History of trigonometry

The history of trigonometry and of trigonometric functions may span about 4000 years.


Our modern word "sine" is derived from the Latin word "sinus", which means "bay" or "fold", from a mistranslation (via Arabic) of the Sanskrit word "jiva", alternatively called "jya".O'Connor (1996).] Aryabhata used the term "ardha-jiva" ("half-chord"), which was shortened to "jiva" and then transliterated by the Arabs as "jiba" (جب). European translators like Robert of Chester and Gherardo of Cremona in 12th-century Toledo confused "jiba" for "jaib" (جب), meaning "bay", probably because "jiba" (جب) and "jaib" (جب) are written the same in the Arabic script (this writing system, in one of its forms, does not provide the reader with complete information about the vowels). The words "minute" and "second" are derived from the Latin phrases "partes minutae primae" and "partes minutae secundae".


Trigonometry is not the work of any one man or nation. Its history spans thousands of years and has touched every major civilization.It should be noted that from the time of Hipparchus until modern times there was no such thing as a trigonometric "ratio". Instead, the Greeks and after them the Hindus and the Muslims used trigonometric "lines". These lines first took the form of chords and later half chords, or sines. These chord and sine lines would then be associated with numerical values, possibly approximations, and listed in trigonometric tables.cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=166-167|quote=It should be recalled that form the days of Hipparchus until modern times there were no such things as trigonometric "ratios". The Greeks, and after them the Hindus and the Arabs, used trigonometric "lines". These at first took the form, as we have seen, of chords in a circle, and it became incumbent upon Ptolemy to associate numerical values (or approximations) with the chords. [...] It is not unlikely that the 260-degree measure was carried over from astronomy, where the zodiac had been divided into twelve "signs" or 36 "decans." A cycle of the seaons of roughly 360 days could readily be made to correspond to the system of zodiacal signs and decans by subdividing each sign into thirty parts and each decan into ten parts. Our common system of angle measure may stem from this correspondence. Moreover since the Babylonian position system for fractions was so obviously superior to the Egyptians unit fractions and the Greek common fractions, it was natural for Ptolemy to subdivide his degrees into sixty "partes minutae primae", each of these latter into sixty "partes minutae secundae", and so on. It is from the Latin phrases that translators used in this connection that our words "minute" and "second" have been derived. It undoubtedly was the sexagesimal system that led Ptolemy to subdivide the diameter of his trigonometric circle into 120 parts; each of these he further subdivided into sixty minutes and each minute of length sixty seconds.]

Early trigonometry

The ancient Egyptians and Babylonians had known of theorems on the ratios of the sides of similar triangles for many centuries. But pre-Hellenic societies lacked the concept of an angle measure and consequently, the sides of triangles were studied instead, a field that would be better called "trilaterometry".cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=158-159|quote=Trigonometry, like other branches of mathematics, was not the work of any one man, or nation. Theorems on ratios of the sides of similar triangles had been known to, and used by, the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. In view of the pre-Hellenic lack of the concept of angle measure, such a study might better be called "trilaterometry," or the measure of three sided polygons (trilaterals), than "trigonometry," the measure of parts of a triangle. With the Greeks we first find a systematic study of relationships between angles (or arcs) in a circle and the lengths of chords subtending these. Properties of chords, as measures of central and inscribed angles in circles, were familiar to the Greeks of Hippocrates' day, and it is likely that Eudoxus had used ratios and angle measures in determining the size of the earth and the relative distances of the sun and the moon. In the works of Euclid there is no trigonometry in the strict sense of the word, but there are theorems equivalent to specific trigonometric laws or formulas. Propositions II.12 and 13 of the "Elements", for example, are the laws of cosines for obtuse and acute angles respectively, stated in geometric rather than trigonometric language and proved by a method similar to that used by Euclid in connection with the Pythagorean theorem. Theorems on the lengths of chords are essentially applications of the modern law of sines. We have seen that Archimedes' theorem on the broken chord can readily be translated into trigonometric language analogous to formulas for sines of sums and differences of angles.]

