Trigonometric functions such as sine, cosine, and tangent are used in computations in trigonometry. These functions relate measurements of angles to measurements of associated straight lines as described later in this short course.
Trig functions are not easy to compute like polynomials are. So much time goes into computing them in ancient times that tables were made for their values. Even with tables, using trig functions takes time because any use of a trig function involves at least one multiplication or division, and, when several digits are involved, even multiplication and division are slow. In the early 17th century computation sped up with the invention of logarithms and soon after slide rules. With the advent of calculators computation has become easy. Tables, logarithms, and slide rules aren't needed in trigonometric computations. All you have to do is enter the numbers and push a few buttons to get the answer. One of the things that used to make learning trig difficult was performing the computations. That's not a problem anymore!
On to Background on geometry
Copyright © 1996, 1997.
David E. Joyce
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Worcester, MA 01610
Dave's Short Trig Course is located at http://www.clarku.edu/~djoyce/trig