Technology

# Finding the Hypotenuse: A Guide to Solving Right Triangles

## Understanding the Pythagorean Theorem

The Pythagorean Theorem is a fundamental concept in mathematics that is used to find the length of the sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, known as the legs.

In mathematical terms, the theorem can be expressed as:

a² + b² = c²

Where a and b are the lengths of the legs and c is the length of the hypotenuse.

Understanding the Pythagorean Theorem is essential to finding the hypotenuse of a right triangle. Once you have identified the lengths of the legs, you can use the theorem to solve for the length of the hypotenuse. This can be done using basic algebraic principles to rearrange the formula to solve for c.

## Identifying the Lengths of the Legs

To find the hypotenuse of a right triangle, you must first identify the lengths of the two legs. The legs are the two sides of the triangle that form the right angle.

One way to identify the lengths of the legs is to use the measurements provided in the problem or given in a diagram. If the measurements are not given, you may need to use other information to determine the lengths of the legs, such as the relationships between the sides of similar triangles.

It is important to remember that the legs of a right triangle must be perpendicular to each other in order to use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the hypotenuse. If the legs are not perpendicular, you may need to use trigonometric functions to solve the problem.

## Applying the Pythagorean Theorem to Solve for the Hypotenuse

Once you have identified the lengths of the legs of a right triangle, you can use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve for the length of the hypotenuse.

To do this, you can plug the lengths of the legs into the Pythagorean Theorem equation and solve for the length of the hypotenuse. Remember that the formula is:

a² + b² = c²

Where a and b are the lengths of the legs, and c is the length of the hypotenuse.

After plugging in the values for a and b, you can solve for c by taking the square root of both sides of the equation.

It is important to double-check your work and make sure that you have used the correct units of measurement in your answer.

## Using Trigonometry to Find the Hypotenuse

In addition to using the Pythagorean Theorem, you can also use trigonometric functions to find the length of the hypotenuse in a right triangle.

If you know the measure of one acute angle in the triangle and the length of one of the legs, you can use trigonometric ratios to find the length of the hypotenuse. The most commonly used trigonometric functions are sine, cosine, and tangent, which are abbreviated as sin, cos, and tan, respectively.

For example, if you know the measure of the angle θ and the length of the leg adjacent to θ, you can use the cosine function to find the length of the hypotenuse. The formula is:

Solving for the hypotenuse, we get:

Remember to check your answer and make sure that it makes sense in the context of the problem.