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You are on page 1of 16

When we have two points connected by a continuous

curve:

... then there will be at least one place where the curve

crosses the line!

Now that you know the idea, let's look more closely at the details.

Continuous

The curve must be continuous ... no gaps or jumps in it.

Continuous is a special term with an exact definition in calculus, but here we will use

this simplified definition:

More Formal

Here is that idea stated more formally:

When:

which is

and

y = f(x),

Then ...

... there must be at least one value c within [a, b] such that f(c) = w

In other words the function

Notice that:

At Least One

It also says "at least one value c", which means

we could have more.

Here, for example, are 3 points where f(x)=w.

Whenever we can show that:

we can then safely say "yes, there is a value somewhere in between that is on the line".

At x=0:

05 - 2 03 - 2 = -2

At x=2:

25 - 2 23 - 2 = 14

Now we know:

at x=0, the curve is below zero

so somewhere in between, the curve must cross through y=0

An Interesting Thing!

The Intermediate Value Theorem Can Fix a Wobbly Table

If your table is wobbly because of uneven ground ...

The ground must be

We can always have 3 legs on the ground, it is the 4th leg that is the trouble.

Imagine we are rotating the table, and the 4th leg could somehow go into the ground

(like sand):

So there must be some point where the 4th leg perfectly touches the ground and the

table won't wobble.

(The famous Martin Gardner wrote about this in Scientific American. There is also a very

complicated proof somewhere).

Another One

exactly as high as where you started.

(It only works if you don't start at the highest or lowest point.)

The idea is:

So there must be a point in between where you are exactly as high as where you

started.

Oh, and your path must be continuous, no disappearing and reappearing somewhere

else.

The same thing happens with temperature, pressure, and so on.

If you follow a circular path ... somewhere on that circle there will be points that are:

directly opposite and at same height

Continuous Functions

A function is continuous when its graph is a single unbroken curve ...

... that you could draw without lifting your pen from the paper.

That is not a formal definition, but it helps you understand the idea.

Here is a continuous function:

Examples

So what is not continuous (also called discontinuous) ?

Look out for holes, jumps or vertical asymptotes (where the function heads up/down

towards infinity).

Not Continuous

Not Continuous

Not Continuous

(hole)

(jump)

(vertical asymptote)

More Formally !

We can define continuous using Limits (it helps to read that page first):

f(c) is defined, and:

The limit says:

then f(x) gets closer and closer to f(c)"

then f(x) approaches f(c)

AND

as x approaches c (from right)

then f(x) approaches f(c)

If we get different values from left and right (a "jump"), then the limit does not exist!

How to Use:

Make sure that, for all x values:

f(x) is defined

The function is undefined when x=1:

(x2-1)/(x-1) = (12-1)/(1-1) = 0/0

So it is not a continuous function

Let us change the domain:

Almost the same function, but now it is over an interval that does not include x=1.

So now it is a continuous function (does not include the "hole")

But at x=1 you can't say what the limit is, because there are two competing answers:

"2" from the left, and

And so the function is not continuous.

But:

But it is still defined at x=0, because f(0)=0 (so no "hole"),

And the limit as you approach x=0 (from either side) is also 0 (so no "jump"),

So it is in fact continuous.

Find the limits of various functions using different methods. Several Examples with detailed

solutions are presented. More exercises with answers are at the end of this page.

Example 1: Find the limit

Solution to Example 1:

Note that we are looking for the limit as x approaches 1 from the left

(values smaller than 1). Hence

x<1

x-1<0

If x - 1 < 0 then

| x - 1 | = - (x - 1)

follows

Simplify to obtain

=-4

Example 2: Find the limit

Solution to Example 2:

makes both the numerator and denominator equal to zero. We need to factor both

numerator and denominator as shown below.

Simplify to obtain

= 10 / 11

Example 3: Calculate the limit

Solution to Example 3:

We need to look at the limit from the left of 2 and the limit from the

right of 2. As x approaches 2 from the left

x - 2 < 0 hence

|x - 2| = -(x - 2)

=-8

|x - 2| = x - 2

Sponsored Content

=8

The limit from the right of 2 and the limit from the left of 2 are not equal

therefore the given limit DOES NOT EXIST.

Solution to Example 4:

approaches - infinity hence an indeterminate form 0 . infinity

form.

Solution to Example 5:

hence an indeterminate form infinity.0

=-1

Example 6: Find the limit

Solution to Example 6:

Multiply both numerator and denominator by the conjugate of the numerator.

=1/6

Example 7: Find the limit

Solution to Example 7:

-1 / x <= cos x / x <= 1 / x

/ x approaches 0. Hence by the squeezing theorem the above limit is given by

Solution to Example 8:

and we have the 0 / 0 indeterminate form. Hence the l'hopital theorem is used to calculate

the above limit as follows

Solution to Example 9:

We first factor out 16 x 2 under the square root of the denominator and

take out of the square root and rewrite the limit as

and find the limt.

=3/4

Example 10: Find the limit

x - 2 < 0. The numerator approaches 5 and the denominator approaches 0 from the left

hence the limit is given by

As x takes large values (infinity), the terms 2/x and 1/x 2 approaches 0

hence the limit is

=3/4

Example 12: Find the limit

As x takes large values (infinity), the terms 1/x and 1/x 2 and

3/x 2 approaches 0 hence the limit is

=0/2=0

Example 13: Find the limit

Use limit properties and theorems to rewrite the above limit as the

product of two limits and a constant.

We now calculate the first limit by letting T = 3t and noting that when t

approaches 0 so does T. We also use the fact that sin T / T approaches 1 when T

approaches 0. Hence

Solution to Example 14:

Factor x 2 inside the square root and use the fact that sqrt(x 2) = | x |.

indeterminate form

As x gets larger, the terms 1/x and 1/x2 approach zero and the limit is

=1/2

Example 15: Find the limit

calculate the limit as follows.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

1) 3

2) 1

3) 1

4) 1/4

5) 0

6) 4

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