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Mathematical Worksheet 1

1) Continuous and discrete variables

A continuous variable is one for which, within the limits the variable ranges,

any value is possible. For example, the variable "Time to solve an anagram

problem" is continuous since it could take 2 minutes, 2.13 minutes etc. to

finish a problem. The variable "Number of correct answers on a 100 point

multiple-choice test" is not a continuous variable since it is not possible to

get 54.12 problems correct. A variable that is not continuous is called

discrete.

2.a) Definition. When you have an equation such as y = f(x) usually you

call x the independent variable or the input variable and y the dependent

variable or the output variable. A good way to figure out which one is which

is that, when you are analyzing a problem like the apartments problem in the

textbook, the question you want to answer will be a question about your

dependent variable (the number of apartments demanded) and the

information in the question will be about the independent variable (the price

of the apartments).

P

2.b) Graphs.

When drawing the graph of an equation in

mathematics people usually draw the dependent

variable (y) on the vertical axis and the independent

variable (x) on the horizontal axis.

In Economics (by convention), when we draw the

graph of a demand or supply curve, we usually the (Figure 1) Q

dependent variable on the horizontal axis. Consider

the following demand function:

Q=100 – 20P OR P=

5 – Q/20

In the graph we can see that the dependent variable is (Q)uantity, which is

graphed in the horizontal axis while (P)rice is on the Vertical Axis. This is

purely by convention. The important thing to remember is which variable is

dependent and which is independent.

3) A function is a relation that uniquely associates members of one set with members of

another set. A key thing to remember about a function is that for any number

for the independent variable you get exactly one value for the dependent

variable (that is, they relate a value of X to a unique value of Y). One example

can be obtained from the following equation: Y= X2

In this equation, for each value of X, we get exactly one value of Y, but if we

start with a positive value of Y and then solve for X we get:

X=√Y

In this case X becomes the dependent variable and for each value of Y we

get two values of X (the positive and the negative values of the root).

A graph that is a function A graph that is not a function

Y Y

X X

and is constant on each one of the finite set of nonintersecting intervals

whose union is I.

Here is an example of a step function.

Y

In this graph if y was the dependent variable it is a step

function because for each value of x we get only one

value of Y. If x was the dependent variable it would not

be a function anymore as for some values of y we get

an infinite number of values for x.

X

Y Y

X

X

5) Equations and identities

Identity (≡): is valid for all values of the variables.

Identity Equation

Ln(A/B) ≡ Ln(A)-Ln(B) 8 = 5X

2X ≡ 4X/2 3 = Ln (Y)

(A-B)(A+B) ≡ A2-B2 5 = Sin(X)

Tan(A) ≡ Sin(A)/Cos(A) (Y+6)*7 = 2

X ≡X Y = 2X

.

6) Linear and nonlinear functions 3

Y 2

1) Y=2X

2) Y=2X+3

3) Y=X2

Equation 1 is a linear function, equation 2 is a linear function

and equation 3 is a non-linear function.

X

7) Changes and rates of change

Y. The rate of change of the variable Y with respect to X is:

∆X ∆X

In the case of a line (linear function), the rate of change of the dependent

variable with respect to a change in the independent variable is constant.

variable depends on the initial value of X and the value of ∆X. Below are

examples (using the functions presented in 6)).

1) ∆Y/∆X = 2 As you can see, the rates of change of

functions 1 and 2 are

2) ∆Y/∆X = 2 constant, and the rate of change of function 3

can vary (if

3) ∆Y/∆X = 2X + ∆X we change the initial value of X and/or

the value of ∆X).

The "slope of a curve between two points" is the rate of change of the

dependent variable with respect to the independent variable. This is easy to

picture in the case of a line (since it is constant), but for a curve, the slope

can change as the independent variable changes.

Consider equation number 3 above

3) Y=X2

In this case, we can find the slope of this curve between two particular points

on the curve (as we did in 7). It is the same as the slope of a line which

passes through those two points.

Some examples of a slope of a curve between two points

Y Y Y

∆Y ∆Y/∆X

∆Y/∆X

∆Y

∆Y/∆X

∆Y

∆X X ∆X X ∆X X

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