# Critical Numbers: The Key to Maximum and Minimum Values Unlock the power of critical numbers in calculus. Learn to identify key points, analyze function behavior, and solve real-world optimization problems with confidence and precision.

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Intros
1. How to describe graphs of functions?

2. $\bullet$ local maximum
$\bullet$ local minimum
$\bullet$ critical number

3. state the:
$\bullet$ absolute maximum
$\bullet$ absolute minimum
Examples
1. Find the critical numbers of the function:

1. $f(x)={^3}\sqrt{x^{2}-5x}$

2. $f(x)=x^{\frac{1}{3}}-x^{-\frac{2}{3}}$

Position velocity acceleration
Notes
Another powerful usage of differential calculus is optimization, for example, finding the number of products needed to be sold at a store to maximize its monthly revenue or to minimize its monthly costs. In this section, we will link the application of differential calculus with finding the local extrema, the maxima and minima, of a function.

critical number: a number$\ c$ in the domain of a function$\ f$ such that:

Concept

## Introduction: Understanding Critical Numbers and Extrema

Critical numbers play a crucial role in calculus, particularly in finding maximum and minimum values of functions. These special points are where the derivative of a function equals zero or is undefined, potentially indicating a change in the function's behavior. Understanding critical numbers is essential for analyzing function behavior and solving optimization problems. The introduction video provides a visual explanation of these concepts, making them more accessible to learners. By watching the video, students can grasp how critical numbers relate to the graph of a function and how they help identify potential extrema. This foundational knowledge is vital for more advanced calculus topics and real-world applications. The video demonstrates the process of finding critical numbers and using them to determine maximum and minimum values, offering a clear and engaging way to comprehend these fundamental calculus concepts.

Example

How to describe graphs of functions?
$\bullet$ local maximum $\bullet$ local minimum $\bullet$ critical number

#### Step 1: Understanding Local Maximum

To understand the concept of a local maximum, imagine you are hiking on a mountain. As you hike from left to right, you start by going uphill until you reach the first peak of the mountain. This peak is the highest point in the local area, making it a local maximum. In mathematical terms, if you focus only on this local area and ignore the rest of the graph, this point is indeed the highest. For example, if the local maximum occurs at $x = 1$ and the value of the function at this point is 6, then the local maximum value is 6 at $x = 1$.

#### Step 2: Derivative at Local Maximum

To find the derivative at a local maximum, consider the slope of the tangent line at that point on the graph. The tangent line at a local maximum is horizontal, meaning its slope is zero. Therefore, the derivative at the local maximum is zero. For instance, if the local maximum occurs at $x = 1$, the derivative at this point is zero.

#### Step 3: Understanding Local Minimum

Next, consider the concept of a local minimum. Continuing the hiking analogy, after reaching the peak, you go downhill until you reach the lowest point in the local area. This point is the local minimum. For example, if the local minimum occurs at $x = 3$ and the value of the function at this point is 2, then the local minimum value is 2 at $x = 3$.

#### Step 4: Derivative at Local Minimum

Similar to the local maximum, the derivative at a local minimum is found by considering the slope of the tangent line at that point. The tangent line at a local minimum is also horizontal, meaning its slope is zero. Therefore, the derivative at the local minimum is zero. For instance, if the local minimum occurs at $x = 3$, the derivative at this point is zero.

#### Step 5: Critical Points and Critical Numbers

Critical points on a graph are where the derivative is either zero or undefined. These points are significant because local extrema (maximum and minimum) always occur at critical points. The x-values at these points are called critical numbers. For example, if the derivative is zero at $x = 1$, $x = 3$, and $x = 8$, these are critical numbers. Similarly, if the derivative is undefined at $x = 4$ and $x = 5$, these are also critical numbers.

