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GCSE Maths > Graphs - Graphs

The Equation of a Straight Line

Equations of straight lines are in the form y = mx + c (m and c are numbers). m is the gradient of the line and c is the y-intercept (where the graph crosses the y-axis).

NB1: If you are given the equation of a straight-line and there is a number before the 'y', divide everything by this number to get y by itself, so that you can see what m and c are.
NB2: Parallel lines have equal gradients.

The above graph has equation y = (4/3)x - 2 (which is the same as 3y + 6 = 4x).
Gradient = change in y / change in x = 4 / 3
It cuts the y-axis at -2, and this is the constant in the equation.

Graphs of Quadratic Equations

These are curves and will have a turning point. Remember, quadratic equations are of the form: y = ax + bx + c (a, b and c are numbers). If 'a' is positive, the graph will be 'U' shaped. If 'a' is negative, the graph will be 'n' shaped. The graph will always cross the y-axis at the point c (so c is the y-intercept point). Graphs of quadratic functions are sometimes known as parabolas.

Example

Drawing Other Graphs

Often the easiest way to draw a graph is to construct a table of values.

Example

Draw y = x + 3x + 2 for -3 x 3

x -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3
x 9 4 1 0 1 4 9
3x -9 -6 -3 0 3 6 9
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
y 2 0 0 2 6 12 20


The table shows that when x = -3, x = 9, 3x = -9 and 2 = 2. Since y = x + 3x + 2, we add up the three values in the table to find out what y is when x = -3, etc.
We then plot the values of x and y on graph paper.

Intersecting Graphs

If we wish to know the coordinates of the point(s) where two graphs intersect, we solve the equations simultaneously.
This can be done using the graphs.

Simultaneous Equations

You can solve simultaneous equations by drawing graphs of the two equations you wish to solve. The x and y values of where the graphs intersect are the solutions to the equations.

Example

Solve the simultaneous equations 3y = -2x + 6 and y = 2x -2 by graphical methods.

From the graph, y = 1 and x = 1.5 (approx.). These are the answers to the simultaneous equations.

Solving Equations

Any equation can be solved by drawing a graph of the equation in question. The points where the graph crosses the x-axis are the solutions. So if you asked to solve x - 3 = 0 using a graph, draw the graph of y = x - 3 and the points where the graph crosses the x-axis are the solutions to the equation.

We can also sometimes use the graph of one equation to solve another.

Example

Draw the graph of y = x - 3x + 5 .
Use this graph to solve 3x + 1 - x = 0 and x - 3x - 6 = 0

Answer:

1) Make a table of values for y = x - 3x + 5 and draw the graph.
2) Make the equations you need to solve like the one you have the graph of.
So for 3x + 1 - x = 0:
i) multiply both sides by -1 to get x - 3x - 1 = 0
ii) add 6 to both sides: x - 3x + 5 = 6
Now, the left hand side is our y above, so to solve the equation, we find the values of x when y = 6 (you should get two answers).

Try solving x - 3x - 6 = 0 yourself using your graph of y = x - 3x + 5. You should get a answers of around -1.4 and 4.4.

Copyright Matthew Pinkney 2003

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