How Do You Find Special Points on a Parabola?

Let’s look at how to use formulas for a parabola to get certain important points on a parabola.

Problem For the parabola y = 2x2 + 3x – 2, locate the points below.

a. The y-intercept.

Solution At the y-intercept, the x value is zero. This means that we need to set x = 0 in the equation:

y = 2(02) + 3(0) – 2 = -2

Putting this together, the y-intercept is at (0, -2).

b. The vertex.

Solution The vertex is located using the formula   where the values of a, b, and c come from the equation. In this case, a = 2, b = 3, and c = -2. This gives an x value on the intercept of

To find the corresponding y value, put this value into the equation,

This means the vertex is at (-3/4, –25/8).

c. The x-intercepts.

Solution At the x-intercepts, the y value is zero. Putting this into the equation yields

0 = 2x2 + 3x – 2

This equation is solved with the quadratic formula,

Put the values from the equation (a = 2, b = 3, and c = -2),

The x intercepts are at (-2, 0) and (1/2, 0).

All of these points are shown in the graph of the parabola below.

What are the Important Parts of a Parabola?

  • Green are the x intercepts that are solved with the quadratic formula. 
  • Purple is the y intercept found by setting x = 0.
  • Red is the vertex of the parabola. Since a > 0, the ends of the parabola point up and the vertex is a minimum. If a < 0, the vertex will be a maximum.

How Are Inputs and Outputs Related Through A Model?

When working with a model, you need to pay careful attention to the units on each variable.

Problems 1 The number y (in millions) of women in the workforce is given by the function \displaystyle y=0.006{{x}^{2}}-0.018x+5.607 where x is the number of years after 1900.

a. Find the value of y when x = 44. Explain what this means.

b. Use the model to find the number of women in the workforce in 2010.

Solution for Problem 1.2.33 in text

The solution above is the correct strategy, but there is an error…can you find the error?