#### Step 6: Identifying Critical Numbers

To identify critical numbers, look for points on the graph where the derivative is zero (horizontal tangent lines) or undefined (sharp points). For instance, if the graph flattens out at $x = 1$, $x = 3$, $x = 6$, and $x = 8$, these are critical numbers because the derivative is zero. Additionally, if there are sharp points at $x = 4$, $x = 5$, and $x = 9$, these are also critical numbers because the derivative is undefined.

#### Step 7: Testing Critical Numbers

Not all critical numbers produce local extrema. Therefore, it is essential to test each critical number to determine if it results in a local maximum or minimum. For example, while critical numbers at $x = 1$, $x = 3$, $x = 4$, $x = 5$, and $x = 8$ produce local extrema, critical numbers at $x = 6$ and $x = 9$ do not. This testing process is crucial for accurately identifying local extrema on the graph.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about critical numbers and their role in calculus:

#### 1. How do you find the critical numbers of a function?

To find critical numbers of a function f(x), follow these steps:

1. Find the derivative f'(x) of the function.
2. Set f'(x) = 0 and solve for x. These solutions are potential critical numbers.
3. Find any x-values where f'(x) is undefined. These are also potential critical numbers.
4. Combine the results from steps 2 and 3 to get all critical numbers.

#### 2. What is the rule for critical numbers?

Critical numbers occur at x-values where the derivative of a function is either zero or undefined. These points are significant because they often indicate where the function changes direction or behavior, potentially representing local maxima, minima, or inflection points.

#### 3. Can 0 be a critical number?

Yes, 0 can be a critical number if it satisfies one of the conditions for critical numbers. If f'(0) = 0 or f'(0) is undefined, then 0 is a critical number for the function f(x).

#### 4. What is an example of a critical point?

Consider the function f(x) = x³ - 3x² + 2x. Its derivative is f'(x) = 3x² - 6x + 2. Setting f'(x) = 0, we get 3x² - 6x + 2 = 0. Solving this equation gives us x = 1 ± 1/3. These x-values are critical points of the function.

#### 5. How do critical numbers relate to finding maximum and minimum values?

Critical numbers are essential for finding maximum and minimum values because these extrema often occur at critical points. To find the absolute maximum and minimum of a continuous function on a closed interval, you evaluate the function at all critical numbers within the interval and at the endpoints, then compare these values.

Prerequisites

Understanding critical numbers and maximum and minimum values is a crucial concept in mathematics, particularly in calculus and optimization problems. To fully grasp this topic, it's essential to have a solid foundation in several prerequisite areas. Let's explore how these fundamental concepts contribute to your understanding of critical numbers and extreme values.

One of the key prerequisites is using quadratic formula to solve quadratic equations. This skill is vital because many problems involving critical numbers and extrema are based on quadratic functions. The quadratic formula allows you to find the roots of these equations, which often correspond to critical points where maximum or minimum values occur.

Another important concept to master is absolute value functions. These functions play a significant role in understanding how to determine the magnitude of differences between values, which is crucial when analyzing the behavior of functions near critical points. Absolute value functions also help in visualizing and interpreting the shape of graphs, which is essential for identifying maximum and minimum values.

Understanding vertical lines of linear equations is also relevant to this topic. This concept is particularly important when dealing with vertical tangent lines, which can occur at critical points of certain functions. Recognizing these vertical tangents can help you identify potential maximum or minimum values and understand the behavior of functions at these points.

Lastly, proficiency in graphing reciprocals of quadratic functions is beneficial for understanding critical numbers and extreme values. This skill enhances your ability to visualize and analyze more complex functions, including those with multiple critical points. By graphing functions accurately, you can better identify where maximum and minimum values occur and how the function behaves around these points.

By mastering these prerequisite topics, you'll be well-equipped to tackle the challenges of identifying critical numbers and determining maximum and minimum values. These foundational skills will enable you to approach more advanced problems with confidence and a deeper understanding of the underlying mathematical principles. Remember, each of these concepts builds upon the others, creating a comprehensive framework for analyzing functions and their behavior.