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# Fundamentals of Mathematics for Management

Megha Sharma
1
July 4, 2014
1
Indian Institute of Management Calcutta
Contents
1 Functions 3
1.1 Why do WE need to study functions? . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2 Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2.1 Domain of a Relation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.2.2 Range of a Relation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.2.3 Practice Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.3 What is a function? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1.3.1 Practice Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.4 Real Valued Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.5 Real Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.6 Determining the domain and range of a real function . . . . . 8
1.6.1 Practice Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.7 Piecewise Dened Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1.8 Some Commonly Used Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1.8.1 Graph of a Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
1.8.2 Zeros of a Function . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
1.8.3 Polynomial Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
1.8.4 Rational Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.8.5 Exponential Functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
2
Chapter 1
Functions
1.1 Why do WE need to study functions?
As mentioned in the beginning of Chapter Set Theory, to be able to apply
quantitative techniques to business problems they are represented in the
form of functions. These problems come from diverse streams such as the
problem of scheduling workers to shift from Human Resources stream, the
problem of determining the equilibrium price from Economics, the problem
of forecasting based on the past data from nance and economics and so on.
Since all these problems are represented using functions, it is imperative for
a business student to have a deep understanding of basic concepts relating
to functions and operations on functions. Note that operations such as
dierentiation and integration which are very commonly used in economics
and other streams are also dened on functions only.
1.2 Relations
Functions are a special type of relations, therefore to understand functions,
let us rst understand relations. A relation R from a non-empty set A to
a non-empty set B is a subset of the Cartesian product AB. The subset
is derived by describing a relationship between the rst element and the
second element of the ordered pairs in A B. The fact that relation R is
dened from set A to set B is denoted as R : A B.
For example, consider sets A = {1, 2, 3, 4} and B = {1, 2, 3}. Then
AB = {(1, 1), (1, 2), (1, 3), (2, 1), (2, 2), (2, 3), (3, 1), (3, 2), (3, 3), (4, 1),
(4, 2), (4, 3)}
We can dene a relation R : A B such that R = {(x, y) : y = x + 1}.
Then R = {(1, 2), (2, 3)}. We can see that R A B. In a relation, the
second element in the ordered pair is called the image of the rst element.
For example, in R above, 3 is an image of 2.
3
4 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
If a relation R
1
is dened from a set A to set A itself, that is, if R
1
:
A A, then we say that R
1
is dened on A.
1.2.1 Domain of a Relation
The set of all the rst elements of the ordered pairs in a relation R :
A B is called the domain of R. For the above example, domain of
R is {1, 2} = A. From this example it is clear that the domain of R
may or may not be the same as set A. To see a case where the domain
of the relation is the same as the rst set, let us dene another relation
R
1
from set A to set B. R
1
: A B, R
1
= {(x, y) : x y}. So
R
1
= {(1, 1), (2, 1), (2, 2), (3, 1), (3, 2), (3, 3), (4, 1), (4, 2), (4, 3)}. Here do-
main of R
1
is A.
1.2.2 Range of a Relation
The set of all the second elements of the ordered pairs in a relation R :
A B is called the range of R. For the above example, range of R
is {2, 3} = B. From this example it is clear that the range of R may
or may not be the same as set B. To see a case where the range of
the relation is the same as the second set, let us dene another relation
R
1
from set A to set B. R
1
: A B, R
1
= {(x, y) : x y}. So
R
1
= {(1, 1), (2, 1), (2, 2), (3, 1), (3, 2), (3, 3), (4, 1), (4, 2), (4, 3)}. Here range
of R
1
is B.
The entire second set in a relation is called the co-domain of the rela-
tion. From the denitions of range and co-domain it is evident that range
co-domain. Note the use of improper subset. From the above denitions
of relations R and R
1
, we can note that a relation can be represented either
in roster form or in set-builder form. A third way of representing a
relation is using arrow diagram.
1.2.3 Practice Problems
1. Consider a relation R : P Q, R = {(x, y) : x = y
2
}, where
P = {9, 4, 25} and Q = {5, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 5}. Determine the do-
main, range and co-domain of R.
2. How many distinct relationships can be dened from a set A to a set
B?
3. Consider a relation P dened on N, the set of all natural numbers. If
P = {(x, y) : y = x +5}, then express P in roster form and determine
the domain and the range of P.
1.3. WHAT IS A FUNCTION? 5
1.3 What is a function?
As mentioned in the previous section, functions are special type of relations.
More specically, a relation, say f, from a set A to a set B is called a function
if every element of set A has one and only one image in set B.
In other words, a function f is a relation from a non-empty set A to a
non-empty set B such that the domain of f is A and no two distinct ordered
pairs in f have the same rst element.
The fact that f is dened from set A to set B is denoted by f : A B.
If an ordered pair (a, b) belongs to f, i.e. (a, b) f, then we can denote it
as f(a) = b, and b is called the image of a under f, while a is called bs
pre-image under f.
To understand the denition of a function, let us consider each of the
following relations and see if they qualify as functions.
1. Let A = {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}, R
1
: A A, R
1
= {(x, y) : y = x + 1, x
A, y A}
2. Let P = {9, 4, 25} and U = {5, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 5}, R
2
: P U,
R
2
= {(p, u) : p = u
2
, p P, u U}.
3. R
3
= {(x, y) : y = 2x, x N, y N}
4. R
4
: R R, R
4
= {(x, y) : y =

x, x R, y R}
5. Let A = {1, 2, 3}, B = {4, 5, 6}. R
5
: A B, R
5
= {(1, 4), (2, 4), (3, 5)}
The relation R
1
can be represented as R
1
= {(1, 2), (2, 3), (3, 4), (4, 5),
(5, 6)} in roster form. From this representation, we can see that while no
element of A occurs more than once in R
1
, element 6 does not have an image
under R
1
. Therefore, R
1
does not qualify as a function.
Let us now consider relation R
2
. R
2
= {(9, 3), (9, 3), (4, 2), (4, 2),
(25, 5), (25, 5)}. Contrary to R
1
, while the domain (i.e. the set of all the
rst elements) of R
2
is P, R
2
is still not a function as elements 9, 4, 25 have
more than one images in R
2
.
Relation R
3
is a function as for every element x N, 2x N; and for
every x N, there is only a unique value of 2x. The second statement can
also be stated as, for every x N, there is only one image.
Relation R
4
is not a function for two reasons. Firstly, not every x in R has
an image which belongs to R. More specically, square roots of negative real
numbers are imaginary numbers which do not belong to R. Secondly, even
for positive real numbers there are two values of square roots, one positive
and one negative. For example,

