Law of Sines

Revision as of 22:47, 1 February 2008 by 7h3.D3m0n.117 (talk | contribs) (Theorem)

The Law of Sines is a useful identity in a triangle, which, along with the law of cosines and the law of tangents can be used to determine sides and angles. The law of sines can also be used to determine the circumradius, another useful function.


In triangle $\triangle ABC$, where $a$ is the side opposite $A$, $b$ opposite $B$, and $c$ opposite $C$:

$\frac{a}{\sin A}=\frac{b}{\sin B}=\frac{c}{\sin C}=2R$


Method 1

In the diagram below, circle $O$ circumscribes triangle $ABC$. $OD$ is perpendicular to $BC$. Since $\triangle ODB \cong \triangle ODC$, $BD = CD = \frac a2$ and $\angle BOD = \angle COD$. But $\angle BAC = 2\angle BOC$ making $\angle BOD = \angle COD = \theta$. Therefore, we can use simple trig in right triangle $BOD$ to find that

$\sin \theta = \frac{\frac a2}R \Leftrightarrow \frac a{\sin\theta} = 2R.$

The same holds for $b$ and $c$, thus establishing the identity.


This picture could be replaced by an asymptote drawing. It would be appreciated if you do this.

Method 2

This method only works to prove the regular (and not extended) Law of Sines.

The formula for the area of a triangle is: $[ABC] = \frac{1}{2}ab\sin C$

Since it doesn't matter which sides are chosen as $a$, $b$, and $c$, the following equality holds:

$\frac{1}{2}bc\sin A = \frac{1}{2}ac\sin B = \frac{1}{2}ab\sin C$

Multiplying the equation by $\frac{2}{abc}$ yields:

$\frac{\sin A}{a} = \frac{\sin B}{b} = \frac{\sin C}{c}$



  • If the sides of a triangle have lengths 2, 3, and 4, what is the radius of the circle circumscribing the triangle?
$\mathrm{(A) \ } 2 \qquad \mathrm{(B) \ } 8/\sqrt{15}  \qquad \mathrm{(C) \ } 5/2 \qquad \mathrm{(D) \ } \sqrt{6} \qquad \mathrm{(E) \ }  (\sqrt{6} + 1)/2$





Let $ABCD$ be a convex quadrilateral with $AB=BC=CD$, $AC \neqBD$ (Error compiling LaTeX. ! Undefined control sequence.), and let $E$ be the intersection point of its diagonals. Prove that $AE=DE$ if and only if $\angle BAD+\angle ADC = 120^{\circ}$.


See Also

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