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Mathematical Modelling
6.1. What is a mathematical model ?
A model is a simplified representation of a real system. There are two important concepts in
this definition.
Firstly, system is a group of objects (components or factors) that interact with one another
in a organized manner, and the net result of their interactions produces the system’s
behavior, sunction and purpose. Examples of systems in chemical engineering are reaction
kinetics, equilibrium, industrial units, and transport phenomena.
Secondly, when a system is represented or described in a simpler form known as a model,
the model becomes a tool for us to understand the system by helping us to sift through its
complexity and to focus on the important, relevant aspects.
Models can be of many types:
1. pictorial (e.g. illustrations, diagrams and flowcharts)
2. conceptual or verbal (descriptions in a natural language)
3. physical (replica or mock-up of the system such as a scale airplane model for the wind
tunnel experiments, and the bench-top distillation colums)
4. mathematical.
Consequently, a mathematical model is one type of simplified representation of a real
system. It describes the system using mathematical principles in the form of an equation or
a set of equations. For example, in a controlled agricultural experiment, the crop yield (Y)
responds to the nitrogen fertilizer rate (N) by the following mathematical relationship:
Y = 1143 + 31.7 N - 0.084 N2
Which reveals that with increasing nitrogen rate, crop yield increases but with diminishing
returns, and that past a certain threshold of nitrogen (189) the yield will start to decrease
(probably due to nitrogen toxicity).

6.2. Uses of mathematical models
Mathematical models are developed primarily because we want to solve one or more
problems in a real system. For example: how do we increase the growth and yield of crops ?
how do we increase the rate and yield of chemical reactions ? Why are the current
practices not effective in controlling global warming ?


As compared to other model types ( e.g. pictorial, conceptual and physical), mathematical
models are often the most useful type. This is because the not only tell us what are the
essential components of a real system, but more importantly, they also tell us how and to
what degree do each of these components interact with each other. Besides helping us to
understand the system (i.e. the “what, why, and how” of a system) mathematical models
exclusively allow us, in an organized manner, to predict and control the system.
Consequently, mathematical models provide us a tool to solve problems.

6.3 Characteristics of mathematical models
1) Models are incomplete description of whole systems.
Because a model is a simpler representation of a system, it is actually an incomplete or
imperfect description of the system. There is always some loss of information when a real
system is translated into a model. The model does not tell us the whole picture of the
system, only the essential parts that are important to explain the system’s behavior,
function, and purpose. This incomplete depiction of a system means that the estimates or
simulations from a mathematical model are subject to error.
The degree of modeling error depends on how much information is lost; that is, how much of
the essential parts of the system that we have ignored in our models. It also depends on
how much we have under- or over- estimated the effects of the system components. The
key here is then for us to be able to capture and summarize the essential information of the
real system into a model. We have to identify the essential components of the real system,
and to describe adequately how and to what degree each of these components interacts
with one another into our model. What we aim to achieve at the end is a model that is
simpler than the real system but immensely useful because it helps us to study the system
and additionally, to control and anticipate the system’s behavior with the desired detail and
We might then be tempted to develop a model that is complete, that perfectly represents a
real system in every way. But such a model, perfect though it may be, is of no use to us
because what we have actually done is not the development of a tool to aid our
understanding but the perfect duplication or “cloning” of the actual system itself. We would
not be better using such a model to understand the system.
In the other extreme, we must be careful too that we do not develop models that are too
simple or incomplete, that vital aspects of the system are ignored or described
inadequately, and that our understanding of the system becomes deficient, or worse, or

