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Problem Set 0 - Warm-Up

The goal of this problem set is to help you get comfortable with the basics of working in 3-D, to introduce
you to Mathematica (which will be a great tool for visualizing in 3-D), and to help you review conic sections
(which well use a great deal in 21a).

1. A certain shoebox has dimensions 800 600 1300 . Find the length of the main diagonal (that is, the
length from one corner of the box to the far opposite corner).

If youre stuck, do the reading below and come back to this.

Read 9.1 in our text, Stewarts Calculus: Concepts and Contexts, Multivariable (4th ed). If youre not
used to reading math textbooks, here are some tips:

Start by taking a picture walk through the reading: flip through the reading and take a quick look
at the pictures, boxed formulas, and bold-face text to get a glimpse of what youre going to be learning
about. As Barbara Oakley writes in A Mind for Numbers (a book on techniques for learning math
and science), Youll be surprised at how spending a minute or two glancing ahead before you read in
depth will help you organize your thoughts. Youre creating little neural hooks to hang your thinking
on, making it easier to grasp the concepts.

Now go back and actually read. After each paragraph or two, pause, look away from the book or shut
your eyes, and try to recall and summarize what you just read; research shows that trying to recall
the information is far more effective than other techniques like highlighting or reading the information
again. If theres something that doesnt make sense about the paragraph, can you pinpoint whats
confusing? Make a note of your confusion so that you can come back to it later.

When you come to an example, pause and try to solve the problem yourself before reading the solution.
When you read the solution, think about your own reasoning was it completely correct? If not,
where did you go astray? Analyzing your own errors will help you understand the material more deeply.

2. Download and install Mathematica; see the instructions on the course website.
Download the Mathematica file PS00.cdf posted on the Homework page of the course website. Open
it in Mathematica, and you should see a picture showing 4 points labeled A, B, C, and D in R3 . Click
the picture and drag your mouse around to rotate your view of the points.
Now, match the points with their coordinates, that is, fill in the blanks below with A, B, C, or D:

(2, 3, 1) (2, 3, 2) (2, 3, 1) (2, 3, 1)

3. (a) What does the equation x = 4 represent in the xy-plane, R2 ? What does it represent in xyz-space,
R3 ? Illustrate with sketches.

(b) What does the equation y = 3 represent in R3 ? What does z = 5 represent?

What does the pair of equations {y = 3, z = 5} represent? In other words, describe the set of
points (x, y, z) such that y = 3 and z = 5. Illustrate with a sketch.

(c) What does the set of three equations {x = 4, y = 5, z = 3} represent in R3 ? In other words,
describe the set of points (x, y, z) such that x = 4, y = 5, and z = 3. Illustrate with a sketch.

(d) Points are considered to be 0-dimensional, lines are 1-dimensional, planes are 2-dimensional,
and R3 is 3-dimensional. Describe anything you notice about the relationship between the
number of equations and the dimension of the shape they represent in R3 . Do the same thing for
R2 .

4. Find the distance from the point (2, 3, 4) to each of the following:

(a) The xy-plane (d) The x-axis (g) The origin: (0, 0, 0)

(b) The yz-plane (e) The y-axis (h) The point (1, 2, 3)

(c) The xz-plane (f) The z-axis

5. First steps with Mathematica. Here are a couple of things to try with Mathematica.

(a) Open Mathematica, and type the line below exactly as it appears into a new notebook. Punctu-
ation (like square and curly braces and commas) is important, but spacing is not.
Plot[(x - 2)^2 - 1, {x, -3, 7}]
Hold down the Shift key and hit Enter. We hope that you recognize the output as the graph
of the parabola y = (x 2)2 1. Now change the 3 and 7 to different numbers. What effect
does this have on the plot that Mathematica outputs?

x2 2 y1 2
(b) Try the following command, which will plot the ellipse 2 + 3 = 7:
ContourPlot[((x - 2) / 2)^2 + ((y - 1) / 3)^2, {x, -10, 15}, {y, -12, 14},
Contours -> {7}]
Dont forget to hold Shift when you hit Enter (this is how you tell Mathematica to evaluate the
line of code). This time were using the Mathematica ContourPlot command instead of the Plot
command. The arguments (inputs) of this command are the things inside the square brackets;
the first argument is everything after the first square bracket and before the first comma. What
do the arguments {x, -10, 15} and {y, -12, 14} do? How about the argument Contours
-> {7}? (If you cant tell, try experimenting with different numbers to see how it affects the

(c) What is the difference between ContourPlot and Plot Command? In particular, when would
you use one vs. the other?
(d) Use either Plot or ContourPlot to plot the hyperbola 25 y4 = 1 in a suitable range. Write out
the complete command that you use.

