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 hoped that students had studied these topics in detail in their precalculus classes and had more precalculus knowledge and experience with them than is required for the BC exam. This will help them in calculus, so see that they are included in your precalculus classes.

Topics 9.1 – 9.3 Parametric Equations

Topic 9.1: Defining and Differentiation Parametric Equations. Finding dy/dx in terms of dy/dt and dx/dt

Topic 9.2: Second Derivatives of Parametric Equations. Finding the second derivative. See Implicit Differentiation of Parametric Equations this discusses the second derivative.

Topic 9.3: Finding Arc Lengths of Curves Given by Parametric Equations. 

Topics 9.4 – 9.6 Vector-Valued Functions and Motion in the plane

Topic 9.4 : Defining and Differentiating Vector-Valued Functions. Finding the second derivative. See this A Vector’s Derivatives which includes a note on second derivatives. 

Topic 9.5: Integrating Vector-Valued Functions

Topic 9.6: Solving Motion Problems Using Parametric and Vector-Valued Functions. Position, Velocity, acceleration, speed, total distance traveled, and displacement extended to motion in the plane. 

Topics 9.7 – 9.9 Polar Equation and Area in Polar Form.

Topic 9.7: Defining Polar Coordinate and Differentiation in Polar Form. The derivatives and their meaning.

Topic 9.8: Find the Area of a Polar Region or the Area Bounded by a Single Polar Curve

Topic 9.9: Finding the Area of the Region Bounded by Two Polar Curves. Students should know how to find the intersections of polar curves to use for the limits of integration. 


Timing

The suggested time for Unit 9 is about 10 – 11 BC classes of 40 – 50-minutes, this includes time for testing etc.


Previous posts on these topics:

Parametric and Vector Equations

Implicit Differentiation of Parametric Equations

A Vector’s Derivatives

Adapting 2012 BC 2 (A parametric equation question)

Polar Curves

Polar Equations for AP Calculus

Extreme Polar Conditions

Implicit Differentiation of Parametric Equations

I’ve never liked memorizing formulas. I would rather know where they came from or be able to tie it to something I already know. One of my least favorite formulas to remember and explain was the formula for the second derivative of a curve given in parametric form. No longer.

If \displaystyle y=y(t) and, \displaystyle x=x(t) then the traditional formulas give

\displaystyle \frac{{dy}}{{dx}}=\frac{{dy/dt}}{{dx/dt}}, and

\displaystyle \frac{{{{d}^{2}}y}}{{d{{x}^{2}}}}=\frac{{\frac{d}{{dt}}\left( {\frac{{dy}}{{dx}}} \right)}}{{\frac{{dx}}{{dt}}}}

It is that last part, where you divide by \displaystyle {\frac{{dx}}{{dt}}}, that bothers me. Where did the \displaystyle {\frac{{dx}}{{dt}}} come from?

Then it occurred to me that dividing by \displaystyle {\frac{{dx}}{{dt}}} is the same as multiplying by \displaystyle {\frac{{dt}}{{dx}}}

It’s just implicit differentiation!

Since \displaystyle \frac{{dy}}{{dx}} is a function of t you must begin by differentiating the first derivative with respect to t. Then treating this as a typical Chain Rule situation and multiplying by \displaystyle {\frac{{dt}}{{dx}}} gives the second derivative. (There is a technical requirement here that given \displaystyle x=x(t), then its inverse \displaystyle t={{x}^{{-1}}}\left( x \right) exists.)

In fact, if you look at a proof of the formula for the first derivative, that’s what happens there as well:

\displaystyle \frac{d}{{dx}}y(t)=\frac{{dy}}{{dt}}\cdot \frac{{dt}}{{dx}}=\frac{{dy/dt}}{{dx/dt}}

The reason you do it this way is that since x is given as a function of t, it may be difficult to solve for t so you can find dt/dx in terms of x. But you don’t have to; just divide by dx/dt which you already know.

Here is an example for both derivatives.

