Introduction to Functions
In everyday life, many quantities depend on one or more changing variables eg: (a) plant growth depends on sunlight and rainfall (b) speed depends on distance travelled and time taken (c) voltage depends on current and resistance (d) test marks depend on attitude, listening in lectures and doing tutorials (among many other variables!!)

A function is a rule that relates how one quantity depends on other quantities. For example, (a) V = IR where V = voltage (V) I = current (A) R = resistance (Ω) If I increases, so does the voltage (assuming resistance is constant). If R increases, so does the voltage (assuming current is constant).



s = speed (m / s) d = distance (m) t = time taken (s) If d increases, the speed goes up (assuming time is constant). If t increases, the speed goes down (assuming distance is constant).

Definition of a Function
Whenever a relationship exists between two variables (or quantities) such that for every value of the first, there is only one corresponding value of the second, then we say: the second variable is a function of the first variable. The first variable is the independent variable (usually x), and the second variable is the dependent variable (usually y). The independent variable and the dependent variable are real numbers. Example 1: We know the equation for the area of a circle from primary school: A = πr2 This is a function as each value of the independent variable r gives us one value of the dependent variable A.

General Cases
We use x (independent) and y (dependent) variables for general cases.

Example 2:
In the equation y = 3x + 1, y is a function of x, since for each value of x, there is only one value of y. If we substitute x = 5, we get y = 16 and no other value. The values of y we get depend on the values chosen for x. Therefore, x is the independent variable and y is the dependent variable.

Example 3
The force F required to accelerate an object of mass 5 kg by an acceleration of a ms-2 is given by: F = 5a. Here, F is a function of the acceleration, a.

The dependent variable is F and the independent variable is a.

Function Notation
We normally write functions as: f(x) and read this as "function f of x". We can use other letters for functions. Common ones are g(x) and h(x). But there are also ones like P(t) which could indicate power at time t.

Example 4
We often come across functions like: y = 2x2+ 5x + 3 We can write this using function notation: f(x) = 2x2 + 5x + 3 Function notation is all about substitution. The value of the function f(x) when x = a is written as f(a).

Example 5
If we have f(x) = 4x + 10, the value of f(x) for x = 3 is written: f(3) = 4 × 3 + 10 = 22 When x = 3, the value of the function f(x) is 22.

Mathematical Notation
Mathematics is often confusing because of the way it is written. We write 5(102) and it means 5 × 102 = 500. But if we write a(102), this could mean
• •

"function a of 102" (that is, the value of the function a when the independent variable is 102) or it could mean a × 102 = 100a.

You have to be careful with this. Also, be careful when substituting letters or expressions into functions.

See a discussion on this: Towards more meaningful math notation.

Example 6
If h(x) = dx3 + 5x then value of h(x) for x = 10 is: h(10) = d(10)3 + 5(10) = 1000d + 50

Example 7
If the height of an object at time t is given by h(t) = 10t2 − 2t, then a. The height at time t = 4 is h(4) = 10(4)2 − 2(4) = 10 ×16 − 8 = 152 b. The height at time t = b is h(b) = 10b2 − 2b c. The height at time t = 3b is h(3b) = 10(3b)2 − 2(3b) = 10 × 9b2 − 6b = 90b2 − 6b d. The height at time t = b + 1 is h(b + 1) = 10(b + 1)2 − 2(b + 1) = 10 × (b2 + 2b + 1) − 2b − 2 = 10b2 + 20b + 10 − 2b − 2 = 10b2 + 18b + 8

Evaluate the following functions: (1) Given f(x) = 3x + 20, find a. f(-4) b. f(10)

h(2) b.(2) Given that the height of a particular object at time t is h(t) = 50t − 4. t = 4 b.02t Find the voltage at time a. and is given by: V(t) = 3t − 1. V. in a circuit is a function of time t.9t2. h(5) (3) The voltage. this definition means: The domain of a function is the set of all possible x values which will make the function "work" and will output real y-values. . find a. In plain English. remember: • • The denominator (bottom) of a fraction cannot be zero The values under a square root sign must be positive Example: The function y = √(x + 4) has the following graph. When finding the domain. t = c + 10 Domain The domain of a function is the complete set of possible values of the independent variable in the function.

