Unit 9 – Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Valued Functions

Unit 9 includes all the topics listed in the title. These are BC only topics (CED – 2019 p. 163 – 176). These topics account for about 11 – 12% of questions on the BC exam. Comments on Prerequisites: In BC Calculus the work with parametric, vector, and polar equations is somewhat limited. I always…

Extreme Average

A recent post on the AP Calculus bulletin board observed that the maximum value of the average value of a function on an interval occurred at the point where the graph of the average value and the function intersect. I am not sure if this concept is important in and of itself, but it does…

Open or Closed?

About this time of year, you find someone, hopefully one of your students, asking, “If I’m finding where a function is increasing, is the interval open or closed?” Do you have an answer? This is a good time to teach some things about definitions and theorems. The place to start is to ask what it…

Reading the Derivative’s Graph

A very typical calculus problem is given the equation of a function, to find information about it (extreme values, concavity, increasing, decreasing, etc., etc.). This is usually done by computing and analyzing the first derivative and the second derivative. All the textbooks show how to do this with copious examples and exercises. I have nothing…

Foreshadowing the MVT

The Mean Value Theorem (MVT) is proved by writing the equation of a function giving the (directed) length of a segment from the given function to the line between the endpoints as you can see here. Since the function and the line intersect at the endpoints of the interval this function satisfies the hypotheses of Rolle’s…