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In this section you will:
  • Represent a linear function.
  • Determine whether a linear function is increasing, decreasing, or constant.
  • Interpret slope as a rate of change.
  • Write and interpret an equation for a linear function.
  • Graph linear functions.
  • Determine whether lines are parallel or perpendicular.
  • Write the equation of a line parallel or perpendicular to a given line.
Front view of a subway train, the maglev train.
Shanghai MagLev Train (credit: "kanegen"/Flickr)

Just as with the growth of a bamboo plant, there are many situations that involve constant change over time. Consider, for example, the first commercial maglev train in the world, the Shanghai MagLev Train ( [link] ). It carries passengers comfortably for a 30-kilometer trip from the airport to the subway station in only eight minutes http://www.chinahighlights.com/shanghai/transportation/maglev-train.htm .

Suppose a maglev train travels a long distance, and maintains a constant speed of 83 meters per second for a period of time once it is 250 meters from the station. How can we analyze the train’s distance from the station as a function of time? In this section, we will investigate a kind of function that is useful for this purpose, and use it to investigate real-world situations such as the train’s distance from the station at a given point in time.

Representing linear functions

The function describing the train’s motion is a linear function    , which is defined as a function with a constant rate of change. This is a polynomial of degree 1. There are several ways to represent a linear function, including word form, function notation, tabular form, and graphical form. We will describe the train’s motion as a function using each method.

Representing a linear function in word form

Let’s begin by describing the linear function in words. For the train problem we just considered, the following word sentence may be used to describe the function relationship.

  • The train’s distance from the station is a function of the time during which the train moves at a constant speed plus its original distance from the station when it began moving at constant speed.

The speed is the rate of change. Recall that a rate of change is a measure of how quickly the dependent variable changes with respect to the independent variable. The rate of change for this example is constant, which means that it is the same for each input value. As the time (input) increases by 1 second, the corresponding distance (output) increases by 83 meters. The train began moving at this constant speed at a distance of 250 meters from the station.

Representing a linear function in function notation

Another approach to representing linear functions is by using function notation. One example of function notation is an equation written in the slope-intercept form    of a line, where x is the input value, m is the rate of change, and b is the initial value of the dependent variable.

Equation form y = m x + b Function notation f ( x ) = m x + b

In the example of the train, we might use the notation D ( t ) where the total distance D is a function of the time t . The rate, m , is 83 meters per second. The initial value of the dependent variable b is the original distance from the station, 250 meters. We can write a generalized equation to represent the motion of the train.

Questions & Answers

0.037 than find sin and tan?
Jon Reply
cos24/25 then find sin and tan
Deepak Reply
tan20?×tan40?×tan80?
Santosh Reply
At the start of a trip, the odometer on a car read 21,395. At the end of the trip, 13.5 hours later, the odometer read 22,125. Assume the scale on the odometer is in miles. What is the average speed the car traveled during this trip?
Kimberly Reply
-3 and -2
Julberte Reply
tan(?cosA)=cot(?sinA) then prove cos(A-?/4)=1/2?2
Chirag Reply
tan(pi.cosA)=cot(?sinA) then prove cos(A-?/4)=1/2?2
Chirag Reply
sin x(1+tan x)+cos x(1+cot x) = sec x +cosec
Ankit Reply
let p(x)xq
Sophie Reply
To the nearest whole number, what was the initial population in the culture?
Cheyenne Reply
do posible if one line is parallel
Fran Reply
The length is one inch more than the width, which is one inch more than the height. The volume is 268.125 cubic inches.
Vamprincess Reply
Using Earth’s time of 1 year and mean distance of 93 million miles, find the equation relating ?T??T? and ?a.?
James Reply
cos(x-45)°=Sin x ;x=?
Samaresh Reply
10-n ft
Nalin Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
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