2) Models are built from assumptions
Real systems are often complex and we need assumptions to simplify them for our
understanding. Without the use of assumptions, we might fail to develop a model because


output (Fig. there is often a trade-off between model simplicity and model accuracy. It becomes increasingly more accurate because more information about the system is summarized and fewer assumptions are used in the model. This because one model may focus on one aspect of the system. the simpler the model. only a rough estimation will suffice. Functions and Equations A function describes the relationship between two sets of variables such that for any value of one or more independent variables. 6.4. some of which may not be easily available. The more holistic and in-depth we want to represent the system. How to decide between a complex and a simple model depends very much on the purpose of our study. assumptions help us to grasp the system so that we are able to summarize the system into a model.g. it is vital that we test our mathematical models against reality to ensure that our models are accurate despite the use of assumptions. the function f(x): f ( x)  4 x  1 [6. development of a new airplane or nuclear reactor). the less accurate our model becomes because the model tells us increasingly less about the system. often requiring intensive and repetitive calculations and a lot of data. The best model is one that meets our interests and purpose of study. In other words. however are often cumbersome to use. there is only one corresponding value for the dependent variable. In contrast. and only one. Complex models. 3) Model simplicity versus model accuracy In the development of a mathematical model. As we will later see. not necessarily always being the most accurate or the most simple model. not covered or covered with insufficient depth by the other models. resulting in greater loss of information.1).1] 3 . the use of a complex model is mandatory.there is still too much complexity or uncertainty about the system. the more complex and accurate the model becomes. These models also differ from each other in terms of their model simplicity and accuracy. there is no one model that is suitable for all circumstances. 4) No one best model for all circumstances A real system is often described by many alternative models. A function is simply a rule that takes one or more values as input and produces one. For example. At times. so we will be better off with a simpler model. Therefore. But when high accuracy is required or in critical operations (e. 6.

Eq. the dependent variable.1. The vertical line shows that A is a function. y  f ( x )  4 x  1. as stated previously.1. But the following expression expression f ( x)  x is not a function because for a given value of x. A function. y )  x 2  y which shows that the g function has two arguments.has the following rule: for every value of x (input). In this case.1 can be expressed alternatively as y  f ( x). If x is 5. Fig. The arguments of a function are also called independent variables because their values are independent of each other and they are not modified within the function. the output is (45 – 1) or 19. but B is not. computed by 4x . A function may also have two or more arguments such as g ( x. an equation is very often (but not always) used. The output of a function is instead known as the dependent variable because its value depends on the independent variables. a function produces one and only one output y. It is important to realize that not all functions are equations. and y. For every input x. In this 4 . 6. it is multiplied by four. there is only one output. is a function of the independent variable. If x is 9. x and y. x. for every value of x. 6. describes the relationship between the dependent and independent variables. for instance. or simply y  4 x  1 where the output of the function f(x) is y. And to describe their relationship. and then subtracted by one which will produce a single answer (output). there are two (not one) possible output. and the rule of the function is to add y to x squared. the output can either be -3 or 3.

will be treated as synonymous to each other. the rate of change in y is constant. 5 .4. b1. no change in y). and they have the following form: n f ( x)  b0  b1x  b2 x  . …. of which the linear function is one of the most widely used because of its simplicity. This is similar to the constant polynomial function (n = 0) where the rate of change in y is constantly at zero (i. bn are the function parameters with bn  0. The expressions of the first six members of the polynomial functions are summarized below: Degree. 6.2. Function types 6.e. and n is called the degree of the polynomial function.  bn x   bi xi 2 n i 0 where b0. polynomial functions having degrees up to three are often used. In other words.chapter. the amount of change in y remains constant (Fig.4. and n is either zero or a positive integer. however. 6. both terms. and it depicts several engineering processes well.. Polynomial functions Polynomial functions are the simplest elementary functions.1.1... The linear function reveals that for every unit change in x.1. Both terms will be used to refer to the mathematical relationship between the dependent and independent variables.a). n Equation Special name 0 f ( x )  b0 Constant 1 f ( x )  b0  b1x Linear 2 f ( x )  b0  b1x  b2 x 2 Quadratic 3 f ( x )  b0  b1x  b2 x 2  b3 x 3 Cubic 4 f ( x )  b0  b1x  b2 x 2  b3 x 3  b4 x 4 Quartic 5 f ( x )  b0  b1x  b2 x 2  b3 x 3  b4 x 4  b5 x 5 Quintic In engineering studies. functions and equations.

