AP CALCULUS AB DICTIONARY OF TERMS

absolute maximum - the greatest y-value that a function achieves

absolute minimum - the smallest y-value that a function achieves

absolute value -
x if x 0
( )
-x if x<0
f x
≥ ¦ ¹
=
´ `
¹ )

acceleration - the rate of change of the velocity with respect to time

amplitude - In periodic functions, the height of the function at the maximum to the middle line

antiderivative - an indefinite integral

antidifferentiation - the process of evaluating an indefinite integral

approximation - a number which serves as an estimate of a desired number

arccosine function - the inverse of the cosine function

arcsine function - the inverse of the sine function

arctangent function - the inverse of the tangent function

asymptote - a line related to a given curve such that the distance from the line to a point on the curve
approaches zero as the distance of the point from an origin increases without bound

average rate of change - derived as the ratio of the differences between the initial and final values of the
two quantities constituting the ratio

average value -
1
( )
b
a
f x dx
b a −

axis of rotation - a line around which some body or curve rotates

axis of symmetry - a line araound which a geometric figure is symmetrical

base (exponential and logarithmic) - the number which, raised to the power of a given logarithm,
produces a given number

bounded above - if there exists a number u such that ( ) f x u ≤

bounded below - if there exists a number l such that ( ) f x l ≥

bounded - a restriction on the range of a function

Cartesian coordinate system - a coordinate system in which the position of a point is determined by its
relation to reference lines called axes

Chain Rule - a method of obtaining the derivative of a composite function

circle - the set of points in a plane that are equidistant from a given point

circular functions - function obtained from the unit circle

closed interval [a,b] - a x b ≤ ≤

coefficient - the product of all the factors in an expression except for a specified factor

complex number - a number of the type , where i is a bi + 1 − and a and b are real numbers

composition - the operation that forms a single function from two given functions by applying the
second function to the value of the first for any argument; it is only defined when the range of the first is
contained in the domain of the second

concave down - having a decreasing derivative as the independent variable increases; having a negative
second derivative

concave up - having an increasing derivative as the independent variable increases; having a positive
second derivative

conic section - one of a group of curves formed by the intersection of a plane and a right circular cone

constant function - a function that is a fixed numerical value for all elements of the domain of the
function

constant of integration - an arbitrary constant term in the expression of the indefinite integral of a
function

continuity at a point - a function that is continuous on both the left and right side at that point

continuity on an interval - a function that is continuous at every point on the interval

continuous function - a function such that the following is true:
1. exists lim ( )
x a
f x

2. exists ( ) f a
3. = ( ) f a lim ( )
x a
f x

coordinate axes - one of the lines used to locate a point in a coordinate system in terms of its
perpendicular or angular distance from them

cosecant function - the reciprocal of the sine function

cosine function - the ratio x/r with r being the distance of (x, y) from the origin

cotangent function - the reciprocal of the tangent function
critical point - any ordered pair (x, y) where or is undefined ( ) 0 f x ′ =

critical value - any x values where or is undefined ( ) 0 f x ′ =

cross-sectional area - a plane geometric configuration formed by cutting a given figure with a plane
which is at right angles to an axis of the figure

decay models - applications where the rate of change of a variable y is proportional to the value of y and
is negative

decreasing function - when x<y, ( ) ( ) f x f y ≥

decreasing on an interval - for all x in [a, b], ( ) 0 f x ′ <

definite integral - the expression for the evaluation of the indefinite integral of a positive function
between two limits of integration

delta notation ( ) - a finite increment in the value of a variable ∆

derivative - the slope of the tangent line at a point on a curve

difference quotient - a ratio of the form
( ) ( f x x f x
x
+ ∆ −

)

differentiability - if a function has a well-defined derivative for each element of the domain

differential - an increment in a given function; an infinitesimal change in a function of one or more
variables, resulting from a small change in the variables

differential equation - an equation that contains derivatives or differentials of a function

differentiation - the process of finding the derivative of a function

discontinuity - a point or value of the independent variable at which the value of a function is not equal
to its limit as the value of the independent variable approaches that point, or where it is not defined

disk method - in finding the volume of a solid of revolution, use one of the following depending on the
axis of revolution - for a horizontal axis of revolution, for a vertical axis of
revolution
2
[ ( )]
b
a
R x dx π

2
[ ( )]
d
c
R y dy π

distance (from velocity) - ( )
t b
t a
v t dt
=
=

distance formula -
2 2
2 1 2 1
( ) ( x x y y − + − )

domain - the set of all values that can be assumed by the independent variable of a function

dummy variable of integration - a variable occurring in a function, but on which the value of the
function does not depend

dy/dx (Leibniz notation) - notation used for the first derivative of a function

e - also called Euler’ s number, the transcendental number defined as
1
lim 1
n
n
n
→∞
| |
+
|
\ .

