The development of trigonometry as a branch of mathematics was a combined effort of mathematical scholars working in a number of different languages and cultures, over many centuries. The first texts containing trigonometric computations are found in Greek sources, although these do not contain the trigonometric functions we now use. The introduction of the trigonometric functions is found in Sanskrit sources, and scholars working in Arabic composed the first works devoted entirely to trigonometry, adopting and expanding on the work of their Greek and Sanskrit sources. The word trigonometry itself was a neologism of Latin scholars, whose treatises developed this field as an independent branch of mathematics, adopting and extending previous Arabic works.
Trigonometry was not regarded as an independent branch of mathematics in the ancient period—the word itself is an early modern neologism and does not translate any ancient expression. Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources—which do not introduce angles—appear to have handled the mensuration of triangles, and slopes, through the ratios of the sides of normalized triangles. The preserved texts of these cultures contain some tables that might be regarded as trigonometric, but computations that are clearly trigonometric have not yet been found in these texts.Less
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