AskDefine | Define triangulation

Dictionary Definition



1 a trigonometric method of determining the position of a fixed point from the angles to it from two fixed points a known distance apart; useful in navigation
2 a method of surveying; the area is divided into triangles and the length of one side and its angles with the other two are measured, then the lengths of the other sides can be calculated

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A technique in surveying in which distances and directions are estimated from an accurately measured baseline and the principles of trigonometry
  2. The network of triangles, so obtained, that are the basis of a map or chart
  3. In navigation or seismology, a process by which an unknown location is found using three known distances from known locations.
  4. A delaying move in which the king moves in a triangular path in order to force the advance of a pawn.
  5. Using multiple researchers to interview the same people or to evaluate the same evidence to reduce the impact of individual bias. [ref (1)] "Triangulation was established by asking researcher #2 and researcher #4 to conduct their own interview of the participant".

Related terms

(1) (Nahid Golafshani, 2003) Understanding Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research, The Qualitative Report Volume 8 Number 4 December 2003 597-607,

Extensive Definition

In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of finding coordinates and distance to a point by calculating the length of one side of a triangle, given measurements of angles and sides of the triangle formed by that point and two other known reference points, using the law of sines.
In the figure at right, the third angle of the triangle (call it θ) is known to be 180 − α − β, since the sum of the three angles in any triangle is known to be 180 degrees. The opposite-side for this (the third) angle is l, which is a known distance. Since, by the law of sines, the ratio sin(θ)/l is equal to that same ratio for the other two angles α and β, the lengths of any of the remaining two sides can be computed by algebra. Given either of these lengths, sine and cosine can be used to calculate the offsets in both the north/south and east/west axes from the corresponding observation point to the unknown point, thereby giving its final coordinates.
Some identities often used (valid only in flat or euclidean geometry):


  • α, β and distance AB are already known
  • C can be calculated by using the distance RC or MC:
  • RC: Position of C can be calculated using the Law of Sines
Now we can calculate AC and BC
Last step is to calculate RC via
RC=AC \cdot \sin\alpha
RC=BC \cdot \sin\beta
  • MC can be calculated using the Law of Cosines and the Pythagorean theorem
MR=AM-RB=\left(\frac\right)-\left(BC \cdot \cos\beta\right)
Triangulation is used for many purposes, including surveying, navigation, metrology, astrometry, binocular vision, model rocketry and gun direction of weapons.
Many of these surveying problems involve the solution of large meshes of triangles, with hundreds or even thousands of observations. Complex triangulation problems involving real-world observations with errors require the solution of large systems of simultaneous equations to generate solutions.
Famous uses of triangulation have included the retriangulation of Great Britain.

See also

triangulation in Bulgarian: Триангулация
triangulation in Czech: Triangulace
triangulation in German: Triangulation (Geodäsie)
triangulation in Spanish: Triangulación
triangulation in French: Triangulation
triangulation in Croatian: Triangulacija
triangulation in Indonesian: Triangulasi
triangulation in Italian: Triangolazione
triangulation in Hebrew: טריאנגולציה
triangulation in Hungarian: Háromszögelés
triangulation in Dutch: Driehoeksmeting
triangulation in Norwegian: Triangulering
triangulation in Polish: Triangulacja (geodezja)
triangulation in Russian: Триангуляция
triangulation in Slovenian: Triangulacija
triangulation in Swedish: Triangulering

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

appraisal, appraisement, approximation, assessment, assize, assizement, automatic tracking, calculation, computation, correction, data transmission, determination, estimate, estimation, evaluation, flector tuning, gauging, instrumentation, locking on, locking signals, mapping, measure, measurement, measuring, mensuration, metric system, phase adjustment, pinpointing, precision focusing, quantification, quantization, radar navigation, radar-telephone relay, range finding, rating, scan conversion, scanning, signal modulation, survey, surveying, telemetering, telemetry, three-pointing, tracking, triggering signals, valuation
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1