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# Mathematical Methods Unit 2 Calculus

## H3 Gradient of a curve at a point and the gradient function

Example 1 Consider the function ( ) . Let P be the point (1, 0) and let Q be a point h units to the right of P. Find the gradient of the chord PQ and hence find the gradient at point P.

## Example 2 For a curve with equation

. )

a. Find the gradient of chord AB where A is the point (1, -1) and B is the point ( b. Find the gradient of AB when c. Find the gradient of the curve at A.

Ex 19A
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## The Gradient of a curve at any point.

Recall: The gradient of a function represents the rate at which a function is changing. To find the gradient of a curve at any point, we need to find the gradient of the tangent of the curve at that point.

This gradient can be approximated by calculating the gradient of the chord that connects two points that lie close to one another i.e. finding the average rate of change between the two points. Consider the points A to E on the graph of f ( x) 3 x 2 .

Using the CAS calculator, the gradient of the tangent at A is ________. Investigating the gradients of chords connecting A to points close to A we get: y y1 m 2 Gradient of AE: = x 2 x1 Gradient of AD:
m y 2 y1 = x 2 x1

Similarly, the gradients of AC and AB become better estimates of the gradient of the tangent at A. Chord AE AD AC AB Gradient of tangent at A Gradient of chord

As the distance between the two points approaches zero, the line connecting the two points resembles the gradient of the tangent at x A. The gradient of the chord becomes an accurate estimate of the gradient of the tangent at this point.
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In general:
Let A be any point on the curve, where the coordinates of point A are represented by ( x, f ( x)). Let B be another point on the curve so that the difference between the x - coordinates of A and B is equal to h. The coordinates of point B would thus be ( x h, f ( x h)). Then, the gradient of the chord AB (the average rate of change) is:
m y 2 y1 x 2 x1

As point B moves closer to point A, the distance between their x coordinates, or h, approaches zero. The gradient of the chord AB becomes an accurate estimate of the gradient of the tangent. i.e as h 0,
f ( x h) f ( x ) gradient of the tangent at point A h

The gradient of the tangent to the curve (the instantaneous rate of change) is:

lim
h 0

f ( x h) f ( x ) ,h0 h

dy or the dx derivative of f ( x). The process of obtaining f ' ( x) is called differentiation and evaluating the above limit is known as differentiation from first principles.

This limit is referred to as the gradient function, derivative function, f ' ( x), D x ( f ) ,

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b.

ie find

( )

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b.

Ex 19B Q1

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