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Tangent and Cotangent


Graphs
Reading and Drawing
Tangent and Cotangent Graphs
Some slides in this presentation contain animation. Slides will be
more meaningful if you allow each slide to finish its presentation
before moving to the next one.
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This is the graph for = tan x.
This is the graph for = cot x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

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ne definition for tangent is .
x cos
x sin
x tan
otice that the denominator is cos x. This indicates a
relationship between a tangent graph and a cosine graph.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

This is the graph for y = cos x.


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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

To see how the cosine and tangent graphs are related, look at what
happens when the graph for y = tan x is superimposed over y = cos x.
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

n the diagram below, y = cos x is drawn in gray while y = tan x


is drawn in -ack.
otice that the tangent graph has horizontal asymptotes
(indicated by broken lines) everywhere the cosine graph
touches the x-axis.
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ne definition for cotangent is .
x sin
x cos
x cot
otice that the denominator is sin x. This indicates a
relationship between a cotangent graph and a sine graph.
This is the graph for y = sin x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

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To see how the sine and cotangent graphs are related, look at what
happens when the graph for y = cot x is superimposed over y = sin x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

n the diagram below, y = sin x is drawn in gray while y = cot x is


drawn in -ack.
otice that the cotangent graph has horizontal asymptotes
(indicated by broken lines) everywhere the sine graph touches
the x-axis.
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= tan x.
= cot x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

or tangent and cotangent graphs, the distance between any two


consecutive vertical asymptotes represents one complete period.
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= tan x.
= cot x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

ne complete period is
highlighted on each of
these graphs.
or both y = tan x and y = cot x, the period is . (rom the beginning of
a cycle to the end of that cycle, the distance along the x-axis is .)
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

or y = tan x, there is no phase shift.


The y-intercept is located at the point (,).
We will call that point, the ke point.
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

tangent graph has a phase shift if the ke point


is shifted to the left or to the right.
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

or y = cot x, there is no phase shift.


Y = cot x has a vertical asymptote located along the y-axis.
We will call that asymptote, the ke as2ptote.
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

cotangent graph has a phase shift if the ke


as2ptote is shifted to the left or to the right.
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= a tan b (x - c).
or a tangent graph
which has no vertical shift,
the equation for the graph
can be written as
or a cotangent graph
which has no vertical shift,
the equation for the graph
can be written as
= a cot b (x - c).
c
indicates the
phase shift, also
known as the
horizontal shift.
a
indicates whether the
graph reflects about
the x-axis.
b
affects the
period.
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y = a tan - (x - .) y = a cot b (x - c)
Unlike sine or cosine graphs, tangent and cotangent graphs have
no maximum or minimum values. Their range is (-, ), so
amplitude is not defined.
However, it is important to determine whether a is positive or
negative. When a is negative, the tangent or cotangent graph will
"flip or reflect about the x-axis.
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

otice the behavior of = tan x.


otice what happens to each section of the graph as it nears its asymptotes.
s each section nears the asymptote on its left, the y-values approach - .
s each section nears the asymptote on its right, the y-values approach + .
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otice what happens to each section of the graph as it nears its asymptotes.
s each section nears the asymptote on its left, the y-values approach + .
s each section nears the asymptote on its right, the y-values approach - .
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

otice the behavior of = cot x.


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This is the graph for = tan x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

= - tan x
Consider the graph for y = - tan x
n this equation a, the numerical coefficient for the tangent, is
equal to -1. The fact that , is negative causes the graph to
"flip or reflect about the x-axis.
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This is the graph for = cot x.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

= - cot x
Consider the graph for y = - cot x
n this equation a, the numerical coefficient for the cotangent,
is equal to -. The fact that , is negative causes the graph to
"flip or reflect about the x-axis.
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y = , tan b (x - .) y = , cot b (x - .)
b affects the period of the tangent or cotangent graph.
or tangent and cotangent graphs, the period can -e deter2ined -

-
period
x

Conversely, when you already know the period of a tangent or


cotangent graph, b can -e deter2ined -

period
-
x

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complete period (including two consecutive vertical asymptotes) has
been highlighted on the tangent graph below.
The distance between the asymptotes in this graph is .
Therefore, the period of this graph is also .

x
x

x
x

x
x
x x x

x
x
x

or all tangent
graphs, the period is
equal to the
distance between
any two consecutive
vertical asymptotes.

x
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x
x

5074/
b
We will let a = 1, but a
could be any positive
value since the graph has
not been reflected about
the x-axis.

x
Use , the period of this tangent graph, to calculate b.

x
x
x x x

x
x
x

1 b a
n equation for this graph can be written as x y

tan 1
or . x y

tan
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complete period (including two consecutive vertical asymptotes) has
been highlighted on the cotangent graph below.
The distance between the asymptotes is .
Therefore, the period of this graph is also .
x x x
x
or all cotangent
graphs, the period is
equal to the
distance between
any two consecutive
vertical asymptotes.
x
x x x x x x x x
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x
x

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b
We will let a = 1, but a
could be any positive
value since the graph
has not been reflected
about the x-axis.
x
Use , the period of this cotangent graph, to calculate b.

1
1 b a
n equation for this graph can be written as
or .
x y

1
cot 1
x x x x x x x x
x y

1
cot
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

y = tan x has no phase shift.


We designated the y-intercept, located at (,),
as the ke point.
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

y = cot x has no phase shift.


