List of trigonometric identities

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Cosines and sines around the unit circle

In mathematics, trigonometric identities are equalities that involve trigonometric functions and are true for every single value of the occurring variables where both sides of the equality are defined. Geometrically, these are identities involving certain functions of one or more angles. They are distinct from triangle identities, which are identities potentially involving angles but also involving side lengths or other lengths of a triangle.

These identities are useful whenever expressions involving trigonometric functions need to be simplified. An important application is the integration of non-trigonometric functions: a common technique involves first using the substitution rule with a trigonometric function, and then simplifying the resulting integral with a trigonometric identity.




This article uses Greek letters such as alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), and theta (θ) to represent angles. Several different units of angle measure are widely used, including degrees, radians, and gradians (gons):

1 full circle (turn) = 360 degrees = 2π radians  =  400 gons.

The following table shows the conversions and values for some common angles:

Conversions of common angles
Turns Degrees Radians Gradians sine cosine tangent
0 0 0g 0 1 0
1/12 30° π/6 33 1/3g 1/2 3/2 3/3
1/8 45° π/4 50g 2/2 2/2 1
1/6 60° π/3 66 2/3g 3/2 1/2 3
1/4 90° π/2 100g 1 0 undef.
1/3 120° 2π/3 133 1/3g 3/2 1/2 3
3/8 135° 3π/4 150g 2/2 2/2 −1
5/12 150° 5π/6 166 2/3g 1/2 3/2 3/3
1/2 180° π 200g 0 −1 0
7/12 210° 7π/6 233 1/3g 1/2 3/2 3/3
5/8 225° 5π/4 250g 2/2 2/2 1
2/3 240° 4π/3 266 2/3g 3/2 1/2 3
3/4 270° 3π/2 300g −1 0 undef.
5/6 300° 5π/3 333 1/3g 3/2 1/2 3
7/8 315° 7π/4 350g 2/2 2/2 −1
11/12 330° 11π/6 366 2/3g 1/2 3/2 3/3
1 360° 2π 400g 0 1 0

Results for other angles can be found at Trigonometric constants expressed in real radicals.

Unless otherwise specified, all angles in this article are assumed to be in radians, but angles ending in a degree symbol (°) are in degrees. Per Niven's theorem multiples of 30° are the only angles that are a rational multiple of one degree and also have a rational sine or cosine, which may account for their popularity in examples.[1][2]

Trigonometric functions[edit]

The primary trigonometric functions are the sine and cosine of an angle. These are sometimes abbreviated sin(θ) and cos(θ), respectively, where θ is the angle, but the parentheses around the angle are often omitted, e.g., sin θ and cos θ.

The sine of an angle is defined in the context of a right triangle, as the ratio of the length of the side that is opposite to the angle divided by the length of the longest side of the triangle (the hypotenuse).

The cosine of an angle is also defined in the context of a right triangle, as the ratio of the length of the side that is adjacent to the angle divided by the length of the longest side of the triangle (the hypotenuse).

The tangent (tan) of an angle is the ratio of the sine to the cosine:

Finally, the reciprocal functions secant (sec), cosecant (csc), and cotangent (cot) are the reciprocals of the cosine, sine, and tangent:

These definitions are sometimes referred to as ratio identities.

Inverse functions[edit]

The inverse trigonometric functions are partial inverse functions for the trigonometric functions. For example, the inverse function for the sine, known as the inverse sine (sin−1) or arcsine (arcsin or asin), satisfies


This article uses the notation below for inverse trigonometric functions:

Function sin cos tan sec csc cot
Inverse arcsin arccos arctan arcsec arccsc arccot

Pythagorean identity[edit]

In trigonometry, the basic relationship between the sine and the cosine is known as the Pythagorean identity:

where cos2 θ means (cos(θ))2 and sin2 θ means (sin(θ))2.

This can be viewed as a version of the Pythagorean theorem, and follows from the equation x2 + y2 = 1 for the unit circle. This equation can be solved for either the sine or the cosine:

where the sign depends on the quadrant of θ.

Related identities[edit]

Dividing the Pythagorean identity by either cos2 θ or sin2 θ yields two other identities:

Using these identities together with the ratio identities, it is possible to express any trigonometric function in terms of any other (up to a plus or minus sign):

Each trigonometric function in terms of the other five.[3]
in terms of

Historical shorthands[edit]

All of the trigonometric functions of an angle θ can be constructed geometrically in terms of a unit circle centered at O. Many of these terms are no longer in common use.

The versine, coversine, haversine, and exsecant were used in navigation. For example, the haversine formula was used to calculate the distance between two points on a sphere. They are rarely used today.

