Hyperbolic law of cosines

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In hyperbolic geometry, the "law of cosines" is a pair of theorems relating the sides and angles of triangles on a hyperbolic plane, analogous to the planar law of cosines from plane trigonometry, or the spherical law of cosines in spherical trigonometry. It was introduced by Franz Taurinus (1826), Nikolai Lobachevsky (1829) in terms of hyperbolic geometry, and by Ferdinand Minding (1840) in terms of surfaces of constant negative curvature.[1][2][3][4] It can also be related to the relativisic velocity addition formula.[5][6][7][8]

Hyperbolic law of cosines[edit]

Take a hyperbolic plane whose Gaussian curvature is . Then given a hyperbolic triangle with angles and side lengths , , and , the following two rules hold:






considering the sides, while

for the angles.

Christian Houzel (page 8) indicates that the hyperbolic law of cosines implies the angle of parallelism in the case of an ideal hyperbolic triangle:[9]

When , that is when the vertex ”A” is rejected to infinity and the sides ”BA” and ”CA” are ”parallel”, the first member equals 1; let us suppose in addition that so that and . The angle at ”B” takes a value β given by ; this angle was later called ”angle of parallelism” and Lobachevsky noted it by ”F(a)” or Π(”a”).

Hyperbolic law of Haversines[edit]

In cases where ”a/k” is small, and being solved for, the numerical precision of the standard form of the hyperbolic law of cosines will drop due to rounding errors, for exactly the same reason it does in the Spherical law of cosines. The hyperbolic version of the law of haversines can prove useful in this case:

Relativistic velocity addition via hyperbolic law of cosines[edit]

Setting in (1), and by using hyperbolic identities in terms of the hyperbolic tangent, the hyperbolic law of cosines can be written:






In comparison, the velocity addition formulas of special relativity for the x and y-directions as well as under an arbitrary angle , where v is the relative velocity between two inertial frames, u the velocity of another object or frame, and c the speed of light, is given by[10][11]

It turns out that this result corresponds to the hyperbolic law of cosines - by identifying with relativistic rapidities , the equations in (2) assume the form:[5][7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bonola, R. (1912). Non-Euclidean geometry: A critical and historical study of its development. Chicago: Open Court. 
  2. ^ Bonola (1912), p. 79 for Taurinus; p. 89 for Lobachevsky; p. 137 for Minding
  3. ^ Gray, J. (1979). "Non-euclidean geometry—A re-interpretation". Historia Mathematica. 6 (3): 236–258. doi:10.1016/0315-0860(79)90124-1. 
  4. ^ Gray (1979), p. 242 for Taurinus; p. 244 for Lobachevsky; p. 246 for Minding
  5. ^ a b Varičak, Vladimir (1912), "Über die nichteuklidische Interpretation der Relativtheorie" [On the Non-Euclidean Interpretation of the Theory of Relativity], Jahresbericht der Deutschen Mathematiker-Vereinigung, 21: 103–127 
  6. ^ Varićak (1912), p. 108
  7. ^ a b Barrett, J.F. (2006), The hyperbolic theory of relativity arXiv:1102.0462
  8. ^ a b Mathpages: Velocity Compositions and Rapidity
  9. ^ Houzel, Christian (1992) "The Birth of Non-Euclidean Geometry", pages 3 to 21 in ”1830–1930: A Century of Geometry”, Lecture Notes in Physics #402, Springer-Verlag ISBN 3-540-55408-4 .
  10. ^ Pauli, Wolfgang (1921), "Die Relativitätstheorie", Encyclopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften, 5 (2): 539–776 
    In English: Pauli, W. (1981) [1921]. Theory of Relativity. Fundamental Theories of Physics. 165. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-64152-X. 
  11. ^ Pauli (1921), p. 561
  • Anderson, James W. (2005). Hyperbolic geometry (2nd ed.). London: Springer. ISBN 1-85233-934-9. 
  • Reiman, István (1999). Geometria és határterületei. Szalay Könyvkiadó és Kereskedőház Kft. ISBN 978-963-237-012-5. 

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