A rational function is the ratio of two polynomial functions. If P(x) and Q(x) are
P(x)
polynomials, then a function of the form R ( x ) =
is a rational function where Q(x)#
Q(x )
0. The domain of R(x) is the intersection of the domains of P(x) and Q(x).
Properties:
Domain
The domain of the function is the set of all values that the variable x can take.
Range
The range of the function is the set of values that the variable y can take.
Vertical Asymptote
A vertical asymptote for R(x) is a vertical line x = k, where k is a constant, that
the
graph
of
R(x)
approaches but does not touch.
P(x)
If R ( x ) =
, then values of x that make Q(x) = 0 result in vertical asymptotes if
Q(x )
P(x) 0.
Horizontal Asymptote
P( x)
A rational function R ( x ) =
has a horizontal asymptote y = a, if as x
Q( x )
increases without limit, R(x) approaches a. R(x) has at most one horizontal asymptote.
The horizontal asymptote of R(x) may be found from a comparison of the degree of P(x)
and the degree of Q(x).
(1) If the degree of P(x) is less than the degree of Q(x), then R(x) has a horizontal
asymptote of y = 0.
(2) If the degree of P(x) is equal to the degree of Q(x), then R(x) has a horizontal
a
asymptote of y= , where a, is the leading coefficient (coefficient of the highest
b
degree term) of P(x) and b, is the leading coefficient of Q(x).
(3) If the degree of P(x) is greater than the degree of Q(x), then R(x) does not have a
horizontal asymptote.
xintercept (zero of the function)
The xintercept or the zero of the function is the value of x when y = 0.
P(x)
The xintercept of R ( x ) =
is the value of x that makes P(x) = 0.
Q(x )
yintercept
The yintercept of the graph of the function is the value of y when x = 0.
P(x)
P(0)
The yintercept of R ( x ) =
is the value of R ( x ) =
.
Q(x )
Q(0)
Examples:
1. Consider
R ( x) =
3x
.
x +2
3x
x +2
3x
=0
x +2
3 x=0
x=0 , therefore the xintercept is 0.
x=2 .
R ( x) =
y=3 .
3x
.
x +2
6
5
4
3
2
1
4.5
undefin
ed
3
1.5
2. Given:
f ( x )=
x +3
x 2 x3
2
x+ 3
=0
x 2 x3
x+ 3=0
x=3
Therefore, the xintercept = 3
x +3
x 2 x3
0+3
f ( 0 )= 2
(0) 2(0)3
3
f ( 0 )=
3
f ( 0 )=1
y=1
Therefore, the yintercept = 1
f ( x )=
f ( x )=
x +3
x 2 x3
2
Step 2. Make a table of values using values greater than or less than the intercepts
and asymptotes to predict the movement of the graph.
4
3
2
0.05
0.2
1
undefin
ed
0.5
1.43
1
1.67
3
undefin
ed
4
1.4
Based
on the
graph,
application
such
as DESMOS or
the domain
giventhe
by:graph of a
GEOGEBRA
tois
sketch
D=
{
x
R

x
1,
x
3
}
rational function.
In interval notation:
D=( ,1 ) (1,3 ) (3,+ )