This section covers:

**Extreme Value Theorem, Rolle’s Theorem, and Mean Value Theorem****Relative Extrema and First Derivative Test****Concavity and the Second Derivative****Curve Sketching: General Rules****More Practice**

Curve sketching is not my favorite subject in Calculus, since it’s so abstract, but it’s useful to be able to look at functions and their characteristics by simply taking derivatives and thinking about the functions.

Before we get into curve sketching, let’s talk about two theorems that seems sort of useless, but we need to go over them nonetheless.

# Extreme Value Theorem, Rolle’s Theorem, and Mean Value Theorem

To sketch curves in Calculus, we’ll be looking a **minimums** and **maximums** of functions in certain intervals, so we have to talk about a few theorems that seem very obvious, but we need to understand. The main thing we’ll need to know that if a function is differentiable and the **derivative at a certain point is 0**, than that point is either a minimum or maximum.

### Extreme Value Theorem

The **Extreme Value Theorem** states that a function on a **closed interval** must have both a minimum and maximum in that interval. (A closed interval is an interval that includes its endpoints, or the points at the very beginning and end of the interval). If we didn’t include the endpoints (an open interval), we may never have a minimum or maximum, since we could have a function that gets closer and closer to a point but never touches it (like we saw with Limits). When we do include these endpoints, there will definitely be a minimum or maximum; for example, if the function is increasing for the whole interval, for example, the minimum and maximum would be at these endpoints.

### Rolle’s Theorem

**Rolle’s Theorem** states that if the function in an interval comes up and back down (or down and back up) and ends up exactly where it started in an **open interval** (one where endpoints aren’t defined), you’ll have at least one maximum or minimum (where the derivative is 0). Here is the formal form of Rolle’s Theorem:

Note that if this function was not differentiable, you would still have either a maximum or minimum, but you may not be able to take the derivative at that point (so you may have a sharp turn instead of a nice curve at that point).

Here are pictures of a differentiable and non-differentiable functions. For the differentiable graph, do you see how if the graph goes up and comes back down, we have to have at least one point where the derivative is 0 (at the maximum)?

### Mean Value Theorem

Note that the **Mean Value Theorem for Integrals** can be found here in the **Definite Integration** section.

The **Mean Value Theorem** is a little bit more important and in fact is proven using Rolle’s theorem. It says that somewhere inside a closed interval [*a*, *b*], there exists a point ** c** where the

**derivative**at this point is the same as the

**slope**between points

**and**

*a***. Think of the Mean Value Theorem as Rolle’s Theorem, but possibly “tilted”. Here’s the formal form of the**

*b***Mean Value Theorem**and a picture; in this example, the

**slope of the tangent line is 1**, and also the

**derivative at the point \(\left( {2,\,\,3} \right)\) is also 1**. We’ll see more examples below.

Here are some problems that you might see with these theorems:

Here are a few more typical **Mean Value Theorem** (**MVT**) problems. **Note that when we get our value of c, we have to make sure it lies in the interval we’re given.**

Note also that these problems may be worded something like this: For what value of **c** on a certain open interval would the **tangent** to the graph of a certain function be **parallel to the secant line** in that closed interval?

# Relative Extrema and the First Derivative Test

## Extrema and Critical Numbers

Let’s first talk about **Extrema **of Functions, and finding **Critical Numbers**. **Extrema** is just a fancy word for finding the **lowest (minimum) **or** highest (maximum) y value** in a function or interval of a function.

When we find the minimum and maximum values in an interval, we can use this information to find where a function is **decreasing** and **increasing**, since at a minimum or maximum value, the function takes a turn from “down to up” or “up to down”.

We can talk about **absolute extrema**, or **relative extrema**. Think of the **absolute** extrema as the lowest or highest point in the **whole domain** of the function, and the **relative extrema** as the lowest or highest just in a certain part of the graph (between two ** x** values, or

**endpoints**). Note that not every function has a lowest (minimum) or highest (maximum) point in an interval, so it may not have any relative extrema in the interval.

We also need to think about the endpoints of a function in an interval; these may be the lowest or highest points (thus the relative extrema); these are called the **endpoint extrema**.

Here are some examples of **relative extrema** that may or may not exist. Note also the **endpoint extrema** points:

**Critical numbers **exist where a function has a minimum or maximum, whether or not the function is differentiable at that point. And it turns out that if a function is differentiable at a certain point, and that point is a minimum or maximum, the **derivative at that point is 0**.

Here is the formal definition of a **critical number**:

## Increasing and Decreasing Functions, and the First Derivative Test

We talked about **critical points** (**critical numbers**) of a function (minimums or maximums), where the **first** **derivative is 0** (or not defined). Now let’s talk about the derivative when the function is increasing (going upward from left to right), or decreasing (going downward from left to right).

When a **function** is **increasing**, the **derivative is positive**. When a **function** is **decreasing**, the **derivative is negative**. This makes perfect since, since the **derivative is a slope**. When a function is going upwards from left to right (increasing), it’s slope is positive, and when a function is going downwards from left to right (decreasing), it’s slope is negative. (And when a function is constant, or staying the same, it’s derivative is 0).

So let’s talk about the guidelines for finding intervals for which a function is increasing or decreasing:

For a function ** f** that is continuous on interval [

*a*,

*b*] and differentiable on interval (

*a*,

*b*), to find the intervals for which

**is increasing or decreasing:**

*f*- Find the
**critical points**in (*a*,*b*), and use these numbers to find test intervals. - For each of these test intervals, find the
**sign of the derivative**at one test value. - If \({f}’\left( x \right)\) > 0, then
is*f***increasing**on [*a*,*b*], if \({f}’\left( x \right)\) < 0, thenis*f***decreasing**on [*a*,*b*], and if \({f}’\left( x \right)\) = 0, thenis*f***constant**on [*a*,*b*].