The Babylonian astronomers kept detailed records on the rising and setting of stars, the motion of the planets, and the solar and lunar eclipses, all of which required familiarity with angular distances measured on the celestial sphere.citation|title=Trigonometric Delights|first=Eli|last=Maor|year=1998|publisher=Princeton University Press|isbn=0691095418|page=20] Based on one interpretation of the Plimpton 322 cuneiform tablet (circa 1900 BC), some have even asserted that the ancient Babylonians had a table of secants. [Joseph, pp. 383–4.] There is, however, much debate as to whether it is a table of Pythagorean triples, a solution of quadratic equations, or a trigonometric table.

The Egyptians, on the other hand, used a primitive form of trigonometry for building pyramids in the 2nd millennium BC. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, written by the Egyptian scribe Ahmes (circa 1680-1620 BC), contains the following problem related to trigonometry:

Ahmes' solution to the problem is the ratio of half the side of the base of the pyramid to its height, or the run-to-rise ratio of its face. In other words, the quantity he found for the "seked" is the cotangent of the angle to the base of the pyramid and its face.citation|title=Trigonometric Delights|first=Eli|last=Maor|year=1998|publisher=Princeton University Press|isbn=0691095418|page=20]

Greek mathematics

Ancient Greek and Hellenistic mathematicians made use of the chord. Given a circle and an arc on the circle, the chord is the line that subtends the arc. A chord's perpendicular bisector passes through the center of the circle and bisects the angle. One half of the bisected chord is the sine of the bisected angle, that is, mbox{crd} heta = 2 sin frac{ heta}{2}, and consequently the sine function is also known as the "half chord". Due to this relationship, a number of trigonometric identities and theorems that are known today were also known to Hellenistic mathematicians, but in their equivalent chord form.

Although there is no trigonometry in the works of Euclid and Archimedes, in the strict sense of the word, there are theorems presented in a geometric way (rather than a trigonometric way) that are equivalent to specific trigonometric laws or formulas. For instance, propositions twelve and thirteen of book two of the "Elements" are the laws of cosine for obtuse and acute angles, respectively. Theorems on the lengths of chords are applications of the law of sines. And Archimedes' theorem on broken chords is equivalent to formulas for sines of sums and differences of angles. To compensate for the lack of a table of chords, mathematicians of Aristarchus' time would sometimes use the well known theorem that, in modern notation, sin α/ sin β < α/β < tan α/ tan β whenever 0° < β < α < 90°, among other theorems.

The first trigonometric table was apparently compiled by Hipparchus of Nicaea (180 - 125 BC), who is now consequently known as "the father of trigonometry."cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=162|quote=For some two and a half centuries, from Hippocrates to Eratosthenes, Greek mathematicians had studied relationships between lines and circles and had applied these in a variety of astronomical problems, but no systematic trigonometry had resulted. Then, presumably during the second half of the second century B.C., the first trigonometric table apparently was compiled by the astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea (ca. 180-ca. 125 B.C.), who thus earned the right to be known as "the father of trigonometry." Aristarchus had known that in a given circle the ratio of arc to chord decreases from 180° to 0°, tending toward a limit of 1. However, it appears that not until Hipparchus undertook the task had anyone tabulated corresponding values of arc and chord for a whole series of angles.] Hipparchus was the first to tabulate the corresponding values of arc and chord for a series of angles.

