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Math Help - Why do I need a coterminal angle for cos(-pi/2) for the unit circle?

  1. #1
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    Why do I need a coterminal angle for cos(-pi/2) for the unit circle?

    According to sign rules, any negative angle given to cos is equal to the same thing with a positive sign. So essentially:

    cos(-pi/2) = cos(pi/2)

    In my textbook, it tells me to calculate a coterminal angle of 3pi/2 and use the unit circle. I'm not sure why I have to if pi/2 is already on the unit circle. The cos of 3pi/2 happens to be 0 also, but I have noticed that its sin value is -1, which is different than pi/2's. I want to know why the book is asking me to calculate a coterminal angle when I should be able to use pi/2? Or am I wrong?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phire View Post
    According to sign rules, any negative angle given to cos is equal to the same thing with a positive sign. So essentially: cos(-pi/2) = cos(pi/2) In my textbook, it tells me to calculate a coterminal angle of 3pi/2 and use the unit circle. I'm not sure why I have to if pi/2 is already on the unit circle. The cos of 3pi/2 happens to be 0 also, but I have noticed that its sin value is -1, which is different than pi/2's. I want to know why the book is asking me to calculate a coterminal angle when I should be able to use pi/2? Or am I wrong?
    Because \frac{{3\pi }}{2} + \left| {\frac{{ - \pi }}{2}} \right| = 2\pi means that  {\frac{{ - \pi }}{2}} is the co-terminal with \frac{{3\pi }}{2}.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plato View Post
    Because \frac{{3\pi }}{2} + \left| {\frac{{ - \pi }}{2}} \right| = 2\pi means that  {\frac{{ - \pi }}{2}} is the co-terminal with \frac{{3\pi }}{2}.
    Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but I know that 3pi/2 is coterminal, but did I even need to find this coterminal angle to determine the cosine of -pi/2? As an experiment, I checked cos(-pi/3) and found cos(pi/3) has an equivalent value. The coterminal value of 5pi/3 is on a different spot of the unit circle but has the same cosine value. Is it because they have the same reference angle?
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