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Technical Math For Dummies® by Barry Schoenborn, Bradley Simkins

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Chapter 16. Trigonometry, the "Mystery Math"

In This Chapter

  • Getting a handle on trigonometry basics

  • Introducing the six common trigonometric functions

  • Using trigonometry calculations to get real-world results

Trigonometry is the branch of mathematics that studies triangles and their parts — angles and sides. The fact that a simple three-sided figure became the object of a big field of study may surprise you at first, but your surprise disappears as you discover the practical value of trigonometry.

We did an informal survey to find the "pain and anguish" factors in math. You can be sure that trigonometry was high on the P&A list. It was also a big winner on the F&L (fear and loathing) list. It's one of the four great chillers in math (the others being algebra, geometry, and calculus — check out Chapter 12 and 14 for more on the first two), those classes that spark kids to stop paying attention.

Trigonometry (or trig, as you can freely call it) seems mysterious, but it's one of the most useful studies you get into. It's practical as well as conceptual, and it answers important questions in a fast and easy way. Plus, it's valuable in several professions, especially surveying, land engineering, architecture, and marine navigation.

In this chapter you see the basic ideas behind trigonometry. You also identify six functions and use them to do a little trig math.

Handling Triangles: More Angles than a Cornfield Maze

Trigonometry is the study of triangles, their angles, and their sides. It's especially ...

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