Suppose that \displaystyle x={{t}^{3}}-3 and \displaystyle y=\ln \left( t \right)

Then \displaystyle \frac{{dy}}{{dt}}=\frac{1}{t} and \displaystyle \frac{{dx}}{{dt}}=3{{t}^{2}} and \displaystyle \frac{{dt}}{{dx}}=\frac{1}{{3{{t}^{2}}}}

Then \displaystyle \frac{{dy}}{{dx}}=\frac{1}{t}\cdot \frac{{dt}}{{dx}}=\frac{1}{t}\cdot \frac{1}{{3{{t}^{2}}}}=\frac{1}{3}{{t}^{{-3}}}

And \displaystyle \frac{{{{d}^{2}}y}}{{d{{x}^{2}}}}=\left( {\frac{d}{{dt}}\left( {\frac{{dy}}{{dx}}} \right)} \right)\cdot \frac{{dt}}{{dx}}=\left( {-{{t}^{{-4}}}} \right)\cdot \left( {\frac{1}{{3{{t}^{2}}}}} \right)=-\frac{1}{{3{{t}^{6}}}}

Yes, it’s the same thing as using the traditional formula, but now I’ll never have to worry about forgetting the formula or being unsure how to explain why you do it this way.

Revised: Correction to last equation 5/18/2014. Revised: 2/8/2016. Originally posted May 5, 2014.

Extreme Values

Every function that is continuous on a closed interval must have a maximum and a minimum value on the interval. These values may all be the same (y = 2 on [-3,3]); or the function may reach these values more than once (y = sin(x)).

If the function is defined on a closed interval, then the extreme values are either (1) at an endpoint of the interval or (2) at a critical number. This is known as the Extreme Value Theorem. Thus, one way of finding the extreme values is to simply find the value of the function at the endpoints and the critical points and compare these to find the largest and smallest. This is called the Candidates’ Test or the Closed Interval Test. It is a good one to “play” with: do some sketches of the different situation above; discuss why the interval must be closed.

On an open or closed interval, the shapes can change if the first derivative is zero or undefined at the point where two shapes join. In this case the point is a local extreme value of the function – a local maximum or minimum value. Specifically:

  • If the first derivative changes from positive to negative, the shape of the function changes from increasing to decreasing and the point is a local maximum.  If the first derivative changes from negative to positive, the shape of the function changes from decreasing to increasing and the point is a local minimum.

This is a theorem called the First Derivative Test. By finding where the first derivative changes sign and in which direction it changes (positive to negative, or negative to positive) we can locate and identify the local extreme value precisely.

  • Another way to determine if a critical number is the location of a local maximum or minimum is a theorem called the Second Derivative Test.

If the first derivative is zero (and specifically not if it is undefined) and the second derivative is positive, then the graph has a horizontal tangent line and is concave up. Therefore, this is the location of a local minimum of the function.

Likewise, if the first derivative is zero at a point and the second derivative is negative there, the function has a local maximum there.

If both the first and second derivatives are zero at a point, then the second derivative test cannot be used, for example y = x4 at the origin.

The mistake students make with the second derivative test is in not checking that the first derivative is zero. If “justify your answer” is required, students should be sure to show that the first derivative is zero as well as the sign of the second derivative.

In the case where both the first and second derivatives are zero at the same point the function changes direction but not concavity (e.g.  (x) = xat the origin), or changes concavity but not direction (e.g.  (x) = xat the origin).

This is a revised version of a post published on October 22, 2012

Unit 5 – Analytical Applications of Differentiation

Unit 5 covers the application of derivatives to the analysis of functions and graphs. Reasoning and justification of results are also important themes in this unit. (CED – 2019 p. 92 – 107). These topics account for about 15 – 18% of questions on the AB exam and 8 – 11% of the BC questions.

You may want to consider teaching Unit 4 after Unit 5. Notes on Unit 4 are here.

