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CONCAVITY AND INFLECTION POINTS

Find the Second Derivative of the function, f.

Set the Second Derivative Determine whether the
equal to zero and solve. Second Derivative is
undefined for any x-values.

To determine if these numbers are If these numbers are NOT in the
potential Inflection Points, make domain of the original function, f, and
sure they are in the domain of the then stop here.
original function, f.

Plot these numbers on a number line and test the
regions with the Second Derivative.

A positive result A negative result
indicates the function is indicates the function is
Concave Up on that Concave Down on that
interval. interval.

The function has an Inflection Point at any value where the sign changes
from positive to negative or negative to positive.

Plug the x-value into the original function, f, to obtain the
y-coordinate of the Inflection Point.

and 2. −3) and (1. between −1 and 1. We then proceed as follows: f''(x) = 12x2 − 12 12x2 – 12 = 0 The Second Derivative is 12(x2 − 1) = 0 defined for all x-values. and finally. the graph is concave up for x values less that −1 and greater than 1. when we test 2 in the Second Derivative. 12(x− 1)(x + 1)= 0 x=1. we obtain 12(-2)2 – 12 = 36. Therefore. f(x) = x4 − 6x2 + 8x + 10 Plot these numbers on a number line and test the regions with the Second Derivative. (−1. 0. x = −1 Both 1 and −1 are in the domain of the original function. .Example 1: 4 2 Find all inflection points of the graph of f(x) = x − 6x + 8x +10. 13) are Inflection Points. and concave down between -1 and 1. when we test 0 in the Second Derivative. Concave Up Concave Down Concave Up −1 1 The function has Inflection Points at -1 and 1 since the concavity changes. How about −2. Let’s select a convenient number in the interval less than −1. Plug these two values into the original function to obtain the y-coordinates of the Inflection Points: f(−1)=(−1)4 − 6(−1)2 + 8(−1) + 10 = −3 f(1)=(1)4 − 6(1)2 + 8(1) + 10 = 13 So. we obtain 12(0)2 −12 = −12. and greater than 1. respectively? −2 0 2 −1 1 When we test −2 in the Second Derivative. we obtain 12(2)2−12 = 36. We know that f'(x) = 4x3 − 12x + 8.

the graph is concave up on both intervals Concave Up Concave Up 0 No change in concavity. . How about 1? -1 1 0 Now. we obtain 12(-1)2 = 12. Let’s select a convenient number in the interval less than zero. How about -1? Then we select a convenient number in the interval greater than zero. 0) is NOT an Inflection Point. We then proceed as follows: f''(x) = 12x2 The Second Derivative is 12x2= 0 defined for all x-values.Example 2: Find all inflection points of the graph of f(x) = x . X=0 0 is in the domain of the original function. Consequently. and 12(1)2 = 12 Since both results are positive. when we test -1 and 1 in the Second Derivative. f(x) = x4. (0. Plot this number on a number line and test the regions with the Second Derivative. 4 We know that f'(x) = 4x3.

f(x) = ? 1⁄3 + 2. the graph is concave up for all values less than 0 and concave down for all values greater than 0. Plug 0 into the original function to obtain the y-coordinates of the Inflection Point: f(0) = (0)1⁄3 + 2 = 2 So. Plot this number on a number line and test the regions with the Second Derivative. (0. . we obtain 9(−1)5⁄3 =9 −2 −2 and 9(1)5⁄3 = 9 Since the first result is positive and the second is negative. Let’s select a convenient number in the interval less than zero. 0 is in the domain of the original function. How about 1? -1 1 0 −2 2 Now. when we test -1 and 1 in the Second Derivative. How about -1? Then we select a convenient number in the interval greater than zero. We then proceed as follows: −2 −2 f''(x) = ? −5⁄3 = 9 9? 5⁄3 The Second Derivative is The Second Derivative is never 0. Concave Up Concave Down 0 The function has an Inflection Point at 0 since the concavity changes. 2) is an Inflection Point.Example 3: Find all inflection points of the graph of f(x) = ? 1⁄3 + 2. undefined when x = 0. ? We know that f'(x) = ? ?−?⁄? .

we obtain (−1)3 = −2 and (1)3 =2 Concave Down Concave Up 0 It is very tempting to conclude that since the graph is concave down for all x values less than 0. and in this problem. 1 Example 4: Find all inflection points of the graph of f(x) = . 1 0 is NOT in the domain of the original function. and concave up for all x values greater than 0. Therefore. Therefore. of itself. it was not. f. the fact that a change in concavity occurs is not. Let’s say you did perform the number line test: -1 1 0 2 2 If we test -1 and 1 in the Second Derivative. f(x) = ?. there are NO INFLECTION POINTS due to the fact that the original function. However. there is no Inflection Point. ? We know that f'(x) = -1x-2. You must make sure that the function is defined at the number. is not defined at 0. then 0 must be a point of inflection. We then proceed as follows: f''(x) = 2x-3 2 = ?3 The Second Derivative is The Second Derivative is never 0. . undefined when x = 0 . a guarantee that there is an Inflection Point.