## 4 = +2, 2. Therefore, this relation

violates both the conditions for functions and hence is not a function.
However, Relation R
4
brings in the following doubt. Most of us have at
some point in time considered a real function f(x) =

## (x) dened for non-

negative real values, we have even considered its dierentiation
d
dx

x =
1
2

x
,
6 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
integration

xdx =
2
3
x
3/2
+ C. If R
4
is not a function, then how can we
write f(x) =

x and dene its dierentiation and integration. The catch
lies in the fact that while square root of a number refers to both positive
and negative roots, by convention when dening it as a function it refers
only to the positive square root.
Relation R
5
clearly qualies as a function since its domain is equal to A
and no two elements of R
5
have the same rst element.
1.3.1 Practice Problems
1. Let S be the set of all the students in your Mathematics class this
year, D be the set of all the dates since December 31, 1960, and B be
the set of dates of birth of these students.
(a) Let R
6
: S D, R
6
= {(s, d) : s S, d D, d is the date of
birth of s}. Is R
6
a function?
(b) Let R
7
: D S, R
7
= {(d, s) : s S, d D, d is the date of
birth of s}. Is R
7
a function?
(c) Let R
8
: S B, R
8
= {(s, b) : s S, b B, b is the date of
birth of s}. Is R
8
a function?
(d) Let R
9
: B S, R
9
= {(b, s) : s S, b B, b is the date of
birth of s}. Is R
9
a function?
1.4 Real Valued Functions
Recall that a function is a special type of relation, which in turn is a subset of
the Cartesian product of two sets. Since none of the two sets necessarily have
to be a subset of R, relations and functions also can be dened between sets
either one or both of which are not subsets of R. For example, let us consider
two sets S and B, where S is the set of all the students in your Mathematics
class this year, and B is the set of dates of birth of these students. Then, a
relation R
6
= {(s, b) : s S, b B, b is the date of birth of s} qualies as a
function, as the domain of R
6
is S (since every student has a date of birth)
and each element in S has exactly one image in B (since every student has
exactly one date of birth, considering only the true date of birth). Note that
in this example, neither set S nor set B are subsets of R. In fact, both these
sets do not even contain numbers. Therefore, we see that the domain and
the co-domain of functions need not necessarily be subsets of the set of real
numbers.
However, many of the operations of mathematics can only be applied
on numbers. Therefore, in this course on Business Mathematics, we are
concerned with sets for which the co-domain is necessarily a subset of R.
Functions whose co-domain is a subset of R are called real valued functions.
1.5. REAL FUNCTIONS 7
Recall that every set is its own subset as well, therefore the co-domain for
real valued functions is either R or its proper subset. A classic example of
real valued functions is random variable. In probability theory, random
variable is dened as a function from the sample space S to the set of real
numbers R. Note that sample space is the set of all possible outcomes
of an experiment. For example, let the experiment be tossing two coins
simultaneously. In this case, there are four possible outcomes which can be
represented as S = {(H, H), (H, T), (T, H), (T, T)} where the rst element
in the ordered pair denotes the outcome of the rst coin, and the second
element represents the outcome of the second coin. If we dene a random
variable X as the number of heads in the toss, then we can see that X is a
real valued function from S to R as it maps every element of S, the domain
which is not a subset of R in this case, to one and only one element in R.
For instance, (H, H) is mapped to 2, (H, T) is mapped to 1 and so on.
From the above example, we should note two points. First, random
variables even though called variables are essentially real valued functions.
Second, a function maps each element in the domain to exactly one element
in the co-domain, and hence is also called a mapping.
1.5 Real Functions
While real-valued functions are frequently used in probability theory, there
are functions for which both the domain and co-domain are subsets of R.
Such functions are called real functions. Real functions are probably the
most commonly used functions. An example of real function is demand as a
function of price in Economics. Note that both the quantity demanded for
a commodity as well as its price are real numbers. For instance, P : R R,
P(D) = aD +C, where D is the number of units demanded and P(D) is
the corresponding price per unit.
As real functions occur commonly in our course of study, we do not al-
ways specify their domain and co-domain (which are subsets of R). There-
fore, whenever the domain and co-domain of a function are not specied,
then by convention the function is assumed to be a real function with co-
domain R and the domain is that subset of R for which the function can be
dened.
By this convention, we can write a function, say f, f : R R, f =
{(x, y) : y = x
2
, x R, y R}, simply as f(x) = x
2
. Since f(x) = x
2
is
dened for all elements in R, the domain of the function is R. Note that
there is nothing sacrosanct about using x for a variable, one may use any
variable of her choice. For example, f(x) = x
2
is the same as f(y) = y
2
.
Similarly, if a function f is dened as f(x) =
1
x
, then the domain of the
function will be R \ {0} and co-domain will be R. Note that the element
0 is present in the co-domain of the function even though for no value of
8 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
x in the domain of the function f, f(x) will assume a value 0. While the
co-domain of the function is R, its range is R \ {0}.
1.6 Determining the domain and range of a real
function
As real functions are one of the most commonly used functions, in this
section we focus on determining the domain and the range of real functions.
Given a real function f, its domain is the set of all those real numbers for
which the function value is also a real number. That is, in most of the
cases, the domain is the set of all real numbers excluding those for which
the function is either indeterminate or is imaginary. For instance, consider
the following function.
f(x) =
1
x
This function is indeterminate only for x = 0, for all other real numbers
their reciprocal exist and are also real numbers. Therefore, the domain of
the function is R\ {0}. To determine the range of this function, we need to
determine all those values that f(x) can take, for x in the domain of f. A
systematic procedure to do so is as follows.
As determining the range of a function f is equivalent to determining all
possible values that a variable y can take, where y = f(x). So, we equate
the function to a variable y, and then use the conditions on x to nd out
the permissible values for y. Therefore, for function f(x) =
1
x
, let
f(x) =
1
x
= y
x =
1
y
Since x R\ {0}, y = 0, as y = 0 makes x indeterminate. For all other real
values of y, x remains in the domain of f. So, the range of the function f is
(, 0) (0, ).
1.6.1 Practice Problems
1. Determine the domain of the function g(x) =
x
2
+3x+5
x
2
5x+4
.
2. Determine the domain and range of the function f(x) =