9. b2 = -1.2. b2 = -3. The roots of a function are the values of x when the curve intersects the x-axis (more specifically. b1 = 13. then there are at most (n-1) turning points. The maximum possible number of turning points is one less than the degree of the polynomial. polynomial functions consist of smooth curves with a series of “hills and valleys” (Fig. b2 = -0. b1 = 7. b4 = -0. A linear function has only one root.2.05). Polynomial functions: a) linear (b0 = 0.0125) At higher degrees (n > 1). a fourth-degree polynomial function has a maximum of three turning points. b3 = 0. These hills and valleys are called turning points. b-d). b) quadratic (b0 = 0. b1 = 3.25).2. b3 = 0.(a) (b) (c) (d) Fig. 6. and d) quartic (b0 = 0. the values of x when y = 0). For instance. b1 = 1).75. 6. c) cubic (b0 = 0.5. and it is determined easily by x b0 b1 6 . If f is a polynomial function of degree n.39.

q ( x) q( x)  0 provided that the value of x is not such that the function q(x) = 0.2] 2b2 But for the cubic and quartic functions. their roots are calculated in a much more complex manner which will not be described here. else division by zero occurs and the result is undefined.4. Fig. 6. Michaelis-Menten function for chemical reaction rates 7 . 6.1. in which the asymptotes intersect at right angles. Consider an example of a rectangular hyperbola: the Michaelis-Menten function (Fig. x 1 x0 x  1 One important example of a rational function is the rectangular hyperbola. Some examples of rational functions are f ( x)  2x  3 . their roots are determined using the well known formula: x b1  b12  4b0b2 [6. 6.2.3). An asymptote is a line that forms the limiting value of a curve.3. Rational functions A rational function is quotient (ratio) of two polynomial functions p(x) and q(x): f ( x)  p( x) .For quadratic functions. x2 g ( x)  x3  2 x 2  5 x  9 .

k is the canopy extinction coefficient for solar radiation. and L is the cumulative leaf area index from the canopy top to the canopy height being considered. that is. 6. 6.4. Vmax is the maximum reaction rate. C. The power function can be expressed alternatively as f ( x)  xb1 where f (x) is proportional to x raised to the power of b1. Eq.5Vmax. and these two asymptotes are perpendicular to each other.4] where Am is the maximum photosynthesis rate. In Eq.3] where the reaction rate is v(C) which depends on the substrate concentration. Vmax. The parameter b1 is of particular importance. K is known as the half saturation constant. Eq. A similar rectangular hyperbola function is one that describes the leaf photosynthesis rate. and it approaches maximum reaction rate for large enough substrate concentration. Thus. 6. I0 is the solar irradiance above canopy.1.4 reveals that with increasing incident solar irradiance on the leaf.3 has two asymptotes: v(C) = Vmax and C = -K. the reaction rate v(C) can be increased to a value as near as—but never reaching—the maximum rate.3.3.. C can (theoretically) decrease to a value as near as –K but never reaching –K. else division by zero occurs. Power functions A power function has the following form: f ( x)  b0 xb1 where b0 and b1 are the function parameters (Fig. and the entire term kI0e-kL (i.e. Comparing to Eq. Am is analogous to Vmax. 6. For this reason. . Likewise. and it is sometimes known as the scaling or allometric factor. A(L): Am kI 0e kL A L  Am   kI 0e kL [6. The value of K is such that v(K) = 0.3. This function is given as v(C )  Vmax C K C [6. 8 .4). in which the reaction rate depends on the concentration of a substrate. and K is a constant.The Michaelis-Menten function is often used to describe the rate of a chemical reaction catalyzed by an enzyme.  is the photosynthetic efficiency factor. K is the substrate concentration to achieve half maximum reaction rate. 6. incident solar irradiance on leaf) is analogous to C. leaf photosynthesis rate gradually approaches Vmax but at a decreasing rate.

