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1.21: Reciprocal Identities

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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You are already familiar with the trig identities of sine, cosine, and tangent. As you know, any fraction also has an inverse, which is found by reversing the positions of the numerator and denominator.

Can you list what the ratios would be for the three trig functions (sine, cosine, and tangent) with the numerators and denominators reversed?

Reciprocal Identities

A reciprocal of a fraction ab is the fraction ba. That is, we find the reciprocal of a fraction by interchanging the numerator and the denominator, or flipping the fraction. The six trig functions can be grouped in pairs as reciprocals.

 

 

 

 

 

First, consider the definition of the sine function for angles of rotation: sinθ=yr. Now consider the cosecant function: cscθ=ry. In the unit circle, these values are sinθ=y1=y and cscθ=1y. These two functions, by definition, are reciprocals. Therefore the sine value of an angle is always the reciprocal of the cosecant value, and vice versa. For example, if sinθ=12, then cscθ=21=2.

Analogously, the cosine function and the secant function are reciprocals, and the tangent and cotangent function are reciprocals:

secθ=1cosθcotθ=1tanθororcosθ=1secθtanθ=1cotθ

Find the value of the expression using a reciprocal identity.

cosθ=.3,secθ=?

 secθ=103

These functions are reciprocals, so if cosθ=.3, then secθ=1.3. It is easier to find the reciprocal if we express the values as fractions: cosθ=.3=310secθ=103.

Find the value of the expression using a reciprocal identity.

cotθ=43,tanθ=?

These functions are reciprocals, and the reciprocal of 43 is 34.

We can also use the reciprocal relationships to determine the domain and range of functions.

Find the value of the expression using a reciprocal identity.

sinθ=12,cscθ=?

These functions are reciprocals, and the reciprocal of 12 is 2.

Examples

Example 1

Earlier, you were asked to list the ratios for the three trigonometric functions with the numerators and denominators reversed. 

Since the three regular trig functions are defined as:

sin=oppositehypotenusecos=adjacenthypotenusetan=oppositeadjacent

then the three functions - called "reciprocal functions" are:

csc=hypotenuseoppositesec=hypotenuseadjacentcot=adjacentopposite

Example 2

State the reciprocal function of cosecant.

The reciprocal function of cosecant is sine.

Example 3

Find the value of the expression using a reciprocal identity.

secθ=2π,cosθ=?

These functions are reciprocals, and the reciprocal of 2π is π2.

Example 4

 Find the value of the expression using a reciprocal identity.

cscθ=4,cosθ=?

 These functions are reciprocals, and the reciprocal of 4 is 14.

Review

  1. State the reciprocal function of secant.
  2. State the reciprocal function of cotangent.
  3. State the reciprocal function of sine.

Find the value of the expression using a reciprocal identity.

  1. sinθ=12,cscθ=?
  2. cosθ=32,secθ=?
  3. tanθ=1,cotθ=?
  4. secθ=2,cosθ=?
  5. cscθ=2,sinθ=?
  6. cotθ=1,tanθ=?
  7. sinθ=32,cscθ=?
  8. cosθ=0,secθ=?
  9. tanθ=undefined,cotθ=?
  10. cscθ=233,sinθ=?
  11. sinθ=12 and tanθ=33,cosθ=?
  12. cosθ=22 and tanθ=1,sinθ=?

Review (Answers)

To see the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 1.21. 

Vocabulary

domain

The domain of a function is the set of x-values for which the function is defined.

Range

The range of a function is the set of y values for which the function is defined.

Reciprocal Trig Function

A reciprocal trigonometric function is a function that is the reciprocal of a typical trigonometric function. For example, since \sin x = \frac{opposite}{hypotenuse}, the reciprocal function is \csc x = \frac{hypotenuse}{opposite}

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Date Created:
Sep 26, 2012
Last Modified:
Mar 23, 2016
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