remember: • • • Substitute different x-values into the expression for y to see what is happening Make sure you look for minimum and maximum values of y Draw a sketch! Example 1: Let's return to the example above. We notice that there are only positive y-values. Range The range of a function is the complete set of all possible resulting values of the dependent variable of a function. since x cannot take values less than −4. That x can take any positive value in this example. This indicates that the domain "starts" at this point. 0). We say that the range for this function is y ≥ 0. There is no value of x that we can find such that we will get a negative value of y. after we have substituted the values in the domain. . The only ones that "work" and give us an answer are the ones greater than or equal to −4). (Try some values in your calculator.The domain of the function is x ≥ −4. The enclosed (colored-in) circle on the point (-4. y = √(x + 4). Note: 1. the definition means: The range of a function is the possible y values of a function that result when we substitute all the possible x-values into the function. some less than −4 and some more than −4. In plain English. 2. When finding the range. Example 2: The curve of y = sin x shows the range to be betweeen −1 and 1.

the range of f(x) is "all real numbers f(x) ≥ 2".The domain of the function y = sin x is "all values of x". Example 1 (a) Find the domain and range for the function f(x) = x2 + 2. Since x2 is never negative. the domain of f(x) is "all real values of x". Note: Because we are assuming that only real numbers are to be used in the domain and range of a function. x2 + 2 is never less than 2 Hence. values that lead to division by zero or to imaginary numbers are not included. The function f(x) = x2 + 2 is defined for all real values of x. More Domain and Range Examples You can see more examples of domain and range in the section Inverse Trigonometric Functions. Hence. since there are no restrictions on the values for x. . The Complex Numbers chapter explains more about imaginary numbers.

f(t) will never be equal to zero. but the resulting y values are greater than or equal to 2. no matter how large or small t becomes. We can see in the graph that the function is not defined for t = -2 and that the function takes all values except 0. . Hence the domain of f(t) is "all real numbers except -2" Also. as this value requires division by zero. So the range of f(t) is "all real numbers except zero".We can see that x can take any value in the graph. (b) Find the domain and range for the function The function is not defined for t = -2.

Example 2 Find the domain and range for the function The function is not defined for real numbers greater than 3. Hence. the domain for g(s) is "all real numbers. Also. which would result in imaginary values for g(s). s ≤ 3". Hence. by definition. the range of g(s) is "all real numbers g(s) ≥ 0" We can see in the graph that s takes no values greater than 3. . and that the range is greater than or equal to 0. ≥ 0.

. with an open circle at (2. we determine the domain of each function by looking for those values of the independent variable which cannot be used. f(x) becomes larger than 8 Hence. 8) indicating that the domain does not include x = 2 and the range does not include f(2) = 8. x > 2" by definition. f(2) = 8 when x increases from 2. Example 3 Find the domain and range for the function defined as f(x) = x2 + 4 for x > 2 The function f(x) has a domain of "all real numbers.In general. f(x) > 8" Here is the graph of the function. To find the range: • • when x = 2. The range of each function is found through an inspection of the function. the range is "all real numbers.

This will be when h = 0.9t2 Find the domain and range for the function h(t). So we solve: 20t − 4. is h = 20t − 4. the domain of the function h is .9t)t = 0 This is true when t = 0 s. in seconds.082 s Hence.] Example 4 We are told that the height h. we need to assume that the projectile hits the ground and then stops . of a certain projectile as a function of time t. [See more on parabola. negative values of time do not have any meaning.9t2 = 0 Factoring gives: (20 − 4.The function is part of a parabola.9 = 4. Generally.it does not go underground. or t = 20/4. in metres. Also. So we need to calculate when it is going to hit the ground.

