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Arccos(x+y)=? addition theorems for inverse trigonometric functions?

  1. Oct 30, 2006 #1
    Are there any addition theorems for inverse trigonometric functions?
    Like arccos(x+y)=? or something...

    I was wondering about this when I tried to find the derivative of f(x)=arccos(x) by setting
    [tex] f'(x)=\frac{\arccos(x+\Delta x)-\arccos(x)}{\Delta x}[/tex]
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2006 #2


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    No, there aren't. To find the derivative of arccos(x), use the fact that
    if y= arccos(x) then x= cos(y) and the fact that
    [tex]\frac{dy}{dx}= \frac{1}{\frac{dx}{dy}}[/tex]
    (from the chain rule).
  4. Oct 30, 2006 #3


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    Well, there are, but they're not always pretty.

    E.G. there is a formula for:

    cos u + cos v

    now, if you let u = arccos x, v = arccos y, and take the arccos of both sides, you get something (ugly).

    If I were to use trig identities for this, I'd be more likely to look at the cosine (or sine) of the entire numerator.

    Of course, the "right" way to do it is as HoI suggested. But trig identities might be fun. :smile:
  5. Oct 31, 2006 #4
    Not sure what you mean. Whatever I try, I get back to square one, basically proving that x+y=x+y.
    Maybe you could explain it a little bit further? (or point me in the right direction)
  6. Nov 1, 2006 #5
    Well, there is certainly a way to express it as two different functions, one of x and one of y, using a Taylor's expansion... but that's quite useless.
  7. Nov 2, 2006 #6
    Ok, set

    [tex]y = \arccos{(x)}[/tex]


    [tex]y^{\dagger} = \arccos{(x + \Delta x)}[/tex]

    now use the identity

    [tex] \cos{u} - \cos{v} = -2 \sin{\frac{(u-v)}{2}} \sin{\frac{(u+v)}{2} [/tex]

    which gives us

    [tex]\cos{y^{\dagger}} - \cos{y} = \Delta x = -2 \sin{\frac{(y^{\dagger}-y)}{2}} \sin{\frac{(y^{\dagger} + y)}{2}}[/tex]

    but for small delta x, we can approx for the sines

    [tex]\Delta x \approx - ( y^{\dagger}-y) \sin{y} [/tex]

    or, in other words

    [tex]y^{\dagger} - y \approx - \frac{\Delta x}{\sin{(\arccos{x})}} = -\frac{\Delta x}{\sqrt{1-x^2}}[/tex]


    [tex]\frac{\arccos{(x+\Delta x)} - \arccos{(x)}}{\Delta x} \approx -\frac{\Delta x}{\Delta x \sqrt{1-x^2}}[/tex]

    which gives you your answer.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2006
  8. Nov 2, 2006 #7


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    It takes a bit of work to show that you really can do that, methinks.
  9. Nov 2, 2006 #8
    I'm not sure I understand - I'm only considering the case where delta x is small (as befits the question), so

    [tex]y^{\dagger} - y[/tex]

    is small, so

    [tex]2 \sin{(y^{\dagger} - y)/2} \approx y^{\dagger} - y[/tex]

    and also

    [tex]\sin{(y^{\dagger} + y)/2} \approx \sin{(y)}[/tex]

    (or roughly sin (y^dagger)... it makes no odds)

    could you elaborate?

    edit: also, I've assumed that y is one of the many values produced by the arccos, and that y^dagger is the value that is delta-y away from it, and not a multiple of 2 pi.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2006
  10. Nov 3, 2006 #9
    Makes sense to me.


    Isn't it true that you can replace sine with its argument in the process, where the argument approaches zero?
    According to
    [tex] \lim_{x\rightarrow0} \frac{sinx}{x}=1 [/tex]
    sine(x) and x are equivalent functions (I'm probably not using the right word here but hopefully you understand what I mean) and are interchangeable.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2006
  11. Nov 3, 2006 #10
    Raul_l: I'm guessing that the issue concerns the multiple values that arccos returns. However, as long as you state the specifics of y and y^dagger as I've mentioned above (in the edit bit), it follows. I think if you are submitting this as a homework response, for example, one would need to be explicit about this.

    If I'm wrong, then ignore this post. :wink:
  12. Nov 3, 2006 #11


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    The main thing is that, while y'all are being fairly careful about everything else... you completely ignore the fact that you need to invoke the continuity of arccos to determine that the difference between the two y's goes to zero. The proof looks like:

    {small step}
    {small step}
    {leap over an important issue}
    {small step}
    {small step}

    and so it looks incomplete. I thought you might even need to invoke more, but I was wrong.

    It also seemed you were glossing over some things involving the approximations, but after reviewing it, I see there aren't any technical faults there.
  13. Nov 3, 2006 #12
    Thanks, Hurkyl. You're point is a good one - brevity isn't always advisable. :wink:
  14. Nov 4, 2006 #13
    How does arccos return multiple values? Do you mean something like I have in the attachment?
    The way I see it, if f is a function of arccos(x) then by definition for every element x there is no more than one f(x).
    Keeping that in mind, I'm not sure where the continuity problem comes in..

    Attached Files:

    • pic.JPG
      File size:
      12.4 KB
  15. Nov 5, 2006 #14
    Because there are an infinitely many arguments to cos (separated by multiples of 2 pi) that produce the same cos value, for any given argument of arccos, there are an infinite number of return values (separated by multiples of 2 pi). Namely,

    [tex]y_0 + 2 m \pi = \arccos{x} [/tex] where m is any integer.

    As long you're clear what you're doing, you should be ok. That's why I stipulated that the y^dagger value be the one which is Delta-y away from the y value - to avoid confusion.
  16. Nov 5, 2006 #15
    I understand why arccos returns an infinite number of values. I just thought that if we are talking about a function of arccos then the range of the function should be a fixed set of output values where the difference of two values is no more than [tex] \pi [/tex] .
    For example if the range is chosen to be [tex] [-\pi;0] [/tex] then all values of a given function should fall into that range, including y and y^dagger in this case.
    I'm probably talking nonsense here, but I find it hard to look past the fact that a function can at any point return only one value (by definition). Because if not then the graph of the function should be something like I have in the attachment of a previous post and that doesn't make sense at all (to me).
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2006
  17. Nov 5, 2006 #16
    Err... what about

    [tex]f(x) = \sqrt{x}[/tex] ?

    I don't think I understand your problem, on the whole, but the assertion that you can treat any arbitrary function as returning only one value seems a bit suspect, if that's what it is you're trying to say.

    So, any function of arccos must take into account that fact that it will, probably, have an infinite number of arguments, and therefore will likely have a multi-valued output.

    If you start imposing a single-valued nature on a function, you'll be creating problems for yourself. (Of course, if I've misread your comment, forget this).
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2006
  18. Nov 6, 2006 #17
    What I meant was that every argument produces only one value that has to fall into the range.
    By "at any point" I meant that if we arbitrarily take a point on the x-axis then there is only one corresponding point on the y-axis.
  19. Nov 6, 2006 #18
    Ok, yes, which is no less than what I did earlier with arccos.
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