Saturday, September 14, 2013

ARR!.. apparently i still have more trigοnometry to learn.

well, i learned something new today:
It sounds cumbersome now, but doing multiplication by hand requires a lot more operations than addition does. When each operation takes a nontrivial amount of time (and is prone to a nontrivial amount of error), a procedure that lets you convert multiplication into addition is a real time-saver, and it can help increase accuracy.

The secret trig functions, like logarithms, made computations easier. Versine and haversine [1] were used the most often. Near the angle $\theta = 0$, $\cos(\theta)$ is very close to $1$. If you were doing a computation that had $1-\cos(\theta)$ in it, your computation might be ruined if your cosine table didn’t have enough significant figures. To illustrate, the cosine of $5$ degrees is $0.996194698$, and the cosine of $1$ degree is $0.999847695$. The difference $\cos(1^o)-\cos(5^o)$ is $0.003652997$. If you had three significant figures in your cosine table, you would only get 1 significant figure of precision in your answer, due to the leading zeroes in the difference. And a table with only three significant figures of precision would not be able to distinguish between 0 degree and 1 degree angles. In many cases, this wouldn’t matter, but it could be a problem if the errors built up over the course of a computation.

~ from "10 Secret Trig Functions Your Math Teachers Never Taught You" @sciam
in other news: it's been more than two weeks into this new job, and i still feel disoriented. often i feel exhausted, too.

on the bright side: i finally found an expensive apartment and signed a lease .. after a month of searching (and simultaneously teaching, for the last 2 1/2 weeks).

[1] these are defined, respectively, as $\textrm{versin}(\theta) = 1-\cos(\theta)$ and $\textrm{haversin}(\theta) = \frac{1}{2}\textrm{versin}(\theta)$. suggestively, "ha" mean half.

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