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Equations of Parabolas
In this lesson, we will look at how the equations of parabolas and their graphs are related. We will talk about how to rewrite the equation of a parabola so that it can be graphed easily, and how to go from a set of points on a graph back to the equation for a parabola. The tricky part is, you will have to remember how to complete the square. Exercise 1: Lets first review how we can take the graph of a function and shift it around. a. Take a look at the function f(x) pictured below. Move the function up by two units and sketch the new function. b. What would I do the equation of f(x) to produce this shift?

c. Move the original function to the right by 4 units and sketch the new function. d. What would I do to the equation of f(x) to produce this shift?

e. Stretch the function by a factor of 2 (use the same input, figure out what the y output is for that input, then multiply the y output by 2.) Sketch the new function. f. What would I need to do to the equation of f(x) to produce this stretch?

g. In general, what do I need to do to move a function up or down?

h. In general, what do I need to do to a function to move it side to side?

i.

In general, what do I need to do to a function to stretch it?

j. What if I told you that the function depicted above was already the result of a shift. It was a quadratic function with the equation f(x)=x2 whose vertex used to be at the origin, but now is at (-2,-5). How has it been shifted? k. Thinking about parts g and h from above, how should you write the equation of this new, shifted parabola (do not FOIL)?

l.

Writing the equation of a parabola in this form- where its clear how it has been shifted around is called writing it in vertex form, because just by looking at the equation of the parabola, we can now tell where the vertex is. If a parabola has been moved h units side to side, k units up, and has been stretched by a factor of a, write the equation for the parabola in vertex form.

Exercise 2: The tricky part is getting it into this form. Parabolas are normally written like this: , not like this: . Somehow we have to figure out how to write things that are of the first form (called standard form) and rewrite them in the second form (vertex form). We want to do this so that we can tell how the function has been stretched and shifted. This makes graphing much easier. Notice how we need to rewrite the function
2

so that it

has an (x-h) in it. Lets take a look at how binomials squared work so that we can figure out how to do this. FOIL out the following binomials. a. b. c. d.

e. Focus on the number h in the parentheses before you squared it. Look at that number carefully, then compare it to the linear term (number times x) in your answer. Whats the relationship?

f. Focus on the number h in the parentheses before you squared it. Look at that number carefully, then compare it to the constant term (the number by itself). Whats the relationship?

g. If you had the answer to a binomial squared problem, we should be able to go backwards quickly to find out what binomial was squared to create it using what you just figured out. What binomial squared produced the following trinomial:

Exercise 3: Suppose I dont have all the terms in a trinomial, so going backwards becomes a little harder. Take a look at the following problems. What number needs to be added to create a trinomial that was the result of a binomial squared? What was this binomial squared? Make sure to check your answers by FOILing out the binomial squared. a. d.

b.

e.

c.

f.

g. This process is called completing the square. Why do you think its called that?

Exercise 4: Now we get to a trickier part. We want to take the equation of a parabola and rewrite it in vertex form. So lets say we have something like this: rewrite this as (x+3) , but when I multiply this out, I get this. a. Take and add a 9 right after the +6.
2

. Notice we can almost , not the way I want.

I need a +9 in there to be able to factor this as a binomial squared. So lets see what we can do about

b. Is it ok in algebra for me to just add 9 on? How should we balance this 9 we just added on?

c. Now put parentheses around the

and factor this. Ignore everything else for now.

d. Finally, get the f(x) by itself and combine like terms. You should have the equation of your parabola written correctly in vertex form now.

Exercise 5: Use the technique from exercise 4 in the following problems to rewrite the equations of parabolas in vertex form. Then explain how the parabola has been shifted. a. c. e.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:_____ b.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:_____ d.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:_____ f.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:_____

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:_____

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:_____

Exercise 6:So now you know how to figure out horizontal and vertical shift. It gets even trickier if theres a stretch. This means that theres a number multiplying the x2 term. We need to factor this out before we can complete the square. Lets work through an example together: We want to rewrite this in the form:
2

. First of all, it looks like we need to factor

out whatever term is in front of the x , but notice how that last number k on the end is not in the parentheses. It looks like maybe we only need to factor out the a from the x2 and the x terms. a. Rewrite below but put parentheses around the . Leave the 10 out of the parentheses. Now from the parentheses factor out the 2.

b. In the parentheses, determine what needs to be added to make whats in the parentheses a binomial squared.

c. Now, can we just add something to one side in algebra? What you added inside the parentheses is being multiplied by 2, right? Because that 2 is outside the parentheses and what you added is on the inside. Multiply what you added by 2 and take that new number and add it to the other side of the equation to keep things balanced.

d. Factor whats inside the parentheses into a binomial squared.

e. Finally get the vertex form.

by itself and combine like terms. Your answer should now be in correct

f. How has the function been shifted and stretched?

Exercise 7: Take the steps from above and rewrite the quadratics below in vertex form. Explain how the parabolas have been shifted and stretched. a. c. e.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:______ Stretched:_________ b.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:______ Stretched:_________ d.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:______ Stretched:_________ f.

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:______ Stretched:_________

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:______ Stretched:_________

Horizontal shift:____ Vertical shift:______ Stretched:_________