Although it is not known when the systematic use of the 360° circle came into mathematics, it is known that the systematic introduction of the 360° circle came a little after Aristarchus of Samos composed "On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon" (ca. 260 B.C.), since he measured an angle in terms of a fraction of a quadrant.cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=159|quote=Instead we have an Aristarchan treatise, perhaps composed earlier (ca. 260 B.C.), "On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and Moon", which assumes a geocentric universe. In this work Aristarchus made the observation that when the moon is just half-full, the angle between the lines of sight to the sun and the moon is less than a right angle by one thirtieth of a quadrant. (The systematic introduction of the 360° circle came a little later. In trigonometric language of today this would mean that the ratio of the distance of the moon to that of the sun (the ration ME to SE in Fig. 10.1) is sin 3°. Trigonometric tables not having being developed yet, Aristarchus fell back upon a well-known geometric theorem of the time which now would be expressed in the inequalities sin α/ sin β < α/β < tan α/ tan β, where 0° < β < α < 90°.)] It seems that the systematic use of the 360° circle is largely due to Hipparchus and his table of chords. Hipparchus may have taken the idea of this division from Hypsicles who had earlier divided the day into 360 parts, a division of the day that may have been suggested by Babylonian astronomy. [cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=162|quote=It is not known just when the systematic use of the 360° circle came into mathematics, but it seems to be due largely to Hipparchus in connection with his table of chords. It is possible that he took over from Hypsicles, who earlier had divided the day into parts, a subdivision that may have been suggested by Babylonian astronomy.] In ancient astronomy, the zodiac had been divided into twelve "signs" or thirty-six "decans". A seasonal cycle of roughly 360 days could have corresponded to the signs and decans of the zodiac by dividing each sign into thirty parts and each decan into ten parts. It is due to the Babylonian sexagesimal number system that each degree is divided into sixty minutes and each minute is divided into sixty seconds.

Menelaus of Alexandria (ca. 100 A.D.) wrote in three books his "Sphaerica". In Book I, he established a basis for spherical triangles analogous to the Euclidean basis for plane triangles. He establishes a theorem that is without Euclidean analogue, that two spherical triangles are congruent if corresponding angles are equal, but he did not distinguish between congruent and symmetric spherical triangles. Another theorem that he establishes is that the sum of the angles of a spherical triangle is greater than 180°. Book II of "Sphaerica" applies spherical geometry to astronomy. And Book III contains the "theorem of Menelaus".cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=163|quote=In Book I of this treatise Menelaus establishes a basis for spherical triangles analogous to that of Euclid I for plane triangles. Included is a theorem without Euclidean analogue - that two spherical triangles are congruent if corresponding angles are equal (Menelaus did not distinguish between congruent and symmetric spherical triangles); and the theorem A + B + C > 180° is established. The second book of the "Sphaerica" describes the application of spherical geometry to astronomical phenomena and is of little mathematical interest. Book III, the last, contains the well known "theorem of Menelaus" as part of what is essentially spherical trigonometry in the typical Greek form - a geometry or trigonometry of chords in a circle. In the circle in Fig. 10.4 we should write that chord AB is twice the sine of half the central angle AOB (multiplied by the radius of the circle). Menelaus and his Greek successors instead referred to AB simply as the chord corresponding to the arc AB. If BOB' is a diameter of the circle, then chord A' is twice the cosine of half the angle AOB (multiplied by the radius of the circle).] He further gave his famous "rule of six quantities".Needham, Volume 3, 108.]

