The tan Function in C++: Understanding Angles and Ratios

Hello! In this article, we’ll talk about a handy C++ function for dealing with angles – tan. We’ll start by getting to know this function and figure out how to use it the right way. We’ll check how it behaves with some examples and end by creating a small program using tan.

Illustration of tan

What is the tan function?

To work with angles in C/C++, you can use the tan function. Here’s what it looks like:

double tan (double x);
  • It takes an angle value as input.
  • It gives back a number based on that angle. This is the tangent value.

Let’s see a simple program that shows the result of the tan function:

#include <cmath>  // This is where tan lives
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main() {
  cout << "tan(45) = " << tan(M_PI / 4) << endl;

  return 0;

If you run it, you might see:

tan(45) = 1

Why 1? Because the tangent of 45 degrees is 1.

Create your program using tan

Let’s get creative. Suppose you’re building a game where a character jumps on platforms. Knowing the platform’s slope (angle) can help your character decide if it’s too steep.

#include <iostream>
#include <cmath>
using namespace std;

double degreesToRadians(double degrees) {
  return degrees * (M_PI / 180);

int main() {
  double platformAngle;
  cout << "Enter platform angle (in degrees): ";
  cin >> platformAngle;

  double slope = tan(degreesToRadians(platformAngle));

  if (slope > 2) {
      cout << "Too steep! Don't jump!" << endl;
  } else {
      cout << "Safe to jump!" << endl;

  return 0;

Now, every time your game character sees a platform, you can use this simple program to check if it’s safe to jump!

Wrapping it up

The tan function is more than just some math. It’s a bridge between our world of angles and the computer’s world of calculations. With a bit of creativity, you can use it in many interesting ways. Keep exploring and happy coding!


  1. Understanding tan:

    • Write a C++ program that asks the user to input three different angles (in degrees).
    • For each angle, calculate its tangent value using the tan function and display the result.
    • Ensure your program converts the angles from degrees to radians before applying the tan function.
  2. Platform Jump Simulation:

    • Extend the platform jump program provided in the article.
    • Add an option for the user to input multiple platform angles at once (e.g., 30, 45, 60) and check if they’re safe to jump on.
    • Display a summarized report at the end, showing the number of safe platforms and the number of risky platforms based on the input angles.
  3. Creative Use of tan:

    • Think of a real-world application where the tan function might be useful (other than the platform game example).
    • Briefly describe the scenario and write a simple C++ program that demonstrates the application of tan in that context.


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