**DrDelMath**

**Special
Topics **

**What
To Do When Confronted By A Function**

Before
explaining how to react to a function, it must be emphasized that **you
do not solve a function**.

When confronted
with a function you should **make note of and write down
everything you know about that function and can deduce about that function**.

Here is a list of some of the questions you should try to answer about the function. Assume its name is f.

**1.
What is its domain ?
**

2. What is its range ?

3. What kind of function is it (linear, quadratic, general polynomial of degree?, trignometric, exponential, rational, etc.) ?

4. What is the shape of its graph ?

5. How many zeros do you expect ?

6. What are its zeros? Where is f(x) = 0 ?

7. What are its real zeros ?

8. Where does it cross the x-axis ?

9. Where is it positive ? Where is f(x) > 0 ?

10. Where is it negative ? Where is f(x) < 0 ?

11. Where is its graph above the x-axis ?

12. Where is its graph below the x-axis ?

14. Where is it increasing ?

15. Where is it decreasing ?

16. Is it continuous ?

17. What are its points of discontinuity ?

18. What is its behavior as x approaches infinity ?

19. What is its behavior as x approaches negative infinity ?

20. Does it have any horizontal tangents ? Where are they?

21. What are its relative maxima ?

22. What are its relative minima ?

23. What are its absolute maxima ?

24. What are its absolute minima ?

25. Where is it increasing ?

26. Where is it decreasing ?

27. Where is it concave up ?

28. Where is it concave down ?

**A TYPICAL KIND OF QUESTION**

Many questions you ask yourself when analyzing a function (and others ask about a function) inquire where a function exhibits certain behaviors.

**For
example:** Where does the graph cross the x-axis ?

Where is the graph above the x axis ?

Where is f(x) < 0 ?

Where does the graph of a function f intersect the graph of another function
g ?

In almost
every case:

**The question is about behavior in the range and the
answer is a subset of the domain.**

**Example
1:**

The question where is f(x) > 0 asks where are range elements positive

An acceptable
answer to this question will specify a subset A of the domain D with the property
that every element of that subset A is associated with a positive number in
the range.

Moreover, no element of the domain D outside the subset A is associated with
a positive element of the range.

**Example
2:**

The question where is f(x) = 0 asks where are range elements 0

An acceptable
answer to this question will specify a subset K of the domain D with the property
that every element of that subset K is associated with the number 0 in the
range.

Moreover, no element of the domain D outside the subset K is associated with
the number 0 in the range.

Notice that each element of this set K is a zero of the function.

**Example
3:**

Where does the graph of a function f cross the horizontal line y = 8 ?

Clearly it crosses that line when its second coordinate is 8.

So the question really is Where is f(x) = 8 which asks where are range elements
equal to 8 ?

An acceptable
answer to this question will specify a subset J of the domain D with the property
that every element of that subset J is associated with the number 8 in the
range.

Moreover, no element of the domain D outside the subset J is associated with
the number 8 in the range.

**Example
4:**

Where do the graphs of two functions with a common domain f and g intersect?
This really is the question; where are the range elements f(x) and g(x) equal.
That is, for what domain elements x is it true that f(x) = g(x).

An acceptable
answer to this question will specify a subset H of the common domain D with
the property that for each individual element h of H it is true that g(h)
= f(h)

Moreover, for every element m not in the set H, g(m) is not equal to f(m)

**SOME
SPECIFIC EXAMPLES**

**Example
1:**

Consider
the function whose rule is f(x) = 2x + 5. That is try to answer as many of
the preceding questions as you can. For now restrict your attention to the
first 15 questions.

**1.
What is its domain ?** **Answer:**
By convention the domain of f is **R**

**2. What is its range ?** **Answer:**
By convention the range of f is **R**

**3. What kind of function is it ?** (linear, quadratic, general
polynomial of degree, trignometric, exponential, rational, etc.)**Answer:**
The function f is a linear function.

**4. What is the shape of its graph ?** **Answer:**
Because f is a linear function its graph will be a non-vertical line.
The possibilities look like one of the following:

Because the leading coefficient is positive, the graph must look like the
following:

(This last observation can only be made for linear functions.)

**5. How many zeros do you expect ?** **Answer:**
Linear functions have no zeros or one zero.

**6. What are its zeros?** Where is f(x) = 0 ? **Answer:**
To find the zeros of f we must solve the equation resulting from f(x)
= 0. In this case we must solve the equation 2x + 5 = 0. Its solution set
is { - 5/2 }. Therefore f has one zero and it is - 5/2.

**7. What are its real zeros ?** **Answer:**
** **The one zero of f is a real number, so the real zero
of f is - 5/2.

**8. Where does it cross the x-axis ?** **Answer:**
The graph of any function crosses the x-axis at the real zeros of the
function. Therefore, in this case, the graph of the function f crosses the
x-axis at - 5/2. This gives us more information about the graph of the function
f.