an elephant is about 100 times larger than a mouse. follow a power law relationship. Fig. S.4. destructive ones. Power function A creature’s heartbeat rate is widely known to decrease as its body size increases. or 4 In addition. is nearly equal to one for many regions in the world. f. or total metabolic rate  W 3 4 9 . sufficient to destroy parts or even a whole city.Many natural phenomena or processes follow the so-called power scaling law. It is found that the number N of earthquakes of a given size is related to the size of the earthquake. for instance. W. ranging from small organisms such as bacteria to the large animals such as whales. 6. is typically 60-90 beats per minute which is slower than that for an infant (90-140 beats per minute). The heartbeat rate for a human adult. The size and frequency of earthquakes. Similarly. for example. Large earthquakes are rare. Eq. Earthquakes vary in their size or magnitude: from slight earth tremors to large. raised to the power of heartbeat rate  W 1  14 . is also proportional to the body mass but raised to power of 3 4 .5 is known as the Gutenberg-Richter law for earthquakes. the total metabolic rate for most organisms. . but its heartbeat rate is about 17 times slower than the mouse’s heartbeat rate. through an inverse power law: N  S f [6. but slight earth tremors are more frequent. the heartbeat rate is found to be proportional to the body mass.5] where the scaling factor. For a wide variety of organisms.

and its corresponding scaling factor. X: Property. X. X Scaling factor. W. where it was recently found by Reich et al.. (2006) further noted that plant respiration had a stronger isometric relationship with plant nitrogen content than with plant mass. are as shown in Table Error: Reference source not found. f No. Reich et al. f. f Property. Other interesting scaling relationships also exist: the diameter of a tree trunk is proportional to the tree mass raised to the power of tree trunk diameter  W 3 3 4 : 4 and that the average distance between trees of the same mass in a mature forest is proportional to the diameter of their trunks: mean distance of tree with same mass  trunk diameter Using a mechanistic model. (2006) that plant respiration (metabolic rate) scaled isometrically (one-to-one) with plant mass (i. branches 3/4 Respiration rate 3/4 No. Enquist (2002) estimated the power law relationship between plant mass (W) and several plant properties as W X f where plant property. leaves 3/4 Fluid flow rate 3/4 No. and that this respiration-nitrogen relationship was independent of whether the plant is located indoors (such as in a laboratory or glass house) or in the field. Power law relationship between plant mass. tubes 3/4 Pressure gradient –1/4 Branch length 1/4 Fluid velocity –1/8 Branch radius 3/8 Branch resistance –3/4 Area of conducting tissue 7/8 Tree height 1/4 Tube radius > 1/6 Reproductive biomass 3/4 Conductivity 1 Fluid volume 25/24 10 . and covering six orders of magnitude variation in plant mass. and plant property. the scaling factor is 1): respiration  W The above relationship was revealed after measurements involving about 500 individual plants. X W X f Scaling factor.This scaling law can also be applied to plants. across 43 species.e. from varying environments.

they have the following general form: f ( x)  b0 a b1 x [6.5).5). Exponential and logarithmic functions Exponential functions look similar to the power functions which were discussed earlier.6] where b0 and b1 are the function parameters.5.Leaf-specific conductivity 1/4 6. and it has a value of about 2. But in the case of exponential functions. 6.1. Exponential and logarithmic functions The inverse of exponential functions is logarithmic functions (Fig. 6. The exponential function is often expressed in terms of base e. with one important difference: that the variable x in exponential functions is now the power. The exponential function to base e is alternatively written as “exp( )” such as f ( x)  b0 exp  b1x  where exp(b1x) is equivalent to eb1x (Fig.7] 11 . 6.4. Previously. Fig. and the base a is a positive constant other than 1.3. Consider the following exponential equation: y  c a bx [6. and it is raised to the power of 3. power functions like f (x) = x3 means that the base is x. where e is the natural logarithm base. rather than the base.71828.

