## Unit 5 Polynomial Functions Homework 2 Graphing Polynomial Functions

### Introduction

Graphing polynomial functions is an essential skill in algebra and calculus. It allows us to visualize and understand the behavior of these functions, which can be crucial in solving real-world problems or analyzing mathematical models. In this unit 5 homework, we will dive deeper into graphing polynomial functions, focusing on the techniques and strategies needed to accurately plot these functions on a coordinate plane. Let's explore the key concepts and steps involved in graphing polynomial functions.

### Understanding Polynomial Functions

Before we delve into graphing polynomial functions, let's have a clear understanding of what polynomial functions are. A polynomial function is a mathematical expression consisting of variables, coefficients, and exponents, combined using addition, subtraction, and multiplication operations. These functions can be represented in the form:

*f(x) = a _{n}x^{n} + a_{n-1}x^{n-1} + ... + a_{1}x + a_{0}*

where *n* is a non-negative integer, *a* is a coefficient, and *x* is the variable. The highest exponent in the polynomial determines the degree of the function. For example, if the highest exponent is 2, the function is a quadratic polynomial; if it is 3, the function is a cubic polynomial, and so on.

### The Coordinate Plane

Before we begin graphing polynomial functions, it's essential to have a good grasp of the coordinate plane. The coordinate plane consists of two perpendicular number lines, the x-axis and the y-axis. The x-axis represents the horizontal axis, while the y-axis represents the vertical axis. The point where the x-axis and y-axis intersect is called the origin, denoted as (0, 0). Each point on the coordinate plane can be represented by an ordered pair (x, y), where x represents the horizontal position and y represents the vertical position.

### Step 1: Determine the Degree and Leading Coefficient

The first step in graphing a polynomial function is to determine its degree and leading coefficient. The degree of a polynomial function is the highest exponent of the variable. The leading coefficient is the coefficient of the term with the highest exponent. These values provide crucial insights into the shape and behavior of the graph.

### Step 2: Identify Key Points

Next, we need to identify key points on the graph of the polynomial function. These points include the x-intercepts, y-intercept, and any additional points of interest. The x-intercepts are the points where the graph intersects the x-axis, and they can be found by setting the function equal to zero and solving for x. The y-intercept is the point where the graph intersects the y-axis, and it can be found by substituting x = 0 into the function.

### Step 3: Determine the End Behavior

To understand the behavior of the graph as x approaches positive or negative infinity, we need to determine the end behavior of the polynomial function. This can be done by examining the degree and leading coefficient of the function. If the degree is even and the leading coefficient is positive, the graph will have a similar behavior on both ends. If the degree is odd and the leading coefficient is positive, the graph will behave differently on each end.

### Step 4: Plot Additional Points

In addition to the key points identified in step 2, it is beneficial to plot a few additional points to get a clearer picture of the graph. We can choose x-values that are not intercepts and evaluate the function to find the corresponding y-values. These points will help us verify the accuracy of our graph and understand the overall shape.

### Step 5: Sketch the Graph

Now that we have identified the key points and determined the behavior of the function, it's time to sketch the graph. Start by plotting the x-intercepts, y-intercept, and additional points on the coordinate plane. Then, connect the dots smoothly, taking into account the end behavior and any other characteristics specific to the polynomial function. Pay attention to the shape, symmetry, and any possible turning points or inflection points.

### Step 6: Label the Graph

Finally, label the graph with the function's equation, the x-axis, and the y-axis. You can also include any relevant information such as intercepts, maximum or minimum points, or points of inflection. This labeling will make the graph more informative and easier to interpret.

### Conclusion

Graphing polynomial functions is an essential skill for algebra and calculus students. By following the steps outlined in this unit 5 homework, you can accurately graph polynomial functions and gain a deeper understanding of their behavior. Remember to pay attention to the degree and leading coefficient, identify key points, determine end behavior, plot additional points, sketch the graph, and label it appropriately. With practice, graphing polynomial functions will become second nature, enabling you to solve complex problems and analyze mathematical models with confidence.