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14002: Proportions in a right triangle

Geometric Mean: The number b is the geometric mean between the numbers a
and c if and only if a, b, and c are positive and

a b
=
b c

altitude of a triangle: The altitude of a triangle is a perpendicular line segment


from a vertex of the triangle to the line of the opposite side.

Theorem 1: The altitude to the hypotenuse of a right triangle forms two triangles that
are similar to each other and to the original triangle.

In the following example 4ABC is a right triangle with altitude BD to hypotenuse AC.
Then by Theorem 1 we have that

4ADB 4BDC 4ABC.

A C
D

Corollary 1: The altitude to the hypotenuse of a right triangle is the geometric mean
between the segments into which it divides the hypotenuse. In other words for the pre-
ceding figure we have
AD BD
= .
BD CD
NOTE: Corollary 1 follows from Theorem 1 because we know 4ADB 4BDC. There-
fore, we can write the above stated proportion.

projections: In the above figure, we refer to AD and DC as the projections of the


sides AB and BC on the hypotenuse, respectively.
2 14002: PROPORTIONS IN A RIGHT TRIANGLE

Corollary 2: Each leg of a right triangle is the geometric mean between the hypotenuse
and its projection on the hypotenuse. In other words, for the preceding figure we have
AD AB DC BC
= and = .
AB AC BC AC

NOTE: Corollary 2 follows from Theorem 1 because we know that 4ADB 4ABC
and 4BDC 4ABC. Therefore, we have the above stated proportions.

Example 1: Solve for x.

8 2

Example 2: Solve for x.

12

x 8
14002: PROPORTIONS IN A RIGHT TRIANGLE 3

Exercises
For each of the following triangles, find the length of x. Round answers to two
decimal places, where necessary. Please note that the triangles are not drawn to
scale.

1.

2 x

2.

4
9

3.

3
4 14002: PROPORTIONS IN A RIGHT TRIANGLE

4.

x
20
9

5.

7 7

6.

11

x+3