.9] where. e and ln x are the reflection of each other about the line y = x.8). 6.7. For natural logarithms. The sine and cosine functions have the following forms: Sine: f ( x)  A sin    x   C 12 . . given x.7 is a. 1  1 b0  log a   b  c and b1  1 b and the roles of x and y have been swapped.7) are reversed in the logarithmic function (Eq. we get 1  y b x   a  c To solve for x.6. 6. Looking at both curves. we determine y. We can express logarithmic functions more briefly in the following form: y  b0  b1 log a x [6. 6. e climbs very quickly for large values of x.5. Rearranging Eq. 6. In this case.5. In Eq. the x and y in Eq. 6. the base in Eq. of which the sine and cosine functions are two of the most widely used functions. tangent. secant and cotangent.8] We see that the roles of x and y in the exponential function (Eq. given y. Trigonometric functions Certain natural processes follow cyclical or periodic variations such as the diurnal variation in air temperature and solar irradiance with time.9 are the y and x in Eq. Trigonometric functions actually refer to a family of six functions: sine. comparing Eq. that is.3.9 to . respectively. 6.1. but ln x increases very slowly for x large values of x. this is why logarithmic functions are said to be the inverse of exponential functions. cosecant. we take the logarithm to base a on both sides to obtain 1  y b x  log a    c 1 1  1  log a    log a  y  b b  c [. 6. trigonometric functions are useful to describe such periodic patterns.8. 6. 6. we instead determine x. But in Eq. they have the following form: y  b0  b1 ln x x In Fig. and the parameters c = b0 and b = b1.8. .Referring to Eq.7. Hence.8. cosine.

14.1. Exactly at sunrise. the period (P) is 24 hours.2. 6. This diurnal pattern can be described by a sine function:  2  t 6 .2.6). In Fig. the diurnal variation in solar irradiance can be described as following a sinusoidal pattern. given by 2/P.f ( x)  A cos    x   Cosine: C where A is the amplitude (the height of each peak above the baseline). where P is the period of the cycle (the length of the cycle before the variation repeats). 6. Some properties of functions 6. Sine function For stable weather and uniform skies throughout the day. solar irradiance is 0 W m-2.  24  f (t )  600 sin  6 t 18 where t is the hour.6. Examples of linear equations are 13 . the amplitude (A) is 600 W m-2.3. Linear and nonlinear functions A function is linear if each term in the equation is either a constant or the product of a constant and a variable to the first power.3. then declines with time. and  is the phase shift (the horizontal offset of the curve) (Fig.  is the angular frequency. 6. and the phase shift () is 6 hours since sunrise was at 6:00 hour. the variation of solar irradiance begins from sunrise (6:00 hour) to sunset (18:00 hour). and it increases steadily to 600 W m-2 at 12:00 hour. finally reaching 0 W m-2 again at sunset. this would ensure that the solar irradiance would begin at 0 W m-2 at sunrise. Fig. C is the vertical offset (the height of the baseline). 6.

y2) are any two pairs of points on the line.x 1  0 x  2 y  9  11z 2 x1  x2  4 x3  3 When plotted. y1) and (x2. Its slope or gradient at point x is of interest because it gives us the rate of change in y per unit change in x. is sometimes expressed alternatively as dy/dx or D(x). linear equations describe straight lines in the Cartesian coordinates. Unlike a linear equation. and the rate of change in the dependent variable (i. its slope varies from point to point. its slope) remains a constant. can be determined simply by m y2  y1 x2  x1 where (x1. we differentiate the function f at point x. but for a linear line. its slope is equal at every point along the line. Any function which is not linear is a nonlinear function. slope  df  x  dx The slope of the curve at point x. To determine the slope of a curve at point x. which is the first derivative of the function f.3. a nonlinear equation is not a linear sum of its independent variables. and the rate of change of the dependent variable is not a constant. Its slope.e.2. m. 6.2. that is..1 Determine the slope of the curve at x = 3 for the following functions: 14 . For a curve. Slope Consider a curve which is described by the function y = f (x). Example 6. Equations such as these x2  x  1  0 x  2 xy  9  0 y 2 x1  x2  4 x3 6 x1 z are examples of nonlinear equations.

