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# 3.

3
Rational Functions of the Form
ax ⴙ b
f(x) ⴝ __
cx ⴙ d
In Sections 3.1 and 3.2, you investigated rational functions
that are reciprocals of polynomial functions. In this section,
you will look at polynomial functions in which both the
numerator and the denominator are linear expressions.
Because there is a variable in both the numerator and the
denominator, there are effects on both the vertical and
horizontal asymptotes and, as a result, the domain and
range. You will see how these concepts are applied to
pollutants ﬂowing into a pond in question 10.

Investigate How can you determine the asymptotes of a rational function of the
form f(x) ⴝ__
ax ⴙ b
?
cx ⴙ d
Tools 1. Investigate the key features of the family of functions of the form
• grid paper f(x)  __ x for c ∈ ⺪. Include both negative and positive values of c.
cx  3
• graphing calculator
Make a table using the headings shown.
or
• computer with The Geometer’s Equation of Comparison to
Equation(s) of Vertical Horizontal x
® c Asymptote(s) Asymptote xⴚ3

## 2. a) Describe the nature of the vertical asymptote(s).

b) Describe the nature of the horizontal asymptote.
c) Develop a method for determining an equation for the horizontal
asymptote.
3. R e f l e c t Summarize the behaviour of the function f(x)  __ x using
cx  3

Interval
Sign of Function
Sign of Slope
Change in Slope

## 168 MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 3

Example 1 Determine Key Features
x . Use the key features to graph
Determine the key features of f(x)  __
x2
the function.

Solution
The vertical asymptote has equation x  2.
For the horizontal asymptote:
At x → , the numerator and denominator both approach inﬁnity.
Divide each term by x.
x
_
f(x)  __x
x_
_ 2
x x
1
 __
1_2
x
2 gets very close to 0.
As x → , _
x
1
f(x) → __
10
f(x) → 1
2 gets very close to 0.
As x → , _
x
f(x) → 1
__
10
f(x) → 1
The function approaches the line y  1 for both x →  and x → . So,
y  1 is the equation of the horizontal asymptote.
For the x-intercept, let f(x)  0.
__x
0
x2
x0
y
6
For the y-intercept, let x  0.
f(0)  __ 0 4
02
2
0
The y-intercept is 0.
6 4 2 0 2 4 6x
2

4

6

ax  b
3.3 Rational Functions of the Form f(x)  _ • MHR 169
cx  d
To determine where the slope is negative and where it is positive, select
points in the interval to the left of the vertical asymptote and in the interval
to the right of the vertical asymptote.
Select two points in the interval x  2, say x  8 and x  1:
f(8)  0.8 and f(1)  1.
f(x) is decreasing, so the slope is negative.
Select two points in the interval x  2, say x  3 and x  10:
f(3)  3 and f(10)  1.25.
f(x) is decreasing, so the slope is negative.
There is a vertical asymptote at x  2, but what is the sign of f(x) on
either side of this asymptote?
f(1.99) will give a positive numerator and a negative denominator,
so f(1.99) is negative.
f(2.01) will give a positive numerator and a positive denominator,
so f(2.01) is positive.
What is the end behaviour of this function?
Choose large positive and negative values of x.
f(10 000)  1, so the function is above the asymptote.
f(10 000)  1, so the function is below the asymptote.
Summarize the intervals. At x  0, y  0, so the curve crosses the x-axis
at the origin:

## Interval x0 x0 0x2 x2

f(x)  0  
Slope    

y x
6 f共x兲 
x2
4

6 4 2 0 2 4 6x
2

4

6

Domain: {x ∈ ⺢, x ⬆ 2}
Range: {y ∈ ⺢, y ⬆ 1}

## 170 MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 3

Example 2 Compare Rational Functions
a) Compare the graphs of the functions f(x)  __ x1 , x5 Reasoning and Proving
g(x)  __ ,
2x  5 2x  5 Representing Selecting Tools
x  10 .
and h(x)  __ Problem Solving
2x  5 Connecting Reflecting
ax  b
b) Explain the effects of the coefﬁcient b in f(x)  __ . Communicating
cx  d

Solution
5.
a) The vertical asymptote for all three functions has equation x   _
2
For the horizontal asymptote, divide each term in the numerator and
the denominator by x:
x
_ 1
_
xx
__
f(x) 
2x  _
_ 5
x x
1 x1
_
 __
2_ 5
x
As x → , _ 1 _5
x → 0 and x → 0, so
10
f(x) → __
20
1
f(x) → _
2
As x → , _ 1 _5
x → 0 and x → 0, so
10
f(x) → __
20
1
f(x) → _
2
1
The horizontal asymptote for f(x) has equation y  _ . By similar reasoning,
2
the functions g(x) and h(x) have the same horizontal asymptote as f(x).
Determine the intercepts.
x1 x5 x  10
Function f(x)  __ g(x)  __ h(x)  __
2x  5 2x  5 2x  5

x-intercept 1 5 10
1
y-intercept _ 1 2
5

## To determine where the slope is negative and where it is positive, select

points in each interval.
5 , f(10)  0.73−
For the interval x   _ and f(5)  1.2.
2
The function f is increasing, so the slope is positive.
5
For the interval x   _ , f(2)  3 and f(10)  0.36.
2
The function f is increasing, so the slope is positive.

ax  b
3.3 Rational Functions of the Form f(x)  _ • MHR 171
cx  d
Use the same reasoning to ﬁnd where g and h are increasing and
decreasing. Build an interval summary table.

