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In this section, you will:
  • Find function values for the sine and cosine of 30°  or  ( π 6 ) , 45°  or  ( π 4 ) and 60° or ( π 3 ) .
  • Identify the domain and range of sine and cosine functions.
  • Use reference angles to evaluate trigonometric functions.
Photo of a ferris wheel.
The Singapore Flyer is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. (credit: “Vibin JK”/Flickr)

Looking for a thrill? Then consider a ride on the Singapore Flyer, the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Located in Singapore, the Ferris wheel soars to a height of 541 feet—a little more than a tenth of a mile! Described as an observation wheel, riders enjoy spectacular views as they travel from the ground to the peak and down again in a repeating pattern. In this section, we will examine this type of revolving motion around a circle. To do so, we need to define the type of circle first, and then place that circle on a coordinate system. Then we can discuss circular motion in terms of the coordinate pairs.

Finding function values for the sine and cosine

To define our trigonometric functions, we begin by drawing a unit circle, a circle centered at the origin with radius 1, as shown in [link] . The angle (in radians) that t intercepts forms an arc of length s . Using the formula s = r t , and knowing that r = 1 , we see that for a unit circle    , s = t .

Recall that the x- and y- axes divide the coordinate plane into four quarters called quadrants. We label these quadrants to mimic the direction a positive angle would sweep. The four quadrants are labeled I, II, III, and IV.

For any angle t , we can label the intersection of the terminal side and the unit circle as by its coordinates, ( x , y ) . The coordinates x and y will be the outputs of the trigonometric functions f ( t ) = cos t and f ( t ) = sin t , respectively. This means x = cos t and y = sin t .

Graph of a circle with angle t, radius of 1, and an arc created by the angle with length s. The terminal side of the angle intersects the circle at the point (x,y).
Unit circle where the central angle is t radians

Unit circle

A unit circle    has a center at ( 0 , 0 ) and radius 1 . In a unit circle, the length of the intercepted arc is equal to the radian measure of the central angle 1.

Let ( x , y ) be the endpoint on the unit circle of an arc of arc length s . The ( x , y ) coordinates of this point can be described as functions of the angle.

Defining sine and cosine functions

Now that we have our unit circle labeled, we can learn how the ( x , y ) coordinates relate to the arc length    and angle    . The sine function    relates a real number t to the y -coordinate of the point where the corresponding angle intercepts the unit circle. More precisely, the sine of an angle t equals the y -value of the endpoint on the unit circle of an arc of length t . In [link] , the sine is equal to y . Like all functions, the sine function has an input and an output. Its input is the measure of the angle; its output is the y -coordinate of the corresponding point on the unit circle.

The cosine function    of an angle t equals the x -value of the endpoint on the unit circle of an arc of length t . In [link] , the cosine is equal to x .

Illustration of an angle t, with terminal side length equal to 1, and an arc created by angle with length t. The terminal side of the angle intersects the circle at the point (x,y), which is equivalent to (cos t, sin t).

Because it is understood that sine and cosine are functions, we do not always need to write them with parentheses: sin t is the same as sin ( t ) and cos t is the same as cos ( t ) . Likewise, cos 2 t is a commonly used shorthand notation for ( cos ( t ) ) 2 . Be aware that many calculators and computers do not recognize the shorthand notation. When in doubt, use the extra parentheses when entering calculations into a calculator or computer.

Questions & Answers

can I see the picture
Zairen Reply
How would you find if a radical function is one to one?
Peighton Reply
how to understand calculus?
Jenica Reply
with doing calculus
Thanks po.
Hey I am new to precalculus, and wanted clarification please on what sine is as I am floored by the terms in this app? I don't mean to sound stupid but I have only completed up to college algebra.
rachel Reply
I don't know if you are looking for a deeper answer or not, but the sine of an angle in a right triangle is the length of the opposite side to the angle in question divided by the length of the hypotenuse of said triangle.
can you give me sir tips to quickly understand precalculus. Im new too in that topic. Thanks
if you remember sine, cosine, and tangent from geometry, all the relationships are the same but they use x y and r instead (x is adjacent, y is opposite, and r is hypotenuse).
it is better to use unit circle than triangle .triangle is only used for acute angles but you can begin with. Download any application named"unit circle" you find in it all you need. unit circle is a circle centred at origine (0;0) with radius r= 1.
What is domain
the standard equation of the ellipse that has vertices (0,-4)&(0,4) and foci (0, -15)&(0,15) it's standard equation is x^2 + y^2/16 =1 tell my why is it only x^2? why is there no a^2?
Reena Reply
what is foci?
Reena Reply
This term is plural for a focus, it is used for conic sections. For more detail or other math questions. I recommend researching on "Khan academy" or watching "The Organic Chemistry Tutor" YouTube channel.
how to determine the vertex,focus,directrix and axis of symmetry of the parabola by equations
Bryssen Reply
i want to sure my answer of the exercise
meena Reply
what is the diameter of(x-2)²+(y-3)²=25
Den Reply
how to solve the Identity ?
Barcenas Reply
what type of identity
Confunction Identity
how to solve the sums
hello guys
For each year t, the population of a forest of trees is represented by the function A(t) = 117(1.029)t. In a neighboring forest, the population of the same type of tree is represented by the function B(t) = 86(1.025)t.
Shakeena Reply
by how many trees did forest "A" have a greater number?
how solve standard form of polar
Rhudy Reply
what is a complex number used for?
Drew Reply
It's just like any other number. The important thing to know is that they exist and can be used in computations like any number.
I would like to add that they are used in AC signal analysis for one thing
Good call Scott. Also radar signals I believe.
They are used in any profession where the phase of a waveform has to be accounted for in the calculations. Imagine two electrical signals in a wire that are out of phase by 90°. At some times they will interfere constructively, others destructively. Complex numbers simplify those equations
Is there any rule we can use to get the nth term ?
Anwar Reply
how do you get the (1.4427)^t in the carp problem?
Gabrielle Reply
Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
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