Name Abbreviation Value[4]
versed sine, versine

versed cosine, vercosine

coversed sine, coversine

coversed cosine, covercosine

half versed sine, haversine

half versed cosine, havercosine

half coversed sine, hacoversine

half coversed cosine, hacovercosine

exterior secant, exsecant
exterior cosecant, excosecant


Symmetry, shifts, and periodicity[edit]

By examining the unit circle, the following properties of the trigonometric functions can be established.


When the trigonometric functions are reflected from certain angles, the result is often one of the other trigonometric functions. This leads to the following identities:

Reflected in θ = 0[5] Reflected in θ = π/4
(co-function identities)[6]
Reflected in θ = π/2

Note that the sign in front of the trig function does not necessarily indicate the sign of the value. For example, +cos θ does not always mean that cos θ is positive. In particular, if θ = π, then +cos θ = −1.

Shifts and periodicity[edit]

By shifting the function round by certain angles, it is often possible to find different trigonometric functions that express particular results more simply. Some examples of this are shown by shifting functions round by π/2, π and 2π radians. Because the periods of these functions are either π or 2π, there are cases where the new function is exactly the same as the old function without the shift.

Shift by π/2 Shift by π
Period for tan and cot[7]
Shift by 2π
Period for sin, cos, csc and sec[8]

Angle sum and difference identities[edit]

Illustration of angle addition formulae for the sine and cosine. Emphasized segment is of unit length.
Illustration of the angle addition formula for the tangent. Emphasized segments are of unit length.

These are also known as the addition and subtraction theorems or formulae. They were originally established by the 10th century Persian mathematician Abū al-Wafā' Būzjānī. The identities can be derived by combining right triangles such as in the adjacent diagram, or by considering the invariance of the length of a chord on a unit circle given a particular central angle. Furthermore, it is even possible to derive the identities using Euler's identity although this would be a more obscure approach given that complex numbers are used.

For the angle addition diagram for the sine and cosine, the line in bold with the 1 on it is of length 1. It is the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle with angle β which gives the sin β and cos β. The cos β line is the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle with angle α so it has sides sin α and cos α both multiplied by cos β. This is the same for the sin β line. The original line is also the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle with angle α + β, the opposite side is the sin(α + β) line up from the origin and the adjacent side is the cos(α + β) segment going horizontally from the top left.

Overall the diagram can be used to show the sine and cosine of sum identities

because the opposite sides of the rectangle are equal.

Sine [9][10]
Cosine [10][11]
Tangent [10][12]
Cotangent [10][13]
Arcsine [14]
Arccosine [15]
Arctangent [16]

Matrix form[edit]

The sum and difference formulae for sine and cosine can be written in matrix form as:

This shows that these matrices form a representation of the rotation group in the plane (technically, the special orthogonal group SO(2)), since the composition law is fulfilled: subsequent multiplications of a vector with these two matrices yields the same result as the rotation by the sum of the angles.

Sines and cosines of sums of infinitely many terms[edit]

In these two identities an asymmetry appears that is not seen in the case of sums of finitely many terms: in each product, there are only finitely many sine factors and cofinitely many cosine factors.

If only finitely many of the terms θi are nonzero, then only finitely many of the terms on the right side will be nonzero because sine factors will vanish, and in each term, all but finitely many of the cosine factors will be unity.

Tangents of sums[edit]

Let ek (for k = 0, 1, 2, 3, ...) be the kth-degree elementary symmetric polynomial in the variables

for i = 0, 1, 2, 3, ..., i.e.,


The number of terms on the right side depends on the number of terms on the left side.

For example:

and so on. The case of only finitely many terms can be proved by mathematical induction.[17]

Secants and cosecants of sums[edit]

where ek is the kth-degree elementary symmetric polynomial in the n variables xi = tan θi, i = 1, ..., n, and the number of terms in the denominator and the number of factors in the product in the numerator depend on the number of terms in the sum on the left.[18] The case of only finitely many terms can be proved by mathematical induction on the number of such terms. The convergence of the series in the denominators can be shown by writing the secant identity in the form

and then observing that the left side converges if the right side converges, and similarly for the cosecant identity.

For example,

Multiple-angle formulae[edit]

Tn is the nth Chebyshev polynomial   [19]
Sn is the nth spread polynomial
de Moivre's formula, i is the imaginary unit     [20]

Double-angle, triple-angle, and half-angle formulae[edit]

Double-angle formulae[edit]

Triple-angle formulae[edit]


Half-angle formulae[edit]




These can be shown by using either the sum and difference identities or the multiple-angle formulae.

