# How Do You Calculate and Interpret an Average Rate of Change?

I posted a worksheet to help you work on calculating average rates of change. Let’s look at what students did in class on the problem in this worksheet.

 Year Wireless Revenue (billions $) Wireless Connections (millions) 2006 38.0 59.1 2007 43.9 65.7 2008 49.3 72.1 2009 60.3 96.5 2010 63.4 102.2 2011 70.2 107.8  These numbers indicate how fast the revenue is increasing over each period. Comparing these average rates of change, we see that the rate is getting larger. The numbers above indicate how fast the number of wireless connections are increasing over each period. Like the revenue, the average rate over 2008 through 2011 is larger than the average rate over 2006 through 2008. YES! Time for me to invest! Not so fast…let’s look at another set of average rates. Calculate the average rate of change of wireless revenue with respect to wireless connections over the same periods.$latex \displaystyle \text{Ave Rate over 2006 to 2008}=\frac{49.3-38.0}{72.1-59.1}=0.869 \frac{\text{billion dollars}}{\text{million connections}}$Since one billion divided by one million is one thousand, this is equivalent to 0.869 thousand dollars per connection or 869 dollars per connection. This means that increasing the number of connections by one increases the wireless revenue by$869. Now look at the same rate over 2008 through 2011:
$latex \displaystyle \text{Ave Rate over 2008 to 2011}=\frac{70.2-49.3}{107.8-72.1}=0.585 \frac{\text{thousand dollars}}{\text{connections}}$ 