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 used math principles across academics, specifically in physics, chemistry and finance.

It’s most often utilized when discussing momentum, though it has many applications throughout various industries. Due to its value, this formula is a specific concept that learners should understand.

This article will go over the rate of change formula and how you can solve it.

Average Rate of Change Formula

In math, the average rate of change formula describes the variation of one figure in relation to another. In practice, it's employed to identify the average speed of a change over a certain period of time.

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

R = Δy / Δx

This measures the variation of y compared to the variation 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 expressed as the difference between the first point and the second point of the value, or:

Δy = y2 - y1

Δx = x2 - x1

Because of this, the average rate of change equation can also be described as:

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

Average Rate of Change = Slope

Plotting out these figures in a X Y axis, is useful when discussing dissimilarities in value A when compared to value B.

The straight line that connects these two points is also 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 short, in a linear function, the average rate of change between two values is equal to the slope of the function.

This is why the average rate of change of a function is the slope of the secant line going 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 have discussed the slope formula and what the figures mean, finding the average rate of change of the function is achievable.

To make grasping this topic simpler, here are the steps you should keep in mind to find the average rate of change.

Step 1: Find Your Values

In these sort of equations, math questions generally give you two sets of values, from which you solve to find x and y values.

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

In this scenario, next you have to find the values via 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

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

R = Δy / Δx

Which then translates to:

R = y2 - y1 / x2 - x1

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

R = 4 - 2 / 3 - 1

Step 3: Simplify

With all of our values inputted, all that is left is to simplify the equation by deducting all the values. So, our equation will look something like this.

R = 4 - 2 / 3 - 1

R = 2 / 2

R = 1

As shown, just by plugging in all our values and simplifying the equation, we obtain the average rate of change for the two coordinates that we were given.

Average Rate of Change of a Function

As we’ve mentioned previously, the rate of change is relevant to many different scenarios. The aforementioned examples were more relevant to the rate of change of a linear equation, but this formula can also be used in functions.

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

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

In this instance, the values provided will have one f(x) equation and one X Y graph value.

Negative Slope

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

Every so often, the equation concludes in a slope that is negative. This indicates that the line is descending from left to right in the X Y axis.

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

Positive Slope

At the same time, a positive slope shows that the object’s rate of change is positive. This tells us that the object is increasing in value, and the secant line is trending upward from left to right. In terms of our aforementioned example, if an object has positive velocity and its position is ascending.

Examples of Average Rate of Change

In this section, we will review the average rate of change formula with some examples.

Example 1

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

In the given example, all we need to do is a simple substitution because the delta values are already given.

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 X Y axis.

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

R = y2 - y1 / x2 - x1

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

R = 8 / 2

R = 4

As provided, the average rate of change is equivalent to the slope of the line linking two points.

Example 3

Calculate 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 finding the rate of change of a function, solve for the values of the functions in the equation. In this situation, we simply replace the values on the equation using the values given 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

Once we have all our values, all we have to do is substitute 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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