9 x
2
.
3. Determine the domain and range of the function f(x) =
x
2
1+x
2
.
4. Determine the domain and range of the function f(x) = 23x, x R
+
.
5. Determine the domain and range of the function f(x) = x
2
+2, x R.
1.7. PIECEWISE DEFINED FUNCTIONS 9
6. Determine the domain and range of the function
f(x) =

x
2
0 x 2
2x 2 < x 10
1.7 Piecewise Dened Functions
So far, we have mostly considered functions which map every element in their
domain to elements in their co-domain using the same rule or relationship.
For example, f(x) = x
2
. In this example, every x in the domain of function
f is mapped to its square in the co-domain. However, while modeling (i.e.
representing in mathematical terms) many real life phenomena, we need to
use dierent rules for mapping dierent elements of the domain.
For example, consider the denition of the function given in Question
No. 6 above. As can be seen from the denition, the domain of the function
is [0, 10].
f(x) =

x
2
0 x 2
2x 2 x 10
In this function, the mapping between an element in the domain of the
function to an element in the co-domain is given by two dierent rules or
relationships for dierent subsets of the domain. For example, for x [0, 2]
f(x) = x
2
while for x (2, 10], f(x) = 2x. Such a function is called a piece-
wise dened function. Do note that even piecewise dened functions also
satisfy the basic denition of the function, i.e. every element in the domain
has exactly one image in the co-domain. In this example, although we have
dened two rules (x
2
and 2x) for x = 2, both these rules map 2 to only one
element, 4.
An example of piecewise dened functions is the absolute value function
or the modulus function f(x) = |x|. This function can be represented as
f(x) =

x x 0
x x < 0
1.8 Some Commonly Used Functions
Some real functions occur very frequently in subjects such as economics,
marketing, operations research. A priori knowledge of these functions along
with their visual representation (called the graph of a function), help un-
derstanding these subjects better. To understand these subjects, one need
not precisely draw the graph of each function encountered, the knowledge
of the position and the shape of the curve relative to a benchmark suces
the purpose. Therefore, in this section we take a look at the commonly used
functions and look at the some methods to quickly sketch their graphs.
10 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
1.8.1 Graph of a Function
The graph of a function f is the curve joining the points (x, f(x)) for all the
elements x in the domain of f. By convention, the x values are taken on the
X-axis and the f(x) values are taken on the Y -axis. Therefore, the graph
of a function f can also be represented by the graph of the curve y = f(x).
In other words, to draw the graph of a real function, on the X-Y coordinate
plane we mark the f(x) values for each x in the domain of f and join them.
1.8.2 Zeros of a Function
Zeros of a function refer to those values of x for which f(x) = 0. In other
words, zeros of a function refer to the roots of the equation f(x) = 0. Note
that, since for these values of x, f(x) = 0, these are the points (i.e. x values)
where the graph of the function intersects the X-axis.
1.8.3 Polynomial Functions
A real function of the form,
f(x) = a
0
+a
1
x +. . . a
n
x
n
where n W
is called a polynomial function where a
0
, a
1
, . . . , a
n
R. The highest power
of x in a polynomial function is called the degree of the polynomial. Ex-
amples of polynomial functions of degrees 1 and 3 can be
f(x) = 2 + 3x and f(x) = x
3
respectively.
By comparing these functions with the standard form, we can see that
a
0
= 2, a
1
= 3 in case of the rst function and a
0
= a
1
= a
2
= 0, a
3
= 1 in
case of the second function.
Let us now consider a few functions and see if they qualify as polynomial
functions.
1. f(x) = x
3
x
2
+ 2
2. g(y) = y
2
+ 3
4/3
y
3. h(x) = x +
1
x
4. k(y) = y
3/2
+
2
3
y
The rst function f(x) = x
3
x
2
+2 is a polynomial function of degree
3 as the powers of all x terms are whole numbers, with the highest power
being 3, and the coecients are all real numbers.
The second function g(y) = y
2
+ 3
4/3
y is also a polynomial function as
all the powers of y belong to W and the coecients (i.e. 1, and 3
4/3
) belong
to R. The degree of the polynomial is 2.
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 11
Both the third and the fourth functions are not polynomial functions, as
the third function includes x
1
, 1 / W and the fourth function includes
y
3/2
, and 3/2 / W. We now take a look at some polynomials of degrees
0,1,2, and 3 which occur frequently in business studies.
Constant Functions
The simplest polynomial functions are that of degree 0. Such functions are
of the form
f(x) = c, where c is a constant, c R
and are also called constant functions.
The graph of any constant function is a straight line, parallel to the X-
axis. The line lies above the X-axis if the constant c is positive, lies below
if c is negative, and coincides with the X-axis if c = 0. Recall that the
equation of X-axis is y = 0, as for all the points on the X-axis, their y
coordinate is zero.
Note that unless c = 0, the constant function does not intersect the X-
axis. Hence, there are no zeros of a constant function unless c = 0. In case
c = 0, all the points in the domain of the function i.e. R, are zeros of the
function or roots of the equation f(x) = 0.
Linear Functions
A polynomial of degree one, such as f(x) = a
0
+ a
1
x, is called a linear
function as its graph is a straight line with intercept a
0
on the Y -axis and
slope a
1
. The intercept is commonly denoted by c and the slope is denoted
by m.
The simplest degree 1 polynomial function or the simplest linear function
is f(x) = x. Comparing it with the standard form f(x) = a
0
+ a
1
x, we see
that the intercept a
0
= 0 and the slope a
1
= 1 for this function. The graph
of this function is a straight line that passes through the origin and bisects
the angle between positive X axis and positive Y axis. It is important to be
very comfortable with this function, as the graphs of other linear functions
can be drawn by manipulating the graph of f(x) = x.
Knowing the graph of f(x) = x, we can easily draw the graph of a linear
function g(x) = mx on the same coordinate plane by comparing the value
of m with 1. Since the intercept in g(x) = mx is zero, its graph also passes
through the origin. Moreover, if 0 < m < 1, the graph of g(x) is more gentle
or gradual than the graph of f(x) = x. In other words, in the rst quadrant
the line lies below the f(x) = x line, intersects it at the origin and lies above
the f(x) = x line in the third quadrant.
Similarly, if 1 < m, the line g(x) = mx is steeper than the line f(x) =
x, and hence in the rst quadrant it lies above the line f(x) = x, intersects
it at the origin, and lies below the f(x) = x line in the third quadrant.
12 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
Note that for all the values of m (0, ), the graph is upward sloping.
For any two values in its domain, say x
1
and x
2
, if x
1
> x
2
, then f(x
1
)
will also be greater than f(x
2
). A function, for which this property holds,
is called an increasing function or is sometimes called a monotonically
increasing function.
Let us now consider the case when m = 1, that is g(x) = x. The
graph of this function is a straight line that passes through the origin and
bisects the angle between the negative X-axis and the positive Y -axis. Note
that this line also bisects the angle between the positive X-axis and the
negative Y -axis. In other words, the graph of the function bisects the second
Knowing the graph of the function g(x) = x, we can easily draw the
graph of any function f(x) = mx where m (, 0). If 1 < m < 0, the
graph of f(x) = mx is a straight line that lies below the graph of g(x) = x
in the second quadrant and lies above it in the fourth quadrant. The two
graphs intersect at the origin. Here, we see that this graph is more gentle
than the graph of g(x) = x.
Similarly, if m < 1, the graph lies above the graph of g(x) = x in the
second quadrant and lies below it in the fourth quadrant. The two graphs
intersect at the origin. Here, we see that this graph is steeper than the graph
of g(x) = x.
Note that as the value of m becomes smaller and smaller i.e. goes close
to , the graph becomes steeper and steeper. Loosely speaking, as the
value of m becomes , the graph coincides with the Y -axis.
Moreover, for any function g(x) = mx with m < 0, the graph is down-
ward sloping. Also, for any two values of x, say x
1
and x
2
, if x
1
> x
2
,
then f(x
1
) < f(x
2
). That is, as the value of x increases, the function value
decreases. Such functions are called decreasing functions, and are also
sometimes referred to as monotonically decreasing functions. That is,
a function f is called a decreasing function if for any pair x
1
, x
2
of values of
x, where x
1
> x
2
, f(x
1
) < f(x
2
).
So far, we have learnt to draw the graphs of functions of the form f(x) =
mx where m (, ). We now see how to draw graphs of functions of
the form f(x) = mx + c where the slope m (, ) and the intercept
c (, ). To draw the graph of a function f(x) = mx+c, we rst draw
the graph of g(x) = mx and then shift it vertically by c units. The shift
is upwards if c > 0 and downwards if c < 0. In other words, the graph of
f(x) = mx + c is a straight line that is parallel to the graph of g(x) = mx
and passes through the point (0, c) on the Y -axis.
Recall that the graph of a function f is nothing but the graph of the
equation y = f(x). Therefore, even though we have so far discussed straight
lines with equations of the form y = mx + c only, we can use the above
described method to draw the graph of any straight line ax + by = d. For
this, we need to bring the equation to the form y =
a
b
x +
d
b
. So the slope
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 13
m becomes
a
b
and the intercept c =
d
b
.
Polynomial functions of degree 2 are referred to as quadratic functions. The
general form of a quadratic function can be given as f(x) = a
0
+a
1
x+a
2
x
2
where a
0
, a
1
, a
2
R. Quadratic functions are commonly used to model a
wide variety of real life phenomena, such as prot function, cost function,
etc. The reason for such wide applications of these functions is that these
functions are a better approximation of these phenomena than their linear
counterpart and are yet tractable with some beautiful mathematical prop-
erties.
The simplest quadratic function is f(x) = x
2
. Just like we manipulated
the graph of g(x) = x to draw the graph of any linear function f(x) = mx+c
for m > 0, we will use the graph of f(x) = x
2
to draw the graph of a general
quadratic function. Therefore, let us understand the graph of f(x) = x
2
in
detail.
Since at x = 0, f(x) = 0, the function passes through the origin. To
draw its graph, let us rst concentrate only on positive values of x. When
x = 1, f(x) = 1
2
= 1; x = 2, f(x) = 2
2
= 4; x = 3, f(x) = 9; x = 4, f(x) =
16; x = 5, f(x) = 25; and so on.
x f(x) = x
2
0 0
1 1
2 4
3 9
4 16
5 25
Table 1.1: Function values for f(x) = x
2
From these values, we realize that as the value of x increases, the value
of f(x) also increases, that is, for the positive values of x the function is
strictly increasing (and hence will be upward sloping). Furthermore, note
that for the same increase in the values of x, the increase in the f(x) values
is not the same. The increase is more for higher values of x. For example,
lets consider two sets of values of x, say 0 and 1; and 1 and 2. When x
increase from 0 to 1, i.e. 1 unit increase in the value of x, f(x) increases
from 0 to 1, i.e. 1 unit increase. When x increase from 1 to 2, i.e. 1 unit
increase in the value of x, f(x) increases from 1 to 4, i.e. 3 units increase.
Similarly, when x increase from 2 to 3, i.e. again 1 unit increase in the value
of x, f(x) increases from 4 to 9, i.e. 5 units increase. So, we see that the
increase is higher for larger values of x. This essentially means that the
function is increases at a faster rate for larger values. The two observations
14 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
together mean that the function is increasing at an increasing rate. That
is, the graph of the function is relatively gradual for smaller values of x and
becomes steeper for larger values of x. The graph of a quadratic function is
also called a parabola.
Let us use these observations to learn about the derivatives of a function,
although we will formally introduce them later. Roughly speaking, the rst
derivative of a function at any point tells us whether the function is increas-
ing or decreasing or constant in the neighborhood of this point. The rst
derivative of f(x) with respect to x is denoted by f

(x) or
df
dx
. If f

(x) > 0
for some value x
1
, this indicates that at points close to x
1
the function is
increasing or is upward sloping. In our example f(x) = x
2
, we have seen
that the function is monotonically increasing (i.e. increasing everywhere) for
x > 0, therefore the rst derivative of f will be positive for x > 0. Sim-
ilarly, if the rst derivative of a function is negative for some interval of
x values, it implies that the function is decreasing in that interval. If the
rst derivative is zero, it implies that the function is constant (i.e. neither
increasing nor decreasing). So, loosely speaking, we can say that the rst
derivative of a function indicates its direction (i.e. whether upward sloping
or downward sloping or horizontal). Readers with basic understanding of
calculus can verify that the rst derivative for this function is indeed positive
f

## (x) = 2x > 0 for x > 0.

Lets now consider the second derivative of a function f. The second
derivative of f is denoted by f

## (x). The second derivative tells us about

the behavior of the rst derivative, just the way the rst derivative tells us
about the behavior of the function. If the second derivative is positive, it
implies that the rst derivative is increasing (i.e. the graph of rst derivative
will be upward sloping). In terms of the original function, this essentially
means that slope of the tangents to the graph of f(x) increases as x increases.
Therefore, for an increasing function, a positive second derivative means that
the function increases at an increasing rate and for a decreasing function, a
positive second derivative means that the function decreases at a decreasing
rate. Similarly a negative second derivative, for an increasing function,
means that the function increases at a decreasing rate and for a decreasing
function, it means that the function decreases at a decreasing rate. We can
verify that f

(x) = 2x > 0, f

## (x) = 2 > 0 for f(x) = x

2
and x > 0, and the
function is increasing in this interval and it increases at an increasing rate.
We will see more examples of these as we go along.
In summary, we can say, while the rst derivative indicates the direction
of the graph of a function, the second derivative tells us about the curvature
of the function (whether steep or gentle etc.).
Coming back to the graph of f(x) = x
2
, so far we have seen that for x >
0, the function is increasing, moreover it is increasing at an increasing rate
i.e. the graph becomes steeper and steeper as the values of x increase. Now
let us consider values of x < 0. Before drawing the graph for these values,
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 15
we realize that f(1) = (1)
2
= 1 = f(1); f(2) = (2)
2
= 4 = f(2) and
in fact for any value of x R f(x) = (x)
2
= x
2
= f(x). Any function
for which f(x) = f(x) is called an even function. Since f(x) = f(x),
the graph of even functions is symmetric about the Y -axis. Therefore, we
can draw the graph of f(x) = x
2
for x < 0 as a mirror image of that for the
positive values of x along the Y -axis.
Knowing the graph of f(x) = x
2
, we can now easily draw the graph of
g(x) = 2x
2
. Note that for every value of x, g(x) is twice the value of f(x)
and the two graphs intersect at the origin. So starting at the origin, we draw
the graph of g(x) by joining points with double the value of y coordinate
than those on the graph of f. Just like the graph of f increases at an
increasing rate as we go away from the origin in either direction, the graph
of g also increases in either directions but at double the rate of increase of f.
Therefore, at any point on either side of the origin the graph of g is steeper
than that of f. Hence, its graph is also narrower than that of f.
Using similar logic, we can draw the graph of any function h(x) = ax
2
,
where a > 1. The higher the value of a, the steeper and narrower will be the
graph of h. Similarly, we can also draw the graph of a function k(x) = ax
2
,
where 0 < a < 1. The graph of k will be more gradual and broader than
that of f(x) = x
2
.
To see the behavior of the graph of a function m(x) = bx
2
, where b < 0,
lets rst study the graph of l(x) = x
2
. Comparing the function l with
f(x) = x
2
, we observe that the magnitude of the function values is the same
in both the cases only the signs are opposite, i.e. l(x) = f(x) for all values
of x. Therefore, the graph of l is the same as the graph of f turned upside
down about the origin. So, we see that the graph of l is a parabola opened
downwards. Knowing the graph of l(x), one can easily draw the graph of any
function m(x) = bx
2
, for any value of b < 0. The graph will be a parabola
passing through the origin and opening downwards.
Shifting the curve So far we have learnt to draw the graph of any func-
tion f(x) = ax
2
where a = 0. Knowing this, we can easily draw the graph
of any function g(x) = ax
2
+ c, by realizing that for every value of x, g(x)
is c units more than f(x), if c > 0; or is c units less than f(x) if c < 0.
For example, at x = 0, f(x) = 0 while g(x) = c, similarly at x = 1,
f(x) = a, g(x) = a+c, and so on. Therefore, knowing the graph of f(x), we
can easily get the graph of g(x) by simply shifting the graph of f by c units
vertically upwards if c > 0 or downwards if c < 0.
Lets now consider another simple quadratic function, say g(x) = (x
b)
2
, b > 0. Once again we can use the graph of f(x) = x
2
, to draw the graph
of g by realizing that the values that f(x) attains for values of x, g(x) also
attains the same values but only by a lag of b units. For example, f(x) = 0
at x = 0, g(x) becomes 0 at x = 0+b = b. Similarly, f(x) = 1 at x = 1, g(x)
16 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
becomes 1 at x = 1 +b, and so on. This is so because out of any value of x
plugged into g(x), b units are used to oset the b present in the function
denition. Therefore, the graph of g is the same as the graph of f but only
when it is shifted horizontally by b units towards the right. Similarly, the
graph of a function h(x) = (x + b)
2
, b > 0 can be obtained by shifting the
graph of f(x) = x
2
horizontally to the left by b units.
Up to this point, we have learnt to draw the graphs of f(x) = x
2
, g(x) =
ax
2
, a = 0, h(x) = ax
2
+ c, k(x) = (x b)
2
. Using the logic described
above, it is now straight forward to draw the graph of a function l(x) =
a(x b)
2
+ c. The graph of l can be obtained by shifting the graph of
g(x) = ax
2
rst by b units horizontally (to the right if b > 0, and to the
left if b < 0) and then c units vertically (upwards if c > 0 and downwards if
c < 0).
As a matter of fact, using the method described above, we can draw the
graph of any quadratic function f(x) = a
0
+ a
1
x + a
2
x
2
, a
2
= 0. For this,
we rst need to transform f(x) to a form that contains a perfect square in
x plus or minus a constant, i.e. f(x) = a(x b)
2
+ c. Once we have this
form, we can easily draw the graph. Now lets see a step by step procedure
to bring f(x) = a
0
+a
1
x +a
2
x
2
into the form f(x) = a(x b)
2
+c.
Transforming f(x) = a
0
+a
1
x+a
2
x
2
into the form f(x) = a(xb)
2
+c
1. The rst step in the procedure is to bring the common factor a
2
out
so that x
2
has a coecient of 1, i.e. f(x) = a
2
(x
2
+
a
1
a
2
x +
a
0
a
2
).
2. Now, to bring the terms inside the parenthesis into a perfect square
in x, we need to multiply and divide the coecient of x by 2, i.e.
f(x) = a
2
(x
2
+ 2
a
1
2a
2
x +
a
0
a
2
).
3. We now add and subtract (
a
1
2a
2
)
2
from the expression inside the paren-
thesis, i.e. f(x) = a
2
(x
2
+ 2
a
1
2a
2
x + (
a
1
2a
2
)
2
(
a
1
2a
2
)
2
+
a
0
a
2
).
4. Combining the rst three terms inside the parenthesis gives us f(x) =
a
2
((x +
a
1
2a
2
)
2
(
a
1
2a
2
)
2
+
a
0
a
2
).
5. We can now simplify the last two terms in the parenthesis to obtain
f(x) = a
2
((x +
a
1
2a
2
)
2
(
4a
0
a
2
1
4a
2
2
).
6. This can be further simplied as f(x) = a
2
((x+
a
1
2a
2
)
2
)
4a
0
a
2
1
4a
2
, which
is the form we desired.
Since we can now bring any quadratic into this form, we can easily draw
their graphs using the method described earlier in this section.
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 17
Cubic Functions
Polynomial functions of degree 3 are called cubic functions. A typical
cubic function has the following form.
f(x) = a
0
+a
1
x +a
2
x
2
+a
3
x
3
, a
0
, a
1
, a
2
, a
3
R, a
3
= 0
The simplest cubic function is
f(x) = x
3
.
To draw the graph of this function, we observe that for this function
f(x) = (x)
3
= x
3
= f(x).
That is, for this function f(x) = f(x). Any function for which f(x) =
f(x) for all x in the domain of f, is called an odd function. Since
f(x) = f(x), that is, for x and x, the values of the function are equal
but are opposite in sign. Therefore, the graph of the function lies in the
opposite quadrants, or in other words, the graph of the function is symmetric
As the function is an odd function and hence is symmetric about the
origin, knowing the graph of the function for either positive or negative
values of x is sucient for drawing the complete graph. So to draw the
graph, lets focus on only the non-negative values of x and the corresponding
values of f(x).
x f(x) = x
3
0 0
1
2
1
8
1 1
2 8
3 27
4 64
Table 1.2: Function values for f(x) = x
3
From Table 1.2, we can see that as the value of x increases, the value of
f(x) also increases, i.e. the function is increasing. Moreover, we see that for
the same increase in the value of x, the increase in f(x) value is larger for
larger values of x. For example, consider 1 unit increase in the value of x,
say from x = 0 to x = 1, and from x = 3 to x = 4. The increase in f(x)
values are f(1) f(0) = 1 0 = 1 and f(4) f(3) = 64 27 = 37. This
fact is also evident from the graph of the function for all values of x 0,
the graph is gradual for small values of x and becomes steeper and steeper
as the value of x increases. This also tells us that the function increases at
an increasing rate for x 0.
18 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
To draw the graph of the function for x < 0, we recall that the graph
of an odd function is symmetric about the origin. Therefore, the graph for
x < 0 can be obtained by rst reecting the graph for x 0 along the Y -axis
and then reecting the resultant along the negative X-axis. From the graph
for x < 0, we see that the function is increasing for negative values of x as
well. That is, the function is increasing throughout its domain. However,
for negative values of x, we see that as the value of x increases the graph
becomes atter and atter, i.e. the value of f(x) increases at a decreasing
rate.
We now verify about our observations from the graph using the rst
and second order derivatives of the function. In the paragraphs above, we
had observed that the function is increasing through out its domain, which
requires the rst derivative to be positive through out the domain. The rst
derivative of f(x) = x
3
is f

(x) = 3x
2
which is positive for all values of x
except when x = 0. Now to verify the rate of increase in function, lets look
at its second derivative, i.e. f

(x). f

## (x) = 6x,is positive for all x > 0 and

is negative for all x < 0. As for x > 0, both the rst and second derivatives
are positive, it implies that for x > 0, the function increases at an increasing
rate. Similarly, as for x < 0, the rst derivative is positive and the second
derivative is negative, it implies that the function increases at a decreasing
rate. This veries our ndings from the graph of the function.
Knowing the graph of f(x) = x
3
, we can easily draw the graph of g(x) =
x
3
. Note that for every value of x, g(x) = x
3
= f(x), therefore the
graph of g is a reection of the graph of f along the X-axis.
We can also draw the graph of h(x) = ax
3
. If a > 1, the graph of h
increases at a rate faster than the graph of f(x) = x
3
for x > 0 and at a rate
slower than that for f(x) = x
3
for x < 0. Similarly, if 0 < a < 1, the graph
of h increases at a rate slower than the graph of f(x) = x
3
for x > 0 and at
a rate faster than that for f(x) = x
3
for x < 0. The readers are requested
to study the behavior the graph of h for negative values of a.
knowing the graph of h(x) = ax
3
for any real value of a, we can also draw
the graph of any function k(x) = a(xb)
3
. The graph of the function k can
be obtained by shifting the graph of the function h(x) = ax
3
horizontally
by b units to our right if b > 0 and to our left if b < 0. Similarly the graph
the function l(x) = a(x b)
3
+ c can be obtained by shifting the graph of
k(x) = a(x b)
3
vertically upwards by c units if c > 0 and downwards if
c < 0.
Above we have learnt to draw the graph of the function f(x) = a(x
b)
3
+ c for a, b, c R. However, unlike quadratic functions not every cubic
function can be transformed into the form f(x) = a(x b)
3
+c. Therefore,
now we see how to draw the graph of any general cubic function. We can
draw the graph of any general cubic function f(x) = a
0
+a
1
x+a
2
x
2
+a
3
x
3
if
we know its roots. Note that for a polynomial function g of degree n, there
are at most n distinct roots of the equation g(x) = 0. Therefore, a cubic
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 19
function has at most three distinct zeros. Let , , and be the three roots
of the equation f(x) = 0. Moreover, for any polynomial function, the sign
of the polynomial remains the same between two consecutive roots. We use
this property to draw the graph of the function f. Note that roots of the
equation f(x) = 0, are the values of x for which f(x) = 0, i.e. the values of
x where the graph intersects the X-axis. Therefore, we use these roots to
partition the domain of the function and determine the sign of the function
in each of these partitions. We then join the graph smoothly without any
kink or sharp turn.
As an example, let us draw the graph of the function f(x) = x
3

5x
2
+4x. We know the roots of this equation are 0, 1, 4, so we partition the
domain of the function i.e. R into (, 0), (0, 1), (1, 4), and (4, ). We now
determine the sign of the function in each of these intervals. To determine
the sign, we pick any value in the interval and the sign of the function for
this value is the sign of the function in that interval. Here we see that
f(x) < 0 x (, 0), f(x) > 0 x (0, 1), f(x) < 0 x (1, 4), and
f(x) > 0 x (4, ). So, we draw the graph by ensuring the correct sign
in each interval and joining the points smoothly.
In the previous example, note that the sign of the polynomial function
alternates between two consecutive intervals. It is not a coincident. In
fact, if a polynomial of degree n has n distinct roots then the sign of the
polynomial alternates between two consecutive intervals dened by its roots.
This is because at each root the polynomial intersects the X-axis while
moving from either the positive (or negative) function values to negative
(respectively positive) values. However, this is necessarily true only when
the polynomial has n distinct roots. If the polynomial has roots which are
equal, this property may not hold depending upon how many roots are equal.
Practice Problems
1. Draw the graph of the cubic function f(x) = x
3
4x
2
+ 5x 2.
1.8.4 Rational Functions
A function of the form g(x) =
P(x)
Q(x)
where P(x) and Q(x) are polynomial
functions of x, is called a rational function of x. The domain of g is the set
of all the real numbers for which Q(x) = 0. That is,
Domain of g(x) = {x : x R, Q(x) = 0}
Note that a constant function can be considered the simplest rational
function, but that would be a trivial rational function. Therefore, we con-
sider f(x) =
1
x
to be the simplest rational function. It is evident that the
domain of f is R \ {0} or (, 0) (0, ).
20 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
Let us now draw the graph of f. Before, actually plotting the graph,
we observe that f(x) =
1
x
= f(x). That is, f is an odd function.
Therefore, knowledge of the graph for the positive values is sucient for us
to draw the graph for the entire domain of the function. So we consider only
positive values of x. We see that for x > 0, f(x) > 0 as well. Moreover,
as the value of x increases, the value of f(x) decreases. In fact, f(x) is a
decreasing function. To know the general shape of the graph, let us take
some values of x and determine f(x) for those values.
x f(x) = frac1x
1 1
2 0.50
3 0.33
4 0.25
10 0.10
100 0.01
10000 0.0001
Table 1.3: Function values for f(x) =
1
x
From Table 1.3, we see that as the value of x increase f(x) decreases.
Moreover, as the value of x becomes larger and larger, that is, tends to
(written mathematically as x ), the value of f(x) remains positive
but becomes smaller and smaller,essentially becomes close to zero, (which is
denoted as f(x) 0) but never becomes 0. Therefore, we say that the line
x = 0 is a horizontal asymptote to the function.
More specically, a line x = c is called a horizontal asymptote to a
function f, if as x or x , f(x) c. Note that an asymptote
can be visualized as a tangent to the graph at innity, that is, the graph
becomes closer and closer to the asymptote but never touches it.
We now take a look at the rate at which the function is decreasing. From
the table, we can see that between x = 1 and x = 2, the function reduces
by f(1) f(2) = 1 0.5 = 0.5 whereas between x = 10 and x = 100,
the function reduces by f(10) f(100) = 0.10 0.01 = 0.09 only. That
is, function decreases at a decreasing rate, which can be veried as, rstly
f

(x) =
1
x
2
< 0, x i.e. the function is decreasing; and secondly f

(x) =
2
1
x
3
> 0, x > 0 i.e. it decreases at a decreasing rate.
So far, we have only considered values of x > 1. Now let us consider
0 < x < 1 as shown in Table 1.4.
From the table, we see that as the value of x decreases, the function
increases. Moreover, as x 0, the function value f(x) . Note that x
never becomes 0 as, 0 is not in the domain of f, and f(x) never becomes
. Here, we say, that the Y -axis is a vertical asymptote to the function.
More specically, a line x = a is called a vertical asymptote if as x a,
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 21
x f(x) = frac1x
1 1
1
2
2
1
4
4
1
10
10
1
100
100
1
10000
10000
Table 1.4: Function values for f(x) =
1
x
f(x) or f(x) .
Knowing the graph of the function f we can easily draw the graph of
g(x) =
a
x
, a R by adjusting the slope of the function depending upon
the value of a. Similarly we can also draw the graph of a function h, where
h(x) =
1
xb
, b R. If b > 0 the graph of h can be obtained by shifting
the graph of f by b units horizontally to our right and if b < 0, the graph
is shifted to our left. Note that this shifting changes the vertical asymptote
to the graph. The line x = 0 is not a vertical asymptote to the function h,
but the line x = b is. The X-axis is a horizontal asymptote to h as well.
Similarly, we can draw the graph of a function k, where k(x) =
1
x
+
c, c R. The graph of k can be obtained by shifting the graph of
function f, by c units vertically upwards if c > 0 and downwards if c < 0.
Note that just like the function f, the line x = 0 is a vertical asymptote
to this graph as well but the X-axis is not a horizontal asymptote to this
graph. In fact the line y = c is a horizontal asymptote to this graph.
Combining the techniques of horizontal and vertical shifts learnt above,
we can draw the graph of any function l of the form l(x) =
a
xb
+c.
1.8.5 Exponential Functions
A real function f of the form f(x) = a
x
where a > 0 and a = 1 is called an
exponential function. Please note that a can be any positive real number
except 1, and it need not always be e to be called an exponential function.
The constant a is called the base of the exponent.
Exponential functions are commonly used in business studies such as
nance, probability and statistics etc. One of the most basic example of an
exponential function is the compound interest. Given the interest rate per
interval of compounding r, and the principle P, the amount as a function of
the investment period can be given as A(t) = P(1 + r)
t
. Here we see A(t)
is an exponential function with base (1 +r).
22 CHAPTER 1. FUNCTIONS
To draw the graph of the function f(x) = a
x
, we consider two cases:
a > 1 and 0 < a < 1. Let us rst consider a > 1, let say a = 2. We observe
that f(x) = 2
x
= f(x) and f(x) = 2
x
= f(x), i.e. the function is
neither odd nor even. Therefore, to draw its graph we need to know its
behavior through out its domain. So, to understand the behavior of the
function f(x) = 2
x
, we take a few values of x and determine the values of
f(x) as shown in Table 1.5.
x f(x) = 2
x
0 1
1 2
2 4
3 8
4 16
-1
1
2
-2
1
4
Table 1.5: Function values for f(x) =
1
x
From the table it is clear that 2
x
is always positive, i.e. there is no value
of x for which 2
x
is negative or 0. Moreover, we see as the value of x
increases, the value of f(x) increases as well. We also see, that for the same
1 unit increase in x values, from x = 0 to x = 1, the function value increases
by 1 unit (f(1) f(0) = 2 1 = 1), whereas it increases by 8 units from
x = 3 to x = 4. That is, the function increases at an increasing rate. We
also observe that as the value of x becomes more and more negative, i.e. x
decreases, the function value becomes closer and closer to zero, but never
becomes zero. That is as x , f(x) 0, i.e. the X-axis is a horizontal
asymptote for the function. So, in short, the graph of f(x) = 2
x
is always
positive, intersects the Y -axis at x = 0, increases at an increasing rate and
has the X-axis as a horizontal asymptote on the negative side.
Now let us consider the second case, that is, g(x) = a
x
for 0 < a < 1.
For instance, let a =
1
2
. Note that g(x) = (
1
2
)
x
= 2
x
. Since f(x) = 2
x
and
g(x) = 2
x
, for example, g(0) = f(0) = 1, g(1) = 2
1
= f(1), and so on
as shown in Table 1.6
As can be seen from the table, the graph of g(x) is a reection of the
graph of f(x) along the Y -axis.
tions, Properties of Functions, and Inverse Functions from the text book
and NCERT textbooks.
1.8. SOME COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS 23
x g(x) = 2
x
f(x) = 2
x
0 1 1
1
1
2
2
2
1
4
4
3
1
8
8
4
1
16
16
-1 2
1
2
-2 4
1
4
Table 1.6: Function values for f(x) =
1
x