It goes up to a certain height and then falls back down. (This makes sense if you think about throwing a ball to your friend. The value of t that gives the maximum is t = -b/2a = -20/(-2 × 4.9(2.082" We can see from the function expression that it is a parabola with its vertex facing up.408" Here is the graph of the function h: 2b. h first increases to a maximum of 20. as expected. Functions from Verbal Statements . Hence.408 m By observing the function of h.9) = 2.041 s So the maximum value is 20(2. then h decreases again to zero. 0 ≤ h ≤ 20. we see that as t increases. the range of h is "all real numbers."all real values of t such that 0 ≤ t ≤ 4.) What is the maximum value of h? We use the formula for maximum (or minimum) of a quadratic function.408 m.041) − 4.041)2 = 20.

n ≥ 0" while the range is "all integer values. C ≥ 3000" Example 2: An architect designs a window such that it has the shape of a rectangle with a semicircle on top. Since the cost of producing 1 unit is $4. It also costs $4 for each unit produced in the plant. the cost of producing n units is $4n Thus the total cost C. Express the daily cost C of operating the plant as a function of the number n of units produced. The daily total cost C equals the fixed cost of $3. Express the perimeter p of the window as a function of the radius r of the circular part.000 per day. as shown. We label the points on the window for convenience: . where C = f(n) is C = 3000 + 4n Here the domain is "all integer values.000 plus the cost of producing n units. The architect wants the base of the window to be 10 cm less than the height of the rectangular part.Example 1: The fixed cost for a company to operate a certain plant is $3. (This kind of window is called a Norman window).

Answer F(t) = 3t ..t2 F(2) = 3(2) . and there would be no window if r = 0.(2)2 =6-4 =2 F(3) is not defined since t ≤ 2. find F(2) and F(3). The domain of the function is: all real values.Perimeter p.t2 for t ≤ 2. Question 1 For F(t) = 3t . . where R is some maximum possible value of r (determined by design considerations). 0 < r ≤ R. then. where p = f(r): p = circumference of the semicircle + length AB + length BC + length CD p= (2π r) + (2r + 10) + 2r + (2r + 10) p = π r + 6r + 20 Since the radius cannot be negative..

of re-entry. express its weight w as a function of the time t. in minutes.0) the four quadrants Normally.Question 2 A rocket burns up at the rate of 2 Mg/min after falling out of orbit into the atmosphere. Graphs give us a visual picture of the function. the values of the independent variable (generally the x-values) are placed on the horizontal axis. while the values of the dependent variable (generally the y-values) are placed on the vertical axis. If the rocket weighed 5.2t 3. Rectangular Coordinates A good way of presenting a function is by graphical representation.500 Mg before re-entry. The rectangular co-ordinate system consists of: the x-axis the y-axis the origin (0. . Answer Note: 1 Mg = 1 megagram = 1 million grams = 1000 kg Answer: w = 5500 .

is the perpendicular distance of P from the y-axis. . 1). written as (x. So the question means "where on the rectangular system do we have x = y for all points (x. -2) and C(4. y)?" In other words. y) for which x < 0 and y < 0? Answer • • x < 0 means that x is negative.1). we can see that: the y co-ordinate of D is 1 the x co-ordinate of D is -3 Hence. called the ordinate. The values of x and y together. called the abscissa. 700). while "ordinates" means y-values. then the only region where both co-ordinates for all points are negative is the "third quadrant (III)". Example 2 Three vertices of a rectangle are A(-3 . 0) and (5. The y-value. 5) and (700. Where is the fourth vertex D? Answer Since the opposite sides of a rectangle are equal and parallel. is the perpendicular distance of P from the x-axis. Example 3 Where are all points (x . -2). y) are called the co-ordinates of the point P. B(4 . -3) and (0.The x-value. and y < 0 also means that y is negative. we want a line connecting points like (-3. the co-ordinates of D are (-3. Exercises Q1 Where are all the points whose abscissas equal their ordinates? Answer "Abscissas" means x-values.

This means that for each x-value there is a corresponding y-value which is obtained when we substitute into the expression for f(x).obtain the corresponding values of the function .The line we want cuts the first and third quadrants in half at 45°. y) for which x = 0 and y < 0? Answer They are on the negative part of the y-axis. y) satisfy the function y = f(x).plot these points by joining them with a smooth curve . 4. The Graph of a Function The graph of a function is the set of all points whose co-ordinates (x. Since there is no limit to the possible number of points for the graph of the function. Q2 Where are all the points (x. we will follow this procedure at first: .select a few values of x . We can write this line as y = x.

x 0 y 2 0.5 4.1 1. Answer We start at t = 0 since negative values of time have no practical meaning here.4.However. Example 2 The velocity (in m/s) of the ball in Example 1 at time t (in s) is given by v = 9 .it's much easier than plotting points and more useful for later! A man who is 2 m tall throws a ball straight up and its height at time t (in s) is given by h = 2 + 9t .8t Draw the v-t graph.3 1 6.4. trigonometric and exponential curves) . NOTE: We could have written the function in this example as: h(t) = 2 + 9t . What is the velocity when the ball hits the ground? . parabola. you are encouraged to learn the general shapes of certain common curves (like straight line.4 This shape is called a parabola and is common in applications of mathematics. Graph the function.9.5 5.9t2 m.5 2 0.9t2.