We designated the vertical asymptote on the y-axis (at x = )
as the ke as2ptote.
x =
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x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

f the ke point on a
tangent graph shifts to
the left or to the right,
or if the ke as2ptote
on a cotangent graph
shifts to the left or to
the right,
that horizontal shift is
called a phase shift.
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y = a tan b (x - c)
c indicates the phase shift of a tangent graph.
or a tangent graph, the x-coordinate of the ke point is c.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

or this graph, c = because the key point shifted spaces to the


right.
n equation for this graph can be written as .

'
+

'

tan x y
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y = a cot b (x c)
c indicates the phase shift of a cotangent graph.
or a cotangent graph, c is the value of x in the ke vertica as2ptote.
x
x
x
x x
x
x
x

or this graph, c = because the key asymptote shifted left to .


n equation for this graph can be written as or

'
+

'

'
+

'

cot x y

cot
'
+

'

x
+ x y
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Graphs whose equations can be written as a tangent function can also
be written as a cotangent function.
Given the graph above, it is possible to write an equation for the
graph. We will look at how to write both a tangent equation that
describes this graph and a cotangent equation that describes the
graph.
The tangent equation will be written as y = , tan -(x .).
The cotangent equation will be written as y = , cot -(x .).


x x x x

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x x x x

or the tangent function, the values for a, b, and c must be determined.


This tangent graph has reflected about the x-axis, so a must be
negative. We will use a = -1.
The period of the graph is .
The key point did not shift, so the phase shift is . c =

x
x

x
5074/
b
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x x x x

1 c b a
The tangent equation for this graph can be written
as or .
) ( tan 1 x y x y tan
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x x x x

or the cotangent function, the values for a, b, and c must be


determined.
This cotangent graph has not reflected about the x-axis, so a must
be positive. We will use a = 1.
The period of the graph is .
The key asymptote has shifted spaces to the right , so the
phase shift is . Therefore, .

x
x

x
5074/
b

x
c
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x x x x

1
x
c b a
The cotangent equation for this graph can be written
as .
'
+

'

cot x y
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t is important to be able to draw a tangent graph when you are given
the corresponding equation. Consider the equation
Begin by looking at a, b, and c.

tan

'
+

'

x
x y

x
c b a
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tan

'
+

'

x
x y
The negative sign here means that the tangent graph reflects or "flips
about the x-axis. The graph will look like this.

a
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tan

'
+

'

x
x y
b = 3

b
5074/
Use b to calculate the period. Remember that the period is the distance
between vertical asymptotes.
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tan

'
+

'

x
x y

x
c
This phase shift means the ke point has shifted spaces
to the right. t's coordinate is . lso, notice that the key
point is an x-intercept.

x
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The period is ; half of the period is . Therefore, the
distance between the x-intercept and the asymptotes on either side is .

tan

'
+

'

x
x y
Since the key point, an x-intercept, is exactly halfway between two vertical
asymptotes, the distance from this x-intercept to the vertical asymptote on
either side is equal to half of the period.

x
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tan

'
+

'

x
x y

x x
We can use half of the period to figure out the labels for vertical
asymptotes and x-intercepts on the graph. Since we already
determined that there is an x-intercept at , we can add half of the
period to find the vertical asymptote to the right of this x-intercept.

x

x

x
+
x
x-intercept
Half of the period
Vertical
asymptote
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tan

'
+

'

x
x y
Continue to add or subtract half of the period, , to determine the
labels for additional x-intercepts and vertical asymptotes.

x

x

x
+
x
Vertical
asymptote
Half of the period
x-intercept

x x x x


x x x x x

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t is important to be able to draw a cotangent graph when you are
given the corresponding equation. Consider the equation
Begin by looking at a, b, and c.

x cot

'
+

'

x
+

c - a
x

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The positive sign here means that the cotangent graph does not reflect
or "flip about the x-axis. The graph will look like this.
a

x cot

'
+

'

x
+
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b = 4
-
period
x

Use b to calculate the period. Remember that the period is the distance
between vertical asymptotes.

'
+

'

x
+

x cot
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c
x

This phase shift means the ke as2ptote has shifted
spaces to the left. The equation for this key asymptote is
.

x
x

'
+

'

x
+

x cot
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The period is ; half of the period is . Therefore, the
distance between asymptotes and their adjacent x-intercepts is . This
information can be used to label asymptotes and x-intercepts.
The distance from an asymptote to the x-intercepts on either side of it is
equal to half of the period.

'
+

'

x
+

x cot


x x x x x x

x
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Sometimes a tangent or cotangent graph may be shifted up or down. This
is called a vertical shift.
= a tan b (x - c) +/
The equation for a tangent graph with a vertical shift can be written as
The equation for a cotangent graph with a vertical shift can be written as
= a cot b (x - c) +/
n both of these equations, / represents the vertical shift.
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good strategy for graphing a tangent or cotangent function that has a
vertical shift:
Graph the function without the vertical shift
Shift the graph up or down / units.
Consider the graph for .
The equation is in the form where d" equas
, so the vertical shift is .

x cot +

'
+

'

x
+
d c x - cot a +

'
+

'

x
+

x cot
The graph of was drawn in the previous example.


x x x x x x

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To draw , begin with the graph for .
Draw a new horizontal axis at y = .
Then shift the graph up
units.

+
The graph now represents .

x cot +

'
+

'

x
+
'
+

'

x
+

x cot

x cot +

'
+

'

x
+

'
+

'

x
+

x cot


x x x x x x

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This concludes
Tangent and Cotangent
Graphs.