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given by

g(x) =

1 + 4x

9 3 1 + 4x

5 3 1 + 4x

+x+

+ 2 = x.

f (g(x)) = (g(x)) + 3g(x) + 2 =

2

2

So far, so good. Now compose the two functions in the opposite order:

p

1 + 4(x2 + 3x + 2)

2

2

3 (2x + 3)

3 4x + 12x + 9

=

= x or

=

2

2

g(f (x)) =

x 3.

We get x for the composite value, as expected, but where did the second answer come

from?

Let us go back to the definition of inverse. In order for a function to have an inverse

from its range to its domain, it must be one-one. This is not the case for the quadratic

f (x), where each value exceeding 1/4 is assumed twice. In order to provide for an inverse,

we restrict the domain of f (x) to a set upon which it is one-one.

Let

f1 (x) = f (x) = x2 + 3x + 2

for x 3/2. The inverse g1 (x) of f1 (x) is the function

g1 (x) =

3 +

1 + 4x

defined for x 1/4. As x increases from 1/4, the value g1 (x) increases from 3/2.

Note that the graphs of f1 (x) and g1 (x) are images of each other reflected in the line y = x.

Now

g1 (f1 (x)) =

3 +

1 + 4(x2 + 3x + 2)

3 +

=

2

1

(2x + 3)2

.

2

Observe that, by definition of the radical, z refers to the positive square root of z. Since

x 3/2, the positive square root of (2x + 3)2 is equal to 2x + 3 and we find that

g1 (f1 (x)) =

3 + (2x 3)

= x.

2

Now define

f2 (x) = f (x) = x2 + 3x + 2

for x 3/2. The inverse of this function is

g2 (x) =

1 + 4x

defined for x 1/4. As x increases from 1/4 the value of g2 (x) decreases from 3/2.

Again, observe that the graphs of f2 (x) and g2 (x) are reflections of each other in the line

y = 3. We have that

g2 (f2 (x)) =

1 + 4(x2 + 3x + 2

3

=

2

p

(2x + 3)2

.

2

This time, since x 3/2, we have that 2x+3 0 and the positive square root of (2x+3)2

is (2x + 3). Therefore

g2 (f2 (x)) =

3 + 2x + 3

3 ((2x + 3))

=

= x.

2

2

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