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Often in practical applications the value of one
quantity depends on the value of another. A
persons salary may depend on the number of
hours worked; the total production at a factory
may depend on the number of machines used; the
distance traveled by an object may depend on the
time elapsed since it left a specific point; the
volume of space occupied by a gas having a
constant pressure depends on the temperature of
the gas; the resistance of an electrical cable of
fixed length depends on its diameter; and so forth.
A relationship between such quantities is often
given by means of a function. In calculus, the
quantities in the relationship are real numbers. A
function can be thought of as a correspondence
from a set X of real numbers to a set Y of real
numbers y, where the number y is unique for a
specific value of x.