while holding x constant. which describes a linear line (Fig. 6. while holding the other argument y constant. It can be shown that regardless of what value we fix y. y  3 dy which shows that along x = 1.8a).1 2 dx which shows that along y = 1. x and y.7). To better illustrate this point. y) = 2 + 3y. So the function is f(1. the slope in the y-direction is 3. 15 . And the slope in the y-direction is the derivative of f(x. y). 1) = 2x + 3. such as f(x. and its derivative is df  1. y) = 2x + 3y. It has two arguments. which again describes a linear line (Fig. 6. Now suppose that we wish to determine the slope of any point on the surface in the y-direction along x = 1. but when a function has two or more arguments. 6. Suppose that we wish to determine the slope of any point on the surface in the xdirection along y = 1. the slope in the x-direction is the derivative of f(x. gives us the slope at x. It can also be shown that regardless of the value of x the slope at any point on the surface in the y-direction is always 3. and this function describes a surface in the three-dimensional space (Fig. and its derivative is df  x. y) with respect to x. the slope in the x-direction is 2. such as f(x). This means that f(x. consider the function. y) with respect to y.a) f ( x)  2 x 2  5 x  9 b) c) f ( x)  4 x 5 f ( x)  4  ln  5 x  d) f ( x)  600cos     x  5  9  12  Solution a) b) c) d) df (3) dx df (3) dx df (3) dx df (3) dx  4 x  5  12  20 x 6   20 729 1 3    50 sin   x  5  25  12    x 1   Taking the derivative of a single-argument function. f(x.8b). the slope at any point on the surface in the x-direction is always 2.

Fig. And the partial derivative of f(x. y  3  2 and y x 16 . The partial derivatives of a function are expressed using the dell (“”) notation rather than “d” notation which is often reserved to mean total derivative. y) with respect to y. the partial derivatives of the function f(x. 6. holding x constant. is the slope in the x-direction. Consequently. is instead the slope in the y-direction.7. y) = 2x + 3y in the above example are f  x. y  f  x. y) = 2x + 3y Differentiating a multiple-argument function with respect to one argument while holding the rest constant is the concept of partial differentiation. y) with respect to x. The surface of the function f(x. holding y constant. In the above example. the partial derivative of f(x.

. and b) x is fixed at 1. 6. fixing y = -1 and x = 1.and y-direction are always 2 and 3. The function f(x.10a and b show the function curve. For case: a) the slope is constant at 2. 1  2 x  2sin  2 x  3 dx so the slope at x = 1 when y = -1 in the x-direction is 2  1  2sin  2  1  3  0. Example 6. Solution Fig. respectively.8. y    x 2  cos  2 x  3 y  in both the x- and y-directions. y) points are in unit radians.a) b) Fig. -1) for the function f  x. y) = 2x + 3y when: a) y is fixed at 1.9 illustrates the surface for the function f  x. Note: all the (x. Partial derivatives show that the slopes at any point on the surface in the x.5244 . 17 . y   3sin  2  3 y  dy so the slope at y = -1 when x = 1 in the y-direction is 3sin  2  3  1  2. y    x 2  cos  2 x  3 y  . and differentiating f(x. .2 Determine the slope at (1. and differentiating f(1. -1) with respect to x gives df  x. Now fixing x = 1. and Fig. respectively. and b) the slope is constant at 3. Fixing y = -1. y) with respect to y gives df  1.3171 .

Fig.10. The surface of the function a) f  x. The function f  x. y    x 2  cos  2 x  3 y  when: a) y is fixed at -1. .9. y    x 2  cos  2 x  3 y  b) Fig. and b) x is fixed at 1 18 . .

have no local or global maxima (Fig. 2. respectively. f(x) = x and f(x) = x3. y  f  x. y   3sin  2 x  3 y   2 x  2sin  2 x  3 y  and y x Consequently. 6.2. has only one local extremum but no global extremum. Fig.11). are the largest and smallest values of a function. respectively (Fig. but functions.12a). -1) in the x-direction and y-direction are 2  1  2sin  2  1  3  1  0. 6. Likewise.5244 . occurring at x = 0. Local and global extrema A function may have one or more global and local maxima.12d). ….A faster way to obtain the solution is to determine the partial derivatives directly for the function f  x. y    x 2  cos  2 x  3 y  which are f  x. For instance. We can imagine a function curve as a series of hills and valleys. The function.11. collectively called extremum. or even lack thereof. 6. 6. 6. f(x) = cos(x). Maximum and minimum The maximum and minimum. f(x) = x3 – x. where the local maximum and minimum occur at x  1 3 and x  1 3 . where the height of each peak and depth of each valley are known as the local maximum and local minimum.3. has infinitely many global maxima.3171 and 3sin  2  1  3  1  2. The trigonometric function. 4.3. 6. has only one global minimum at x = 0 (Fig. a function has a global minimum at xmin only if f(xmin)  f(x) for all x. respectively. the slope at point (1. and infinitely 19 . respectively (Fig. the function.12b and c). A function has a global maximum at xmax only if f(xmax)  f(x) for all x. f(x) = x2.