Later, Claudius Ptolemy (ca. 90 - ca. 168 A.D.) expanded upon Hipparchus' "Chords in a Circle" in his "Almagest", or the "Mathematical Syntaxis". The thirteen books of the "Almagest" are the most influential and significant trigonometric work of all antiquity. A theorem that was central to Ptolemy's calculation of chords was what is still known today as Ptolemy's theorem, that the sum of the products of the opposite sides of a cyclic quadrilateral is equal to the product of the diagonals. A special case of Ptolemy's theorem appeared as proposition 93 in Euclid's "Data". Ptolemy's theorem leads to the equivalent of the four sum-and-difference formulas for sine and cosine that are today known as Ptolemy's formulas, although Ptolemy himself used chords instead of sine and cosine. Ptolemy further derived the equivalent of the half-angle formula sin^2({x/2}) = frac{1 - cos(x)}{2}. Ptolemy used these results to create his trigonometric tables, but whether these tables were derived from Hipparchus' work cannot be determined.cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Greek Trigonometry and Mensuration|pages=164-166|quote=The theorem of Menelaus played a fundamental role in spherical trigonometry and astronomy, but by far the most influential and significant trigonometric work of all antiquity was composed by Ptolemy of Alexandria about half a century after Menelaus. [...] Of the life of the author we are as little informed as we are of that of the author of the Elements. We do not know when or where Euclid and Ptolemy were born. We know that Ptolemy made observations at Alexandria from A.D. 127 to 151 and, therefore, assume that he was born at the end of the first century. Suidas, a writer who lived in the tenth century, reported that Ptolemy was alive under Marcus Aurelius (emperor from A.D. 161 to 180).
Ptolemy's "Almagest" is presumed to be heavily indebted for its methods to the "Chords in a Circle" of Hipparchus, but the extent of the indebtedness cannot be reliably assessed. It is clear that in astronomy Ptolemy made use of the catalogue of star positions bequeathed by Hipparchus, but whether or not Ptolemy's trigonometric tables were derived in large part from his distinguioshed predecrssor cannot be determined. [...] Central to the calculation of Ptolemy's chords was a geometric proposition still known as "Ptolemy's theorem": [...] that is, the sum of the products of the opposite sides of a cyclic quadrilateral is equal to the product of the diagonals. [...] A special case of Ptolemy's theorem had appeared in Euclid's "Data" (Proposition 93): [...] Ptolemy's theorem, therefore, leads to the result sin(α - β) = sin α cos β - cos α sin Β. Similar reasoning leads to the formula [...] These four sum-and-difference formulas consequently are often known today as Ptolemy's formulas.
It was the formula for sine of the difference - or, more accurately, chord of the difference - that Ptolemy found especially useful in building up his tables. Another formula that served him effectively was the equivalent of our half-angle formula.

Neither the tables of Hipparchus nor those of Ptolemy have survived to the present day, although descriptions by other ancient authors leave little doubt that they once existed.Boyer, pp. 158&ndash;168.]

Indian mathematics

The next significant developments of trigonometry were in India. The Indian mathematician and astronomer, Aryabhata (476&ndash;550 AD), in his work "Aryabhata-Siddhanta", first defined the sine as the modern relationship between half an angle and half a chord, while also defining the cosine, versine, and inverse sine. His works also contain the earliest surviving tables of sine values and versine (1 − cosine) values, in 3.75° intervals from 0° to 90°, to an accuracy of 4 decimal places. He used the words "jya" for sine, "kojya" for cosine, "ukramajya" for versine, and "otkram jya" for inverse sine. The words "jya" and "kojya" eventually became "sine" and "cosine" respectively after a mistranslation.

Other Indian mathematicians later expanded Aryabhata's works on trigonometry. In the 6th century, Varahamihira used the formulas

sin^2(x) + cos^2(x) = 1
sin(x) = cosleft (frac{pi}{2} - x ight )
frac{1 - cos(2x)}{2} = sin^2(x)

In the 7th century, Bhaskara I produced a formula for calculating the sine of an acute angle without the use of a table. He also gave the following approximation formula for sin(x), which had a relative error of less than 1.9%:

sin x approx frac{16x (pi - x)}{5 pi^2 - 4x (pi - x)}, qquad (0 leq x leq frac{pi}{2} )

Later in the 7th century, Brahmagupta developed the formula 1 - sin^2(x) = cos^2(x) = sin^2left (frac{pi}{2} - x ight ) as well as the Brahmagupta interpolation formula for computing sine values. Another later Indian author on trigonometry was Bhaskara II in the 12th century.

Madhava (c. 1400) made early strides in the analysis of trigonometric functions and their infinite series expansions. He developed the concepts of the power series and Taylor series, and produced the trigonometric series expansions of sine, cosine, tangent and arctangent. Using the Taylor series approximations of sine and cosine, he produced a sine table to 12 decimal places of accuracy and a cosine table to 9 decimal places of accuracy. He also gave the power series of π and the θ, radius, diameter and circumference of a circle in terms of trigonometric functions. His works were expanded by his followers at the Kerala School up to the 16th century. [O'Connor and Robertson (2000).] [Pearce (2002).]

