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Sine vs. Cosine: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Sine and cosine are trigonometric functions, sine representing the ratio of the opposite side to the hypotenuse in a right triangle, and cosine the ratio of the adjacent side to the hypotenuse.
Sine vs. Cosine

Key Differences

Sine (sin) is a fundamental trigonometric function that measures the ratio of the length of the side opposite the angle to the length of the hypotenuse in a right-angled triangle. Cosine (cos), another key trigonometric function, measures the ratio of the length of the adjacent side to the angle to the hypotenuse.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023
In the unit circle, sine of an angle is the y-coordinate of the point where the terminal side of the angle intersects the circle. Cosine, in contrast, is represented by the x-coordinate of this intersection point.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023
The sine function is periodic, repeating every 2π radians or 360 degrees, and its values range between -1 and 1. Cosine function also shares these characteristics, but its waveform is phase-shifted by 90 degrees or π/2 radians.
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The graph of the sine function starts at the origin (0,0) and moves upwards, while the cosine graph starts at the maximum value of 1 when the angle is zero.
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In applications, sine is often used to model periodic phenomena such as sound waves. Cosine is similarly used, but its phase difference makes it suitable for different applications like alternating current waveforms.
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Comparison Chart

Definition in Right Triangle

Ratio of opposite side to hypotenuse.
Ratio of adjacent side to hypotenuse.
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Unit Circle Representation

Y-coordinate of intersecting point.
X-coordinate of intersecting point.
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Range of Values

Between -1 and 1.
Between -1 and 1.
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Starting Point on Graph

Origin (0,0).
Maximum value (1) at zero angle.
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Common Applications

Modeling vertical motion in waves.
Modeling horizontal motion in waves.
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Nov 15, 2023
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Sine and Cosine Definitions

Sine

Sine is the ratio of the opposite side to the hypotenuse in a right triangle.
The sine of 30 degrees is 0.5 in a right triangle.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

Cosine

In the unit circle, cosine is the x-coordinate of a point.
At 180 degrees, the cosine value is -1.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

Sine

In the unit circle, sine is the y-coordinate of a point.
At 90 degrees, the sine value reaches its maximum of 1.
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Nov 15, 2023

Cosine

Cosine is the ratio of the adjacent side to the hypotenuse in a right triangle.
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Sine

A periodic function representing vertical oscillation in waveforms.
Sine waves are commonly used in acoustics to model sound.
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Cosine

A periodic function representing horizontal oscillation in waveforms.
Cosine waves are used to model the voltage in AC circuits.
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Sine

Sine function varies sinusoidally, repeating every 360 degrees.
The sine of an angle and its supplement are the same.
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Cosine

Cosine function has a sinusoidal variation, with a period of 360 degrees.
The cosine of an angle and its co-angle are the same.
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Sine

A function used in trigonometry to solve for unknown angles and sides.
Using sine, we can calculate the height of a tower from a known distance and angle.
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Cosine

A trigonometric function for calculating unknown angles and sides.
Cosine helps in determining the width of a river from a given point and angle.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

Sine

The ordinate of the endpoint of an arc of a unit circle centered at the origin of a Cartesian coordinate system, the arc being of length x and measured counterclockwise from the point (1, 0) if x is positive or clockwise if x is negative.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cosine

In a right triangle, the ratio of the length of the side adjacent to an acute angle to the length of the hypotenuse.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sine

In a right triangle, the ratio of the length of the side opposite an acute angle to the length of the hypotenuse.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cosine

The abscissa at the endpoint of an arc of a unit circle centered at the origin of a Cartesian coordinate system, the arc being of length x and measured counterclockwise from the point (1, 0) if x is positive or clockwise if x is negative.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sine

In a right triangle, the ratio of the length of the side opposite an angle to the length of the hypotenuse. Category:en:Trigonometric functions Category:en:Functions
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Oct 19, 2023

Cosine

(trigonometry) In a right triangle, the ratio of the length of the side adjacent to an acute angle to the length of the hypotenuse. Symbol: cos Category:en:Functions Category:en:Trigonometric functions
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Oct 19, 2023

Sine

The length of a perpendicular drawn from one extremity of an arc of a circle to the diameter drawn through the other extremity.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cosine

The sine of the complement of an arc or angle. See Illust. of Functions.
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Sine

Without.
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Cosine

Ratio of the adjacent side to the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle
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Sine

Ratio of the opposite side to the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are sine and cosine values always between -1 and 1?

Yes, both functions have values ranging from -1 to 1.
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Nov 15, 2023

How are sine and cosine used in the unit circle?

Sine represents the y-coordinate and cosine the x-coordinate of a point on the unit circle.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

What is the period of sine and cosine functions?

Both functions have a period of 2π radians or 360 degrees.
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Nov 15, 2023

How are sine and cosine graphs different?

The sine graph starts from the origin, while the cosine graph starts from the maximum value.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

Are there any special angles for sine and cosine?

Yes, angles like 0°, 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90° have known sine and cosine values.
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What is the sine function?

Sine is a trigonometric function that relates an angle to the ratio of the opposite side to the hypotenuse in a right triangle.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

What is the cosine function?

Cosine is a trigonometric function that relates an angle to the ratio of the adjacent side to the hypotenuse in a right triangle.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

Can sine and cosine be used to solve triangles?

Yes, they are key in solving right triangles and in various applications of trigonometry.
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What is the phase shift between sine and cosine graphs?

There is a phase shift of 90 degrees or π/2 radians, with cosine leading.
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Can sine and cosine values be negative?

Yes, depending on the angle, both sine and cosine can take negative values.
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What are the maximum and minimum values of sine and cosine?

Both functions have maximum values of 1 and minimum values of -1.
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Are sine and cosine functions only for acute angles?

No, they can be used for any angle, including obtuse and reflex angles.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 15, 2023

Can sine and cosine be defined for complex numbers?

Yes, both functions can be extended to complex numbers.
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Shumaila Saeed
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What is the significance of sine and cosine in Fourier series?

They are used to decompose periodic functions into their frequency components.
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How does the sine of an angle relate to its cosine?

The sine of an angle is the cosine of its complement, and vice versa.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Are there inverse functions for sine and cosine?

Yes, the inverse sine (arcsin) and inverse cosine (arccos) functions exist.
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Shumaila Saeed
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How do calculators compute sine and cosine?

Calculators use series approximations or algorithms to compute these values.
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How do sine and cosine relate to the exponential function?

They can be expressed using Euler's formula involving the exponential function.
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How are sine and cosine used in physics?

They are used to model waveforms, oscillations, and rotational motion.
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Is there a geometric interpretation of sine and cosine?

Yes, they can be interpreted geometrically using the unit circle.
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Nov 15, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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