# 5.1: Sides of an Oblique Triangle

**At Grade**Created by: CK-12

**Practice**Sides of an Oblique Triangle

You are playing a game called ‘‘Over the Line’’, where you stand at one corner of a triangle and hit a ball. The field looks like this:

Points are scored by hitting the ball so that it lands beyond the first line in the triangle, but before the second line.

Given that the angle on the left hand side of the triangle is , and the length of the sides of the triangle going to the first scoring line are 30 yards, can you calculate the length of the line you have to hit the ball past to score?

### Watch This

James Sousa Example: Application of the Law of Cosines

### Guidance

This Concept takes ideas that have only been applied to right triangles and interprets them so that they can be used for any type of triangle. First, the laws of sines and cosines take the Pythagorean Theorem and ratios and apply them to any triangle.

The Law of Cosines is a generalization of the Pythagorean Theorem, where the angle is the angle between the two given sides of a triangle:

You'll notice that if this were a right triangle, , and so the third term would disappear, leaving the familiar Pythagorean Theorem.

One case where we can use the Law of Cosines is when we know two sides and the included angle in a triangle (SAS) and want to find the third side.

#### Example A

Using , and . Find .

**
Solution:
**
Since
isn’t a right triangle, we cannot use the Pythagorean Theorem or trigonometry functions to find the third side. However, we can use our newly derived Law of Cosines.

#### Example B

An architect is designing a kitchen for a client. When designing a kitchen, the architect must pay special attention to the placement of the stove, sink, and refrigerator. In order for a kitchen to be utilized effectively, these three amenities must form a triangle with each other. This is known as the “work triangle.” By design, the three parts of the work triangle must be
*
no less than 3 feet apart and no more than 7 feet apart
*
. Based on the dimensions of the current kitchen, the architect has determined that the sink will be 3.6 feet away from the stove and 5.7 feet away from the refrigerator. If the sink forms a
angle with the stove and the refrigerator, will the distance between the stove and the refrigerator remain within the confines of the work triangle?

**
Solution:
**
In order to find the distance from the sink to the refrigerator, we need to find side
. To find side
, we will use the Law of Cosines because we are dealing with an obtuse triangle (and thus have no right angles to work with). We know the length two sides: the sink to the stove and the sink to the refrigerator. We also know the included angle (the angle between the two known lengths) is
. This means we have the SAS case and can apply the Law of Cosines.

No, this triangle does not conform to the definition of a work triangle. The sink and the refrigerator are too far apart by 0.4 feet.

#### Example C

Using , and . Find .

**
Solution:
**
Since
isn’t a right triangle, we cannot use the Pythagorean Theorem or trigonometry functions to find the third side. However, we can use our newly derived Law of Cosines.

### Guided Practice

1. Find side "a" in this triangle, where

2. Find side "l" in this triangle where

3. Find side "b" in this triangle where

**
Solutions:
**

1.

2.

3.

### Concept Problem Solution

Since you know that the length of each of the other 2 sides is 30 yards, and the angle is , you can use the Law of Cosines to find the length of the third side.

### Explore More

- State the Law of Cosines.

For each triangle below, state the values of a, b, and C.

Now, for each triangle, solve for the missing side using the Law of Cosines.

- Prove that the Law of Cosines is equivalent to the Pythagorean Theorem for all right triangles.

### Image Attributions

## Description

## Learning Objectives

Here you'll learn to find the unknown side of a triangle using the Law of Cosines when two sides of the triangle and the angle between them are known.

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## Date Created:

Sep 26, 2012## Last Modified:

Feb 26, 2015## Vocabulary

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