And, based on these guidelines, here is the **First Derivative Test**, which allows us to **find relative minimums** and **maximums **(also known as** local minimums **and

**). Assume that**

**local maximums****is a**

*c***critical number**of a function that is continuous on an open interval, and

**is differentiable on the interval, except possibly at**

*f***.**

*c*- If \({f}’\left( x \right)\) changes from
**negative to positive**at critical point*x***=**, then*c*has a relative*f***minimum**at*x***=**.*c* - If \({f}’\left( x \right)\) changes from
**positive to****negative**at critical point*x***=**, then*c*has a relative*f***maximum**at*x***=**.*c* - If \({f}’\left( x \right)\) is positive on both sides of
*x***=**, or negative on both sides of*c**x***=**, then that point is neither a relative minimum or relative maximum.*c*

Let’s think about why this makes sense. If we have a point where a function goes from falling to rising (negative to positive slope), that point would be a minimum. Similarly, if we have a point where a function goes from rising to falling (positive to negative slope), that point would be a maximum:

Let’s do some problems; notice that we are using **sign charts** to determine the intervals that the function is decreasing or increasing. Note that sometimes we need to use values that aren’t even in the domain of the function (like in **vertical asymptotes**) in the sign charts; theoretically, these aren’t critical numbers, since they don’t exist in the original function.

Here’s a First Derivative Problem with a **trigonometric function**:

# Concavity and the Second Derivative

I like to think of concavity as “cup up” or “cup down”. Think of **concave upwards** of a cup that can hold water at all points, and **concave downward** is a cup that empties water out at all point.

It turns out that when a graph is **concave upward** (cup up), its slope (first derivative) is increasing, so its **second derivative is positive**. When a graph is **concave downward** (cup down), its slope is decreasing, so its **second derivative is negative**.

A **point of inflection (POI)** is exactly where the concavity changes from **concave up** to **concave down** or **concave down** to **concave up**. It turns out that a graph **crosses it’s tangent line** at a POI.

Here’s an illustration of **concavity**:

The **Second Derivative Test **can also be used in curve sketching to find **relative minima** and **relative maxima**, and is the following:

You might see problems like this on **concavity**, **points of inflection**, and the **Second Derivative Test**. I think the best way to tackle these problems is to create a **sign chart** using points where the first derivative is 0 or undefined (critical values) and also where the second derivative is 0 or undefined:

Here’s a concavity problem with a **trigonometric function**:

Here are more **Second Derivative Test** problems:

# Curve Sketching: General Rules

Let’s put it all together; here are some general curve sketching rules:

- Find
**critical numbers**(numbers that make the first derivative 0 or undefined). - Put the
**critical numbers**in a**sign chart**to see where the first derivative is positive or negative (plug in the first derivative to get signs). - Where
**first derivative**is**positive**, the function is**increasing**; where it’s**negative**, the function is**decreasing**(remember that you can**combine**two consecutive intervals only if the**original function is defined**for that critical number). - To get
**relative minimums**and**relative maximums**, see how the derivative is changing. If it’s changing from**negative to positive**, it’s a**minimum**, and if it’s changing from**positive to negative**, it’s a**maximum**. To get the coordinates of the point at these places, plug thevalue into the original function to get the*x*value.*y* - Get the
**second derivative**, and find the values where it’s either 0 or undefined. Note that a**point of inflection**(**POI**) is where the second derivative changes sign, and the original function is defined at that point. - Put those values in a
**sign chart**to see where the second derivative is positive or negative (plug in the second derivative to get signs). - Where
**second derivative**is**positive**, the graph is**concave up**, where the**second derivative**is**negative**, the graph is**concave down**(remember that you can**combine**two consecutive intervals only if the**original function is defined**for that for the first and second derivative). - Use other points (can use a
) to help graph!*t*-chart

Also, these tips may help:

- If finding
**absolute extrema**, find the**critical numbers**and**endpoints**, then plug into the original function to find. Compare all these values: the*y*values**largest**is the**absolute maximum**and the**smallest**is the**absolute minimum**. - When graphing, it might be helpful to identify any
**asymptotes**or**removable discontinuities**(holes) by seeing what makes the denominator of the original function 0. Remember that a hole happens when you can cross out a factor in both the numerator and denominator (see**Drawing Rational Graphs**in the**Graphing Rational Functions, including Asymptotes**Section).

Here are some other hints that may help with the relationship of ** f, f ’** and

**. Again, remember that the relationship of**

*f*’’’**to**

*f***is the same as**

*f*’**to**

*f*’**(similarly, the relationship of**

*f*’’’**to**

*f*’**is the same as**

*f***to**

*f*’’’**).**

*f*’Also, I like to use the **PMS** acronym (sorry 🙂 ) to “travel” back and forth among the curves of the **function**, **derivative**, and **second derivative**:

Here are some problems that you may see:

Here’s one where we might have the information in a table.

Sketch a possible graph:

Here is what the graph might look like:

Here are more types of **curve sketching problems** you may see:

Here’s one more observation:

Here is an example graph of an original function, its first derivative, and second derivative. Notice how when we take the **derivative** in this example, we go from a **cubic** (original function) to a **quadratic** (first derivative) to a **linear** (second derivative). This makes sense, since the we are always going down a degree when we take a derivative:

**Learn these rules, and practice, practice, practice!**

Click on Submit (the arrow to the right of the problem) to solve this problem. You can also type in more problems, or click on the 3 dots in the upper right hand corner to drill down for example problems.

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On to **Optimization**** **– you are ready!