Jump to a key chapter

## Definition of an Oblique Triangle

An **oblique triangle** is a type of triangle that does not contain a right angle. In other words, all of its angles are either acute (less than 90 degrees) or obtuse (greater than 90 degrees). There are two types of oblique triangles: acute triangles, where all angles are less than 90 degrees, and obtuse triangles, where one angle is greater than 90 degrees.

### Types of Oblique Triangles

Oblique triangles can be further categorised into two distinct types:

**Acute Triangle:**All three angles in the triangle are less than 90 degrees.**Obtuse Triangle:**One angle in the triangle is greater than 90 degrees.

Knowing the type of oblique triangle you are dealing with is crucial for selecting the appropriate method for solving it.

An **acute triangle** is a triangle where all three interior angles are acute, meaning they are each less than 90°.

An **obtuse triangle** is a triangle where one of the interior angles is an obtuse angle, meaning it is greater than 90°.

### Solving Oblique Triangles Using the Law of Sines

The **Law of Sines** states that the ratio of the length of a side of a triangle to the sine of the angle opposite that side is constant for all three sides and angles in any given triangle. The Law of Sines can be written as:

The Law of Sines: \[\frac{a}{\sin A} = \frac{b}{\sin B} = \frac{c}{\sin C}\]

**Example:** Given a triangle with sides *a* = 7, *b* = 9, and angle *A* = 30°, find angle *B*:

Using the Law of Sines:

\(\frac{7}{\sin 30\degree} = \frac{9}{\sin B}\)

\( \frac{7}{0.5} = \frac{9}{\sin B}\)

\(14 = \frac{9}{\sin B}\)

\(\sin B = \frac{9}{14}\)

\(B = \sin^{-1}\left(\frac{9}{14}\right)\)

\(B \approx 40.54\degree\)

The Law of Sines can be particularly useful not only for solving unknown angles and sides but also in practical applications such as navigation, astronomy, and engineering. For instance, when locating the position of an object using triangulation, the Law of Sines provides an efficient method for determining distances that are otherwise challenging to measure directly.

Remember, the Law of Sines is best used when you are given a pair of angles with their opposite sides, or a pair of sides with one of the non-included angles.

## Solving Oblique Triangles

When dealing with **oblique triangles**, you will not have a right angle to rely on, so different mathematical rules apply. Specifically, you often use the **Law of Sines** and the **Law of Cosines** to find unknown sides or angles.

### Law of Sines

The **Law of Sines** is crucial for solving oblique triangles. It is particularly useful when you know either:

- Two angles and one side (AAS or ASA scenarios)
- Two sides and a non-included angle (SSA scenario)

The Law of Sines can be represented as:

\[\frac{a}{\sin A} = \frac{b}{\sin B} = \frac{c}{\sin C}\]

Consider a triangle with \(a = 8\), \(A = 45°\), and \(B = 60°\), where you need to find \(b\). Using the Law of Sines:

\(\frac{a}{\sin A} = \frac{b}{\sin B}\)

\(\frac{8}{\sin 45°} = \frac{b}{\sin 60°}\)

\(\frac{8}{0.7071} = \frac{b}{0.866025}\)

Solving for \(b\):

\(b = 8 \times \frac{0.866025}{0.7071} ≈ 9.8\)

### Law of Cosines

The **Law of Cosines** is another critical tool for solving oblique triangles. It is useful when you know:

- Three sides (SSS scenario)
- Two sides and the included angle (SAS scenario)

The Law of Cosines is expressed by the equation:

\[c^2 = a^2 + b^2 - 2ab \cos C\]

Consider a triangle where \(a = 5\), \(b = 7\), and \(C = 60°\). You need to find the length of \(c\).

Using the Law of Cosines:

\(c^2 = a^2 + b^2 - 2ab \cos C\)

\(c^2 = 5^2 + 7^2 - 2 \times 5 \times 7 \times \cos 60°\)

\(c^2 = 25 + 49 - 2 \times 5 \times 7 \times 0.5\)

\(c^2 = 74 - 35\)

\(c^2 = 39\)

\(c = \sqrt{39} ≈ 6.24\)

The Law of Cosines is closely related to the Pythagorean theorem and can be seen as a generalisation of it. When the angle \(C\) becomes 90°, \(\cos 90° = 0\), thus reducing the Law of Cosines to the Pythagorean theorem: \(c^2 = a^2 + b^2\). This shows that the right triangle is a special case within the wider family of oblique triangles.

Always check your given angles. In any triangle, the sum of all internal angles must be 180 degrees.

## Solving Oblique Triangles Using Law of Sines and Cosines

When it comes to solving **oblique triangles**, you won't have a right angle, and thus different rules apply. Specifically, the **Law of Sines** and the **Law of Cosines** are used to determine unknown sides or angles.

