1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Real world apps for the secant function

  1. Sep 5, 2009 #1
    On a project i have i need to find a real world application for a function. I chose secant. It's too late to turn back and i need help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2009 #2
    secant is hypotenuse/adjacent. So if you know adjacent you can multiply it by the secant of the angle to get the hypotenuse.

    Suppose you want to know the length of a sloping roof (to buy some shingles say). It is dangerous and inconvenient to take a tape measure to the roof. But if you know the length of the base of the roof you can multiply it by the secant of the sloping angle of the roof to get the length of the roof.
  4. Sep 5, 2009 #3
    It's kinda difficult to really find a specific application for secant; usually the application comes as a package of the full set of trigonometric functions. A key application of trigonometric functions would be in the wide field of Fourier Analysis.
  5. Sep 5, 2009 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The secant function is important in cartography, and finding its integral was a problem of great practical significance that arose before the development of calculus. I remember this being briefly referred to in a calculus book I read. If I recall correctly, there was even a large prize offered to anyone who could solve the problem. A quick google search for information about the event gave this http://books.google.com/books?id=BK...um=1#v=onepage&q=integral secant map&f=false"

    Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. Sep 5, 2009 #5
    The cartography example given in the link above by LeonhardEuler is a very nice one.
    To evade calculus and simply focus on the secant function, simply understand the paragraph in the article that goes: "Figure 1...the factor sec(theta).'' You can read the rest later when you take calculus.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook