Using Graphing Technologies to Graph Functions

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Math, in some ways, is a lot easier to do today than it was a hundred years ago. In this lesson, you'll learn about the various technologies you can use to help you graph your functions, even 3-D ones.

Graphing Functions

If you have a function, you can graph it. You can graph population growth functions. You can graph functions that show you how much your savings account grows over time. You can graph simple linear functions and more complicated irrational functions with gaps in the graph itself.

Go backward in time, and you would have to graph all of these functions by hand. There were no calculators, nor were there any computers. Everything was done by hand and by brain. But fast forward to today, and now you have quite a few options to choose from. If you are reading this lesson on a computer with internet access, then you already have access to one of these, as you'll see.

Let's take a look at some of the options available to you today.

Graphing Calculator

This first one has been around for a few decades now. This is the graphing calculator. It is a calculator that comes with a screen and the capability of plotting your functions on a graph for you like the TI-85. You can zoom in and zoom out on the graph. These calculators can graph all kinds of functions for you. Some of the more expensive ones will even plot your 3D functions.

To graph on one of these calculators, you begin by typing your function y in terms of x. If you have a calculator capable of graphing 3D graphs, then you can type in a function in 3 variables. After you are done, you'll then press the button that tells the calculator to graph it. You'll see the graph on your screen. You can then use the arrow buttons to move around the graph. Move the cursor to where your graph crosses the x-axis and you'll be able to see what your solutions to the function are. This is especially helpful if you have a complicated function to solve.

Online Graphing Calculators

Another technology you can use are the online graphing calculators. Instead of having to buy a physical graphing calculator, you can now go online, visit the online graphing calculator, and input your function for it to graph. And you'll then see your graph come up on screen. You can use your mouse to click on different points on the graph. You'll be able to easily spot your solutions with this method.

For example, say you wanted to graph this function.


graphing technologies


You'd go to your online graphing calculator, type in your function, and then you get to watch your graph appear on your screen like this.


graphing technologies


These online graphing calculators make it really easy for you to find important points. Click on the points and you can see what the point's values are.


graphing technologies


The only drawback to these online graphing calculators is that you need an internet connection to use them.

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