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Parabola

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3 The Parabola

A parabola is the set of points in the plane that are equidistant from a fixed

point F (called the focus) and a fixed line (called the directrix).

The vertex V lies halfway between the focus and the directrix.

The axis of symmetry is the line that runs through the focus (and vertex)

perpendicular to the directrix.

Sketch the parabola with a focus, directrix and axis of symmetry below:

The graph of the equation

x 2 4ay

is a parabola with the following properties.

V 0, 0

Vertex

F 0, a

y a

4a

Latus Rectum

*The latus rectum (or focal diameter) lets us determine the width of

the parabola correctly. First, find a. Then, go out a distance of 2a

units on either side of the focus that you graphed. Plot a point on

either side of the focus. Since you have gone 2a units out on either

side of the focus, the entire length of the focal diameter is 4a units.

Focus

Directrix

Graph 1 (opens upward)

Graph 2 (opens downward)

The graph of the equation

y 2 4ax

is a parabola with the following properties.

V 0, 0

Vertex

Focus

Directrix

F a,0

x a

Graph 1 (opens right )

Graph 2 (opens left)

For graphs that have the following equation: y k 4ax h opens right

Vertex

(h, k )

h a, k

Focus

Directrix

x ha

4a

Latus Rectum

2

For graphs that have the following equation: y k 4ax h opens left

Vertex

(h, k )

h a, k

Focus

Directrix

x ha

4a

Latus Rectum

2

Vertex

(h, k )

h, k a

Focus

Directrix

y k a

4a

Latus Rectum

2

Vertex

(h, k )

h, k a

Focus

Directrix

y k a

4a

Latus Rectum

2

Find the equation of the parabola described. Find the two

points that define the latus rectum, and graph the equation.

1. Focus at (0, 2); vertex at (0, 0) Video tutorial

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

2.

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Find the equation of the parabola described. Find the two

points that define the latus rectum, and graph the equation.

3.

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Find the equation of the parabola described. Find the two

points that define the latus rectum, and graph the equation.

5. Vertex at (3, 0); focus at (3, -2)

Video tutorial

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

6.

Equation:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Find the vertex, focus, and directrix of each parabola. Graph

the equation.

7. x 42 16 y 2 Video tutorial

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

8. y 1

4x 2 Video tutorial

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Find the vertex, focus, and directrix of each parabola. Graph

the equation.

9.

x 2 6 x 4 y 1 0 Video tutorial

Equation:

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

Find the vertex, focus, and directrix of each parabola. Graph

the equation.

10.

y 2 6 y x 3 Video tutorial

Equation:

Vertex:

Focus:

Directrix:

Latus Rectum:

11.

Video tutorial

12.

.

Video

tutorial

13. Satellite Dish

A satellite dish is shaped like a paraboloid of revolution. The signals that

emanate from a satellite strike the surface of the dish and are reflected to a single

point, where the receiver is located. If the dish is 8 feet across at its opening and

3 feet deep at its center, at what position should the receiver be placed? That is,

where is the focus?

Video tutorial

10

The cables of a suspension bridge are in the shape of a parabola. The towers

supporting the cable are 400 feet apart and 100 feet high. If the cables are at a

height of 10 feet midway between the towers, what is the height of the cable at a

point 50 feet from the center of the bridge?

Video tutorial

.

11

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