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Section 1.5 Limits Involving Inﬁnity; Asymptotes

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Math S-1ab Calculus I and II

June 28, 2007

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Deﬁnition

Let f be a function deﬁned on some interval (a, ). Then

x f (x) = L

lim

means that the values of f (x ) can be made as close to L as we like, by taking x suﬃciently large.

Deﬁnition

Let f be a function deﬁned on some interval (a, ). Then

x f (x) = L

lim

means that the values of f (x ) can be made as close to L as we like, by taking x suﬃciently large.

Deﬁnition

The line y = L is a called a horizontal asymptote of the curve y = f (x) if either

x f (x ) = L

lim

or

x→−∞ f (x) = L.
lim

Deﬁnition

Let f be a function deﬁned on some interval (a, ). Then

x f (x) = L

lim

means that the values of f (x ) can be made as close to L as we like, by taking x suﬃciently large.

Deﬁnition

The line y = L is a called a horizontal asymptote of the curve

 y = f (x) if either y x→∞ f (x ) = L lim = L is a horizontal line! or x→−∞ f (x) = L. lim

Theorem

Let n be a positive integer. Then

lim

x→∞

1

n = 0

x

lim

x→−∞

1

n = 0

x

Using the limit laws to compute limits at

Example

Find

if it exists.

A does not exist

B 1 /2

C 0

D

lim

x→∞

2x 3 + 3x + 1

4x 3 + 5x 2 + 7

Using the limit laws to compute limits at

Example

Find

if it exists.

 A does not exist B 1 /2 C 0 D ∞

lim

x→∞

2x 3 + 3x + 1

4x 3 + 5x 2 + 7

Solution

Factor out the largest power of x from the numerator and denominator. We have

lim

x→∞

2x 3 + 3x + 1 7 = x 3 (2 + 3 /x 2 + 1 /x 3 )

4x 3 + 5x 2 +

x 3 (4 + 5 /x + 7 /x 3 )

2x 3 + 3x + 1

4x 3 + 5x 2 +

7 =

=

lim

x→∞

+ 3 /x 2 + 1 /x 3 + 5 /x + 7 /x 3

2

4

2

1

+ 0 + 0 = 2

+ 0 + 0

4

Solution

Factor out the largest power of x from the numerator and denominator. We have

lim

x→∞

2x 3 + 3x + 1 7 = x 3 (2 + 3 /x 2 + 1 /x 3 )

4x 3 + 5x 2 +

x 3 (4 + 5 /x + 7 /x 3 )

2x 3 + 3x + 1

4x 3 + 5x 2 +

7 =

=

lim

x→∞

+ 3 /x 2 + 1 /x 3 + 5 /x + 7 /x 3

2

4

2

1

+ 0 + 0 = 2

+ 0 + 0

4

Upshot

When ﬁnding limits of algebraic expressions at inﬁnitely, look at the highest degree terms.

Another Example

Example

Find

lim

x→∞

3x 4 + 7

x 2 + 3

Another Example

Example

Find

Solution

The limit is 3.

lim

x→∞

3x 4 + 7

x 2 + 3

Example

lim

x→∞

x 2

2 x .

Example

lim

x→∞

x 2

2 x .

Solution

The limit is zero. exponential growth is inﬁnitely faster than geometric growth

Inﬁnite Limits

Deﬁnition

The notation

xa f (x) =

lim

means that the values of f (x) can be made arbitrarily large (as large as we please) by taking x suﬃciently close to a but not equal to a.

Deﬁnition

The notation

xa f (x) = −∞

lim

means that the values of f (x) can be made arbitrarily large negative (as large as we please) by taking x suﬃciently close to a but not equal to a.

Of course we have deﬁnitions for left- and right-hand inﬁnite limits.

Vertical Asymptotes

Deﬁnition

The line x = a is called a vertical asymptote of the curve y = f (x) if at least one of the following is true:

xa f (x) =

lim

lim + f (x) =

xa

xa f (x) = −∞

lim

lim + f (x) = −∞

xa

lim − f (x) = ∞
lim − f (x) = −∞
x→a
x→a

Inﬁnite Limits we Know

1

=

x

1

x

1

x 2 =

= −∞

lim

x0+

lim

x0

lim

x0

Finding limits at trouble spots

Example

Let

Find

continuous.

lim f (t) and

ta

t 2 + 2

f (t) =

t 2 3t + 2 lim + f (t) for each a at which f

ta

is not

Finding limits at trouble spots

Example

Let

Find

continuous.

lim f (t) and

ta

f (t) =

t 2 + 2

t 2 3t + 2

lim + f (t) for each a at which f

ta

is not

Solution

The denominator factors as (t 1)(t 2). We can record the signs of the factors on the number line.

 − 0 + 1

(t 1)

− 0
+

1

0

+

2

(t

(t

1)

2)

− 0
+
(t
− 1)
1
− 0
+
(t
− 2)
2

+

( t 2 + 2)

− 0
+
(t
− 1)
1
− 0
+
− 2)
(t
2

+

( t 2 + 2)

1

2

f (t)

0
+
(t
− 1)
1
0
+
− 2)
(t
2
+
(t 2 + 2)
+
f (t)
1
2
 − 0 + 1

0

+

2

(t 1)

(t 2)

+

( t 2 + 2)

+

±∞

1

2

f (t)

− 0
+
(t
− 1)
1
− 0
+
− 2)
(t
2
+
(t 2 + 2)
+ ±∞
f (t)
1
2
− 0
+
(t
− 1)
1
− 0
+
− 2)
(t
2
+
(t 2 + 2)
+ ±∞
∓∞
f (t)
1
2
− 0
+
(t
− 1)
1
− 0
+
(t
− 2)
2
+
(t 2 + 2)
+ ±∞
∓∞
+
f (t)
1
2

Limit Laws with inﬁnite limits

The sum of positive inﬁnite limits is . That is

+ =

The sum of negative inﬁnite limits is −∞.

−∞ − ∞ = −∞

The sum of a ﬁnite limit and an inﬁnite limit is inﬁnite.

a + = a − ∞ = −∞

Rules of Thumb with inﬁnite limits

The sum of positive inﬁnite limits is . That is

+ =

The sum of negative inﬁnite limits is −∞.

−∞ − ∞ = −∞

The sum of a ﬁnite limit and an inﬁnite limit is inﬁnite.

a + = a − ∞ = −∞

Rules of Thumb with inﬁnite limits

The product of a ﬁnite limit and an inﬁnite limit is inﬁnite if the ﬁnite limit is not 0.

a · = ∞ −∞

−∞

a · (−∞) =

if

if

if

if

a > 0 a < 0.

a > 0 a < 0.

The product of two inﬁnite limits is inﬁnite.

∞ · ∞ =

∞ · (−∞) = −∞

(−∞) · (−∞) =

The quotient of a ﬁnite limit by an inﬁnite limit is zero:

a
∞ = 0.

Indeterminate Limits

Limits of the form 0 · ∞ and ∞ − ∞ are indeterminate. There is no rule for evaluating such a form; the limit must be examined more closely.

Indeterminate Limits

Limits of the form 0 · ∞ and ∞ − ∞ are indeterminate. There is no rule for evaluating such a form; the limit must be examined more closely.

Limits of the form

1

0 are also indeterminate.

Rationalizing to get a limit

Example

Compute

x 4x 2 + 17 2x .

lim

Rationalizing to get a limit

Example

Compute

x 4x 2 + 17 2x .

lim

Solution

This limit is of the form ∞ − ∞, which we cannot use. So we rationalize the numerator (the denominator is 1) to get an expression that we can use the limit laws on.