(e) Its important to be very familiar with ellipses, parabolas and hyperbolas because well be using
their 3-D analogs throughout the semester.

i. What happens when you change the 2 in (x - 2) or the 1 in (y - 1) in (b)?

ii. What happens when you make the denominators in the formula for the ellipse in (b) the

iii. Is the ellipse 4x2 + 9y 2 = 36 longer in the x-direction or the y-direction? (Can you convince
yourself that youre right by finding the x- and y-intercepts of this ellipse?)

iv. The hyperbola we plotted in (d) is centered at the origin (0, 0); how do we change the equation
so that it is centered at the point (a, b)?

v. How do you know which of the hyperbolas x2 y 2 = 1 and y 2 x2 = 1 opens up and down
and which one opens left and right? Write two sentences to convince a friend youre right.

6. Without using technology, match the following equations with their plots. (Once youve done #5, this
matching should be easy; to do it quickly and then check your answers with a friend; tell your friend
your strategies for doing it quickly.)
(x2)2 (y+1)2 (x2)2 (y+1)2 (x+2)2 (y1)2
(a) 4 9 =1 (d) 4 + 9 =1 (g) 9 + 4 =1

(x+2)2 (y1)2 (x2)2 (y+1)2 2

(b) 4 + 9 =1 (e) 4 9 =0 (h) (x2)
4 + 9 =1
(y1)2 (x+2)2 (y1)2 (x2)2 (y+1)2
(c) (x+2)
9 + 4 =1 (f) 9 4 =1 (i) 9 + 4 =1

y y y
(A) (B) (C)
6 6 6

x x x
-6 6 -6 6 -6 6

-6 -6 -6

y y y
(D) (E) (F)
6 6 6

x x x
-6 6 -6 6 -6 6

-6 -6 -6

y y y
(G) (H) (I)
6 6 6

x x x
-6 6 -6 6 -6 6

-6 -6 -6

Tips for working on homework in Math 21a:

Dont wait. Start your assignment as soon after each class as possible even if you can only spend 15 or
20 minutes reading the problems. The assignments are your chance to think hard about the material
and uncover your own misunderstandings this cant happen properly if you dont give yourself time.

Spend some time thinking about what the problems are asking before you talk with your classmates
about them. If you can figure out what the problem is asking you to find, try it yourself; otherwise
ask a classmate, your CA or your TF right away dont spend time calculating haphazardly.

Work with others. Talk with your classmates about your ideas, and try to describe your strategies out
loud. Ask each other lots of questions, and draw each other pictures to help explain. You shouldnt
ever need to look at another students complete solution.
After your collaboration, you should only turn in work that you understand yourself, and that you
have written up yourself and explained in your own words. Under no circumstances should you turn
in solutions that you have looked up in a solution manual, on the internet, or elsewhere.
If you receive help from any source other than the course TFs and CAs and textbook, please acknowl-
edge that help at the top of your assignment.

Check your work! Even if you didnt need help to finish the assignment, spend some time in the MQC
or elsewhere to check your answers with classmates and talk over your solutions. There are lots of ways
to solve many of the problems, and you will get a lot out of explaining your technique and listening to
someone elses strategies.

When youre finished with the problems, youre not finished with the assignment. Each homework
assignment is a chance for you to spend a few minutes thinking about the following questions: What
were the most important ideas in this section? How do I visualize the mathematical objects in this
section? How does the geometric picture relate to the algebraic formulas? What do I personally
find most challenging about this material?

Dont forget to read. Most assignments will include a reading assignment from Stewart for the next
days material. When you come to class prepared with ideas and questions, youll get much more out
of each section! Todays reading is:

Reading: Skim through 11.1. We will discuss this reading in the first day of section.