ellipse - a closed geometric figure shaped like an elongated circle and symmetric about two axes of
different lengths; eccentricity is between 0 and 1

end behavior – or lim ( )
x
f x
→∞
lim ( )
x
f x
→−∞

endpoint extremum - when an absolute maximum or minimum occurs at the endpoint of the interval for
which the function is defined

even function - f(x) = f(-x)

exponent laws -
( )
1
0
1
a b a b
b
a a
a
a b
b
x x x
x x
x
x
x
x x
x
+

=
=
=
=
=
b

exponential growth and decay - If y is a differentiable function of t such that y>0 and y’=ky, for some
constant k, then , where C is the initial value of y, and k is the proportionality constant. Growth
occurs when k>0, and decay occurs when k<0.
kt
y Ce =

exponential function - any function closely related to the exponential function, and in particular ,
for any a
x
y a =

extremum - the local and global maximums and minimums of a function

factorial - the function that computes the product of the first n natural numbers, written n!

First Derivative Test - when testing critical values, if the first derivative changes from negative to zero
to positive, then that critical value is a local minimum of the function. If the first derivative changes
from positive to zero of negative, then that critical value is a local maximum of the function.

frequency of a periodic function - the number of times that a periodic function repeats itself in every unit
of the independent variable; the reciprocal of the period of the function

function - a relation such that each element of the domain has one and only one element of the range.

Fundamental Theorem of Calculus - Expresses the relationship between integration and differentiation,
namely that if the integral exists, and a function F(x) also exists for which in [a,
b], then .
( ) f x dx

( ) F a
( ) ( ) F x f x ′ =
( ) ( )
b
a
f x dx F b = −

graph - a diagram showing a relationship between two variables

growth models - applications where the rate of change of a variable y is proportional to the value of y
and is positive

growth rate - the rate at which a function is increasing

half-life - the amount of time that is needed for half of a substance to decay

hyperbola – a geometric figure produced by cutting a cone by a plane parallel to the axis of rotation of
the cone; eccentricity is greater than 1

imaginary number - a number in the form of bi, where 1 = − i

implicit differentiation - the differentiation of an implicit function with respect to the independent
variable

increasing function - when x<y, ( ) ( ) f x f y ≤

increasing on an interval - for all x in [a, b], ( ) 0 f x ′ >

increment - a positive or negative change in a variable; used to mean small change

indefinite integral - an integral without any specified limits, whose solution includes an undetermined
constant C; antiderivative

infinite limit - a limit in which f(x) increases or decreases without bound as x approaches c

inflection point - a point where a function changes concavity; also, where the second derivative changes
signs

initial condition - a boundary condition involving a differential equation at the beginning of the relevant
time period

initial value problem - a problem involving a boundary condition involving a differential equation at the
beginning of the relevant time period

inscribed rectangle - a rectangle whose area lies entirely inside a geometric figure or curve; all vertices
of the rectangle lie on the curve

instantaneous rate of change - the rate of change of a function occurring at or associated with a given
instant, or as a limit as a time interval approaches zero; the derivative

instantaneous velocity - the rate of change of the position function occuring as a limit as a time interval
approaches zero; the derivative of the position function
integer - a number that may be expresses as the sum or difference of two natural numbers

integrable function - a function that possesses a finite integral; the function must be continuous on the
interval of integration

integrand - the function that is integrated in an integral

integration - the process by which an antiderivative is calculated

integration by substitution - in integrating composite function, either using pattern recognition or change
of variables to perform the integration

Intermediate Value Theorem - If f is continuous on the closed interval [a, b] and k is any number
between f(a) and f(b), then there is at least one number c in [a, b] such that f(c) = k.

interval - a set containing all real numbers or points between two given real numbers or points

inverse function -
1
( ) f x
− 1 1
( ( )) ( ( )) f f x f f x x
− −
= =

irrational number - a number that cannot be written as an integer or as a quotient of two integers

