# Homework Help: Tangent and Secant Function Applications

1. Aug 8, 2006

### TheOmnipotentJuggler

Hello all, I have a question concerning the Tangent and Secant Functions (the graphs). I cannot think of a way that either of these can be used in the real world. I need to find applications for these. For example, the sine function can be used to represent waves or periodic motion... but what can secant and tangent represent? I have been thinking about this for a very long time and I cannot seem to find an answer. The difficult thing about the Tangent function is that it has a vertical asymptote? What things in today's world could use asymptotes, and then repeat? The Secant, that is just weird looking and seems in no way possible to fit a model of data? Please help me, I cannot figure it out. Thank you.

2. Aug 8, 2006

### Office_Shredder

Staff Emeritus
the tangent of the angle formed by a line and the x-axis is equal to the slope.

secant is useful for calculating the derivative of tangent (ok, that one's cheating).

3. Aug 9, 2006

### TheOmnipotentJuggler

I meant more like story problems. Unless that answer was a story problem... I'm sorry I guess I don't understand your answer. I am looking for some sort of real-life problem that could come up and eventually use the tangent function to solve it. Thank you.

4. Aug 9, 2006

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
Given the length of the shadow and the angle to the top of a tree, how tall is the tree?

5. Aug 9, 2006

### TheOmnipotentJuggler

Thank you, but that is not the tangent function as in the graph. That is like tan=sin/cos stuff. You cannot use the tangent graph to find the height of a tree can you?

6. Aug 9, 2006

### Hootenanny

Staff Emeritus
As a matter of fact you can. It will of course be an approximation.

7. Aug 9, 2006

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
It is one and the same. I guess I do not know what you want to do with the graph. The graph is simply a display of the values of the Tan function.

Consider what happens to the shadow if the sun were to be exactly above the tree. The height of the tree would not matter, the length of the shadow would be zero. There is the aysmtope which appears at 90deg in the graph.

8. Aug 9, 2006

### TheOmnipotentJuggler

That is very helpful, thank you. That is more what I was wondering about.