Sine Cosine Tangent Cotangent
Double-angle formulae[24][25]
Triple-angle formulae[19][21]
Half-angle formulae[22][23]

The fact that the triple-angle formula for sine and cosine only involves powers of a single function allows one to relate the geometric problem of a compass and straightedge construction of angle trisection to the algebraic problem of solving a cubic equation, which allows one to prove that trisection is in general impossible using the given tools, by field theory.

A formula for computing the trigonometric identities for the one-third angle exists, but it requires finding the zeroes of the cubic equation 4x3 − 3x + d = 0, where x is the value of the cosine function at the one-third angle and d is the known value of the cosine function at the full angle. However, the discriminant of this equation is positive, so this equation has three real roots (of which only one is the solution for the cosine of the one-third angle). None of these solutions is reducible to a real algebraic expression, as they use intermediate complex numbers under the cube roots.

Sine, cosine, and tangent of multiple angles[edit]

For specific multiples, these follow from the angle addition formulas, while the general formula was given by 16th-century French mathematician François Viète.

In each of these two equations, the first parenthesized term is a binomial coefficient, and the final trigonometric function equals one or minus one or zero so that half the entries in each of the sums are removed. tan  can be written in terms of tan θ using the recurrence relation:

cot  can be written in terms of cot θ using the recurrence relation:

Chebyshev method[edit]

The Chebyshev method is a recursive algorithm for finding the nth multiple angle formula knowing the (n − 1)th and (n − 2)th formulae.[26]

cos(nx) can be computed from the cosine of (n − 1)x and (n − 2)x as follows:

Similarly sin(nx) can be computed from the sines of (n − 1)x and (n − 2)x

For the tangent, we have:

where H/K = tan(n − 1)x.

Tangent of an average[edit]

Setting either α or β to 0 gives the usual tangent half-angle formulae.

Viète's infinite product[edit]

(Refer to sinc function.)

Power-reduction formula[edit]

Obtained by solving the second and third versions of the cosine double-angle formula.

Sine Cosine Other

and in general terms of powers of sin θ or cos θ the following is true, and can be deduced using De Moivre's formula, Euler's formula and the binomial theorem[citation needed].

Cosine Sine

Product-to-sum and sum-to-product identities[edit]

The product-to-sum identities or prosthaphaeresis formulas can be proven by expanding their right-hand sides using the angle addition theorems. See amplitude modulation for an application of the product-to-sum formulae, and beat (acoustics) and phase detector for applications of the sum-to-product formulae.


Other related identities[edit]

  • If x + y + z = π (half circle), then
  • Triple tangent identity: If x + y + z = π (half circle), then
    In particular, the formula holds when x, y, and z are the three angles of any triangle.
    (If any of x, y, z is a right angle, one should take both sides to be . This is neither +∞ nor −∞; for present purposes it makes sense to add just one point at infinity to the real line, that is approached by tan θ as tan θ either increases through positive values or decreases through negative values. This is a one-point compactification of the real line.)
  • Triple cotangent identity: If x + y + z = π/2 (right angle or quarter circle), then

Hermite's cotangent identity[edit]

Charles Hermite demonstrated the following identity.[29] Suppose a1, ..., an are complex numbers, no two of which differ by an integer multiple of π. Let

(in particular, A1,1, being an empty product, is 1). Then

The simplest non-trivial example is the case n = 2:

Ptolemy's theorem[edit]

Main article: Ptolemy's theorem

Ptolemy's theorem can be expressed in the language of modern trigonometry as:

If w + x + y + z = π, then:

(The first three equalities are trivial rearrangements; the fourth is the substance of this identity.)

Linear combinations[edit]

For some purposes it is important to know that any linear combination of sine waves of the same period or frequency but different phase shifts is also a sine wave with the same period or frequency, but a different phase shift. This is useful in sinusoid data fitting, because the measured or observed data are linearly related to the a and b unknowns of the in-phase and quadrature components basis below, resulting in a simpler Jacobian, compared to that of c and φ.

Sine and cosine[edit]

In the case of a non-zero linear combination of a sine and cosine wave[30] (which is just a sine wave with a phase shift of π/2), we have


and (using the atan2 function)

Arbitrary phase shift[edit]

More generally, for an arbitrary phase shift, we have



More than two sinusoids[edit]

The general case reads[citation needed]



See also Phasor addition.

Lagrange's trigonometric identities[edit]

These identities, named after Joseph Louis Lagrange, are:[31][32]

A related function is the following function of x, called the Dirichlet kernel.

Other sums of trigonometric functions[edit]

Sum of sines and cosines with arguments in arithmetic progression:[33] if α ≠ 0, then

For any a and b:

where atan2(y, x) is the generalization of arctan(y/x) that covers the entire circular range.

The above identity is sometimes convenient to know when thinking about the Gudermannian function, which relates the circular and hyperbolic trigonometric functions without resorting to complex numbers.

If x, y, and z are the three angles of any triangle, i.e. if x + y + z = π, then

Certain linear fractional transformations[edit]

If f(x) is given by the linear fractional transformation

and similarly


More tersely stated, if for all α we let fα be what we called f above, then

If x is the slope of a line, then f(x) is the slope of its rotation through an angle of α.

Inverse trigonometric functions[edit]

Compositions of trig and inverse trig functions[edit]

Relation to the complex exponential function[edit]

[34] (Euler's formula),
(Euler's identity),

and hence the corollary:

where i2 = −1.

Infinite product formulae[edit]

For applications to special functions, the following infinite product formulae for trigonometric functions are useful:[37][38][citation needed]

Identities without variables[edit]

The curious identity known as Morrie's law

is a special case of an identity that contains one variable:

The same cosine identity in radians is


is a special case of an identity with the case x = 20:

For the case x = 15:

For the case x = 10:

The same cosine identity is



The following is perhaps not as readily generalized to an identity containing variables (but see explanation below):

Degree measure ceases to be more felicitous than radian measure when we consider this identity with 21 in the denominators:

The factors 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10 may start to make the pattern clear: they are those integers less than 21/2 that are relatively prime to (or have no prime factors in common with) 21. The last several examples are corollaries of a basic fact about the irreducible cyclotomic polynomials: the cosines are the real parts of the zeroes of those polynomials; the sum of the zeroes is the Möbius function evaluated at (in the very last case above) 21; only half of the zeroes are present above. The two identities preceding this last one arise in the same fashion with 21 replaced by 10 and 15, respectively.

Other cosine identities include:[39]

and so forth for all odd numbers, and hence

Many of those curious identities stem from more general facts like the following:[40]


Combining these gives us

If n is an odd number (n = 2m + 1) we can make use of the symmetries to get

The transfer function of the Butterworth low pass filter can be expressed in terms of polynomial and poles. By setting the frequency as the cutoff frequency, the following identity can be proved:

Computing π[edit]

An efficient way to compute π is based on the following identity without variables, due to Machin:

or, alternatively, by using an identity of Leonhard Euler:

or by using Pythagorean triples:

A useful mnemonic for certain values of sines and cosines[edit]

For certain simple angles, the sines and cosines take the form n/2 for 0 ≤ n ≤ 4, which makes them easy to remember.


With the golden ratio φ:

Also see trigonometric constants expressed in real radicals.

An identity of Euclid[edit]

Euclid showed in Book XIII, Proposition 10 of his Elements that the area of the square on the side of a regular pentagon inscribed in a circle is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares on the sides of the regular hexagon and the regular decagon inscribed in the same circle. In the language of modern trigonometry, this says:

Ptolemy used this proposition to compute some angles in his table of chords.

Composition of trigonometric functions[edit]

This identity involves a trigonometric function of a trigonometric function:[41]

where Ji are Bessel functions.


In calculus the relations stated below require angles to be measured in radians; the relations would become more complicated if angles were measured in another unit such as degrees. If the trigonometric functions are defined in terms of geometry, along with the definitions of arc length and area, their derivatives can be found by verifying two limits. The first is:

verified using the unit circle and squeeze theorem. The second limit is:

verified using the identity tan x/2 = 1 − cos x/sin x. Having established these two limits, one can use the limit definition of the derivative and the addition theorems to show that (sin x)′ = cos x and (cos x)′ = −sin x. If the sine and cosine functions are defined by their Taylor series, then the derivatives can be found by differentiating the power series term-by-term.

The rest of the trigonometric functions can be differentiated using the above identities and the rules of differentiation:[42][43][44]

The integral identities can be found in List of integrals of trigonometric functions. Some generic forms are listed below.


The fact that the differentiation of trigonometric functions (sine and cosine) results in linear combinations of the same two functions is of fundamental importance to many fields of mathematics, including differential equations and Fourier transforms.

Some differential equations satisfied by the sine function[edit]

Let i = −1 be the imaginary unit and let ∘ denote composition of differential operators. Then for every odd positive integer n,

(When k = 0, then the number of differential operators being composed is 0, so the corresponding term in the sum above is just (sin x)n.) This identity was discovered as a by-product of research in medical imaging.[45]

Exponential definitions[edit]

Function Inverse function[46]


Dirichlet kernel[edit]

The Dirichlet kernel Dn(x) is the function occurring on both sides of the next identity:

The convolution of any integrable function of period 2π with the Dirichlet kernel coincides with the function's nth-degree Fourier approximation. The same holds for any measure or generalized function.