Reasoning and writing justification of results are mentioned and stressed in the introduction to the topic (p. 93) and for most of the individual topics. See Learning Objective FUN-A.4 “Justify conclusions about the behavior of a function based on the behavior of its derivatives,” and likewise in FUN-1.C for the Extreme value theorem, and FUN-4.E for implicitly defined functions. Be sure to include writing justifications as you go through this topic. Use past free-response questions as exercises and also as guide as to what constitutes a good justification. Links in the margins of the CED are also helpful and give hints on writing justifications and what is required to earn credit. See the presentation Writing on the AP Calculus Exams and its handout

Topics 5.1

Topic 5.1 Using the Mean Value Theorem While not specifically named in the CED, Rolle’s Theorem is a lemma for the Mean Value Theorem (MVT). The MVT states that for a function that is continuous on the closed interval and differentiable over the corresponding open interval, there is at least one place in the open interval where the average rate of change equals the instantaneous rate of change (derivative). This is a very important existence theorem that is used to prove other important ideas in calculus. Students often confuse the average rate of change, the mean value, and the average value of a function – See What’s a Mean Old Average Anyway?

Topics 5.2 – 5.9

Topic 5.2 Extreme Value Theorem, Global Verses Local Extrema, and Critical Points An existence theorem for continuous functions on closed intervals

Topic 5.3 Determining Intervals on Which a Function is Increasing or Decreasing Using the first derivative to determine where a function is increasing and decreasing.

Topic 5.4 Using the First Derivative Test to Determine Relative (Local) Extrema Using the first derivative to determine local extreme values of a function

Topic 5.5 Using the Candidates’ Test to Determine Absolute (Global) Extrema The Candidates’ test can be used to find all extreme values of a function on a closed interval

Topic 5.6 Determining Concavity of Functions on Their Domains FUN-4.A.4 defines (at least for AP Calculus) When a function is concave up and down based on the behavior of the first derivative. (Some textbooks may use different equivalent definitions.) Points of inflection are also included under this topic.

Topic 5.7 Using the Second Derivative Test to Determine Extrema Using the Second Derivative Test to determine if a critical point is a maximum or minimum point. If a continuous function has only one critical point on an interval then it is the absolute (global) maximum or minimum for the function on that interval.

Topic 5.8 Sketching Graphs of Functions and Their Derivatives First and second derivatives give graphical and numerical information about a function and can be used to locate important points on the graph of the function.

Topic 5.9 Connecting a Function, Its First Derivative, and Its Second Derivative First and second derivatives give graphical and numerical information about a function and can be used to locate important points on the graph of the function.

Topics 5.10 – 5.11

Optimization is an important application of derivatives. Optimization problems as presented in most textbooks, begin with writing the model or equation that describes the situation to be optimized. This proves difficult for students, and is not “calculus” per se. Therefore, writing the equation has not been asked on AP exams in recent years (since 1983). Questions give the expression to be optimized and students do the “calculus” to find the maximum or minimum values. To save time, my suggestion is to not spend too much time writing the equations; rather concentrate on finding the extreme values.

Topic 5.10 Introduction to Optimization Problems 

Topic 5.11 Solving Optimization Problems

Topics 5.12

Topic 5.12 Exploring Behaviors of Implicit Relations Critical points of implicitly defined relations can be found using the technique of implicit differentiation. This is an AB and BC topic. For BC students the techniques are applied later to parametric and vector functions.


Timing

Topic 5.1 is important and may take more than one day. Topics 5.2 – 5.9 flow together and for graphing they are used together; after presenting topics 5.2 – 5.7 spend the time in topics 5.8 and 5.9 spiraling and connecting the previous topics. Topics 5.10 and 5.11 – see note above and spend minimum time here. Topic 5.12 may take 2 days.

The suggested time for Unit 5 is 15 – 16 classes for AB and 10 – 11 for BC of 40 – 50-minute class periods, this includes time for testing etc.

Finally, were I still teaching, I would teach this unit before Unit 4. The linear motion topic (in Unit 4) are a special case of the graphing ideas in Unit 5, so it seems reasonable to teach this unit first. See Motion Problems: Same thing, Different Context

This is a re-post and update of the third in a series of posts from last year. It contains links to posts on this blog about the differentiation of composite, implicit, and inverse functions for your reference in planning. Other updated post on the 2019 CED will come throughout the year, hopefully, a few weeks before you get to the topic. 