Interval xⴚ
_5 _
5
ⴚ  x  x-intercept x-intercept x  x-intercept
2 2
Sign of f(x)   0 
x1
f(x)  __
2x  5 Sign of
   
Slope

Sign of g(x)   0 
x5
g(x)  __
2x  5 Sign of
   
Slope

Sign of h(x)   0 
x  10
h(x)  __
2x  5 Sign of
   
Slope

## Graph the functions:

x1 y y
f共x兲  6 6
2x  5
x5
4 4 g共x兲 
2x  5
2 1 2 1
y y
2 2

8 6 4 2 0 2 4x 6 4 2 0 2 4 6x
2 1
 2
5
5 4 5 4
x x
2 2

{ 5
Domain: x ∈ ⺢, x ⬆  _
2 } { 5
Domain: x ∈ ⺢, x ⬆  _
2 }
{ 1
Range: y ∈ ⺢, y ⬆ _
2 } { 1
Range: y ∈ ⺢, y ⬆ _
2 }
y
6
x  10
h共x兲  4
2x  5
2 1
y
2

## 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12x

2
5
x
2 4

{ 1
Domain: x ∈ ⺢, x ⬆ _
2 }
{ 1
Range: y ∈ ⺢, y ⬆ _
2 }
172 MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 3
The graphs have a similar shape, with the same horizontal and vertical
asymptotes. The intervals have the same sign and slope analyses.
The domain and range are the same. The graphs have different x- and
y-intercepts.
ax  b has an effect that is similar to both a
b) The constant b in f(x)  __
cx  d
vertical and a horizontal stretch factor but does not affect the asymptotes,
domain, or range.

## < KEY CONCEPTS

> ax  b
A rational function of the form f(x)  __ has the following
cx  d
key features:
• The equation of the vertical asymptote can be found by setting
the denominator equal to zero and solving for x, provided the
numerator does not have the same zero.
• The equation of the horizontal asymptote can be found by dividing
each term in both the numerator and the denominator by x and
investigating the behaviour of the function as x → ±.
• The coefﬁcient b acts to stretch the curve but has no effect on the
asymptotes, domain, or range.
• The coefﬁcient d shifts the vertical asymptote.
• The two branches of the graph of the function are equidistant from
the point of intersection of the vertical and horizontal asymptotes.

C1 Describe the end behaviour (that is, as x → ±) of each function.
x1
a) f(x)  __
x3
2x
b) g(x)  __
4x  7
3x
c) h(x)  __
2x
C2 Describe the roles of the numerator and the denominator in determining the
ax  b
key features of the graph of a rational function of the form f(x)  __ .
cx  d

ax  b
3.3 Rational Functions of the Form f(x)  _ • MHR 173
cx  d
A Practise
For help with questions 1 to 3, refer to Example 1. 3. Sketch each function and then summarize the
1. Determine an equation for the vertical asymptote increasing and decreasing intervals.
of each function. Then, state the domain. a) f(x)  __x b) c(x)  __ 4x
x 2x x5 x8
a) f(x)  __ b) g(x)  __
x7 x5 x1
c) k(x)  __ d) w(x)  __x2
x x 4x 4x  5
c) h(x)   __ d) k(x)  __
x8 3x  1 2x  3 3x  1
e) d(x)  __ f) m(x)  __
5x  3 6x x5 2x  1
e) m(x)  __ f) n(x)  __
4x  9 5x
For help with questions 4 to 6, refer to Example 2.
2. Determine an equation for the horizontal 2x , compare the
asymptote of each function. Then, state 4. a) For the function f(x)  __
x3
the range. slopes of the tangents
x 3x i) at the points where x  3.5 and x  20
a) p(x)  __ b) q(x)  __
x6 x4 ii) at the points where x  2.5 and x  20
x
c) r(x)  __  1 5x
d) s(x)  __ 2 b) What do these results indicate about the key
x1 2x  3 features of the graph?
x6
e) t(x)  __ 3  4x
f) u(x)  __
4x 1  2x

## B Connect and Apply

5. a) Determine an equation for the horizontal 7. Write an equation for the rational function
asymptote of each function. shown on each graph.
x5
i) f(x)  __ 3  5x
ii) g(x)  __ a) y
2x  1 2x  1
6
b) How do the equations of the horizontal
asymptotes relate to the coefﬁcients in 4
each function?
2
c) Summarize your ﬁndings to describe how 共1.5, 0兲
to determine an equation for the horizontal 4 2 0 2 4 6 8x
ax  b .
asymptote of the function f(x)  __ 2
cx  d
6. Use your results from question 5 to determine 4

