1. All its angles are π/3 radians (60 degrees). By dividing it into two, we obtain a right triangle with π/6 radians (30 degrees) and π/3 radians (60 degrees) angles. For this triangle, the shortest side = 1/2, the next largest side =(√3)/2 and the hypotenuse = 1. This yields:
The trigonometric functions are periodic, and hence not injective, so strictly they do not have an inverse function. Therefore to define an inverse function we must restrict their domains so that the trigonometric function is bijective. In the following, the functions on the left are defined by the equation on the right; these are not proved identities. The principal inverses are usually defined as:
For inverse trigonometric functions, the notations sin^{−1} and cos^{−1} are often used for arcsin and arccos, etc. When this notation is used, the inverse functions could be confused with the multiplicative inverses of the functions. The notation using the "arc" prefix avoids such confusion, though "arcsec" can be confused with "arcsecond".
Just like the sine and cosine, the inverse trigonometric functions can also be defined in terms of infinite series. For example,
These functions may also be defined by proving that they are antiderivatives of other functions. The arcsine, for example, can be written as the following integral:
Analogous formulas for the other functions can be found at Inverse trigonometric functions. Using the complex logarithm, one can generalize all these functions to complex arguments:
The trigonometric functions, as the name suggests, are of crucial importance in trigonometry, mainly because of the following two results.
The law of sines states that for an arbitrary triangle with sides a, b, and c and angles opposite those sides A, B and C:
or, equivalently,
where R is the triangle's circumradius.
It can be proven by dividing the triangle into two right ones and using the above definition of sine. The law of sines is useful for computing the lengths of the unknown sides in a triangle if two angles and one side are known. This is a common situation occurring in triangulation, a technique to determine unknown distances by measuring two angles and an accessible enclosed distance.
The law of cosines (also known as the cosine formula) is an extension of the Pythagorean theorem:
or equivalently,
In this formula the angle at C is opposite to the side c. This theorem can be proven by dividing the triangle into two right ones and using the Pythagorean theorem.
The law of cosines can be used to determine a side of a triangle if two sides and the angle between them are known. It can also be used to find the cosines of an angle (and consequently the angles themselves) if the lengths of all the sides are known.
There is also a law of tangents:
Detailed, diagrammed construction proofs, by geometric construction, of formulas for the sine and cosine of the sum of two angles are available for download as a fourpage PDF document at File:Sine Cos Proofs.pdf.
The trigonometric functions are also important in physics. The sine and the cosine functions, for example, are used to describe simple harmonic motion, which models many natural phenomena, such as the movement of a mass attached to a spring and, for small angles, the pendular motion of a mass hanging by a string. The sine and cosine functions are onedimensional projections of uniform circular motion.
Trigonometric functions also prove to be useful in the study of general periodic functions. The characteristic wave patterns of periodic functions are useful for modeling recurring phenomena such as sound or light waves.^{[11]}
Under rather general conditions, a periodic function ƒ(x) can be expressed as a sum of sine waves or cosine waves in a Fourier series.^{[12]} Denoting the sine or cosine basis functions by φ_{k}, the expansion of the periodic function ƒ(t) takes the form:
For example, the square wave can be written as the Fourier series
In the animation of a square wave at top right it can be seen that just a few terms already produce a fairly good approximation. The superposition of several terms in the expansion of a sawtooth wave are shown underneath.
The chord function was discovered by Hipparchus of Nicaea (180–125 BC) and Ptolemy of Roman Egypt (90–165 AD). The sine and cosine functions were discovered by Aryabhata (476–550) and studied by Varahamihira and Brahmagupta. The tangent function was discovered by Muhammad ibn Mūsā alKhwārizmī (780–850), and the reciprocal functions of secant, cotangent and cosecant were discovered by Abū alWafā' Būzjānī (940–998). All six trigonometric functions were then studied by Omar Khayyám, Bhāskara II, Nasir alDin alTusi, Jamshīd alKāshī (14th century), Ulugh Beg (14th century), Regiomontanus (1464), Rheticus, and Rheticus' student Valentinus Otho.^{[citation needed]}
Madhava of Sangamagrama (c. 1400) made early strides in the analysis of trigonometric functions in terms of infinite series.^{[13]}
The first published use of the abbreviations 'sin', 'cos', and 'tan' is by the 16th century French mathematician Albert Girard.
In a paper published in 1682, Leibniz proved that sin x is not an algebraic function of x.^{[14]}
Leonhard Euler's Introductio in analysin infinitorum (1748) was mostly responsible for establishing the analytic treatment of trigonometric functions in Europe, also defining them as infinite series and presenting "Euler's formula", as well as the nearmodern abbreviations sin., cos., tang., cot., sec., and cosec.^{[1]}
A few functions were common historically, but are now seldom used, such as the chord (crd(θ) = 2 sin(θ/2)), the versine (versin(θ) = 1 − cos(θ) = 2 sin^{2}(θ/2)) (which appeared in the earliest tables ^{[1]}), the haversine (haversin(θ) = versin(θ) / 2 = sin^{2}(θ/2)), the exsecant (exsec(θ) = sec(θ) − 1) and the excosecant (excsc(θ) = exsec(π/2 − θ) = csc(θ) − 1). Many more relations between these functions are listed in the article about trigonometric identities.
Etymologically, the word sine derives from the Sanskrit word for half the chord, jyaardha, abbreviated to jiva. This was transliterated in Arabic as jiba, written jb, vowels not being written in Arabic. Next, this transliteration was mistranslated in the 12th century into Latin as sinus, under the mistaken impression that jb stood for the word jaib, which means "bosom" or "bay" or "fold" in Arabic, as does sinus in Latin.^{[15]} Finally, English usage converted the Latin word sinus to sine.^{[16]} The word tangent comes from Latin tangens meaning "touching", since the line touches the circle of unit radius, whereas secant stems from Latin secans — "cutting" — since the line cuts the circle.
