Two Sinusoidal Models

(A new question of the week) Two recent questions involved using trigonometric functions to model real-life (or nearly so) situations, one about breathing, the other about a Ferris wheel. Both can be done by writing a sinusoidal function; the second can be done in other interesting ways as well.

Graphing a Reciprocal Function

There are a number of standard techniques for graphing functions, such as transforming simple functions, or finding asymptotes and holes for rational functions, and using calculus to find slopes. What if you have a rational function of a trigĀ  function, and can’t yet use calculus to figure it out? We’ll look at how we can …

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A Mind-Stretching Exercise with a Stretched Cosine

(A new question of the week) A question in September, about graphing a horizontally-stretched cosine function, led to a long conversation. Between a typo in the problem and some inside-out thinking, this surprisingly non-routine problem led to some good mind-stretching! I have edited this down considerably by removing distractions from the main ideas, but it …

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Reading Pandemic Graphs

(A new question of the week) Having just discussed several mathematical topics that lie behind the various graphs we have seen in the news lately, I want to depart from our usual style and answer my own current questions. We’ll look at several graphs of COVID-19’s growth and think about what we can learn from …

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Logarithmic Graphing

We’ve been looking at the math underlying some of the graphs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with exponential growth, and then logistic growth. I want to look in more detail at a feature I mentioned in the first post, viewing a graph logarithmically. This is a powerful technique that goes far beyond a button …

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Exponential Growth

The term “exponential” has gone viral, so to speak. Do we all know what it means? In the next few posts I’ll look at answers we’ve given to questions about exponential growth and related concepts, some of them about the spread of diseases or rumors. (Disclaimer: I will be writing about the basic math, not …

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Graphing Transformed Sines

I’ll close out our look at transformations of functions with some trigonometric graphs. These are the best example of combined transformations, and involve some special tricks as well. We’ll start with an early question that gives an overview of the process, then focus in on important details. Overview First, a typical question from 1997, to …

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