6 The ball hits the ground at approx t = 2. we only need to plot 2 points and join them. Example 3 Graph the function y = x . just to check.05 s (we can see this from Example 1).x2 Answer (a) Determine the values in the table x -2 y -6 -1 -2 0 0 1 0 2 -2 3 -6 (b) Plot these points . The velocity when the ball hits the ground from the graph we just drew is about -11 m/s. x 0 y 9 1 -0. Normally.Answer Since we recognise it is a straight line. But we find 3 ponts. we take velocity in the up direction to be positive.8 2 -10.

due to division by 0 Hence. ie. we find that y = .c) Since y = 0 for both x = 0 and x = 1. (d) Indicate that the curve continues. for x = . x = 0 is not in the domain (b) determine the values in the table . check what happens in between. My suggestion is to observe the general shape of each one and remember it! Answer (a) Note : y is not defined for x = 0. Graph the function Let's get LiveMath to plot any of these functions in this section.

the points get closer to the y-axis. The y-axis is called an asymptote of the curve.x -4 y 3/4 -3 2/3 -2 1/2 -1 0 1 2 2 3/2 3 4/3 4 5/4 (c) Check what happens between x = -1 and x = 1: when x = .y=3 (d) As x gets closer to 0. Graph the function Answer (a) Note: y is not defined for values of x less than -1 . y = -1 when x = . although they do not touch it.

2 5 2. the range consists of all positive values of y.hence.7 3 2 4 2.4 (c) The positive square root is indicated.4 2 1.Hence. Answer . including 0 (ie. y ≥ 0) Example 6 The electric power P (in watts) delivered by a battery as a function of the resistance R (in ohms) is : Plot the power as a function of the resistance. x < -1 is not in the domain (b) determine the values in the table: x -1 y 0 0 1 1 1.

5 W Graph the given functions .50. when R = 0.8 5 16.5 (c) Check what happens between R = 0 and R = 1 ie.75.5 4 19.0 3 24. hence P is not plotted for negative values of R.5 W (ii) P decreases as R increases beyond 0. P = 48 (d) Conclusions: (i) The maximum power of 50 W occurs for R = 0. P = 50 R = 0.4 R = 0.25. P = 44. (b) determine the values in the table: R 0 P 0 1 44.(a) Negative values for R have no physical significance.4 2 32.

x2 Answer Q2 We can only take the square root of a positive number so x ≥ 0. so y ≥ 0. . This graph is actually one half of a parabola. with horizontal axis. The square root of a number can only be positive.Q1 y = x3 .

Draw a sketch graph of the height of the water in the cone versus the time. .Conical water tank Q3. The volume of the water is decreasing at a constant rate. (Application) Water flows out of an inverted cone (ie the water flows through the pointy end of the cone and the widest part of the cone is at the top).

The height at time t will be the cube root of (1000 . then V = πh3/3. Thus the amount of water left after t seconds is given by (1000 . Such points are normally plotted with a smooth curve. So the height of the cone is given by the cube root of 3V/π. The volume of a cone is V = πr2h/3.The graph above was obtained using the following model. Such points are connected by straight line segments. 6. Such data values would indicate whether the variables are related (ie. then the intervals between the points have no real meaning. have a formula that links them). This is the graph above. Example: A cone with h = r = 10 has volume 1000π/3 units. Exception: When data values are taken only for certain intervals or are averaged over the intervals.100t). it means 100π/3 units will drain out each second. Graphs of Functions Defined by Tables of Data One important way to show the relationship between variables is by using a table of values obtained by observation and experimentation. let r = h. Example 1 The electric energy usage (in MJ) for a particular house for each month of a certain year is given in the following table: Month Jan Feb 12 363 Mar 10 168 Apr 7 500 May 4 825 Jun 3 568 Energy Usage 10 504 . If the water drains out in 10 seconds. For simplicity.100t)π/3 units.

