Today we’ll discuss one of the simple applications of the Pythagorean Theorem: finding the lengths of the edges in a right triangle.

The most common application of the Pythagorean theorem is to use the known lengths of two of the sides of a right triangle to find the length of the third side, using algebra and the formula a² + b² = c².

## Problem 1

In a right triangle, one of the legs (a) measures 4 units, the other leg (b) measures 3 units. Find the length of the hypotenuse, c.

## Strategy for finding the lengths of edges in a right triangle

This is a straightforward application of the Pythagorean theorem. We know the lengths of sides a and b, so we simply plug these lengths into the formula a² + b² = c².

## Solution

a= 4, b=3 //given

4² + 3² = c² // simple substitution

16 + 9 = c²

25 = c²

√25 = c

c = 5 //c is a side length, it must be positive, so we use only the positive root.

We can also use this formula to find the length of either one of the legs, if we know the length of the hypotenuse and the length of the other leg. For example:

## Problem 2

In a right triangle, one of the legs (a) measures 12 units, the hypotenuse, c, measures 13 units. Fin the length of the other leg (b)

## Strategy for finding the lengths of edges in a right triangle

Just as we did above, since we know the lengths of side a and the hypotenuse c, we simply plug these lengths into the formula a² + b² = c².

## Solution

a=12, c=13 //given

12² + b² = 13² // substitution

144 + b² = 169

b² = 169-144=25 //rearranging

b= √25

b = 5 //b is a side length, it must be positive, so we use only the positive root.