Coordinates of Relative Maxima or Minima
Date: 31 Dec 1994 17:58:13 -0500 From: Anonymous Subject: math problem test Hi ..... this is just a test..... I heard you solve math problems... so I'm just playing...... given f(x) = 15 x^(2/3) + 5x, find coords of relative max or min. and for what x values is the function concave down? thanks Jill
Date: 1 Jan 1995 20:31:51 -0500 From: Dr. Ken Subject: Re: math problem test Hello there! Yes, we're a service to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Students send along math problems that puzzle them, and we try to help them out. Spread the word! As for your question, here's how you would proceed. You'd take the first derivative of f(x), and then look at which values of x make f'(x) zero, and for which values of x the derivative doesn't exist. These will be the candidates for local (relative) maxima and minima. We have f(x) = 15x^(2/3) + 5x. So we get f'(x) = 10/[x^(1/3)] + 5. If you're not sure how I got that, let us know. So then you set this expression equal to zero, and then solve for x. In this case, we get x=-8. And the derivative doesn't exist when x=0. So these are our only candidates for local maxima or minima. Plugging in to f, we see that the coordinates of these points are (-8, 20) and (0,0). But we still need to test whether these really ARE local extrema. So let's do it. The best way is to take the second derivative of the original function, plug in our x-value, and see whether a positive or a negative number pops out. If it's positive there, the function is concave up (think of an upward wind - the positive direction - blowing on the graph of the function), and if it's negative, it's concave down (a downward wind). Since you also want to know all values of x for which this function is concave down, we'll kill two math birds with one stone. The second derivative of your function is f"(x) = -10/[3x^(4/3)]. So when is this less than zero? We'll set up an inequality to find out. -10/[3x^(4/3)] < 0 3x^(4/3) > 0 x^(4/3) > 0 Great. This works out nicely. Sometimes it gets really messy when you have fractional exponents. Anyway, when you raise something to the 4/3 power, you take the cube root of it (which you can do with any number, positive or negative) and then you raise the result to the fourth power. So you'll end up with a positive number all the time. Which means this condition on the second derivative is fulfilled all the time, i.e. that the function is concave down everywhere. Except zero. See, that's the tricky part of this problem. Notice that we can't plug in zero to our second derivative (or even the first derivative, for that matter), since we'd then divide by zero. So we'll have to check zero by hand. It looks like zero is a local minimum, since f(0)=0, and if you plug in anything just to the left or right of zero you get something positive, i.e. bigger than zero (do you know how you could check that and make absolutely sure?). So zero is a local minimum. So here's what we've got. We've got a function that's concave down eveywhere except one point, and it has a local maximum at (-8, 20) and a local minimum at (0, 0). What a neat problem. Note the little sharp point at (0, 0); that's why the derivative doesn't exist there. Anyway, if you have more questions, please feel free to write back! -Ken "Dr." Math
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