Previous posts on these topics include:

Then There Is This – Existence Theorems

What’s a Mean Old Average Anyway

Did He, or Didn’t He?   History: how to find extreme values without calculus

Mean Value Theorem

Foreshadowing the MVT

Fermat’s Penultimate Theorem

Rolle’s theorem

The Mean Value Theorem I

The Mean Value Theorem II

Graphing

Concepts Related to Graphs

The Shapes of a Graph

Joining the Pieces of a Graph

Extreme Values

Extremes without Calculus

Concavity

Reading the Derivative’s Graph

        Other Asymptotes

Real “Real-life” Graph Reading

Far Out! An exploration

Open or closed Should intervals of increasing, decreasing, or concavity be open or closed?

Others

Lin McMullin’s Theorem and More Gold  The Golden Ratio in polynomials

Soda Cans Optimization video

Optimization – Reflections   

Curves with Extrema?

Good Question 10 – The Cone Problem

Implicit Differentiation of Parametric Equations    BC Topic


Here are links to the full list of posts discussing the ten units in the 2019 Course and Exam Description.

Limits and Continuity – Unit 1  (8-11-2020)

Definition of t he Derivative – Unit 2  (8-25-2020)

Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Function – Unit 3  (9-8-2020)

Contextual Applications of the Derivative – Unit 4   (9-22-2002)   Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

Analytical Applications of Differentiation – Unit 5  (9-29-2020) Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4 THIS POST

LAST YEAR’S POSTS – These will be updated in coming weeks

2019 – CED Unit 6 Integration and Accumulation of Change

2019 – CED Unit 7 Differential Equations  Consider teaching after Unit 8

2019 – CED Unit 8 Applications of Integration   Consider teaching after Unit 6, before Unit 7

2019 – CED Unit 9 Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Values Functions 

2019 CED Unit 10 Infinite Sequences and Series


Motion Problems: Same Thing, Different Context

Calculus is about things that are changing. Certainly, things that move are changing, changing their position, velocity, and acceleration. Most calculus textbooks deal with things being dropped or thrown up into the air. This is called uniformly accelerated motion since the acceleration is due to gravity and is constant. While this is a good place to start, the problems are by their nature somewhat limited. Students often know all about uniformly accelerated motion from their physics class.

The Advanced Placement exams take motion problems to a new level. AB students often encounter particles moving along the x-axis or the y-axis (i.e. on a number line) according to a function that gives the particle’s position, velocity, or acceleration.  BC students often encounter particles moving around the plane with their coordinates given by parametric equations or their velocity given by a vector. Other times the information is given as a graph or even in a table of the position or velocity. The “particle” may become a car, or a rocket or even chief readers riding bicycles.

While these situations may not be all that “real”, they provide excellent ways to ask both differentiation and integration questions. but be aware that they are not covered that much in some textbooks; supplementing the text may be necessary.

The main derivative ideas are that velocity is the first derivative of the position function, acceleration is the second derivative of the position function and the first derivative of the velocity. Speed is the absolute value of velocity. (There will be more about speed in the next post.) The same techniques used to find the features of a graph can be applied to motion problems to determine things about the moving particle.

So, the ideas are not new, but the vocabulary is. The table below gives the terms used with graph analysis and the corresponding terms used in motion problem.

Vocabulary: Working with motion equations (position, velocity, acceleration) you really do all the same things as with regular functions and their derivatives. Help students see that while the vocabulary is different, the concepts are the same.

Function                                Linear Motion
Value of a function at x               position at time t
First derivative                            velocity
Second derivative                       acceleration
Increasing                                   moving to the right or up
Decreasing                                 moving to the left or down
Absolute Maximum                    farthest right
Absolute Minimum                     farthest left
yʹ = 0                                        “at rest”
yʹ changes sign                          object changes direction
Increasing & cc up                     speed is increasing
Increasing & cc down                speed is decreasing
Decreasing & cc up                   speed is decreasing
Decreasing & cc down              speed is increasing
Speed                                       absolute value of velocity
 

Here is a short quiz on this idea.

Revised and updated from a post originally published on November 16, 2012

Unit 2 – Definition of the Derivative

This is a re-post and update of the second in a series of posts from last year. It contains links to posts on this blog about the definition of the derivative for your reference in planning. Other updated post on the 2019 CED will come throughout the year, hopefully, a few weeks before you get to the topic. 