**11.
Where is its graph above the x-axis ? **
**Answer:**
The graph of f is above the x-axis for all domain elements in the set
{ x | x
**R** and x > -5/2 }.

**12. Where is its graph below the x-axis ?** **Answer:**
The graph of f is below the x-axis for all domain elements in the set
{ x | x
**R** and x < -5/2 }.

**9. Where is it positive ? Where is f(x) > 0 ? ** **Answer:**
A function is said to be positive at a domain element t if f(t) >
0 because the corresponding range element is positive. Recall that for any
domain element t, the point (t, f(t)) is on the graph of the function f. If
f(t) is positive, the point (t, f(t)) must appear above the x-axis. Therefore
the function f is positive for all domain elements where the graph appears
above the x-axis. In this case f is positive in the set { x | x
**R** and x > -5/2 }.

**10. Where is it negative ? Where is f(x) < 0 ?** **Answer:**
A function is said to be negative at a domain element t if f(t) <
0 because the corresponding range element is negative. Recall that for any
domain element t, the point (t, f(t)) is on the graph of the function f. If
f(t) is negative, the point (t, f(t)) must appear below the x-axis. Therefore
the function f is negative for all domain elements where the graph appears
below the x-axis. In this case f is negative in the set { x | x
**R** and x < -5/2 }.

**14. Where is it increasing ?** **Answer:**
As you move from left to right in the domain, the functional values
increase ( w < h ? f(w) < f(h) for all real numbers. ) Therefore f is
increasing for all real numbers.

**15. Where is it decreasing ?** **Answer:**
Since f is increasing for all real numbers it is nowhere decreasing.

**Example
2:**

Consider
the function whose rule is f(x) = -2x + 5. That is try to answer as many of
the preceding questions as you can. For now restrict your attention to the
first 15 questions.

**1. What is its
domain ?**
**Answer:**
By convention the domain of f is **R**

**2. What is its range ?**
**Answer:**
By
convention the range of f is **R
**

Because the leading coefficient is negative, the graph
must look like the following:

(This last observation can only be made for linear functions.)

**5. How many zeros do you expect ?**
**Answer:**
Linear functions have no zeros or one zero.

**6. What are its zeros? Where is f(x) = 0 ? **
**Answer:**
To find the zeros of f we must solve the equation resulting from f(x)
= 0. In this case we must solve the equation -2x + 5 = 0. Its solution set
is { 5/2 }. Therefore f has one zero and it is 5/2.

**7. What are its real zeros ?**
**Answer:**
The
one zero of f is a real number, so the real zero of f is 5/2.

**8. Where does it cross the x-axis ?**
**Answer:**
The graph of any function crosses the x-axis at the real zeros of
the function. Therefore, in this case, the graph of the function f crosses
the x-axis at 5/2. This gives us more information about the graph of the function
f.

**11. Where is its
graph above the x-axis ?
Answer:
**The
graph of f is above the x-axis for all domain elements in the set { x | x

**Example
3:**

Consider
the function whose rule is f(x) = x^{2} + x - 6. That is try to answer
as many of the preceding questions as you can. For now restrict your attention
to the first 15 questions.

**1.
What is its domain ?**
**Answer:**
By convention the domain of f is **R**

**2. What is its range ?**
**Answer:**
By convention the range of f is **R**

**3. What kind of function is it ?**
**Answer:**
(linear,
quadratic, general polynomial of degree, trignometric, exponential, rational,
etc.) The function f is a quadratic function. Because its rule is of the form
f(x) = ax^{2} + bx + c and a is not zero. Note a = 1, b = 1 and c
= - 6

**4. What is the shape of its graph ?**
**Answer:**
Because f is a quadratic function its graph will be parabola
which opens up or a parabola which opens down. The possibilities look like
one of the following:

Because the leading coefficient is positive, the parabola opens up and the graph must look like the following:

(This
last observation can only be made for quadratic functions.)

**5. How many zeros do you expect ?**
**Answer:**
Quadratic
functions have no zeros, one zero or two zeros.

**6. What are its zeros? Where is f(x) = 0 ? **
**Answer:**
To find the zeros of f we must solve the equation resulting
from f(x) = 0. In this case we must solve the equation x^{2} + x -
6 = (x + 3)(x - 2) = 0. Its solution set is { -3, 2 }. Therefore f has two
zeros and they are -3 and 2.

**7. What are its real zeros ? **
**Answer:**
Both zeros of f are real numbers, so the real zeros of f are
- 3 and 2.

**8. Where does it cross the x-axis ?**
**Answer:**
The
graph of any function crosses the x-axis at the real zeros of the function.
Therefore, in this case, the graph of the function f crosses the x-axis at
- 3 and 2. This gives us more information about the graph of the function
f.

