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Inverse Trigonometric Functions

Ma. Louise De Las Penas, Phd

Ateneo de Manila University

Philippines

LEVEL

High school or university students

OBJECTIVES

To use the calculator to study the different characteristics of the inverse trigonometric

functions.

Corresponding eActivity

Invtrig.g1e

OVERVIEW

The study of the domain and range of inverse trigonometric functions has important

consequences in pre-calculus and calculus. In this paper, we will study this concept using

the graphical and table features of the calculator.

EXPLORATORY ACTIVITIES

[Note] We shall use small letter x instead of capital X as shown on the calculator

throughout the paper. Using SHIFT SET UP we specify that the angle will be in radian

mode.

Activity 1: Determine the domain and range of the following functions:

(a) f(x) = sin

-1

(x)

(b) g(x) = cos

-1

(x)

(c) h(x) = tan

-1

(x)

Solution:

(a) f(x) = sin

-1

(x)

A. Graphical exploration: We open the Graph Editor and graph the function using an

appropriate View Window:

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 2 -

We use [Trace] to explore the domain and range for the function y = f(x) as follows:

The domain of the function is x [-1,1] and the range is approximately the interval

[-1.5708,1.5708]. Notice that if we trace along the graph and consider the x values

outside the interval [-1,1], an error message appears.

B. Tabular exploration: Enter the function p(x) in the Table Editor and use the following

table setting:

We obtain the following partial list of data.

We can verify from the table that the domain of f(x) is [-1,1] and the range is

[-1.5708,1.5708]. Note that if x is not in the interval [-1,1], an error message occurs.

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 3 -

(b) To obtain the domain and range of g(x) = cos

-1

(x), we follow the same steps given in

(a). The domain is [-1,1] and the range is [0,3.142].

(c) Let us explore further the case of h(x) = tan

-1

(x).

A. Graphical exploration

Graphing h, we see from the graph that its domain is (- , ) and the graph has

horizontal asymptotes.

B. Tabular exploration

To determine the asymptote, we investigate the limit of h as x approaches and as x

approaches - using a tabular approach. One can explore the limiting value by choosing

suitable viewing windows. For instance, we observe that as we take large values of x,

(positive direction), h approaches 1.5708. On the other hand, if we take large values of

x(negative direction), h approaches -1.5708.

Thus the range of h is (-1.5708, 1.5708).

Remarks: The results we obtain here regarding the domain and range of the inverse

trigonometric functions is consistent with the following property of inverse functions: the

domain of f = range of f

-1

and the domain of f

-1

= range of f. Consider for example, the

fact that our results say that the domain of tan

-1

(x) = (- , ), which is the range of tan

x and the range of tan

-1

(x)= (-1.5708, 1.5708) which is actually the domain of tan x

=(

2

,

2

).

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 4 -

EXERCISES

Exercise 1.

a) For what values of x is sin(sin

-1

(x))=x, cos(cos

-1

(x)) = x and tan(tan

-1

(x))= x?

b) For what values of x is sin

-1

(sin (x))= x, cos

-1

(cos x) =x and tan

-1

(tan x) = x?

Exercise 2. Let f(x)= sin

-1

(x) and g(x)= cos

-1

(x). Determine (f+g)(x).

SOLUTIONS

Solution to Exercise 1.

a) We first graph the composite sin(sin

-1

(x)) in the graph window. An important

observation we can make is that the graph we obtain is that of the identity function i(x)

= x given specifically on the interval [-1,1].

Similarly, when we graph cos(cos

-1

(x)) we obtain the identity function i(x)= x on the

interval [-1,1] . On the other hand, if we graph tan(tan

-1

(x)), we obtain i(x)= x defined

for all real numbers.

The above graphs show that sin(sin

-1

(x))=x and cos(cos

-1

(x)) = x for all x in [-1,1] and

tan(tan

-1

(x))= x for all real numbers.