Unit 2 contains topics rates of change, difference quotients, and the definition of the derivative (CED – 2019 p. 51 – 66). These topics account for about 10 – 12% of questions on the AB exam and 4 – 7% of the BC questions.

Topics 2.1 – 2.4: Introducing and Defining the Derivative 

Topic 2.1: Average and Instantaneous Rate of Change. The forward difference quotient is used to introduce the idea of rate of change over an interval and its limit as the length of the interval approaches zero is the instantaneous rate of change.

Topic 2.2: Defining the derivative and using derivative notation. The derivative is defined as the limit of the difference quotient from topic 1 and several new notations are introduced. The derivative is the slope of the tangent line at a point on the graph. Explain graphically, numerically, and analytically how the three representations relate to each other and the slope.

Topic 2.3 Estimating the derivative at a point.  Using tables and technology to approximate derivatives is used in this topic. The two resources in the sidebar will be helpful here.

Topic 2.4: Differentiability and Continuity. An important theorem is that differentiability implies continuity – everywhere a function is differentiable it is continuous.  Its converse is false – a function may be continuous at a point, but not differentiable there. A counterexample is the absolute value function, |x|, at x = 0.

One way that the definition of derivative is tested on recent exams which bothers some students is to ask a limit like

displaystyle underset{{xto 0}}{mathop{{lim }}},frac{{tan left( {tfrac{pi }{4}+x} right)-tan left( {tfrac{pi }{4}} right)}}{x}.

From the form of the limit students should realize this as the limit definition of the derivative. The h in the definition has been replaced by x. The function is tan(x) at the point where displaystyle a=tfrac{pi }{4}. The limit is displaystyle {{sec }^{2}}left( {tfrac{pi }{4}} right)=2.

Topics 2.5 – 2.10: Differentiation Rules

The remaining topics in this chapter are the rules for calculating derivatives without using the definition. These rules should be memorized as students will be using them constantly. There will be additional rules in Unit 3 (Chain Rule, Implicit differentiation, higher order derivative) and for BC, Unit 9 (parametric and vector equations).

Topic 2.5: The Power Rule

Topic 2.6: Constant, sum, difference, and constant multiple rules

Topic 2.7: Derivatives of the cos(x), sin(x), ex, and ln(x). This is where you use the squeeze theorem.

Topic 2.8. The Product Rule

Topic 2.9: The Quotient Rule

Topic 2.10: Derivative of the other trigonometric functions

The rules can be tested directly by just asking for the derivative or its value at a point for a given function. Or they can be tested by requiring the students to use the rule of an general expression and then find the values from a table, or a graph. See 2019 AB 6(b)


The suggested number of 40 – 50 minute class periods is 13 – 14 for AB and 9 – 10  for BC. This includes time for testing etc. Topics 2.1, 2,2, and 2.3 kind of flow together, but are important enough that you should spend time on them so that students develop a good understanding of what a derivative is. Topics 2.5 thru 2.10 can be developed in 2 -3 days, but then time needs to be spent deciding which rule(s) to use and in practice using them. The sidebar resource in the CED on “Selecting Procedures for Derivative” may be helpful here.


Other post on these topics

DEFINITION OF THE DERIVATIVE

Local Linearity 1  The graphical manifestation of differentiability with pathological examples.

Local Linearity 2   Using local linearity to approximate the tangent line. A calculator exploration.

Discovering the Derivative   A graphing calculator exploration

The Derivative 1  Definition of the derivative

The Derivative 2   Calculators and difference quotients

Difference Quotients 1

Difference Quotients II

Tangents and Slopes

       Differentiability Implies Continuity

Adapting 2021 AB 4 / BC 4

FINDING DERIVATIVES 

Why Radians?  Don’t do calculus without them

The Derivative Rules 1  Constants, sums and differences, powers.

The Derivative Rules 2  The Product rule

The Derivative Rules 3  The Quotient rule


Here are links to the full list of posts discussing the ten units in the 2019 Course and Exam Description.the 2019 versions.

