Polynomial Functions and Rates of Change
Polynomial functions represent relationships involving powers of the independent variable. The rate of change in polynomial functions can vary significantly depending on the degree and the coefficients of the polynomial. Unlike linear functions, which have a constant rate of change, or quadratic functions, which have a variable rate that showcases a specific parabolic shape, higherdegree polynomials can exhibit complex behavior including multiple turning points and varying rates of increase or decrease.
Examples
Example 1: Linear Polynomial Function
Function: y = 3x + 2
This is a firstdegree polynomial function with a constant rate of change of 3. It implies that for every one unit increase in x
, y
increases by 3 units.
Example 2: Quadratic Polynomial Function
Function: y = x^2  4x + 3
The rate of change in this quadratic function varies and the function exhibits a single turning point. As x
increases or decreases from the vertex, the value of y
changes at an increasing rate due to the squared term.
Example 3: Cubic Polynomial Function
Function: y = x^3  6x^2 + 11x  6
Cubic polynomials like this can have up to two turning points. The rate of change varies more complexly compared to quadratic functions, with areas of both acceleration and deceleration.
Example 4: FourthDegree Polynomial Function
Function: y = x^4  5x^2 + 4
Fourthdegree polynomials can have up to three turning points. This function shows an even more varied rate of change, with regions where the function increases, decreases, then increases again at different rates.
Example 5: RealWorld Application
A realworld example could involve modeling the height y
(in meters) of a projectile over time x
(in seconds) with a polynomial function such as y = 4.9x^2 + 30x + 1.5
, which represents the effects of gravity and initial velocity on the projectile's flight. The rate of change here describes the projectile's velocity, which varies throughout its flight, initially positive (upwards motion), reaching zero at the peak (turning point), and then becoming negative (downwards motion).
Packet
 Practice Solutions
 Corrective Assignments