### How to Solve Oblique Triangles with Law of Sines

The **Law of Sines** is especially useful when you know either:

- Two angles and one side (AAS or ASA scenarios)
- Two sides and a non-included angle (SSA scenario)

The Law of Sines can be written as:

\[\frac{a}{\sin A} = \frac{b}{\sin B} = \frac{c}{\sin C}\]

**Example:** Consider a triangle where \( a = 8 \), \( A = 45° \), and \( B = 60° \), and you need to find side \( b \). Using the Law of Sines:

\( \frac{8}{\sin 45°} = \frac{b}{\sin 60°} \)\( \frac{8}{0.7071} = \frac{b}{0.866025} \)Solving for \( b \):\( b = 8 \times \frac{0.866025}{0.7071} ≈ 9.8 \)

Always double-check the given angles. The sum of all internal angles in any triangle must be 180 degrees.

### How to Solve Oblique Triangles with Law of Cosines

The **Law of Cosines** is beneficial when you know:

- Three sides (SSS scenario)
- Two sides and the included angle (SAS scenario)

This law is expressed by the equation:

\[ c^2 = a^2 + b^2 - 2ab \cos C \]

**Example:** Consider a triangle where \( a = 5 \), \( b = 7 \), and \( C = 60° \). You need to find side \( c \). Using the Law of Cosines:

\( c^2 = a^2 + b^2 - 2ab \cos C \)\( c^2 = 5^2 + 7^2 - 2 \times 5 \times 7 \times \cos 60° \)\( c^2 = 25 + 49 - 2 \times 5 \times 7 \times 0.5 \)\( c^2 = 74 - 35 \)\( c^2 = 39 \)\( c = \sqrt{39} ≈ 6.24 \)

The Law of Cosines can be viewed as a generalisation of the Pythagorean theorem. When the angle \( C \) becomes 90°, \( \cos 90° = 0 \), reducing the Law of Cosines to \( c^2 = a^2 + b^2 \), which is the Pythagorean theorem. This shows that the right triangle is a special case within the wider family of oblique triangles.

## Example Problems for Solving an Oblique Triangle

When solving oblique triangles, you often rely on **trigonometric laws** such as the Law of Sines and the Law of Cosines. In this section, let's go through a few example problems to illustrate how these laws can be applied.

### Example Problem Using the Law of Sines

Consider a triangle where you are given side *a = 10*, angle *A = 50°*, and angle *B = 60°*. You need to find side *b*.

\[ \frac{a}{\sin A} = \frac{b}{\sin B} \]

Substitute the known values:

\[ \frac{10}{\sin 50°} = \frac{b}{\sin 60°} \]The sine values for the angles can be calculated or taken from a trigonometric table:

\[ \frac{10}{0.766} = \frac{b}{0.866} \]

Now, solve for *b*:

\[ b = 10 \times \frac{0.866}{0.766} \approx 11.31 \]

Always ensure that the angles given add up to 180 degrees to confirm the validity of your triangle setup.

### Example Problem Using the Law of Cosines

Now, consider a triangle where you know sides *a = 8*, *b = 6*, and the included angle *C = 45°*. You need to find the length of side *c*. Using the Law of Cosines:

\[ c^2 = a^2 + b^2 - 2ab \, \text{cos} \, C \]

Substitute the known values:

\[ c^2 = 8^2 + 6^2 - 2 \times 8 \times 6 \times \text{cos} \, 45° \]

Calculate the cosine value and plug it in:

\[ c^2 = 64 + 36 - 2 \times 8 \times 6 \times 0.707 \]

Simplify the equation:

\[ c^2 = 100 - 67.86 \]

\[ c^2 = 32.14 \]

Finally, take the square root to solve for *c*:

\[ c \approx 5.67 \]

The ability to apply these laws effectively can have numerous practical applications. For instance, in engineering and architecture, solving oblique triangles can help determine the forces acting on various structures. In astronomy, these laws can be used to determine distances between celestial objects. Understanding and mastering these trigonometric laws can make tackling real-world problems much easier.

## Solving Oblique Triangles - Key takeaways

**Definition of an Oblique Triangle:**An oblique triangle is a triangle that does not contain a right angle; its angles are either acute (less than 90 degrees) or obtuse (greater than 90 degrees).**Types of Oblique Triangles:**There are two types: acute triangles (all angles are less than 90 degrees) and obtuse triangles (one angle is greater than 90 degrees).**Law of Sines:**The ratio of the length of a side of a triangle to the sine of the angle opposite that side is constant. It is used for solving oblique triangles when you know two angles and one side, or two sides and a non-included angle.**Law of Cosines:**Used to solve oblique triangles when you know the lengths of all three sides or two sides and the included angle. The formula is:`c^2 = a^2 + b^2 - 2ab \, \cos \, C`

.**Practical Applications:**Both laws are crucial in fields such as navigation, astronomy, and engineering for determining unknown sides or angles in triangles and are generalisations of the Pythagorean theorem.

###### Learn with 12 Solving Oblique Triangles flashcards in the free StudySmarter app

We have **14,000 flashcards** about Dynamic Landscapes.

Already have an account? Log in

##### Frequently Asked Questions about Solving Oblique Triangles

##### About StudySmarter

StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

Learn more