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Piecewise Functions & Step Functions

# Piecewise Functions & Step Functions

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01/25/2011

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# Grade Level: HG1 Course: Pre calculus Branch: Functions Topic: Piecewise Functions & Step Functions Piecewise Functions

Consider the function f(x) graphed below. To describe this function, different equations are needed for different parts of the domain of f. Therefore f is said to be piecewise defined. When x is less than 5, f(x) is linear with slope -2 and y-intercept 2. So, f(x) = -2x + 2 whenever x is less than 5. When x is greater than or equal to 5, f(x) = 3.

f(x) is defined for all real numbers, so the domain of this function is all real numbers. f(x) can never be less than or equal to -3, so the range of this function is all real numbers greater than -3.

Example 1:

f( x ) = - x if x ≤ 2 = x if x > 2 Solution In the above function, x ≤ 2, the formula for the function is f( x ) = -x and , if x > 2 the formula is f( x ) = x. The domain of function f defined above is the set of all the real numbers since f is defined everywhere for all real numbers.

Example 2: f( x ) = 2 if x > -3 = -5 if x < -3 Solution The above function is constant and equal to 2, if x>-3 . Function f is also constant and equal to -5 if x<-3. It can be said that function f is piecewise constant. The domain of f given above is the set of all real numbers except -3. If x = -3 function f is undefined.

Example 3: Problem involving absolute value: f( x ) = | x + 6 | Solution: The above function may be written as f( x ) = x + 6 if x ≥ -6 = - (x + 6) if x < -6 The above function is defined for all real numbers

Example 4: Problem involving more than two intervals. f( x ) = x 2 - 3 if x ≤ -10 = - 2x + 1 if -10 < x ≤ -2 3 = -x if 2 < x < 4 = ln x if x > 4 Solution: The above function is defined for all real numbers except for values of x in the interval (-2, 2] and x = 4.

Example 5: f is a function defined by f( x ) = x2 + 1 if x < 2 =-x+3 if x ≥ 2 Find the domain and range of function f and graph it. Solution: The domain of f is the set of all real numbers since function f is defined for all real values of x. In the interval (- ∞ , 2) the graph of f is a parabola shifted up 1 unit. Also this interval is open at x = 2 and therefore the graph shows an "open point" on the graph at x = 2. In the interval [2, + ∞ ) the graph is a line with an x intercept at (3, 0) and passes through the point (2, 1). The interval [2, + ∞ ) is closed at x = 2 and the graph shows a "closed point". From the graph, we can observe that function f can take all real values. The range is given by (- ∞ , + ∞ ).

Example 6: f( x ) =
1 x

if x < 0

= e -x if x ≥ 0 Find the domain and range of function f and graph it. Solution: The domain of f is the set of all real numbers since function f is defined for all real values of x. In the interval (- ∞ ,0) the graph of ‘f’ is a hyperbola with vertical asymptote at x = 0. In the interval [0, + ∞ ) the graph is a decreasing exponential and passes through the point (0, 1). The interval [0,+ ∞ ) is closed at x = 0 and the graph shows a "closed point".

As x becomes very small, approaches zero.

1 approaches zero. As x becomes very large, e -x also x

From the graph of f shown below, we can observe that function f can take all real values on (- ∞ , 0) U (0, 1] which is the range of function f.

Example 7: Graph of the Piecewise Function y = -x + 3 on the interval [-3, 0] and y = 3x + 1 on the interval [0, 3]

Example 8: Graph of the piecewise function y = 2x + 3 on the interval (-3, 1) and y = 5 on the interval (1, 5)

Step function graphs F(x) = [ x ]

The graphs look like a set of stairs, called step functions. These functions are discrete, or not continuous. Notice the endpoints in each step. Since these graphs are functions, there must exist only one dependent-value (y) for every independent-integer (x). Therefore, one endpoint of a step is included (or closed) in the step with a black dot, and the other endpoint of the step is not included in the step (or open).

Example 1 A wholesale t-shirt manufacturer charges the following prices for t-shirt orders: \$20 per shirt for shirt orders up to 20 shirts. \$15 per shirt for shirt between 21 and 40 shirts. \$10 per shirt for shirt orders between 41 and 80 shirts. \$5 per shirt for shirt orders over 80 shirts. Sketch a graph of this discontinuous function. You've ordered 40 shirts and must pay shipping fees of \$10. How much is your total order? Solution:

If I ordered 40 shirts and must pay \$10 in shipping fees, then my total order will cost \$610. (40 * \$15) +10 = 610.

QUIZ 1.

2. What is the domain of the above graph g(x) A) (- ∞ , 0] B) (- ∞ , ∞ ) C) No real Domain D) None of the above 3. Given g (x) = 3x + 1 = 1 = x+2 Find the value of g(-2) A) -5 B) 7 C) 1 D) 0 for x < 0 for 0 ≤ x ≤ 5 for x > 5

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