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Concept# Trigonometry

Summary

Trigonometry () is a branch of mathematics concerned with relationships between angles and ratios of lengths. The field emerged in the Hellenistic world during the 3rd century BC from applications of geometry to astronomical studies. The Greeks focused on the calculation of chords, while mathematicians in India created the earliest-known tables of values for trigonometric ratios (also called trigonometric functions) such as sine.
Throughout history, trigonometry has been applied in areas such as geodesy, surveying, celestial mechanics, and navigation.
Trigonometry is known for its many identities. These
trigonometric identities are commonly used for rewriting trigonometrical expressions with the aim to simplify an expression, to find a more useful form of an expression, or to solve an equation.
History of trigonometry
Sumerian astronomers studied angle measure, using a division of circles into 360 degrees. They, and later the Babylonians, studied the ratios of the sides of similar triangles and discovered some properties of these ratios but did not turn that into a systematic method for finding sides and angles of triangles. The ancient Nubians used a similar method.
In the 3rd century BC, Hellenistic mathematicians such as Euclid and Archimedes studied the properties of chords and inscribed angles in circles, and they proved theorems that are equivalent to modern trigonometric formulae, although they presented them geometrically rather than algebraically. In 140 BC, Hipparchus (from Nicaea, Asia Minor) gave the first tables of chords, analogous to modern tables of sine values, and used them to solve problems in trigonometry and spherical trigonometry. In the 2nd century AD, the Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy (from Alexandria, Egypt) constructed detailed trigonometric tables (Ptolemy's table of chords) in Book 1, chapter 11 of his Almagest. Ptolemy used chord length to define his trigonometric functions, a minor difference from the sine convention we use today.

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Small-angle approximation

The small-angle approximations can be used to approximate the values of the main trigonometric functions, provided that the angle in question is small and is measured in radians: These approximations have a wide range of uses in branches of physics and engineering, including mechanics, electromagnetism, optics, cartography, astronomy, and computer science. One reason for this is that they can greatly simplify differential equations that do not need to be answered with absolute precision.

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