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Objectives

After reviewing this unit you will be able to:

• Identify the origin. on a graph.

• Identify x and y coordinates of a point.

• Plot points on a graph.

What is a Graph?

In economics, we often use graphs to give us a picture of the relationships between

variables. Let's first look at the basic construction of graphs.

• A graph is a visual representation of a

relationship between two variables, x and y.

• A graph consists of two axes called the x

(horizontal) and y (vertical) axes. These axes

correspond to the variables we are relating.

In economics we will usually give the axes

different names, such as Price and Quantity.

called the origin. The origin is also identified

as the point (0, 0).

Coordinates of Points

A point is the basic relationship displayed on a graph. Each point is defined by a pair of

numbers containing two coordinates. A coordinate is one of a set of numbers used to

identify the location of a point on a graph. Each point is identified by both an x and a y

coordinate. In this unit you will learn how to find both coordinates for any point. You

will also learn the correct notation for labeling the coordinates of a point. You will first

begin by identifying the x-coordinateof a point.

The x-coordinate of a point is the value that tells you how far from the origin the point is

on the horizontal, or x-axis. To find the x-coordinate of a point on a graph:

• Draw a straight line from the point directly to the x-

axis.

• The number where the line hits the x-axis is the

value of the x-coordinate.

figure:

As we already mentioned, each point is defined by two coordinates, the x and the y

coordinate. Now that you know how to find the x-coordinate of a point, you have to be

able to find the y-coordinate. The y-coordinate of a point is the value that tells you how

far from the origin the point is on the vertical, or y-axis. To find the y-coordinate of a

point on a graph:

axis.

• The number where the line hits the axis is the value

of the y-coordinate.

identify the y-coordinate for each.

Once you have the coordinates of a point you can use the ordered pair notation for

labeling points. The notation is simple. Points are identified by stating their coordinates

in the form of (x, y). Note that the x-coordinate always comes first. For example, in the

figure we've been using, we have identified both the x and y coordinate for each of the

points B and D.

• The x-coordinate of point B is 100.

• The y-coordinate of point B is 400.

• Coordinates of point B are (100, 400)

• The x-coordinate of point D is 400.

• The y-coordinate of point D is 100.

Points On The Axes

If a point is lying on an axis, you do not need to draw lines to determine the coordinates

of the point. In the figure below, point A lies on the y-axis and point C lies on the x-axis.

When a point lies on an axis, one of its coordinates must be zero.

from the origin along the x-axis, the answer

is zero. Therefore, the x-coordinate is zero.

Any point that lies on the y-axis has an x-

coordinate of zero.

coordinate, the point is 400 from the origin.

The coordinates of point A are (0, 400)

• Point C--If you look at how far the point is from the origin along the y-axis, the

answer is zero. Therefore, the y-coordinate is zero. Any point that lies on the x-

axis has a y-coordinate of zero.

If you move along the x-axis to find the x-coordinate, the point is 200 from the

origin. The coordinates of point C are (200, 0)

Example

2. Which point is labeled (20, 60)? Point B

3. Which point(s) have a y-coordinate of 30? Points A & C

There are times when you are given a point and will need to find its location on a graph.

This process is often referred to as plotting a point and uses the same skills as identifying

the coordinates of a point on a graph. The process for plotting a point is shown using an

example.

Example

Let's work though plotting the point (200, 300).

Step One Step Two Step Three

First, draw a line extending Then, draw a line extending The point where these two

out from the x-axis at the x- out from the y-axis at the y- lines intersect is at the point

coordinate of the point. In our coordinate of the point. In our we are plotting, (200, 300).

example, this is at 200. example, this is at 300.

Graphing Part II

Objectives

After reviewing this unit you will be able to:

• Differentiate between a movement along a curve and a shift of a curve.

In Economics, graphs can be very valuable tools. When learning about the basics of

supply and demand “curves,” it is usually easier to assume a linear relationship (i.e., a

straight line.) Why? Because it makes both the math and the graphing easier.

Occasionally, we will have “curves” that are curved because it helps make a point (e.g.,

explaining the difference between Keynesian’s perspective on the long-run aggregate

supply and the neo-classical perspective on the long-run aggregate supply.)

curve?

Do explain the difference between a shift of a curve and a movement along a curve, I’m

going to use a non-economic example to make my point. Think about the last time you

rode your bike. How fast can you ride? Does it matter what is going on around you (e.g.,

wind speed, uphill, downhill?) Below is a graphical representation of a bicyclist’s speed

graphed against the bicyclist’s effort. As you can see, once the bicyclist reaches 30 mph,

increased effort has little effect on the increase in speed. As the bicyclist increases effort,

the speed is found by moving along the curve. This can be seen by moving from point A

to point B to Point C. The only thing that is changing is effort and speed. Hint: notice

that these are the two labels on the graph.

When does the whole curve shift?

If the bicyclist is heading downhill, what would expect to happen? Yes, that is right, at

all levels of effort, you would expect the bicyclist to be moving faster. Since the fact that

the bicyclist is going downhill effects the speed at all levels of effort, the curve will shift.

Hint: notice that uphill or downhill is NOT one of the labels on the graph.

One of the first “curves” an aspiring economist learns about is a demand curve. The

curve shows the “quantity of good X demanded at each price level.” Notice that “price”

and “quantity demanded” are the things that change. As the price of X goes up, the

quantity demanded of X goes down. This is shown in the following graph:

As the price of X changes, you move along the demand curve (either more or less of X is

demanded, but you stay on the line.) Should something come along that changes the

demand for X at all price levels, this would shift the whole curve (just like going

downhill changed the speed at which the bicyclist traveled.) What would change the

demand for X? Perhaps tastes and preferences change (think of the Atkins diet and its

impact on bread or the effect of mad cow disease on the amount of beef people ate.)

Another example could be the price of a substitute changing. I hope this helps!

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