ym) represents either the maximum or minimum point on a slope.12f).12e).168 N dN At maximum yield (turning point). 6. the slope of the curve must be zero ( dY/dN = 0). (2000) who found that maize yield (kg ha-1) corresponded to nitrogen fertilizer rate (kg ha-1) in the following quadratic manner: Y  1143  31.7 N  0. Suppose that (xm. At a turning point. … (Fig.many global minima at x = . so dY  31.10 to obtain Y = 4133. The slope (dy/dx) at the turning point (xm. 6. has infinitely many local extrema but no global extrema (Fig. 20 .10] We differentiate Eq. we substitute N = 188. its slope must be zero.7  0.7 which shows that maximum yield is achieved at nitrogen rate of 188. the function. we can determine the value of xm when dy/dx = 0.7 kg ha-1. Hence. f(x) = 4cos(x) x.7  0.168 N  0 dN  N  188. Calculus is required to determine exactly the extrema of any given function. 6.7 kg ha-1 into Eq.10 with respect to nitrogen to obtain the slope of the curve at a given N: dY  31.7 kg ha -1. 5. However. Recall that the slope of a curve is determined by differentiating the curve function f with respect to x. Consider the experiment by Pandey et al. To determine the maximum yield. 3. 6. We have seen that a function curve may have one or more turning points. ym) must be zero. We next substitute x = xm into the function to determine the value of ym.084 N 2 [6.

and the function curve concave upwards (Fig. d) f(x) = x3 – x. 6. the slope of the curve is increasing. c) f(x) = x3. e) f(x) = cos(x). on the function.13a). Double differentiation measures the rate of change in the slope. whenever the double derivative is negative the slope of the 21 . b) f(x) = x.a) b) c) d) e) f) Fig. This means that d2y/dx2 is positive at the minimum point. d2y/dx2. 6. We do this by performing a double differentiation. and f) f(x) = 4cos(x) .x It is useful if we can determine if a given turning point is a maximum or minimum point without having to plot the function. Extrema (or lack thereof) of several functions: a) f(x) = x2. So whenever the double derivative is positive. In contrast.12.

curve is decreasing so the function curve concaves downwards (Fig. 6. -19) are the turning points of the function. dy  6 x 2  6 x  12  0 dx Using Eq.13b). 8) and (2. Note that the d2y/dx2 of a linear function is always zero because the slope at all points along the line is a constant ( i. 6. Substituting x = -1 and x = 2 into the original function gives: for x = -1: y  2  1  3  1  12  1  1  8 for x = 2: y  2  2   3  2   12  2   1  19 3 3 2 2 which means that (-1. Determine the extrema for the function y = 2x3 – 3x2 – 12x + 1. 6.3. Solution Let us determine the single derivative of the function first: dy  6 x 2  6 x  12 dx At a turning point. and b) decreasing slope (curve concaves downwards. a) Increasing slope (curve concaves upwards. no change in slope).2 to determine the roots means that x is -1 or 2. or a concave curve) Example 6.e.13. or a convex curve). we take the double derivative of the original function: d2y  12 x  6 dx 2 and substituting x = -1 and x = 2 into the double derivative gives for x = -1: d2y  12  1  6  18 (negative) dx 2 22 . This gives a negative d2y/dx2 at the maximum point. a) b) Fig.. To determine which points are the minimum and maximum. its slope must be zero. Thus.

-19) are the maximum and minimum points. 8) and (2. 6. Fig.14.for x = 2: d2y  12  2   6  18 (positive) dx 2 which means that (-1. Diurnal solar irradiance during stable weather and clear skies 23 . respectively.