A terrific example of piecewise functions is our graduated income tax system. In that system, the more you make…the higher percentage you pay. However, you DO NOT pay the higher percentage on all of your income. In the two FAQ’s below,we take a look how all of this works.
Points of Inflection are locations on a graph where the concavity changes. In the case of the graph above, we can see that the graph is concave down to the left of the inflection point and concave down to the right of the infection point. We can use the second derivative to find such points as in the MathFAQ below.
What is the significance of this point? On both sides of the inflection point, the graph is increasing. This means that as the number of connections increased, so did the revenue from those connections. However, on the left side of the inflection point, the increases in revenue due to increasing connections is getting smaller and smaller. On the right side of the point of inflection, increasing the connections results in larger and larger increases in revenue.
Although a relative extrema may seem to be very similar to an absolute extrema, they are actually quite different. The term “relative” means compared to numbers nearby…so a relative extrema is either a bump or a dip on the function.
The term “absolute” means the most extreme on the entire function. An absolute extrema is the very highest or lowest point on the function. This may occur at a bump or a dip. They may also occur at the ends of the function if it is defined on a closed interval.
The MathFAQ below illustrates how to find these points on a function.
Suppose you are asked to determine whether a function is discontinuous. Many of you might use technology to help you graph a function to decide what the limits are from the left and right. Remember, a function is continuous at a point if the limits from the left and right are equal and also match the value of the function at the point.
Be aware that the TI calculators, WolframAlpha, and Desmos may give slightly different graphs and lead you to the wrong conclusion.
The new MathFAQ below demonstrates how to graph
in WolframAlpha and Desmos.
Notice how the graphs differ. Which one is the better graph to use if you are deciding if the function is discontinuous?