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Tangent and Cotangent

Graphs
Tangent and Cotangent Graphs
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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
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
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
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.