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Study Guides > College Algebra

Introduction to Rates of Change and Behaviors of Graphs


By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Find the average rate of change of a function.
  • Use a graph to determine where a function is increasing, decreasing, or constant.
  • Use a graph to locate local maxima and local minima.
  • Use a graph to locate the absolute maximum and absolute minimum.

Gasoline costs have experienced some wild fluctuations over the last several decades. The table below[footnote]http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/showtext.cfm?t=ptb0524. Accessed 3/5/2014.[/footnote] lists the average cost, in dollars, of a gallon of gasoline for the years 2005–2012. The cost of gasoline can be considered as a function of year.

[latex]y[/latex] 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
[latex]C\left(y\right)[/latex] 2.31 2.62 2.84 3.30 2.41 2.84 3.58 3.68

If we were interested only in how the gasoline prices changed between 2005 and 2012, we could compute that the cost per gallon had increased from $2.31 to $3.68, an increase of $1.37. While this is interesting, it might be more useful to look at how much the price changed per year. In this section, we will investigate changes such as these.

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  • Precalculus. Provided by: OpenStax Authored by: Jay Abramson, et al.. Located at: https://openstax.org/books/precalculus/pages/1-introduction-to-functions. License: CC BY: Attribution. License terms: Download For Free at : http://cnx.org/contents/[email protected]..