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How is trigonometry used in architecture?

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Quick Answer

Architects use trigonometry to describe the shapes and forms of a building using numerical equations. These equations are translated easily by any contractor to reproduce the exact building the architect had in mind.

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Trigonometry is a class offered in high schools and colleges that has a practical application in many careers, one of which is an architect. There needs to be a way for an architect to translate his or her ideas of a building or other structure into something easily distinguished by the contractor. This is where math, such as trigonometry, comes in. In math, trigonometry deals with the relations of the sides and angles of triangles to each other and surrounding shapes and angles. Architects use these measures to translate the design from their vision to paper. Contractors then use these measurements to translate the design into a solid structure. They ensure the measurements are exact and the angles are precise.

Architecture is much more than simple boxes. It incorporates bridges, curves and other complex shapes best defined by mathematical formulas. In addition to trigonometry, other mathematical components are used. These include calculus, algebra, probability and statistics and linear programming. Mathematical formulas, such as the Pythagorean Theorem, are incorporated into an architect's plans.

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