2019 CED – Unit 1: Limits and Continuity

2019 CED – Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties.

2019 CED – Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite , Implicit, and Inverse Functions

2019 CED – Unit 4 Contextual Applications of the Derivative  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 5 Analytical Applications of Differentiation  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 6 Integration and Accumulation of Change

2019 – CED Unit 7 Differential Equations  Consider teaching after Unit 8

2019 – CED Unit 8 Applications of Integration   Consider teaching after Unit 6, before Unit 7

2019 – CED Unit 9 Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Values Functions 

2019 CED Unit 10 Infinite Sequences and Series


 

 

 

 

 

Adapting 2021 AB 5

Five of nine. Continuing the current series of posts, this post looks at the AB Calculus 2021 exam question AB 5. The series considers each question with the aim of showing ways to use the question in with your class as is, or by adapting and expanding it.  Like most of the AP Exam questions there is a lot more you can ask from the stem and a lot of other calculus you can discuss.

2021 AB 5

This question tests the process of differentiating an implicit function. In my scheme of type posts, it is in the Other Problems (Type 7) category; this type includes the topics of implicit functions, related rate problems, families of functions and a few others. This topic is in Unit 3 of the current Course and Exam Description. Every few exams one of these appears on the exams, but not often enough to be made into its own type.

The question does not lend itself to changes that emphasize the same concepts. Some of the suggestions below are for exploration beyond what is likely to be tested on the AP Exams.

Here is the stem, only one line long:

Part (a): Students were given dy/dx and asked to verify that the expression is correct. This is done so that a student who makes a mistake (or cannot find the derivative at all) will not be shut out of the rest of the question by not having the correct first derivative.

While not required for the exam, you could use a grapher in implicit mode to graph the relation. Without the y > 0 restriction the graph consists of two seemingly parallel graphs similar to a sine graph. They are not sine graphs.

Ideas for exploring this question:

  • Using a graphing utility that allows you to use sliders. Replace the -6 by a variable that will allow you to see all the members of this family using a slider.
  • If the slider value is between -1/8 and 0 the graph no longer looks the same. Explore with this.
  • If the slider value is < -1/8 there is no graph. Why?
  • Explain why these are not sine graphs. (Hint: Use the quadratic formula to solve for y):

\displaystyle y=\frac{{\sin (x)\pm \sqrt{{{{{(\sin (x))}}^{2}}+48}}}}{4}.

 Part (a): There is not much you can change in this part. Ask for the derivative of a different implicit relation. You may use other questions of this type. Good Question 17, 2004 AB 4, 2016 BC 4 (parts a, b, and c are suitable for AB).

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • Ask for the first derivative without showing student the answer.
  • Find the derivative from the expression when first solved for y. Show that this is equal to the given derivative.

Part (b): An easy, but important question: write the equation of the tangent line at a given point. Writing the equation of a line shows up somewhere on the exam every year. As always, use the point-slope form.

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • Use a different point.

Part (c): Students were asked to find the point in a specific interval where the tangent line is horizontal.

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • By enlarging the domain find other points where the tangent line is horizontal. (Not likely to be asked on the exam, but good exercise.)
  • Using y < 0 find where the tangent line is horizontal. (Not likely to be asked on the exam, but good exercise.)
  • Determine if the two parts of the graph are “parallel.”
  • Determine if the two parts of the graph are congruent to y=\tfrac{1}{4}\sin \left( x \right).

Part (d): Students were asked to determine if the point found in the previous part was a relative maximum, minimum or neither, and to justify their answer.  

Discussion and ideas for adapting this question:

  • Have students justify using the Candidates’ test (closed interval test).
  • Have students justify using the first derivative test.
  • Have students justify using the second derivative test.
  • Ask the same question for the branch with y < 0.

Having students justify local extreme values by all three methods is good practice any time there is a justification required. Depending on the problem, it may not be possible to use all three. Discuss why; discuss how to decide which is the most efficient for each problem.


Next week 2021 AB 6.

I would be happy to hear your ideas for other ways to use this question. Please use the reply box below to share your ideas.