Trig Functions and Exact Values

Q:  Let X be an angle in quadrant III such that cos(X) = -12/13.  Find the exact values of csc(X) and cot(X).

This will be a little hard to explain, since I cannot currently provide a picture, but it should be manageable!  Draw a picture on your own paper and follow along with me.

Draw a right triangle and label one of the angles X (just not the right angle).  We are going to ignore the negative sign for now and then take it in to account later!  Since the cos(X) = 12/13, the side adjacent to X is 12 and the hypotenuse is 13.  Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the missing side (the side opposite X).  You will find that the opposite side is 5.

So, Adj = 12, Opp = 5 and Hyp = 13

Now, let’s consider the negative sign:  Since X is a QIII angle, we know that only tangent and cotangent are positive values in that quadrant — all other trig functions in QIII are negative.

Now, we need to find the csc(X).  “csc” is the ratio of the hyp / opp [and, it will be negative]

So, csc(X) = -13/5

And, cot(x) is the ratio of the adj / opp [and, it will be positive].  So, cot(X) = 12/5


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