Law of Cosines - in an oblique triangle,
2 2 2
2 cos c a b ab C = + −

Law of Sines - in an oblique triangle,
sin sin sin A B
a b c
= =
C

left-hand limit - the value that a function is approaching as x approaches a given value through values
less than x

left-hand sum - a rectangular sum of the area under a curve where the domain is divided into sub-
intervals and the height of each rectangle is the function value at the left-most point of the sub-interval

limit of integration - either of the endpoints of an interval over which a definite integral is to be
evaluated

limit - the value that the function is approaching as x approaches a given value; the left- and right-hand
limits must agree

limit at infinity - the value the function approaches as x increases or decreases without bound

linear function - a function that a can be expressed in the form ( ) f x mx b = +

linear approximation - approximating the value of a function by using the equation of the tangent line at
a point close to the desired point

local linearization - zooming in at a point on the graph of a function until the function approaches the
tangent line at that point

local extrema - local maximums and minimums of a function

log log log
log log log
log log
log 1
log 1 0
b b
b b
n
b b
b
b
mn m n
m
m n
n
m n m
b
= +
= −
=
=
=
b
b

local linearity - if a functionf(x) is differentiable at x = a, then, close
to a, its graph resembles the tangent line at a

logarithm laws -

logarithmic function - the function y= that is the inverse of the exponential function log
a
x
x
y a =

lower bound - a function is bounded below on a given domain if there is a number m such that m f
for all x in the domain
( ) x ≤

maximum - the highest value of a function for each value of the domain

mean value -
1
( )
b
a
f x dx
b a −

Mean Value Theorem for Definite Integrals - If f is continuous on [a, b], then at some point c in [a, b],
1
( ) ( )
b
a
f c f x dx
b a
=

Mean Value Theorem for Derivatives - If y = f(x) is continuous at every point of the closed interval [a,
b] and differentiable at every point of its interior (a, b), then there is at least one point c in (a, b) at
which
( ) ( )
( )
f b f a
f c
b a

′ =

middle sum - a rectangular sum of the area under a curve where the domain is divided into sub-intervals
and the height of each rectangle is the function value at the midpoint of the sub-interval

midpoint formula -
1 2 1 2
) ( ,
2 2
m m
x x y y
x y
+ +
= ( , )
x

minimum - the smallest value of a function for each value of the domain

monotonic - a function is increasing(decreasing) for every point in the domain

motion - any change in the position of a body

natural logarithm - the function is the inverse of the exponential function ln y =
x
y e =

non-removable discontinuity - a discontinuity c of the function f for which f(c) cannot be redefined so
that l im ( ) ( )
x c
f x f c

=
normal line - a line perpendicular to a tangent line at the point of tangency

numerical derivative - an approximation of the derivative of a function using a numerical algorithm

numerical integration - an approximation of the integral of a function using a numerical algorithm

odd function - ( ) ( ) f x f x − = −

one-to-one function - a function in which each element of the range has one and only one element of the
domain

open interval (a,b) - a x b < <

optimization - in an application, maximizing or minimizing some aspect of the system being modeled

order of a derivative - if y is a function of x,
dy
y
dx
′ = is the first order, or first, derivative of y with
respect to x

origin - the point (0, 0) in the Cartesian coordinate plane

parabola - a type of conic that is u-shaped and has eccentricity equal to 1

parallel curves - in a plane, curves that differ from one another by a vertical translation or shift

parameter - a dummy variable, usually t, that is the independent variable in function x and y where x =
f(t) and y = g(t)

partition of an interval - dividing an interval into n sub-intervals

percentage error -
approximate value - exact value
100
exact value
X ; relative error x 100

period - the smallest positive number p for which f(x + p) = f(x) for every value of x

periodic function - a function for which there is a smallest positive number p for which f(x + p) = f(x)
for every value of x

perpendicular curves - two curves that have perpendicular tangents at the point of tangency

piecewise-defined function - a function that is defined by applying different formulas to different parts
of its domain

polynomial - an expression in the form
1
1 1
...
n n
n n
a x a x a x a

+ + +
0
+

position function - a function f that gives the position f(t) of a body on a coordinate axis at time t

prime notation - if y = f(x), then both and denote the derivative of the function with
respect to x
( ) f x ′ y′ ( ) f x ′
Product Rule - ( ) uv uv vu ′ ′ = +

proportionality - a relationship between four numbers or quantities in which the ratio of the first pair
equals the ratio of the second pair

quadrant - any of the four sections into which the coordinate plane is divided by the coordinate axes,
counted counter-clockwise

2
4
2
b b ac
x
a
− ± −
=

Quotient Rule -
2
u vu u
v v

′ ′ − | |
=
|
\ .
v

radian - a unit of measurement of angles; the angle between two radii that cut off on the circumference
of a circle an arc equal in length to the radius

radius of a circle - a segment from a the center of the circle to a point on the circle

range - the set of y-values that the function takes on for each x-value in the domain for which the
function is defined

rate of change - the amount of change divided by the time it takes

rational function - a function that can be expressed as the quotient of two polynomial functions

real number - any rational or irrational number

rectangular coordinates - a system for the representation of a point in a plane or in space in terms of its
distance, measured along a set of mutually perpendicular axes, from a given origin

region (in a plane) - a connected subset of two-dimensional space, such as the set of points (x, y)
enclosed by equations of functions and boundary points

related rates - an equation involving two or more variables that are differentiable functions of time can
be used to find an equation that relates the corresponding rates

relative error - a measure of the difference between a number b and an estimate z given by the ratio of
a b − to b ; for a quantity Q, the ratio of
dQ
Q

relative maximum - a function has a relative maximum if the derivative changes signs from positive to
zero to negative

relative minimum - a function has a relative minimum if the derivative changes signs from negative to
zero to positive

removable discontinuity - a discontinuity c of the function f for which can be (re)defined so that