If we graph the functions sin

-1

(x) and sin(sin

-1

(x)) in the same Graph window, we can

observe that sin(sin

-1

(x)) = x is true for all x values in the domain of sin

-1

(x). It is also

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 5 -

true that cos(cos

-1

(x)) = x and tan(tan

-1

(x))= x for all x values in the domain of cos

-1

(x)

and tan

-1

(x) respectively.

b) This time we graph the composite function sin

-1

(sin (x)). From the graph we can

approximate that sin

-1

(sin (x)) = x in the interval [-1.571,1.571].

We graph the composite function cos

-1

(cos (x)) and tan

-1

(tan (x)). We can approximate

that cos

-1

(cos (x)) = x in the interval [0,3.143]; tan

-1

(tan (x)) = x in the interval

[-1.571,1.571]. In the graph below, we give the vertical asymptotes of tan

-1

(tan (x)).

These are the horizontal tangents of tan

-1

(x).

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 6 -

Relating this exercise with the exploratory activity given earlier, it is therefore true that

sin

-1

(sin (x))= x, cos

-1

(cos x) =x and tan

-1

(tan x) = x for all values of x in the range of

sin

-1

(x), cos

-1

(x) and tan

-1

(x) respectively.

Remarks: The results given in exercise 1 are important properties of inverse

trigonometric functions. Here are some selected examples that highlight the

consequences of these properties.

1. Evaluate sin(sin

-1

(1.8)). Since 1.8 is not in [-1,1], the domain of sin

-1

, we cannot

evaluate this expression. There is no number with a sine of 1.8. Since we cannot

determine sin

-1

(1.8), we say that sin(sin

-1

(1.8)) does not exist. In the Run Editor of

the calculator, we get an error message when evaluating sin(sin

-1

(1.8)).

2. Simplify sin

-1

(sin (

4

3

)). Since

4

3

is not in [-1.571,1.571], the range of the sin

-1

function, we cannot apply sin

-1

(sin (x))= x. Thus, we evaluate y = sin (

4

3

) first, then

determine sin

-1

(y). In the Run Editor, the value is given directly as follows:

A way to verify for instance, that sin

-1

(sin (

4

3

))

4

3

is to calculate sin

-1

(sin (

4

3

))

4

3

in the Run Editor. Note that the answer we obtain is nonzero:

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 7 -

Solution to Exercise 2.

A. Graphical exploration

We graph the functions sin

-1

(x), cos

-1

(x) and sin

-1

(x) + cos

-1

(x) in the Graph window. We

observe that sin

-1

(x) + cos

-1

(x) 1.571

B. Tabular exploration:

This can be verified further in the table window as follows:

Note that it can be verified from the table that sin

-1

(x) + cos

-1

(x) 1.571 is true only if

x [-1,1]. An error message appears if x is not in the interval [-1,1]. This observation

can lead us to the analytical solution as follows:

C. Analytical solution:

Let us consider x [-1,1]. Suppose y = sin

-1

(x) + cos

-1

(x).

Now, Sin y = Sin [sin

-1

(x) + cos

-1

(x)]

= Sin(sin

-1

(x))Cos(cos

-1

(x)) + Cos(sin

-1

(x))Sin(cos

-1

(x))

Since sin

-1

(sin (x))= x, cos

-1

(cos x) =x for x [-1,1], we have

Sin y = x

2

+

2

1 x

2

1 x

or Sin y = 1.

This implies y =

2

1.571.

D. Geometric solution:

A geometric interpretation of the problem is as follows:

Consider the right triangle with hypotenuse of length 1. Let A, B be the acute angles of

the given triangle.

Inverse Trigonometric Functions

2005 CASIO Computer Co., LTD. All Right Reserved. T02-01- 8 -

B

A

1

x

From the given figure, sin A = x and cos B = x. Now, x is in the interval [0,1] so that

sin

-1

(x) = A and cos

-1

(x) = B.

Note that, A + B = 90

0

. It follows that sin

-1

(x) + cos

-1

(x) = 90

0

.

REFERENCE

[1] Bittinger et al. Algebra and Trigonometry, Graphs and Models, 2

nd

Edition. Addison

Wesley Verlag, 2001.

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