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# THE METHOD OF

LAGRANGE
MULTIPLIERS
Chapter 3 Section 6
METHOD OF LAGRANGE MULTIPLIERS
THEOREM.
Suppose f and g are functions of x and y with
continuous first partial derivatives.
If f has a relative extremum value at the point
subject to the constraint and
then there is a constant such that
( )
0 0
x y
( )
, 0 g x y =
( )
, 0 g x y V =

( ) ( )
0 0 0 0
, , 0 f x y g x y V + V =
HOW TO FIND THE RELATIVE EXTREMA OF A
FUNCTION f OF x AND y SUBJECT TO THE
CONSTRAINT g(x,y)=0:
1. Form the auxiliary function F of three
variables x, y, and where
( ) ( ) ( )
, , , , F x y f x y g x y = +
2. Set the first derivatives of F to zero and obtain
the system of equations:
( ) ( )
, ,
x y
f x y g x y =
( ) ( )
, ,
y y
f x y g x y =
( )
, 0 g x y =
3. Find the critical points of F by solving the
system of equations in STEP2.
4. The first 2 coordinates of a critical point F will give
the x and y values of the desired relative extrema.
NOTE: This method may be extended to a function
of more than 2 variables.
Use Lagrange multipliers to find the greatest and smallest
values that the function on the ellipse
EXAMPLE.
( )
, f x y xy =
2 2
1.
8 2
x y
+ =
SOLUTION. ( )
, f x y xy =
( )
2 2
, 1
8 2
x y
g x y = +
( )
,
x
f x y =
( )
,
x
g x y =
y
4
x
4
x
y =

( )
,
y
f x y =
( )
,
y
g x y =
x
y x y =
( )
, f x y xy =
( )
2 2
, 1
8 2
x y
g x y = +

( )
, g x y =
2 2
1 0
8 2
x y
+ =

4y x =
x y =
2 2
1
8 2
x y
+ =

4y x =
x y =
2 2
1
8 2
x y
+ =

4y
x
=
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
in : (4)
(2)
4y
x y
x
=
2 2
4 x y =
(5)
(5)
in :
(3)
2 2
4
1
8 2
y y
+ =
2
1 y =

1 y =

(5) Using : 2 x =
Thus, the function f takes on its extreme values on
the given ellipse at the four points:
( )
2,1
( )
2, 1
( )
2,1
( )
2, 1
The extreme values are:
2
2
Use Lagrange multipliers to find the point closest to the
origin on the plane
EXAMPLE.
2 5 0. x y z + =
SOLUTION.
( )
2 2 2
, , f x y z x y z = + +
( )
, , 2 5 g x y z x y z = +
( )
,
x
f x y =
( )
,
x
g x y =
2x
2
2 2 x =

( )
,
y
f x y =
( )
,
y
g x y =
2y
1 2y =

x =
2
y

=
2
z

=
( )
2 2 2
, , f x y z x y z = + +
( )
, , 2 5 g x y z x y z = +
( )
,
z
f x y =
( )
,
y
g x y =
2z
1
2z =

2 5 0 x y z + =

x =
2
y

=
2
z

=
2 5 0 x y z + =
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
in : (1), (2), (3)
(4) 2 5 0
2 2

+ + =
5
3
=

5
3
x =
5
6
y =
5
6
z

=
Thus, the point closest to the origin and is contained
on the plane is the point
The minimum distance from the origin is
2 2 2
5 5 5
3 6 6
| | | | | |
+ +
| | |
\ . \ . \ .
2 5 0 x y z + =
5 5 5
, ,
3 6 6
| |

|
\ .
6
6
5
=
Find the dimensions of the closed right circular cylindrical
can of smallest surface area whose volume is
EXAMPLE.
3
16 . cm t
SOLUTION.
( )
2
, 2 2 f r h rh r t t = +
( )
2
, 16 g r h r h t t =
( )
,
r
f r h =
( )
,
r
g r h =
2 4 h r t t +
2 rh t
2 h r rh + =

( )
2
, 2 2 f r h rh r t t = +
( )
2
, 16 g r h r h t t =
( )
,
h
f r h =
( )
,
h
g r h =
2 r t
2
r t 2 r =

( )
, g r h =
2
16 0 r h t t =
2
16 r h =

2 r =
2
16 r h =
2 h r rh + =

2 r =
2
16 r h =
(1)
(2)
(3)
2 h r rh + =
in : (5)
(4)

2
1
r
h
r

(4)
2
2
2
1
h

| |

|
\ .
=
| |

|
\ .
4

=
(6)

2
r

= (5)
in : (5), (6)
(3)
2
2 4
16

| |
=
|
\ .
1 =

Thus, and
The minimum surface area is
4 h =
2 r =
are the dimensions of the closed right circular cylindrical
can of smallest surface area whose volume is
3
16 . cm t
( )( ) ( )
2
2 2 4 2 2 t t +
( )
2, 4 f =
24t =