Can anyone help me to evaluate the trigonometric function below?
Please look that the picture for more details.

Here is the code to evaluate:

ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k]

From trigonometry we know that $tan^{-1}(k)+tan^{-1}(\frac{1}{k})=\frac{\pi}{2}$. However, when I put input that expression into Mathematica I get this:


Can anyone help me to get the result of $\frac{\pi}{2}$?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The identity does not hold for negative values of k. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ So let's assume that k is positive, how to add that condition and simplify to the result of pi/2? $\endgroup$
    – emnha
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ I tried FullSimplify[ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k], k > 0] but it did not work. I am still looking at this. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ I've got only that FullSimplify[ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k] == Pi/2, k > 0] yields True; but ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k] /. k -> 137 // FullSimplify (or with any other k) gives Pi/2 (or 1.5708 if k is inexact). $\endgroup$
    – corey979
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


We know that FullSimplify[ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k], k > 0] does not do it. But by first converting to exponentials, now Mathematica does it

   FullSimplify[ TrigToExp[ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k]] , k > 0]

Gives as output $\frac{\pi}{2}$


This works:

Assuming[k > 0, 
 Solve[FullSimplify[ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k] == x], x]]

(* ==> {{x -> Pi/2}} *)

Here, I equate the expression in the question to a symbol x and ask Mathematica what x is. Inserting an apparently trivial Solve sometimes leads to further simplifications.

In this case, the simplification already occurs in the inner step:

Assuming[k > 0, FullSimplify[ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k] == x]]

(* ==> 2 x == Pi *)

But Solve makes sure that you're getting the result with x on one side of the equation.

Edit: Making it work purely with Simplify:

This is the shortest method I could find:

1/FullSimplify[1/(ArcTan[k] + ArcTan[1/k]), k > 0]

(* ==> Pi/2 *)

So here I just added the operation 1/... to get FullSimplify to do what I want. Then I undo the inverse after the simplification.

  • $\begingroup$ Really interesting, what is operation 1/...? I couldn't find it from Wolfram Documentation. $\endgroup$
    – emnha
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ I just meant the operation of taking the inverse: 1/(ArcTan...) - didn't want to repeat the code. It's not meant to be a secret command with three dots. Although I don't blame you for suspecting as much in a language like Mathematica. $\endgroup$
    – Jens
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I knew what you meant by three dots but I didn't notice the inverse inside FullSimplify function so I thought 1/... is as a magic command! $\endgroup$
    – emnha
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 1:51

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