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B Radians vs degrees

  1. Feb 7, 2017 #1
    Im teaching math and one of my students asked me something about trigonometry.

    Say you are to generally solve:

    sin(x + 1) = 0.5

    And thats all the information you are given.

    How would you know to solve for radians or degrees?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 7, 2017 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    You don't. It's probably decided by the context: in mathematics alone I would always chose radians, but in a conversation with ordinary people, degrees might be a better choice. It's the same as with any units, take the appropriate ones in the context.
  4. Feb 7, 2017 #3


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    Science Advisor

    If the problem is given as shown, the answer must be in radians. If degrees were meant, the problem should have been stated

    sin(x + 1°) = 0.5
  5. Feb 7, 2017 #4


    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    That's what I thought as well. "1" without degree sign means we are working with radians, otherwise adding 1 doesn't make sense. If the question is sin(2*x)=0.5 then we cannot tell.
  6. Feb 8, 2017 #5


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    Science Advisor

    Then you indicate what type of answer you have given, such as x = 15° or x = π/12.
  7. Feb 8, 2017 #6
    Generally it is degree.
  8. Feb 8, 2017 #7


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    Science Advisor

    Not if your degree is in mathematics.
  9. Feb 8, 2017 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    The use of radians is much more prevalent in mathematics, especially at the level of calculus and above. All of the differentiation and integration formulas for the trig functions use radians exclusively.
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