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Proving Identities

By : Camille Binibini

Before we start to prove trigonometric identities, we see where the basic identities come from.

Proving Identities
Proving an identity is very different in concept from solving an equation. To prove an identity, your instructor may have told you that you cannot work on both sides of the equation at the same time.

Since you'll be working with two sides of an equation, it might be helpful to introduce some notation, if you haven't seen it before. The "left-hand side" of an equation is denoted by LHS, and the "right-hand side" is denoted as RHS.

Guidelines For Proving Identities:

1. It is usually best to work on the more complicated side first. 2. Look for trigonometric substitutions involving the basic identities that may help simplify things. 3. Look for algebraic operations, such as adding fractions, the distributive property, or factoring, that may simplify the side you are working with or that will at least lead to an expression that will be easier to simplify.

4. If you cannot think of anything else to do, change everything to sines and cosines and see if that helps. 5. Always keep an eye on the side you are not working with to be sure you are working toward it. There is a certain sense of direction that accompanies a successful proof. 6. Practice, practice, practice!

1. Prove the identity

It's usually a safe bet to start working on the side that appears to be more complicated. Another safe bet is to convert things to sines and cosines, and see where that leads.

It's usually a safe bet to start working on the side that appears to be more complicated. Another safe bet is to convert things to sines and cosines, and see where that leads.

Now I'll flip-n-multiply:

Now I can see that the sines cancel, leaving me with:

cos(x) = cos(x) Then you proof that

2. Prove sin cot = cos . sin X cos = cos sin Replace cot into ratio identity so that all the equation above will be sin and cosine.

sin X cos sin


Simplify and cancel out sin. So that it will let the cos = cos You proved that sin cot = cos .

3. Prove the identity

I'm not sure which side is more complicated, so I'll just start on the left. My first step is to convert everything to sines and cosines:

When I get fractions, it's almost always a good idea to get a common denominator, so I'll do that next:

Now that I have a common denominator, I can combine these fractions into one:

Now I notice a Pythagorean identity in the numerator, allowing me to simplify:

Looking back at the RHS of the original identity, I notice that this denominator could be helpful. I'll split the product into two fractions:

And now I can finish up by converting these fractions to their reciprocal forms:

You prove that


Prove the identity (1 cos2())(1 + cos2()) = 2sin2() sin4()

I think I'll start by multiplying out the LHS: 1 cos2() + cos2() cos4() = 1 cos4()

That doesn't seem to have gotten me anywhere. What if I apply the Pythagorean identity to that first factor? Then I'll get: (1 cos2())(1 + cos2()) = sin2()*1 + cos2()+

Hmm... That doesn't seem to have helped, either. Okay, what happens if I work on the other side? I can factor a squared sine out of the two terms: sin2()*2 sin2()+

If I break off a 1 from the 2, I can use that same Pythagorean identity again. sin2()*1 sin2() + 1+ = sin2()*1 sin2() + sin2() + cos2()+ = sin2()*1 + cos2()+

Wait a minute! That's the same thing I ended up with on the LHS! Aha!

While what I've done so far is not a proof, I have managed to get the two sides to meet in the middle. And sometimes that seems to be the only way to do a proof: work on the two sides until they meet in the middle, and then write something that looks like magic. I'm going to start with the LHS, work down to where the two sides meet, and then work up the RHS until I get back to the original identity:

(1 cos2())(1 + cos2()) = sin2()*1 + cos2()+ = sin2()*1 + cos2() sin2() + sin2()+ = sin2()*1 sin2() + sin2() + cos2()+ = sin2()*1 sin2() + 1+ = sin2()*2 sin2()+ = 2sin2() sin4()