**11.
Where is its graph above the x-axis ?
Answer:
**The
graph of f is above the x-axis for all domain elements in the set { x

The vertex of the graph of f is
a point on the graph of f and therefore its coordinates must satisfy the rule
for the function f.

Note that the vertex of this function f is therefore at ( -1/2, f(-1/2) ).

But f(-1/2) = (-1/2)^{2} + (-1/2) - 6 = 1/4 - 1/2 - 6 = (1 -2 -24)/4 = -25/4

So the vertex of this parabola is the point ( -1/2, -25/4 ).

**Example
4: **

Consider the function whose rule is f(x) = -x^{2} - 3x + 4. That is
try to answer as many of the preceding questions as you can. For now restrict
your attention to the first 15 questions.

**1.
What is its domain ?**
**Answer:**
By convention the domain of f is **R
2. What is its range ?**

Because
the leading coefficient is negative, the parabola opens down and the graph
must look like the following:

(This
last observation can only be made for quadratic functions.)

**5. How many zeros do you expect ?**
**Answer:**
Quadratic functions have no zeros, one zero or two zeros.

**6. What are its zeros? Where is f(x) = 0 ? **
**Answer:**
To find the zeros of f we must solve the equation resulting
from f(x) = 0. In this case we must solve the equation -x^{2} - 3x
+ 4 = (-x + 1)(x + 4) = 0. Its solution set is { -4, 1 }. Therefore f has
two zeros and they are -4 and 1.

**7. What are its real zeros ? **
**Answer:**
Both zeros of f are real numbers, so the real zeros of f are
- 4 and 1.

**8. Where does it cross the x-axis ? **
**Answer:**
The graph of any function crosses the x-axis at the real zeros
of the function. Therefore, in this case, the graph of the function f crosses
the x-axis at -4 and 1. This gives us more information about the graph of
the function f.

**11.
Where is its graph above the x-axis ? **
**Answer:**
The graph of f is above the x-axis for all domain elements
in the set { x
**R** | -4 < x < 1 } = ( -4, 1 )

**12. Where is its graph below the x-axis ? **
**Answer:**
The graph of f is below the x-axis for all domain elements
in the set { x
**R** | x < -4 or x > 1 } = ( - ,
-4 )(
1, +
)

**9. Where is it positive ? Where is f(x) > 0 ?**
**Answer:**
A function is said to be positive at a domain element t if
f(t) > 0 because the corresponding range element is positive. Recall that
for any domain element t, the point (t, f(t)) is on the graph of the function
f. If f(t) is positive, the point (t, f(t)) must appear above the x-axis.
Therefore the function f is positive for all domain elements where the graph
appears above the x-axis. In this case f is positive in the set ( -4, 1 ).

10. Where is it negative ? Where is f(x) < 0 ?**Answer:**
A function is said to be negative at a domain element t if
f(t) < 0 because the corresponding range element is negative. Recall that
for any domain element t, the point (t, f(t)) is on the graph of the function
f. If f(t) is negative, the point (t, f(t)) must appear below the x-axis.
Therefore the function f is negative for all domain elements where the graph
appears below the x-axis. In this case f is negative in the set ( - ,
-4 )(
1, +
).

**15. Where is it decreasing ? **
**Answer:**
As you move from left to right in the domain, the functional
values decrease ( w < h
f(w) > f(h) ) for all real numbers to the right of the vertex. Therefore
f is decreasing for all real numbers to the right of the vertex. The first
coordinate of the vertex of a quadratic function is at x = -b/2a. So the first
coordinate of the vertex of this function f is x = -3/2. Therefore the function
is decreasing for all x in the set { x
**R** | x > - 3/2} = ( -3/2, - )

14. Where is it increasing ?**Answer:**
As you move from left to right in the domain, the functional
values increase ( w < h
f(w) < f(h) ) for all real numbers to the left of the vertex. Therefore
f is increasing for all real numbers to the left of the vertex. The first
coordinate of the vertex of a quadratic function is at x = -b/2a. So the first
coordinate of the vertex of this function f is x = -3/2. Therefore the function
is increasing for all x in the set { x **R**
| x < - 3/2} = ( - ,
-3/2).

The vertex of the graph of f is a point on the graph
of f and therefore its coordinates must satisfy the rule for the function
f.

Note that the vertex of this function f is therefore at ( -3/2, f(-3/2) ).

But f(-3/2) = - (-3/2)^{2} - 3(-3/2) + 4 = - 9/4 + 9/2 + 4 = (-9 + 18 + 16)/4
= 25/4

So the vertex of this parabola is the point ( -3/2, 25/4 ).