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What is an application of trigonometry?

A:

Quick Answer

One application of trigonometry in the real world is determining the distance and location of faraway objects. This is useful in navigation and in surveying. Historically, trigonometry was also applied to determine the position of heavenly bodies, but this use has been supplanted by linear algebra in modern times.

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Full Answer

Using trigonometry, it is possible to measure objects, no matter how large or inaccessible they are. Knowing the distance and angle between the observer and an object, the height of a tall object such as a cliff can be ascertained. The height is treated as one side of a triangle, while the distance between the observer and the top of the cliff is treated as another side of the same triangle. The problem of finding the height of a tall object is turned into a simple trigonometric calculation. The same method can be applied to objects lying along the plane of the Earth, such as a distant lake. This method is called triangulation and has a long history of application in navigation and map-making.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the importance of trigonometry?

    A:

    Trigonometry is important to mathematics as an element of calculus, statistics and linear algebra. Outside of mathematics, it is important to physics, engineering, geography and astronomy as well as architectural design.

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  • Q:

    Who are the mathematicians who contributed to trigonometry?

    A:

    Trigonometry developed in many parts of the world over thousands of years, but the mathematicians who are most credited with its discovery are Hipparchus, Menelaus and Ptolemy. Isaac Newton and Euler contributed developments to bring trigonometry into the modern age.

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  • Q:

    What is trigonometry used for?

    A:

    Trigonometry is used in many fields of applied and practical sciences, such as astronomy, geography, physics and engineering. Trigonometry is used in astronomy to determine the distance from Earth to various nearby stars by observing the parallax shift with Earth's orbit around the Sun as a baseline.

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  • Q:

    Who is the father of trigonometry?

    A:

    Many historians refer to Hipparchus as the father of trigonometry, according to the New Mexico Museum of Space History. Hipparchus was born in about 190 B.C., and he spent most of his life in Rhodes, Greece.

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