0 135.5 3. . For instance.4 min. Example 2 Steam in a boiler was heated to 150° C. Similarly.7 5.0 138. Its temperature was then recorded each minute as follows: Time (min) 0.8 Plot the graph. the time taken for the steam to cool down to 141.2 4.5 min can be estimated from the graph as 136.7° C.Month Jul Aug 2 887 Sep 3 301 Oct 5 748 Nov 7 302 Dec 9 706 Energy Usage 2 548 Plot these data Answer Since we are given the total energy usage for each month.8 2. the temperature after 2. Therefore.0° C is estimated to be 1.0 132.0 1. there is no meaning to the intervals between the months.0 130. Answer We can estimate values of one variable for given values of the other.0 Temp (°C) 150.0 142. straight line segments are used.

Linear interpolation assumes that if a particular value lies between two of those listed in the table.Linear Interpolation A more accurate way of estimating values from a graph is called linear interpolation. Use linear interpolation to find the temperature of the cooling steam after 1.0 Temp (°C) 142.0 138. Answer Using the method of proportions: . then the corresponding value of the other variable is at the same proportional distance between the listed values.5 We can use LiveMath to find this value for us.4 min: Time (min) 1.4 ??? 2.8 1.

1° C is the required temperature Exercise The following table gives the fraction f of the total heating load of a system that will be supplied by a solar collector of area A: f 0.30 30 0. Continuous Functions Consider the graph of f(x) = x3 − 6x2 − x + 30: .22 0.61 80 A (m2) 20 By means of linear interpolation. Bourne This section is related to the earlier section on Domain and Range of a Function. There are some functions that are not defined for certain values of x.7 Therefore 142.34 7.56 70 0. for A = 36 m2.37 40 0. find f. Continuous and Discontinuous Functions by M.7 = 141.8 . Answer: 0.44 50 0.1.50 60 0.So x = -1.

Functions With Discontinuities Now consider the function . . Any value of x will give us a corresponding value of y. We note that the curve is not continuous at x = 1.We can see that there are no "gaps" in the curve. We observe that a small change in x near x = 1 gives a very large change in the value of the function. Such functions are called continuous functions. and we would never need to take the pencil off the paper. We could continue the graph in the negative and positive directions.

Many functions have discontinuities (i.For a function to be continuous at a point. We observe that the function is not defined for x = 0 and x = 1. We say the function is continuous for all values of x except x = 0 and x = 1. the function must exist at the point and any small change in x produces only a small change in f(x).) Example Consider the function . places where they cannot be evaluated. We see that small changes in x near 0 (and near 1) produce large changes in the value of the function. . In simple English: The graph of a continuous function can be drawn without lifting the pencil from the paper. Factorising the denominator gives: .e.

Split Functions (Piecewise-defined functions) By D Hu and M Bourne . like this (I have changed the view of the vertical axis from -12 to 10): 8.Note: You will often get strange results when using Scientific Notebook (or LiveMath or any other mathematics software) if you try to graph functions which have discontinuities. Here is the same function Notebook: in the default graph view in Scientific It is showing us all the vertical values that it can (from an extremely small negative number to a very large positive number) .but we need to restrict those values so we can see the true shape of the curve.

the function has value f(-1) = -(1)2 + 2 = -1 +2 = 1. When x = 1. These are known as split functions (or piecewise-defined functions). it cannot be differentiated). To find the value of the function at a given x-value.Ordinary Function for Comparison f(x) = -x2 + 4 This function is not a split function. However. the value of the function approaches 5 (but does not reach it because of the "<" sign). it is quite common for a split function to be noncontinuous (and as we learn later. . It is defined the same way for all values of x.Split Function In the region x < 1. Now for the region x ≥ 1. Example 1 . there are some functions which are defined differently in different domains. for different x-values). Because split functions may have drastically different behaviours in different domains (that is. As x approaches 1.Most functions you are familiar with are defined in the same manner for all values of x. we have a straight line with slope 2 and y-intercept 3. simply substitute into f(x) = -x2 + 4 Some values for f(x) = -x2 + 4 are as follows: x f(x) -3 -5 -2 0 -1 3 0 4 1 3 2 0 3 -5 Example 1 .