Islamic mathematics

The Indian works were later translated and expanded in the medieval Islamic world by Muslim mathematicians of mostly Arab and Persian descent. They enunciated a large number of theorems which freed the subject of trigonometry from dependence upon the complete quadrilateral, as was the case in Hellenistic mathematics due to the application of Menelaus' theorem. According to E. S. Kennedy, it was after this development in Islamic mathematics that "the first real trigonometry emerged, in the sense that only then did the object of study become the spherical or plane triangle, its sides and angles." [citation|first=E. S.|last=Kennedy|title=The History of Trigonometry|journal=31st Yearbook|publisher=National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Washington DC|year=1969 (cf. citation|first=Syed Nomanul|last=Haq|title=The Indian and Persian background|pages=60-3, in citation|title=History of Islamic Philosophy|first=Oliver Leaman|last=Seyyed Hossein Nasr|year=1996|publisher=Routledge|isbn=0415131596|pages=52-70)]

In the 9th century, Unicode|Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī produced accurate sine and cosine tables, and the first table of tangents. He was also a pioneer in spherical trigonometry. By the 10th century, in the work of Abū al-Wafā' al-Būzjānī, Muslim mathematicians were using all six trigonometric functions, after discovering the secant, cotangent and cosecant functions. Abu al-Wafa had sine tables in 0.25° increments, to 8 decimal places of accuracy, and accurate tables of tangent values. He also developed the following trigonometric formula:

: sin(2x) = 2 sin(x) cos(x)

Abū al-Wafā also established the angle addition identities, e.g. sin ("a" + "b"), and discovered the sine formula for spherical trigonometry:

:frac{sin A}{sin a} = frac{sin B}{sin b} = frac{sin C}{sin c}.

Another 10th century mathematician, Muhammad ibn Jābir al-Harrānī al-Battānī (Albatenius), was responsible for establishing a number of important trigometrical relationships, such as:

: an a = frac{sin a}{cos a}

:sec a = sqrt{1 + an^2 a }

Also in the late 10th and early 11th centuries, the Egyptian astronomer Ibn Yunus performed many careful trigonometric calculations and demonstrated the following trigonometric identity:

:cos a cos b = frac{cos(a+b) + cos(a-b)}{2}

Al-Jayyani (989&ndash;1079) of al-Andalus wrote "The book of unknown arcs of a sphere", which is considered "the first treatise on spherical trigonometry" in its modern form,MacTutor|id=Al-Jayyani|title=Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Muadh Al-Jayyani] although spherical trigonometry in its ancient Hellenistic form was dealt with by earlier mathematicians such as Menelaus of Alexandria, who developed Menelaus' theorem to deal with spherical problems. [MacTutor|id=Menelaus|title=Menelaus of Alexandria "Book 3 deals with spherical trigonometry and includes Menelaus's theorem."] However, E. S. Kennedy points out that while it was possible in pre-lslamic mathematics to compute the magnitudes of a spherical figure, in principle, by use of the table of chords and Menelaus' theorem, the application of the theorem to spherical problems was very difficult in practice. [citation|first=E. S.|last=Kennedy|title=The History of Trigonoemetry|journal=31st Yearbook|publisher=National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Washington DC|year=1969|page=337 (cf. citation|first=Syed Nomanul|last=Haq|title=The Indian and Persian background|page=68, in citation|title=History of Islamic Philosophy|first=Oliver Leaman|last=Seyyed Hossein Nasr|year=1996|publisher=Routledge|isbn=0415131596|pages=52-70)] Al-Jayyani's work on spherical trigonometry "contains formulae for right-handed triangles, the general law of sines, and the solution of a spherical triangle by means of the polar triangle." This treatise later had a "strong influence on European mathematics", and his "definition of ratios as numbers" and "method of solving a spherical triangle when all sides are unknown" are likely to have influenced Regiomontanus.

The method of triangulation was first developed by Muslim mathematicians, who applied it to practical uses such as surveying [Donald Routledge Hill (1996), "Engineering", in Roshdi Rashed, "Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science", Vol. 3, p. 751-795 [769] .] and Islamic geography, as described by Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī in the early 11th century. [MacTutor|id=Al-Biruni|title=Abu Arrayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni] In the late 11th century, Omar Khayyám (1048&ndash;1131) solved cubic equations using approximate numerical solutions found by interpolation in trigonometric tables. In the 13th century, Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī was the first to treat trigonometry as a mathematical discipline independent from astronomy, and he developed spherical trigonometry into its present form. [cite web|title=trigonometry|url=http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/605281/trigonometry|publisher="Encyclopædia Britannica"|accessdate=2008-07-21] He listed the six distinct cases of a right-angled triangle in spherical trigonometry, and he also stated the law of sines and provided a proof for it.

