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**at some random point when the
**

slope is continuously changing?

By: Mellody Alexandra DaCruz

Vocabulary this presentation will

include:

- Tangent Line: a line that touches a curve at a point without

crossing over

- Slope formula: m=y2-y1 or m=f(x)2-f(x)

- x2-x1 x2-x1

**- Derivative: a function which gives the slope of a curve; that
**

is, the slope of the line tangent to a point

- Secant: a line that intersects a curve at two points

- Difference Quotient: you’ll find out Glossary

**Arbitrary: (adj) based on
**

*They will be highlighted in RED! random choice

Preknowledge!

Here’s some info you should know:

**● The slope of the curve f(x) at some
**

● The slope formula:

point “p” is equal to the slope of the

tangent line that goes through point

“p” on the curve

● Difference Quotient:

DQ= f(x+h)-f(x)

● Tangent: A line that just touches the h

curve at one point without crossing

over

Problem: how are we going to find the slope of a curved line at any

point

This is tricky because slopes on curves are constantly changing

**BUT… There’s this thing called the derivative function f’(x) and
**

whatever input you put for x it outputs the slope of f(x) at the

same value x. Here’s a simple example:

f(x)=x2

f’(x)= 2x

f’(3)=6 Then at the point (3,9) the slope of f(x) is f’(3)=6

**It works see! Want to know how I got it?
**

How do you obtain the derivative?

Okay I am going to 1. Find the difference quotient

give you the steps ~find f(x+h)

on how to find the ~subtract f(x) from it

~divide the whole thing by h so you

derivative, robot end up with f(x+h)-f(x)

style, and I h

promise there is Ex: f(x)=x2 from previous slide

going to be a 2. Take the limit of DQ as h approaches 0

detailed ~essentially setting h to 0

explanation.Let’s Ex: limit of DQ is 2x

use the previous

3. You got your derivative f’(x)= 2x

example.

But how does this process work?

To help explain let’s look at this

good ol parabola. We’ll be using our

goal to find the slope of the curve

at P1.

**How though? You don’t know the slope
**

of the curve and don’t know the

slope of the tangent line…

**BUT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU COULD DO? You
**

can draw a secant line at P1(f,f(x))

and another point of your choice &

make its x coordinate h bigger so it

will be P2(x+h,f(x+h)). Why? Because

you can find the slope of that line

now that you have 2 points, duh.

Now, to find the slope of the line that passes through P1(f,f(x))

and P2(x+h,f(x+h)) you just plug them into the slope formula,

which you know how to do… I hope.

**mP1P2=f(x+h) - f(x) after simplifying… mP1P2=f(x+h) - f(x)
**

(x+h) - x h

Here’s an “A-Ha” moment…

**By doing so, you found the DQ!
**

Let’s do some thinking here...

Now that you have some satisfaction of why we use the difference

quotient, I know there is still one question lingering. Why is it

that the slope of our secant line is nowhere close to the slope

of our tangent line?

**EXPERIMENT TIMEEE! What if we pick a random point on the parabola
**

and make h smaller this time on the secant line? What if we

continue to make h smaller and smaller and smaller? I’ll give you

time to take a guess what the relationship between the secant and

tangent line will be.

x x+h x x+h x

x+h

h h h

Did you guess correctly? This diagram helps to show how if we

make h infinitesimally small to the point where it is practically

0, the slope of the secant line eventually approaches the slope

of the tangent line at P1.

***The smaller the h is, the better the slope of the secant line
**

estimates the slope of the tangent line. Another “A-Ha” moment!

Conclusion

To conclude, because the difference

quotient is derived from finding the

slope of a secant line passing through

points P1(x,f(x)) and P2(x+h,f(x+h) on a

curve when h approaches 0, the slope of

the secant line approaches the slope of

the tangent line. AND since the slope

of the tangent line at P1 is equal to

the curve at P1, finding the limit of

the DQ as h approaches 0 gives access

to the slope of the curve at any given

point and answering our essential

question. I hope this helped!

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