Now for the region x > -2. we can see that the value of the function gets closer to -4. This function is differentiable for all values of x except x = 1. We represent this with an open circle on the graph. the function takes values based on f(x) = -x2 + 2. The function on this side is defined as y = 3x + 2 As x approaches -2 from the right. Example 2 In the region x < -2.As we go further to the right. It is a parabola. but it is actually defined for x = 1 (and has value 1). Later we will learn about Differentiation. . The function is not defined at x = -2 so it is not continuous there.8 As x gets closer to -2 from the left side. the function is defined as: y = -2x . This function has a discontinuity at x = 1. we see that the function value also approaches -4.

it is first necessary to decide which "piece" this value falls within. the function is x2 . .x/2 (straight line). Finally. Between -2 and 2. So. the function is defined as 2 .8x + 10 (parabola). for x greater than 2. the function is defined as sin x. to determine the value of the function at a particular x-value. • • • For x less than -2. Only then can we know which expression to substitute into.Example 3 This function is defined in three ways.

Split Function (Continuous) This function is split into two pieces.5 2 -2 3 -5 4 -6 Example 4 . in this case.109 Some split functions are so commonly used that they are given special notation. For non-negative values of x. However.5 0 2 1 1. the function is defined for all values of x. the function is identical to 1/5 sin 5x. the function is identical to x (straight line). the function is continuous (and differentiable) everywhere. Here are some function values for this split function: x f(x) -4 0. Again.Notice that the function is defined for all x.192 2 -0. but has discontinuities at -2 and 2. For negative values of x. .757 -3 -0.141 -2 3 -1 2. x f(x) -2 -2 -1 -1 0 0 1 -0.

a function in electronics can be defined as . It is really a split function defined in two pieces: The function is continuous everywhere.Example 5 .Absolute Value Function f(x) = | x | This is the absolute value function. but only differentiable at non-zero values of x.Step Function You will also encounter split functions in signal analysis (see Fourier Series and Laplace Transforms). For example. x f(x) -2 2 -1 1 0 0 1 1 2 2 Example 6 .

The graph of an even function is always symmetrical about the vertical axis (that is. we have a mirror image through the y-axis). . Even and Odd Functions Even Functions A function y = f(t) is said to be even if f(-t) = f(t) for all values of t.9. The waveforms shown below represent even functions: Cosine curve f(t) = 2 cos πt Notice that we have a mirror image through the f(t) axis.

. we have a mirror image through the f(t) axis.Even Square wave: Triangular wave: In each case.f(t) for all values of t. The graph of an odd function is always symmetrical about the origin. Another way of saying this is that we have symmetry about the vertical axis. Odd Functions A function y = f(t) is said to be odd if f(-t) = .

Examples of Odd Functions The waveforms shown below represent odd functions. then it will be going down to the left by the same amount on the other side of the origin. Sine Curve y(x) = sin x Notice that if we fold the curve along the y-axis.Origin Symmetry A graph has origin symmetry if we can fold it along the vertical axis. Another way of thinking about this is that the graph does exaclty the opposite thing on each side of the origin. the graph maps onto itself. . If the graph is going up to the right on one side of the origin. and it lays the graph onto itself. It has origin symmetry. then along the t-axis. then along the horizontal axis.

and the graph demonstrates symmetry about the origin. Exercise Sketch each function and then determine whether each function is odd or even ) ."Saw tooth" wave Odd Square wave Each of these three curves is an odd function.

Answer We can see from the graph that it is even. b) and f(t) = f(t + 2π) (This last line means: Periodic with period = 2π) . OR: The function is even since f(−t) = f(t) for all values of t.

OR: The function is even since f(−t) = f(t) for all values of t. c) .and f(t) = f(t + 2π) (This last line means: Periodic with period = 2π) We can see from the graph that it is even.

We can see from the graph that the function is odd. d) . OR: The function is odd since f(−t) = .f(t) for all values of t.

OR: The function is even since f(−t) = f(t) for all values of t. (f) We can see from the graph that the function is odd. e) We can see from the graph that it is even. .We can see from the graph that it is neither odd nor even.f(t) for all values of t. OR: The function is odd since f(−t) = .

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