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Differential Calculus: Related Rates

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Kirsten Maund

Dahlia Sweeney

Background

Calculus was invented to predict

phenomena of change: planetary motion,

objects in freefall, varying populations, etc.

In many practical applications, several

related rates vary together. Naturally, the

rates at which they vary are also related to

each other. With calculus, we can describe

and calculate such related rates.

. The problem is usually to find the time rate of change this is not given. at some instant specified in the problem. the values of these quantities at some instant are given together with all their time rates of change but one.What are related rates? A related rates problem involves two or more quantities that vary with time and an equation that expresses some relationship between them. Typically.

For example.How to Solve Related Rates One common method for solving such a problem is to begin with implicit differentiation of the equation that relates the given quantities. This produces the equation: 2x dx/dt + 2y dy/dt = 0 . suppose that x and y are each functions of time such that: x^2 + y^2 = a^2 (a is a constant) Differentiate both sides of this equation with respect to time t.

and dx/dt at a certain instant t are known. Note that it is not necessary to know x and y as functions of t. y. If the values of x. It is typical for a related rates problem to contain insufficient information to express x and y as functions of t. . then the last equation can be solved for the value of dy/dt at time t.

before rather than after implicit differentiation.WARNING! The most common error to be avoided is the premature substitution of the given data. .

.Strategy for Solving Step 1: Make a drawing of the situation if possible.

y. . Step 2: Use letters to represent the variables involved in the situation say x.

dy. Use the calculus notation (dx/dt.dt. etc) to represent them. Step 3: Identify all rates of change given and those to be determined. .

Step 4: Determine an equation that involves both The variables from step two The derivative of step three .

Step 5: Differentiate (by implicit differentiation) the equation of step four .

Step 6: Substitute all know values into the differentiated equation .

Step 7: Use algebraic manipulation . to solve for the unknown rate or quantity .if necessary.

Formulas You May Need To Know V a3 V r h 2 4 r V 3 3 r h V 2 3 V lwh bh V 3 .

If the bottom of the ladder is sliding away from the wall at a rate of 1 foot per second.Example #1 A ladder 10 feet long is resting against a wall. how fast is the top of the ladder moving down when the bottom of the ladder is 8 feet from the wall? First. draw the picture: .

. we have Therefore The top of the ladder is sliding down (because of the negative sign in the result) at a rate of 4/3 feet per second. We want to find dy/dt. X and y are related by the Pythagorean Thereom Differentiate both sides of this equation with respect to t to get When x = 8 ft. We have dx/dt is one foot per second.

6 ft z-x x z 18 ft . How fast is the tip of his shadow moving along the ground when he is 100 feet from the light pole.Example #2 A man 6 ft tall walks with a speed of 8 ft per second away from a street light atop an 8 foot pole.

We are given that dx/dt = 8 (ft/sec). We equate ratios of corresponding sides of the two similar triangles and find that z/18 = (z-x)/6 Thus 2z = 3x . Let x be the man’s distance from the pole and z be the distance of the tip of his shadow from the base of the pole. we do not attempt to obtain implicit formulas for either. and we want to find dz/dt when x = 100 (ft). Even though x and z are functions of t.

. Implicit differentiation now gives 2 dz/dt = 3 dx/dt We substitute dx/dt = 8 and find that (dz/dt = 3/2) * (dx/dt = 3/2) * (8) = 12 So the tip of the man’s shadow is moving at 12 ft per second.

when the bottom is 15 ft from the wall? .Try Me! A ladder 25 ft long is leaning against a vertical wall. how fast is the top of the ladder sliding down the wall. If the bottom of the ladder is pulled horizontally away from the wall at 3 ft/sec.

Solution t = the number of seconds in time that has elapsed since the ladder started to slide down the wall. x = the number of feet in the distance from the bottom of the ladder to the wall at t seconds. . y = the number of feet in distance from the ground to the top of the ladder at t seconds.

dx/dt = 3. we differentiate both sides of equation one with respect to t and obtain 2y dy/dt = -2x dx/dt giving us dy/dt = -x/y dx/dt . Because the bottom of the ladder is pulled horizontally away from the wall at 3 ft/sec. From the Pythagorean Thereom. We wish to find dy/dt when x = 15. we have y^2 = 625 – x^2 Because x and y are functions of t.

it follows from equation one that y = 20. we get from equation two: dy/dt = (-15/20) * 3 = -9/4 Therefore. Because dx/dt = 3. The significance of the minus sign is that y is decreasing as t is increasing. When x = 15. . the top of the ladder is sliding down the wall at the rate of 2 ¼ ft/sec when the bottom is 15 ft from the wall.

Was Your Answer Correct? .

edu/~klb ooksite/2.17/217examples/217ladder .htm http://www.Bibliography http://www.dartmouth.math.edu/~klb ooksite/2.htm © Maund and Sweeney 2011 .math.17/217examples/217baseba ll.dartmouth.

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