## an equation for the horizontal asymptote of

b) y
each function. Then, determine an equation for 6
the vertical asymptote and graph the function.
4
State the domain and range.
a) f(x)  __ x b) g(x)  __3x 2
x9 x2
4x  3
c) h(x)  __ x3
d) k(x)  __ 8 6 4 2 0 2 4 6 8x
2x  1 2x  5 2

e) m(x)  __4x 6  8x
f) p(x)  __
5x 3x  4 4

6

## 174 MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 3

8. Write an equation for a rational function 11. a) Use long division to rewrite the function
whose graph has all of the indicated features. 4x  5 as the sum of a constant
f(x)  __
• x-intercept of 4 2x  1
and a rational function.
• y-intercept of 2
• vertical asymptote with equation x  2 b) Explain how this method could be used to
graph rational functions.
• horizontal asymptote with equation y  1
c) Use this method to sketch a graph of f(x).
9. Write an equation for a rational function
whose graph has all of the indicated features. 12. Use your method from question 11 to graph
3 each function.
• x-intercept of _
5 2x  3
a) p(x)  __
• y-intercept of 3 x1
• vertical asymptote with equation x   _ 1 5x 4
2 b) t(x)  __
5 2x  5
• horizontal asymptote with equation y  _
2
10. Chapter Problem After a train derailment in
✓Achievement Check
Northern Ontario, the concentration, C, in x .
13. Consider the function g(x)  __
grams per litre, of a pollutant after t minutes x7
in a 5 000 000-L pond can be modelled by a) Determine an equation for the vertical
the function C(t)  ___ 30t , when a asymptote.
200 000  t
b) State the domain.
pollutant concentration of 30 g/L ﬂows into the
c) Determine an equation for the horizontal
pond at a rate of 25 L/min.
asymptote.
a) Sketch a graph showing the concentration
d) State the range.
of the pollutant after t minutes.
e) Sketch the function.
b) What happens as t becomes very large?
f) Summarize the increasing and decreasing
c) When a concentration level of 0.05 g/L in intervals.
the pond is reached, the ﬁsh stock will be g) Compare the slopes of the tangents at the
irreversibly damaged. When will this occur? points where
i) x  7.5 and x  20
ii) x  6.5 and x  20

## C Extend and Challenge

14. A golf ball of mass 4.6 g is struck by a golf 15. Analyse the key Reasoning and Proving

club at a speed of 50 m/s. The ball has initial features of the function Representing Selecting Tools

√x
velocity, v, in metres per second, of f(x)  __ and Problem Solving
83m √x 
 1
v(m)  __ , where m is the mass, Connecting Reflecting
m  0.046 sketch its graph. How Communicating
in grams, of the golf club. Describe the rate does it compare to the
of change of the initial velocity as the mass graph of f(x)  __ x ?
of the club increases. x1

ax  b
3.3 Rational Functions of the Form f(x)  _ • MHR 175
cx  d
16. Rational functions can have any polynomial in 18. Refer to question 17. Given the general function
the numerator and denominator. Analyse the key xa  k ,
f(x)  __ a linear oblique asymptote will
features of each function and sketch its graph. xb  m
Describe the common features of the graphs. occur when
x
a) f(x)  __ A ab B ba
x2  1
x2
C ab1 
D ab 1 
b) g(x)  ___ x2  2 :
x2  3x  2 19. Math Contest Given the function f(x)  __ x
x5
c) h(x)  ___ a) Perform long division on f(x) and state the
x2  x  12 quotient and the remainder.
Many rational functions have an asymptote that b) Write f(x) in terms of its quotient, remainder,
r(x)
is not vertical or horizontal but on an angle or and divisor in the form f(x)  q(x)  _ .
slant. These asymptotes are called slant or oblique d(x)
asymptotes. Use this information to answer c) Determine equations for all asymptotes of
questions 17 to 19. each function and graph the function
without using technology.
17. Math Contest Investigate when you can expect x2  3x  4
to have an oblique asymptote. Graph each i) g(x)  ___
x2
function on a graphing calculator and determine
x
ii) f(x)  __
2
 x2
what factor leads to an oblique asymptote. 2x  4
x3  1 x3  1
a) f(x)  __ 3
b) f(x)  __ x2  9
iii) z(x)  __
x x2 x3
x2  1 x2  1
c) f(x)  __ x d) f(x)  __
x3

CAREER CONNECTION
Marissa graduated from the University of Ontario
Institute of Technology after studying applied and
industrial mathematics for 5 years. She now works
in the ﬁeld of mathematical modelling, helping an
aircraft manufacturer to design faster, safer, and
environmentally cleaner airplanes. Marissa uses her
knowledge of ﬂuid mechanics and software programs
that can, for example, model a wind tunnel, to
run experiments. Data from these tests help her to
translate physical phenomena into equations. She
then analyses and solves these complex equations
and interprets the solutions. As computers become
more powerful, Marissa will be able to tackle more
complex problems and get answers in less time,
thereby reducing research and development costs.