In trigonometry, the law of sines (also known as the sine law, sine formula, or sine rule) is an equation relating the lengths of the sides of an arbitrary triangle to the sines of its angles. According to the law,
where a, b, and c are the lengths of the sides of a triangle, and A, B, and C are the opposite angles (see the figure to the right). Sometimes the law is stated using the reciprocal of this equation:
The law of sines can be used to compute the remaining sides of a triangle when two angles and a side are known—a technique known as triangulation. It can also be used when two sides and one of the non-enclosed angles are known. In some such cases, the formula gives two possible values for the enclosed angle, leading to an ambiguous case.
The law of sines is one of two trigonometric equations commonly applied to find lengths and angles in a general triangle, the other being the law of cosines.
The following are examples of how to solve a problem using the law of sines:
Given: side a = 20, side c = 24, and angle C = 40°
Using the law of sines, we conclude that
Or another example of how to solve a problem using the law of sines:
If two sides of the triangle are equal to R and the length of the third side, the chord, is given as 100 feet and the angle C opposite the chord is given in degrees, then
Like the law of cosines, although the law of sines is mathematically true, it has problems for numeric use. Much precision may be lost if an arcsine is computed when the sine of an angle is close to one.
- The sine law can be used to prove the angle sum identity for sine when α and β are each between 0 and 90 degrees.
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