In the 14th century, Jamshīd al-Kāshī gave trigonometric tables of values of the sine function to four sexagesimal digits (equivalent to 8 decimal places) for each 1° of argument with differences to be added for each 1/60 of 1°. Ulugh Beg also gives accurate tables of sines and tangents correct to 8 decimal places around the same time.

In the 16th century, Taqi al-Din contributed to trigonometry in his "Sidrat al-Muntaha", in which he was the first mathematician to extract the precise value of Sin 1°. He discusses the values given by his predecessors, explaining how Ptolemy used an approximate method to obtain his value of Sin 1° and how Abū al-Wafā, Ibn Yunus, al-Kashi, Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī, Ulugh Beg and Mirim Chelebi improved on the value. Taqi al-Din then solves the problem to obtain the precise value of Sin 1°: [cite web|title=Taqi al Din Ibn Ma’ruf's Work on Extracting the Cord 2° and Sin 1°|publisher=FSTC Limited|url=http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=941|date=30 May 2008|accessdate=2008-07-04]

: sin 1^circ = 1^P 2' 49" 43 11' 14" 4416""

Chinese mathematics

In China, Aryabhata's table of sines were translated into the Chinese mathematical book of the "Kaiyuan Zhanjing", compiled in 718 AD during the Tang Dynasty.Needham, Volume 3, 109.] Although the Chinese excelled in other fields of mathematics such as solid geometry, binomial theorem, and complex algebraic formulas, early forms of trigonometry were not as widely appreciated as in the earlier Greek and then Indian and Islamic worlds.Needham, Volume 3, 108-109.] Instead, the early Chinese used an empirical substitute known as "chong cha", while practical use of plane trigonometry in using the sine, the tangent, and the secant were known. However, this embryonic state of trigonometry in China slowly began to change and advance during the Song Dynasty (960&ndash;1279), where Chinese mathematicians began to express greater emphasis for the need of spherical trigonometry in calendrical science and astronomical calculations. The polymath Chinese scientist, mathematician and official Shen Kuo (1031&ndash;1095) used trigonometric functions to solve mathematical problems of chords and arcs. Victor J. Katz writes that in Shen's formula "technique of intersecting circles", he created an approximation of the arc of a circle "s" given the diameter "d", sagita "v", and length of the chord "c" subtending the arc, the length of which he approximated as "s" = "c" + 2v2/d.Katz, 308.] Sal Restivo writes that Shen's work in the lengths of arcs of circles provided the basis for spherical trigonometry developed in the 13th century by the mathematician and astronomer Guo Shoujing (1231&ndash;1316).Restivo, 32.] As the historians L. Gauchet and Joseph Needham state, Guo Shoujing used spherical trigonometry in his calculations to improve the calendar system and Chinese astronomy.Gauchet, 151.] Along with a later 17th century Chinese illustration of Guo's mathematical proofs, Needham states that:

Guo used a quadrangular spherical pyramid, the basal quadrilateral of which consisted of one equatorial and one ecliptic arc, together with two meridian arcs, one of which passed through the summer solstice point...By such methods he was able to obtain the du lü (degrees of equator corresponding to degrees of ecliptic), the ji cha (values of chords for given ecliptic arcs), and the cha lü (difference between chords of arcs differing by 1 degree).Needham, Volume 3, 109-110.]

Despite the achievements of Shen and Guo's work in trigonometry, another substantial work in Chinese trigonometry would not be published again until 1607, with the dual publication of "Euclid's Elements" by Chinese official and astronomer Xu Guangqi (1562&ndash;1633) and the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552&ndash;1610).Needham, Volume 3, 110.]

