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# Analysis of Functions I

## Increase, Decrease, and Concavity

Definition. Let f(x) be defined on an interval, and let x1 and x2
denote points in that interval.
(a) f is increasing on the interval if f(x1) < f(x2) whenever x1< x2.
(b) f is decreasing on the interval if f(x1) > f(x2) whenever x1< x2.
(c) f is constant on the interval if f(x1) = f(x2) for all x1and x2.
decreasing

constant

increasing
increasing

## Increasing functions Decreasing functions

Notice that the shape of the functions can vary.
Theorem. Let f be a function that is continuous on a closed
interval [a, b], and differentiable on the open interval (a, b).
(a) If f (x) > 0 for every value of x in (a, b), then f is increasing
in [a, b].
(b) If f (x) < 0 for every value of x in (a, b), then f is decreasing
in [a, b].
(c) If f (x) = 0 for every value of x in (a, b), then f is constant
on [a, b].

## Zero derivative = constant

Example. Let

f ( x) = x2 2 x+1
Find the intervals on which f is increasing and the intervals on
which f is decreasing.

## Solution. f (x) = 2x 2 = 2(x 1)

It is clear that this derivative is positive when x > 1 and
negative when x < 1. Thus the function is decreasing in the
interval (, 1) and is increasing in the interval (1, ).

## The graph confirms this analysis.

Example. Let

f ( x) = x4 8x2 +16
Find the intervals on which f is increasing and the intervals on
which f is decreasing.
Solution.

f (x) = 4x3 16 x = 4( x3 4 x)
= 4 x( x2 4) = 4x(x 2)( x + 2).

## If x < 2, all three factors are negative, so the product is

negative.
If 2< x <0, then x + 2 is positive, while x and x 2 are
negative. Thus the product is positive.
If 0 < x < 2, then x 2 is negative, while x and x + 2 are
positive, so again the product is negative.
If x > 2, then all factors are positive, and so the product is
positive

## This is the graph of the function, which confirms the

analysis.

Concavity
Concavity refers to the shape of a curve, rather than its
direction. A curve is concave up or down, if it will hold
water, or spill water.

Concave up
increasing decreasing

Concave Down
increasing decreasing

## Definition. If f is differentiable on an open interval I, then f is

said to be concave up on I if f is increasing on I, and f is said to
be concave down on I if f is decreasing on I.
We know that a function is increasing or decreasing according
to whether its derivative is positive or negative. This result can
be applied to the function f if that function has a derivative; in
other words if f has a second derivative on I. This leads to the
following useful theorem.
Theorem. Let f be twice differentiable on an open interval I.
(a) If f (x) > 0 on I, then f is concave up on I.
(b) If f (x) < 0 on I, then f is concave down on I.

+
+
+

+
+

## Concave up holds water

Second derivative > 0

## Concave down spills water

Second derivative < 0

## Example. Find the open intervals on which the function

f ( x) = x3 + x2 2x1
is concave up, and the open intervals on which it is concave
down.
Solution. The derivative of f is 3x2 + 2x 2. Thus the second
derivative is 6x + 2 = 2(3x +1).
This means that f is concave down if
Similarly, f is concave up if x>1.
3

## 2(3x +1) < 0 or x <1.

3

f ( x) = x3 + x2 2x1

f ( x) = x3 + x2 2x1

Concave Down
in this half

Concave Up
in this half

## Definition. If f is continuous on an open interval containing the

point x0, and if f changes the direction of its concavity at that
point, then we say that f has an inflection point at x0, and we call
the point (x0, f(x0)) on the graph of f an inflection point of f.
f ( x) = x3 + x2 2x1

Inflection
point

## Example. Find the inflection points of xex and cos( x) , and

confirm the results by looking at the graphs of these functions.
Solution.

xe x = e x + xe x = 2ex + xex = ex 2 + x .

## Since the exponential is never negative or 0, we see that xex

is concave down if x < 2 and concave up if x > 2. Thus 2 is
an inflection point.
cos( x) = (sin( x)) =cos( x).

## Thus the cosine is concave up where it is negative and

concave down where it is positive. Thus the inflection points
come where cos (x) is 0.

## Example. Use the graph of the function y = f(x), shown below,

dy and d 2 y
to determine the signs of
at the points A, B, and C.
dx
dx 2
B

f ( x)

A
C
2y
dy
d
<0
Solution. At A, >0 and
dx
dx 2
2y
dy
d
At B, <0 and
<0
dx
dx 2

2y
dy
d
At C, >0 and
>0
dx
dx2

## Example. Use the graph of the derivative f (x), shown below,

2y
dy
d
to determine the signs of
at the points A, B, and C.
and
dx
dx 2
f (x)

B
A
C
2y
dy
d
>0
Solution. At A, >0 and
dx
dx 2
2y
dy
d
At B, >0 and
<0
dx
dx 2

2y
dy
d
At C, <0 and
>0
dx
dx2

## Example. Use the graph of y = f(x), shown below to identify all

intervals where the function is increasing, decreasing, concave
up, concave down. Find all values of x at which f has an
inflection point.

3
1

5
6

3
1

5
6

## Solution. The function f is increasing on the closed intervals

[1, 2], and [4, 7]. It is decreasing on the closed interval [2, 4].
The function f is concave up on the open intervals (3, 5) and
(6, 7). It is concave down on the open intervals (1, 3) and
(5, 6).

## Example. For the function f ( x) = 5 +12x x3 find all intervals

on which f is increasing, all intervals on which f is decreasing,
all open intervals on which f is concave up, all intervals on
which f is concave down, and all points of inflection of f.
Solution. f (x )=12 3 x2 = 3(4 x2) and f (x) =6x.
From this it is clear that f (x) > 0 if x2 < 4 and f (x) < 0
if x2 > 4. We also have f (x) > 0 if x < 0 and f (x) < 0 if x > 0.

## Thus the function is increasing in the interval (2 , 2), and

decreasing in intervals ( , 2) and (2, ).
It is concave up in the interval ( , 0) and concave down in
the interval (0, ).

## Example. For the function f ( x) = 3x4 4 x3 + 2 find all intervals

on which f is increasing, all intervals on which f is decreasing,
all open intervals on which f is concave up, all intervals on
which f is concave down, and all points of inflection of f.
Solution.
f (x )=12 x3 12x 2 =12 x 2(x 1) and f (x) = 36x2 24x =12 x(3x 2).
From this it is clear that f (x) > 0 if x > 1 and f (x) < 0
if x<1. We also have f (x) > 0 if x < 0 and if x > 2/3, while
f(x) < 0 if 0 < x < 2/3.
Thus the function is increasing in the intervals (1, ) and the
function is decreasing in interval ( , 1) .
It is concave up in the intervals ( , 0) and (2/3, ), and it is
concave down in the interval (0, 2/3 ).

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## At x equal 0, 2/3, and 1, either the direction or the curvature

changes. We plot these points on the graph, and divide the plane
into regions.

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f (x) < 0
f (x) > 0

f (x) < 0
f (x) < 0

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f (x) < 0
f (x) > 0

f (x) > 0
f (x) > 0

## Recall the characterization of the pieces of a smooth curve

1

Concave up
increasing decreasing
1. f > 0, f > 0
3. f > 0, f < 0

Concave Down
increasing decreasing
2. f < 0, f > 0
4. f < 0, f < 0

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f (x) < 0
f (x) < 0

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3

f (x) < 0
f (x) > 0

f (x) > 0
f (x) > 0

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3

f (x) < 0
f (x) > 0

f (x) > 0
f (x) > 0

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3

f (x) > 0
f (x) > 0

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3