July 18, 2022

Rate of Change Formula - What Is the Rate of Change Formula? Examples

Rate of Change Formula - What Is the Rate of Change Formula? Examples

The rate of change formula is one of the most widely used mathematical concepts across academics, most notably in chemistry, physics and finance.

It’s most frequently used when talking about thrust, although it has many applications throughout different industries. Due to its value, this formula is a specific concept that learners should grasp.

This article will discuss the rate of change formula and how you should solve them.

Average Rate of Change Formula

In mathematics, the average rate of change formula shows the variation of one value in relation to another. In practice, it's used to evaluate the average speed of a change over a specified period of time.

At its simplest, the rate of change formula is written as:

R = Δy / Δx

This computes the change of y in comparison to the change of x.

The variation through the numerator and denominator is represented by the greek letter Δ, read as delta y and delta x. It is also denoted as the variation between the first point and the second point of the value, or:

Δy = y2 - y1

Δx = x2 - x1

As a result, the average rate of change equation can also be portrayed as:

R = (y2 - y1) / (x2 - x1)

Average Rate of Change = Slope

Plotting out these figures in a X Y graph, is helpful when talking about dissimilarities in value A in comparison with value B.

The straight line that links these two points is known as secant line, and the slope of this line is the average rate of change.

Here’s the formula for the slope of a line:

y = 2x + 1

In summation, in a linear function, the average rate of change between two values is the same as the slope of the function.

This is mainly why average rate of change of a function is the slope of the secant line passing through two random endpoints on the graph of the function. Meanwhile, the instantaneous rate of change is the slope of the tangent line at any point on the graph.

How to Find Average Rate of Change

Now that we know the slope formula and what the values mean, finding the average rate of change of the function is feasible.

To make studying this principle easier, here are the steps you should follow to find the average rate of change.

Step 1: Find Your Values

In these sort of equations, mathematical questions typically give you two sets of values, from which you extract x and y values.

For example, let’s assume the values (1, 2) and (3, 4).

In this instance, next you have to locate the values along the x and y-axis. Coordinates are generally given in an (x, y) format, like this:

x1 = 1

x2 = 3

y1 = 2

y2 = 4

Step 2: Subtract The Values

Find the Δx and Δy values. As you may remember, the formula for the rate of change is:

R = Δy / Δx

Which then translates to:

R = y2 - y1 / x2 - x1

Now that we have all the values of x and y, we can input the values as follows.

R = 4 - 2 / 3 - 1

Step 3: Simplify

With all of our figures plugged in, all that remains is to simplify the equation by subtracting all the values. Therefore, our equation becomes something like this.

R = 4 - 2 / 3 - 1

R = 2 / 2

R = 1

As we can see, just by replacing all our values and simplifying the equation, we achieve the average rate of change for the two coordinates that we were given.

Average Rate of Change of a Function

As we’ve shared previously, the rate of change is relevant to multiple diverse situations. The previous examples were applicable to the rate of change of a linear equation, but this formula can also be relevant for functions.

The rate of change of function observes a similar rule but with a unique formula due to the different values that functions have. This formula is:

R = (f(b) - f(a)) / b - a

In this instance, the values given will have one f(x) equation and one Cartesian plane value.

Negative Slope

If you can remember, the average rate of change of any two values can be plotted on a graph. The R-value, therefore is, equal to its slope.

Every so often, the equation concludes in a slope that is negative. This indicates that the line is trending downward from left to right in the Cartesian plane.

This means that the rate of change is decreasing in value. For example, velocity can be negative, which results in a declining position.

Positive Slope

In contrast, a positive slope means that the object’s rate of change is positive. This shows us that the object is increasing in value, and the secant line is trending upward from left to right. With regards to our previous example, if an object has positive velocity and its position is ascending.

Examples of Average Rate of Change

Next, we will run through the average rate of change formula with some examples.

Example 1

Extract the rate of change of the values where Δy = 10 and Δx = 2.

In this example, all we have to do is a straightforward substitution since the delta values are already provided.

R = Δy / Δx

R = 10 / 2

R = 5

Example 2

Extract the rate of change of the values in points (1,6) and (3,14) of the Cartesian plane.

For this example, we still have to search for the Δy and Δx values by employing the average rate of change formula.

R = y2 - y1 / x2 - x1

R = (14 - 6) / (3 - 1)

R = 8 / 2

R = 4

As you can see, the average rate of change is equal to the slope of the line joining two points.

Example 3

Extract the rate of change of function f(x) = x2 + 5x - 3 on the interval [3, 5].

The final example will be extracting the rate of change of a function with the formula:

R = (f(b) - f(a)) / b - a

When calculating the rate of change of a function, solve for the values of the functions in the equation. In this case, we simply substitute the values on the equation using the values provided in the problem.

The interval given is [3, 5], which means that a = 3 and b = 5.

The function parts will be solved by inputting the values to the equation given, such as.

f(a) = (3)2 +5(3) - 3

f(a) = 9 + 15 - 3

f(a) = 24 - 3

f(a) = 21

f(b) = (5)2 +5(5) - 3

f(b) = 25 + 10 - 3

f(b) = 35 - 3

f(b) = 32

With all our values, all we must do is plug in them into our rate of change equation, as follows.

R = (f(b) - f(a)) / b - a

R = 32 - 21 / 5 - 3

R = 11 / 2

R = 11/2 or 5.5

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