European mathematics

Isaac Newton in a 1702 portrait by Godfrey Kneller.]
Regiomontanus was perhaps the first mathematician in Europe to treat trigonometry as a distinct mathematical discipline, [Boyer, p. 274] in his "De triangulis omnimodus" written in 1464, as well as his later "Tabulae directionum" which included the tangent function, unnamed.

The "Opus palatinum de triangulis" of Georg Joachim Rheticus, a student of Copernicus, was probably the first to define trigonometric functions directly in terms of right triangles instead of circles, with tables for all six trigonometric functions; this work was finished by Rheticus' student Valentin Otho in 1596.

In the 17th century, Isaac Newton and James Stirling developed the general Newton-Stirling interpolation formula for trigonometric functions.

In the 18th century, Leonhard Euler's "Introductio in analysin infinitorum" (1748) was mostly responsible for establishing the analytic treatment of trigonometric functions in Europe, defining them as infinite series and presenting "Euler's formula" "e""ix" = cos("x") + "i" sin("x"). Euler used the near-modern abbreviations "sin.", "cos.", "tang.", "cot.", "sec.", and "cosec."

Also in the 18th century, Brook Taylor defined the general Taylor series and gave the series expansions and approximations for all six trigonometric functions. The works of James Gregory in the 17th century and Colin Maclaurin in the 18th century were also very influential in the development of trigonometric series.

See also

* Greek mathematics
* History of mathematics
* Trigonometric functions
* Trigonometry

Citations and footnotes


*cite book|first=Carl B. |last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=A History of Mathematics |edition=Second Edition |publisher=John Wiley & Sons, Inc. |year=1991 |isbn=0471543977
*Gauchet, L. (1917). "Note Sur La Trigonométrie Sphérique de Kouo Cheou-King".
*Joseph, George G., "The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics", 2nd ed. Penguin Books, London. (2000). ISBN 0-691-00659-8.
*Katz, Victor J. (2007). The "Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook". Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691114854.
*Needham, Joseph (1986). "Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth". Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
*O'Connor, J.J., and E.F. Robertson, [http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/HistTopics/Trigonometric_functions.html "Trigonometric functions"] , "MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive". (1996).
*O'Connor, J.J., and E.F. Robertson, [http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Madhava.html "Madhava of Sangamagramma"] , "MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive". (2000).
*Pearce, Ian G., [http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Projects/Pearce/Chapters/Ch9_3.html "Madhava of Sangamagramma"] , "MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive". (2002).
*Restivo, Sal. (1992). "Mathematics in Society and History: Sociological Inquiries". Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 1402000391.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • trigonometry — trigonometric /trig euh neuh me trik/, trigonometrical, adj. trigonometrically, adv. /trig euh nom i tree/, n. the branch of mathematics that deals with the relations between the sides and angles of plane or spherical triangles, and the… …   Universalium

  • Trigonometry — Trig redirects here. For other uses, see Trig (disambiguation). The Canadarm2 robotic manipulator on the International Space Station is operated by controlling the angles of its joints. Calculating the final position of the astronaut at the end… …   Wikipedia

  • History of mathematics — A proof from Euclid s Elements, widely considered the most influential textbook of all time.[1] …   Wikipedia

  • History of science — History of science …   Wikipedia

  • History of astronomy — History of science …   Wikipedia

  • History of chemistry — History of science …   Wikipedia

  • History of calculus — History of science …   Wikipedia

  • History of geometry — Geometry (Greek γεωμετρία ; geo = earth, metria = measure) arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers. Classic geometry… …   Wikipedia

  • History of algebra — Elementary algebra is the branch of mathematics that deals with solving for the operands of arithmetic equations. Modern or abstract algebra has its origins as an abstraction of elementary algebra. Historians know that the earliest mathematical… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Indian science and technology — [ thumb|200px|right|Hand propelled wheel cart, Indus Valley Civilization (3000–1500 BCE). Housed at the National Museum, New Delhi.] [ thumb|right|200px|The Pundit (explorer) and Indian cartographer Nain Singh Rawat (19th century CE) received a… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.