11.4: The Pythagorean Theorem and Its Converse
Learning Objectives
 Use the Pythagorean Theorem.
 Use the converse of the Pythagorean Theorem.
 Solve realworld problems using the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse.
Introduction
The Pythagorean Theorem is a statement of how the lengths of the sides of a right triangle are related to each other. A right triangle is one that contains a 90 degree angle. The side of the triangle opposite the 90 degree angle is called the hypotenuse and the sides of the triangle adjacent to the 90 degree angle are called the legs.
If we let
In a right triangle, the square of the length of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the lengths of the legs.
That is,
Or using the labels given in the triangle to the right
This theorem is very useful because if we know the lengths of the legs of a right triangle, we can find the length of the hypotenuse. Conversely, if we know the length of the hypotenuse and the length of a leg, we can calculate the length of the missing leg of the triangle. When you use the Pythagorean Theorem, it does not matter which leg you call a and which leg you call
Although nowadays we use the Pythagorean Theorem as a statement about the relationship between distances and lengths, originally the theorem made a statement about areas. If we build squares on each side of a right triangle, the Pythagorean Theorem says that the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares formed by the legs of the triangle.
Use the Pythagorean Theorem and Its Converse
The Pythagorean Theorem can be used to verify that a triangle is a right triangle. If you can show that the three sides of a triangle make the equation
Note: When you use the Converse of the Pythagorean Theorem, you must make sure that you substitute the correct values for the legs and the hypotenuse. One way to check is that the hypotenuse must be the longest side. The other two sides are the legs and the order in which you use them is not important.
Example 1
Determine if a triangle with sides 5, 12 and 13 is a right triangle.
Solution
The triangle is right if its sides satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem.
First of all, the longest side would have to be the hypotenuse so we designate
We then designate the shorter sides as
We plug these values into the Pythagorean Theorem.
The sides of the triangle satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem, thus the triangle is a right triangle.
Example 2
Determine if a triangle with sides
Solution
We designate the hypotenuse
We designate the shorter sides as
We plug these values into the Pythagorean Theorem.
The sides of the triangle satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem, thus the triangle is a right triangle.
Pythagorean Theorem can also be used to find the missing hypotenuse of a right triangle if we know the legs of the triangle.
Example 3
In a right triangle one leg has length 4 and the other has length 3. Find the length of the hypotenuse.
Solution
Use the Pythagorean Theorem with Variables
Example 4
Determine the values of the missing sides. You may assume that each triangle is a right triangle.
a)
b)
c)
Solution
Apply the Pythagorean Theorem.
a)
b)
c)
Example 5
One leg of a right triangle is 5 more than the other leg. The hypotenuse is one more than twice the size of the short leg. Find the dimensions of the triangle.
Solution
Let
Then,
And,
The sides of the triangle must satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem,
Answer
We can discard the negative solution since it does not make sense in the geometric context of this problem. Hence, we use
Solve RealWorld Problems Using the Pythagorean Theorem and Its Converse
The Pythagorean Theorem and its converse have many applications for finding lengths and distances.
Example 6
Maria has a rectangular cookie sheet that measures
Solution
1. Draw a sketch.
2. Define variables.
Let
3. Write a formula. Use the Pythagorean Theorem
4. Solve the equation.
5. Check
The solution checks out.
Example 7
Find the area of the shaded region in the following diagram.
Solution:
1. Diagram
Draw the diagonal of the square on the figure.
Notice that the diagonal of the square is also the diameter of the circle.
2. Define variables
Let
3. Write the formula
Use the Pythagorean Theorem:
4. Solve the equation:
The diameter of the circle is
Area of a circle is
Area of the shaded region is therefore
Example 8
In a right triangle, one leg is twice as long as the other and the perimeter is 28. What are the measures of the sides of the triangle?
Solution
1. Make a sketch. Let’s draw a right triangle.
2. Define variables.
Let:
3. Write formulas.
The sides of the triangle are related in two different ways.
1. The perimeter is 28,
2. This a right triangle, so the measures of the sides must satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem.
4. Solve the equation
Use the value of
The short leg is:s
The long leg is:
The hypotenuse is:
5. Check The legs of the triangle should satisfy the Pythagorean Theorem
The results are approximately the same.
The perimeter of the triangle should be 28.
The answer checks out.
Example 9
Mike is loading a moving van by walking up a ramp. The ramp is 10 feet long and the bed of the van is 2.5 feet above the ground. How far does the ramp extend past the back of the van?
Solution
1. Make a sketch.
2. Define Variables.
Let
3. Write a formula. Use the Pythagorean Theorem:
4. Solve the equation.
5. Check. Plug the result in the Pythagorean Theorem.
The ramp is 10 feet long.
The answer checks out.
Review Questions
Verify that each triangle is a right triangle.

a=12,b=9,c=15 
a=6,b=6,c=62√ 
a=8,b=83√,c=16
Find the missing length of each right triangle.

a=12,b=16,c=? 
a=?,b=20,c=30 
a=4,b=?,c=11  One leg of a right triangle is 4 feet less than the hypotenuse. The other leg is 12 feet. Find the lengths of the three sides of the triangle.
 One leg of a right triangle is 3 more than twice the length of the other. The hypotenuse is 3 times the length of the short leg. Find the lengths of the three legs of the triangle.
 A regulation baseball diamond is a square with 90 feet between bases. How far is second base from home plate?
 Emanuel has a cardboard box that measures
20 cm×10 cm×8 cm (length×width×height) . What is the length of the diagonal from a bottom corner to the opposite top corner?  Samuel places a ladder against his house. The base of the ladder is 6 feet from the house and the ladder is 10 feet long. How high above the ground does the ladder touch the wall of the house?
 Find the area of the triangle if area of a triangle is defined as
A=12base×height .  Instead of walking along the two sides of a rectangular field, Mario decided to cut across the diagonal. He saves a distance that is half of the long side of the field. Find the length of the long side of the field given that the short side is 123 feet.
 Marcus sails due north and Sandra sails due east from the same starting point. In two hours, Marcus’ boat is 35 miles from the starting point and Sandra’s boat is 28 miles from the starting point. How far are the boats from each other?
 Determine the area of the circle.
Review Answers

122+92=225152=225 
62+62=72(62√)2=72 
82+(83√)2=256162=256 
c=20 
a=105√ 
b=105−−−√ 
c=130−−−√ 
a=28 
b=123√  12, 16, 20
 3.62, 10.24, 10.86
 127.3 ft
 23.75 cm
 8 feet
 32.24
 164 feet
 44.82 miles
 83.25
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