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How are the Pythagorean theorem and the distance formula used in everyday life?

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Quick Answer

People use the Pythagorean Theorem and distance formula to determine length in a variety of everyday situations, including the purchase a family television set, the creation of code for collision detection in a video game, or the construction of a building.

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Television manufacturers often measure their products diagonally, from one of the bottom corners to the opposite top corner. An individual who wants to purchase a television set that fits in a certain space must use the Pythagorean Theorem to determine whether the length and width of the set correspond to the space in her home.

Video game programmers use the Pythagorean Theorem to determine the distance between two objects, since the rules for movement in games are frequently based on a two-dimensional grid. Determining the distance between two objects on such a grid requires the calculation of the hypotenuse of a right triangle drawn between the two objects.

Architects and construction laborers often use the Pythagorean Theorem on a daily basis. It is one of the methods used to determine how to lay the foundation for the corners of a building, since most buildings are constructed using right angles. Construction contractors specifically use the formula for a 3-4-5 triangle to calculate distance.

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