Differentiation Section 2: Applications of differentiation

These notes contain sub-sections on:    Turning points Second derivatives Maximum and minimum problems

Turning Points
Points on a curve where the tangent is horizontal are called stationary points, or turning points. dy At these points, the gradient of the curve is zero, so = 0. dx Stationary points are classified into three different types: Local maximum The gradient is positive to the left, zero at the point, and negative to the right.

gradient positive

gradient zero

gradient negative

Local minimum The gradient is positive to the left, zero at the point, and negative to the right.
gradient negative gradient zero gradient positive

Stationary point of inflection The gradient goes from positive to zero to positive
gradient gradient gradient positive positive zero

or negative to zero to negative.

gradient gradient gradient negative zero negative

© MEI, 03/04/07

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and sketch the curve. So the stationary points are (1. When y = 0. investigate their nature. y = 0. Example 1 Find the stationary points on the curve y = 3x  x3. Solution y = 3x  x3 dy = 3  3x2. 2) is a local maximum The curve crosses the y axis when x = 0. Step 5: Find where the curve cuts the axes © MEI. When x = 1. Step 3: Calculate the ycoordinates for these values of x (called the stationary values). When x = 0. dx    3  3x2 = 0 3 = 3x2 x2 = 1 x =  1 or 1 Step 1: Differentiate the function. 03/04/07 2/7 .  2) is a local minimum and (1. Step 4: Use a table to investigate the sign of dy dx for values of x either side of the stationary values x dy dx -2 -9 -ve -1 0 0 3 +ve 1 0 2 -9 -ve So ( 1. It crosses the xaxis when y = 0. 2) and (1.see later. Step 2: Solve dy dx 0 When x = 1. 3x  x3 = 0  x(3  x2) = 0. y = 3×(1)  (1)3 = 3  (1) = 2. 2). you can either:   Test the value of the derivative either side of the stationary point.To distinguish between these. y = 3×1  13 = 2. or Use the second derivative test .

Make sure your sketch includes the coordinates of the intercepts and the turning points. 03/04/07 3/7 . Step 6: Sketch the curve. Second Derivatives If you differentiate a derivative. 2) 0 3 x You may like to look at the PowerPoint animation of this example. (1. For extra practice in finding stationary points. you get the second derivative. dx 2 For some more examples. then check your answer and look at the graph. the first derivative is the second derivative is written dy dx (you say: “dee y by dee x”) and d2 y dx 2 (you say: “dee two y by dee x squared”) Example 3 Given that y = 3x  x3. If you start with an equation for y in terms of x. 2) y  3 (1. 3 and  3 . x = 0. find Solution y = 3x  x3 dy  = 3  3x2 dx d2 y  = 6x dx 2 d2 y . try to find and identify the stationary points yourself. © MEI. use the Flash resources Stationary points on quadratic curves and Stationary points on cubic curves. look at the Flash resource Second derivatives. For each problem.

dx 2 gradient positive gradient zero gradient negative © MEI.You can also try the Mathsnet Derivative puzzles. d2 y So < 0  the turning point is a maximum. or acceleration. the gradient function is decreasing. and the second derivative 2 gives the rate of change dt of velocity. in which you need to match graphs with the graphs of their first derivative and second derivative. Example 4 The displacement s metres of a particle from a point P at time t seconds is given by the equation: s = t3  4t. If you study Mechanics 1 you will learn more about this. Solution s = t3  4t ds  v= = 3t2  4 dt d2s  a = 2 = 6t dt So when t = 2. One important application of second derivatives is in the motion of a particle. in other words is decreasing. then the first derivative gives the rate of change of dt d2s displacement. We can use this fact to investigate the nature of turning points: Maximum points d2 y dy If < 0. v = 3 × 22  4 = 8 m s1 a = 6 × 2 = 12 m s2 The second derivative measures the rate of change of the first derivative. 2 dx dx At a maximum point. the gradient goes from + to 0 to . or the velocity. 03/04/07 4/7 . Calculate the velocity and the acceleration of the particle after 2 seconds have elapsed. If you start with displacement s as ds a function of time t.

y = 2 The stationary points are (1. the turning point is a stationary point of inflection. you need to use the table method to investigate the turning point. 2 dx dx At a minimum point. 2) and (-1. consider y  x4 . Example 5 Check the nature of the turning points of y = 3x  x3 using the second derivative test. So d2 y >0  the turning point is a minimum. Solution y = 3x  x3 dy  = 3  3x2 dx dy = 0 when 3  3x2 = 0 dx  x = 1 or  1 When x = 1. 03/04/07 5/7 .Minimum points d2 y dy If > 0. then the value of the second derivative at the point is indeed zero. In this case. y = 2. -2) © MEI. when x = 1. the gradient function is increasing. gradient gradient gradient positive positive zero However. the converse statement is not true: d2 y dy You cannot conclude that if  0 and  0 . and it is certainly true that if the stationary point is an inflection. For example. the gradient goes from  to 0 to +. in other words is increasing. the point is a stationary dx 2 dx inflection. or consider what you know about the graph of the function. dx 2 gradient negative gradient zero gradient positive Points of inflection You might think that when d2 y dx 2 = 0.

width and depth of the box in terms of x? Length = width = 1 – 2x Depth = x The volume V m3 of the box is given by V = x(1  2x)2. What are the length. The maximum volume will dV occur when  0 . 2) is a maximum point and (-1. Call the side length of the squares cut out x. Find the maximum possible volume of the box. Solution 1 x 1 – 2x x Step 1: Draw a diagram and use it to help you to formulate the problem mathematically. V  x(1  2 x) 2  x 1  4 x  4 x 2   x  4 x 2  4 x3 Step 2: Find the maximum volume by differentiating. Maximum and Minimum Problems One important immediate application of differentiation is to problems that involve maximising or minimising a variable quantity. © MEI. -2) is a minimum point.d2 y = 6x dx 2 2 When x = 1. d y =  6 < 0  maximum 2 dx 2 When x =  1. Before dx differentiating. 03/04/07 6/7 . dx 2 (1. The sides are then folded up to form an open topped box. The Maxima and minima video looks at finding stationary points using both the table method and the second derivative method. d y = 6 > 0  minimum. expand the brackets. Example 2 A rectangular sheet of metal of length 1 m and width 1 m has squares cut from each corner.

This must be the maximum. 03/04/07 7/7 . 2 6 When x  1 . 2 27 So the maximum possible volume of the box is m3 . V  6 1 2 1 6 Now put dV dx  0 . V  2 When x  1 . 4  54  2 27 2 .dV = 1  8x + 12x2 dx 1  8x + 12x2 = 0  (1  2x)(1  6x) = 0  x = 1 or x = 1 . © MEI. This must be the minimum. and solve for x: 1  2     1  2     1 2 1 6 2  0 .