Tangent half-angle substitution[edit]

If we set


where eix = cos x + i sin x, sometimes abbreviated to cis x.

When this substitution of t for tan x/2 is used in calculus, it follows that sin x is replaced by 2t/1 + t2, cos x is replaced by 1 − t2/1 + t2 and the differential dx is replaced by 2 dt/1 + t2. Thereby one converts rational functions of sin x and cos x to rational functions of t in order to find their antiderivatives.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schaumberger, N. (1974). "A Classroom Theorem on Trigonometric Irrationalities". Two-Year College Math. J. 5: 73–76. 
  2. ^ Weisstein, Eric W. "Niven's Theorem". MathWorld. 
  3. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 73, 4.3.45
  4. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 78, 4.3.147
  5. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.13–15
  6. ^ The Elementary Identities
  7. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.9
  8. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.7–8
  9. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.16
  10. ^ a b c d Weisstein, Eric W. "Trigonometric Addition Formulas". MathWorld. 
  11. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.17
  12. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.18
  13. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.19
  14. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 80, 4.4.42
  15. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 80, 4.4.33
  16. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 80, 4.4.36
  17. ^ Bronstein, Manuel (1989). "Simplification of real elementary functions". In Gonnet, G. H. Proceedings of the ACM-SIGSAM 1989 International Symposium on Symbolic and Algebraic Computation. ISSAC '89 (Portland US-OR, 1989-07). New York: ACM. pp. 207–211. doi:10.1145/74540.74566. ISBN 0-89791-325-6. 
  18. ^ Michael Hardy (August–September 2016). "On Tangents and Secants of Infinite Sums". American Mathematical Monthly. 123 (7): 701–703. 
  19. ^ a b c Weisstein, Eric W. "Multiple-Angle Formulas". MathWorld. 
  20. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 74, 4.3.48
  21. ^ a b Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.27–28
  22. ^ a b Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.20–22
  23. ^ a b Weisstein, Eric W. "Half-Angle Formulas". MathWorld. 
  24. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.24–26
  25. ^ Weisstein, Eric W. "Double-Angle Formulas". MathWorld. 
  26. ^ Ward, Ken. "Multiple angles recursive formula". Ken Ward's Mathematics Pages. 
  27. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.31–33
  28. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.34–39
  29. ^ Johnson, Warren P. (Apr 2010). "Trigonometric Identities à la Hermite". American Mathematical Monthly. 117 (4): 311–327. 
  30. ^ Cazelais, Gilles (18 February 2007). "Linear Combination of Sine and Cosine" (PDF). 
  31. ^ Ortiz Muñiz, Eddie (Feb 1953). "A Method for Deriving Various Formulas in Electrostatics and Electromagnetism Using Lagrange's Trigonometric Identities". American Journal of Physics. 21 (2): 140. doi:10.1119/1.1933371. 
  32. ^ Jeffrey, Alan; Dai, Hui-hui (2008). "Section". Handbook of Mathematical Formulas and Integrals (4th ed.). Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-374288-9. 
  33. ^ Knapp, Michael P. "Sines and Cosines of Angles in Arithmetic Progression" (PDF). 
  34. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 74, 4.3.47
  35. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 71, 4.3.2
  36. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 71, 4.3.1
  37. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 75, 4.3.89–90
  38. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 85, 4.5.68–69
  39. ^ Humble, Steve (Nov 2004). "Grandma's identity". Mathematical Gazette. 88: 524–525. 
  40. ^ Weisstein, Eric W. "Sine". MathWorld. 
  41. ^ Milton Abramowitz and Irene Stegun, Handbook of Mathematical Functions with Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables, Dover Publications, New York, 1972, formulae 9.1.42–9.1.45
  42. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 77, 4.3.105–110
  43. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 82, 4.4.52–57
  44. ^ Finney, Ross (2003). Calculus : Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic. Glenview, Illinois: Prentice Hall. pp. 159–161. ISBN 0-13-063131-0. 
  45. ^ Kuchment, Peter; Lvin, Sergey (Aug 2013). "Identities for sin x that Came from Medical Imaging". American Mathematical Monthly. 120: 609–621. 
  46. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 80, 4.4.26–31
  47. ^ Abramowitz and Stegun, p. 72, 4.3.23


External links[edit]