( ) f c
lim ( ) ( )
x c
f x f c

=
Riemann sum - A sum of the form where f is a continuous function on a closed interval [a,
b]: c is some point in, and ∆ the length of, the kth subinterval in some partition of [a, b]
1
( )
n
k
k
f c x
=
⋅ ∆
Σ k
k k
x

right-hand limit - the limit of f as x approaches c from the right, or lim ( )
x c
f x
+

right-hand sum - a rectangular sum of the area under a curve where the domain is divided into sub-
intervals and the height of each rectangle is the function value at the right endpoint of the sub-interval

root of an equation - zero of a function; a solution of the equation f(x)=0 is a zero of the function f or a
root of the equation or a x-intercept of the graph

roundoff error - error due to rounding

secant function - the reciprocal of the cosine function

secant line - a line through two points on the curve

second derivative - the derivative of the first derivative

Second Derivative Test - If and , then f has a local maximum at . If
and , then has a local minimum at .
( ) 0 f c ′ = ( ) 0 f c ′′ <
x c =
x c = ( ) 0 f c ′ =
( ) 0 f c ′′ >

separable differential equation - a differential equation in which f can be expressed as a
product of a function of x and a function of y
( , ) y f x y ′ =

set - a collection of any kind of objects

sigma notation = notation using the Greek letter capital sigma, , for writing lengthy sums in compact
form
Σ

Simpson’s Rule - a method af approximating to an integral as a sum of quadratic terms

sine function - the trigonometric function that is equal in a right-angled triangle to the ratio of the side
opposite the given angle to the hypotenuse

slope - the steepness of a line; the ratio of the rise of a line divided by the run of a line between any two
points; the tangent of the angle between the direction of the line and the x-axis

solid (in 3-space) - having, or relating to, three dimensions

solid of revolution - the solid figure generated by revolving a plane region around a line

speed - the absolute value or magnitude of velocity

sphere - a set of points equidistant from a given point

subset - a set of all the members of which are members of some given set

symmetry - for a curve to have
(1) symmetry about the x-axis, the point (x, y) must lie on the curve if and only if (x, -y) lies on the
curve
(2) symmetry about the y-axis, (x, y) must lie on the curve if and only if (-x, y) lies on the curve
(3) symmetry about the origin, (x, y) must lie on the curve if and only if (-x, -y) lies on the curve

tangent function - a trigonometric function that in a right-angled triangle is the ratio of the length of the
side opposite the given angle to that of the adjacent side

tangent line - to the graph of a function y = f(x) at a point x = a where exists, the line through (a,
f(a)) with slope
f ′
( ) f a ′

transcendental function - a function that is not algebraic; example are: trigonometric, inverse
trigonometric, exponential, and logarithmic functions

Trapezoidal Rule - A method of approximating to an integral as the limit of a sum of areas of trapezoids

trigonometric function - any of a group of functions expressed in terms of the ratios of the coordinates of
the points on the circumference of a circle centered on the origin and the radius as the latter sweeps out
that angle

u-substitution - a method of integration in which is rewritten as by
substituting u = g(x) and
( ( )) ( ) f g x g x dx ′ ⋅

( ) f u du

( ) du g x dx ′ =

unit circle - a circle of radius 1 whose center is at the origin

upper bound - a function is bounded above on a given domain if there is a number M such that
for all x in the domain ( ) f x M ≤

velocity - the rate of change of position with respect to time

vertex - any point of intersection of two sides of a polygon or plane surfaces of a solid

viewing window - on a graphing calculator, the portion of the coordinate plane displayed on the screen

volume by slicing - a method for finding the volume of a solid by evaluating where A(x)
(assumed integrable) is the solid cross section area at x
( )
b
a
A x dx

x-axis - the horizontal axis of the Cartesian coordinate system

x-intercept - the x-coordinate of the point where a curve intersects the x-axis

y-axis - the vertical axis of the Cartesian coordinate system

y-intercept - the y-coordinate of the point where a curve intersects the y-axis

zero of a function - a solution of the equation f(x) = 0 is a zero of the function f or a root of the equation