The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

A Way to Remember What 'm' and 'b' Mean in Slope-Intercept Form

Date: 02/01/2004 at 13:28:19
From: David
Subject: Graphing linear equations in slope-intercept form

I noticed the questions and comments about why "m" is used for slope.
A number of years ago, a teacher at a conference explained that when
graphing linear equations in slope-intercept form (y = mx + b), you do
the following.

Begin by graphing the y-intercept ("b" in the equation means BEGIN).
Then move the slope ("m" in the equation means MOVE--rise over run).

Date: 02/02/2004 at 10:57:46
From: Doctor Rob
Subject: Re: Graphing linear equations in slope-intercept form

Thanks for writing to Ask Dr. Math, David!

That's a good mnemonic device (or memory trick) for remembering what
to do with the m and the b, but it's probably not the origin of the
usage.  You might want to read the thread in our FAQ that talks about
why 'm' is used for slope:

  Math Terms 

Thanks for your comment!

- Doctor Rob, The Math Forum 
Associated Topics:
High School Coordinate Plane Geometry
High School Equations, Graphs, Translations
High School Euclidean/Plane Geometry
High School Linear Equations

Search the Dr. Math Library:

Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.