Trigonometric Double-Angle and Half-Angle Formulas
Written by tutor Michael B.
In this section, you will learn formulas that establish a relationship between the basic trigonometric values (sin, cos, tan) for a particular angle and the trigonometric values for an angle that is either double- or half- of the first angle. These relationships can be very useful in proofs and also in problem solving because they can often be used to simplify an equation.
Given the trigonometric values of an angle α, we would like to be able to determine the trigonometric values
for another angle 2α:
This can be easily accomplished by realizing that 2α = α + α, and utilizing the trigonometric summation formulas. Recall the three summation formulas:
From these, we can derive the double-angle formulas for sin(2α), cos(2α), and tan(2α):
In addition, the cos(2α) formula has two alternate but common forms. By utilizing the identity sin2(α) + cos2(α) = 1, we can also derive the two formulas:
It is also important to note that the following relationships are NOT true:
Just as with the double-angle formulas, when given the trigonometric values of an angle α, we would like to be able to determine the trigonometric values
for another angle α/2:
By solving for sin and cos from the alternate forms of cos(2α), and then substituting α = α/2, we obtain:
There is one important thing to note about these two equations. Normally, when one sees the "±" symbol in math equations, it typically means to use both the positive and the negative answer. For example, in the quadratic equation, there are two answers - one for the positive version and one for the negative version of the radical. However, in this case, only one answer (either posititive or negative) should be selected. The choice is not arbitrary – the student must use information available from the given problem to determine which answer is correct. This is typically done by determining which quadrant the angle α/2 is located in, as the sign of each trigonometric function is strictly determined by the quadrant of the angle (ASTC).
The tangent half-angle formula also has three versions that may be useful in different scenarios:
Given an angle for which sin(α) = -3/5 in Quadrant III, determine the values for sin(2α), cos(2α), tan(2α), sin(α/2), cos(α/2), and tan(α/2).
Use identities to simplify and write an exact expression for each of the following using a single trigonometric function: