1.4.1: Linear and Absolute Value Function Families
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 14135
Linear and Absolute Value Function Families
On Tuesday, Mr. Varner's math class filed into the room, and gawked at the message on the whiteboard: "The first student to add together all of the numbers between 1 and 100 wins four free movie tickets to the theater next Friday!" Everyone grabbed a pencil and started adding: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5... No one was further than about 20 when Brian walked in, late as usual, looked at the white board for about 15 secs, and wrote: "5050" on the bottom. The surprised Mr. Varner handed Brian the tickets and told him to take his seat.
How did he come up with the answer so fast?
Linear and Absolute Value Function Families
In this Concept we will examine several families of functions. A family of functions is a set of functions whose equations have a similar form. The parent of the family is the equation in the family with the simplest form. For example, y = x^{2} is a parent to other functions, such as y = 2x^{2}  5x + 3.
Linear Function Family
An equation is a member of the linear function family if it contains no powers of \(\ x\) greater than
1. For example, \(\ y=2x\) and \(\ y=2\) are linear equations, while \(\ y=x^{2}\) and \(\ y=\frac{1}{x}\) are nonlinear.
Linear equations are called linear because their graphs form straight lines. As you may recall from your earlier studies of algebra, we can describe any line by its average rate of change, or slope, and its yintercept. (In fact, it is the constant slope of a line that makes it a line!) These aspects of a line are easiest to identify if the equation of the line is written in slopeintercept form, or y = mx + b. The slope of the line is equal to the coefficient m, and the yintercept of the line is the point (0, b).
Note that a line can be a member of a family such as the family of "linear functions", and also a member of a subfamily of linear functions with the same slope. The graphs of this subfamily will be a set of parallel lines. One particular subfamily of linear functions is the constant function subfamily. The line x = 5 is a constant function, as the function values are constant, or unchanging. The constant functions “subfamily” of linear functions is composed of functions whose graphs are horizontal lines.
Absolute Value Function Family
Let’s first consider the parent of the family: y = x. Because the absolute value of a number is that number’s distance from zero, all of the function values of an absolute value function will be nonnegative. If x = 0, then y = 0 = 0. If x is positive, then the function value is equal to x. For example, the graph contains the points (1, 1), (2, 2), (3, 3), etc. However, when x is negative, the function value will be the opposite of the number. For example, the graph contains the points (1, 1), (2, 2), (3, 3), etc. As you can see in the graph below, the absolute value function forms a “V” shape.
There are two important things to note about the graph of this kind of function. First, the absolute value graph has a vertex (a highest or lowest point) and a line of symmetry (a line that splits the function into equal and opposite 'halves'). For example, the graph of y = x has its vertex at (0, 0) and it is symmetric across the yaxis. Second, note that the graph is not curved, but composed of two straight portions. Every absolute value graph will take this shape, as long as the expression inside the absolute value is linear.
PieceWise Defined Functions
Consider again the function y = x. For positive x values, the graph resembles the identity function y = x. For negative x values, the graph resembles the function y = x. We can express this relationship by defining the absolute value function in two pieces:
\(\ f(x)=\left\{\begin{array}{l}
x, x<0 \\
x, x \geq 0
\end{array}\right.\)
We can read this notation as: the function values are equal to x if x is negative. The function values are equal to x if x is 0 or positive.
A piecewise defined function does not have to represent a function that can already be written as a single equation, such as the absolute value function. For example, one “piece” may be from one function family, while another piece is from a different function family.
Examples
Example 1
Solution
Earlier, you were given a problem about Mr. Varner's math class giveaway.
He wrote the following message on the whiteboard: "The first student to add together all of the numbers between 1 and 100 wins four free movie tickets to the theater next Friday!" Everyone grabbed a pencil and started adding: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5... No one was further than about 20 when Brian walked in, looked at the white board for about 15 secs, and wrote: "5050" on the bottom. Mr. Varner handed Brian the tickets and told him to take his seat. How did he come up with the answer so fast?
Brian recognized that he didn't need to add each of the numbers individually, only the pairs: 100 + 0 = 100, so does 99 + 1, and 98 + 2, and so on. Since there are 50 pairs of 100, that adds up to 5000. The only number without a pair is 50, so it gets added to the total: 5050.
Function families represent this same sort of timesaver. By recognizing common bits of information and combining them in different ways, we can 'automate' some very complexseeming processes.
Example 2
Identify the slope and the yintercept of each line.
 \(\ y=\frac{2}{3} x1\)
 \(\ y=5\)
 \(\ x=−2\)
 \(\ y=\frac{2}{3} x+3\)
Solution
 This line has slope (2/3) and the yintercept is the point (0, 1).
 This is a horizontal line. The slope is 0, and the yintercept is (0,5).
 This is a vertical line. The slope is undefined, and the line does not cross the yaxis. (Note that this line is not a function!)
 The slope of this line is 2/3, and the yintercept is the point (0, 3).
Example 3
Graph the following: \(\ y=2 x1 \text { and } y=\left2 x^{2}1\right\).
Solution
The graph of \(\ y=2 x1\) makes a “V” shape, much like \(\ y=x\).
The function inside the absolute value, \(\ 2x+1\), is linear, so the graph is composed of straight lines.
The graph of \(\ y=\left2 x^{2}1\right\) is curved, and it does not have a single vertex, but two “cusps.”
The function inside the absolute value is NOT linear, therefore the graph contains curves.
Example 4
Sketch a graph of the function
\(\ f(x)=\left\{\begin{array}{l}
x^{2}, x<2 \\
x+3, x \geq 2
\end{array}\right.\)
Solution
It is important to note that the pieces of a piecewise defined function may or may not meet up. For example, in the graph of f(x) above, the function value is 4 at x = 2, but the piece of the graph that is defined by x + 3 is headed to the y value of 1. Therefore the two pieces do not meet.Example 5
Find the xintercepts of the function \(\ f(x)=8x764\).
Solution
To find the xintercepts, set f(x) equal to 0, and solve for x:
0=8x−7−64
64=8x−7
8=x−7
8=(x−7) or 8=−(x−7)
15=x or −1=x
∴ the xintercepts are 15 and 1
Example 6
What is the graph of y=x? How is that graph related to the graph of y=ax−h+k? What happens to the graph of y=x when the equation changes to y=x−5?
Solution
The graph of y=x is shown below. You can either use a graphing tool, or plot points, noting that every positive x has a matching y, and every negative x matches with its positive equivalent as y. y=x is the simplest example of a graph in the absolute value function family, of which y=ax−h+k is the parent. Changes to a, h, and k shift the graph of y=x in different ways.
The graph of y=x−5 is below. It is clear that the 5 after the absolute value causes the graph to shift down 5 places.
Review
For questions 15, identify the family that each function belongs to.
 y=x−7
 y=3x−4
 f(x)=x^{2}
 x−2=y
 \(\ f(x)=x+\frac{3 x}{2}\)
 Graph the following piecewise function by hand: \(\ f(x)=\left\{\begin{array}{l}
x, x \geq 0 \\
x, x<0
\end{array}\right.\)  On your graphing calculator, graph the function f(x)=x−2, and answer the following questions: a. What is the shape of the graph? b. Compare the graph to the graph in the problem above. What is the difference between the two graphs? c. What is the slope of the two lines that create the graph?
For each equation that follows, identify the coordinates of the vertex of the graph, without actually graphing.
 f(x)=6x
 f(x)=x−6+8
 f(x)=x+7−8
 f(x)=x+5
 The graph of p(x)=x is shown below. If t(x)=−x−3, how will the graph of t(x) be different from the graph of p(x)?
 Graph the absolute value equation, create your own table to justify values: f(x)=x−3
 Graph the absolute value equation, create your own table to justify values: g(x)=x+3
Identify the parent function for each set of linear functions. Graph each set of functions using a graphing calculator. Identify similarities and differences of each set.

a. f(x)=x−7, b. f(x)=x−2, c. f(x)=x+1, d. f(x)=x+5, e. f(x)=x+10
Parent Function:
Similarities:
Differences:

\(\ \text{a. } f(x)=\frac{2}{11} x, \text { b. } f(x)=\frac{1}{2} x, \text { c. } f(x)=\frac{2}{3} x\)
Parent Function:
Similarities:
Differences:
 a. f(x)=x−7, b. f(x)=2x, c. f(x)=4x, d. f(x)=2x+5, e. f(x)=6x−10
Parent Function:
Similarities:
Differences:
Use the standard form of a linear equation: f(x)=ax+b and your investigations above to help you answer the following questions.
 How does the a value affect the graph?
 How does the b value affect the graph?
 How are the domain values similar/different?
 How are the range values similar/different?
 Does the a and/or b value affect the domain?
 Does the a and/or b value affect the range?
Vocabulary
Term  Definition 

Absolute Value  The absolute value of a number is the distance the number is from zero. Absolute values are never negative. 
Absolute value function  An absolute value function graphs a V shape, and is in the form y=x. 
Function families  Function families are groups of functions with similarities that make them easier to graph when you are familiar with the parent function, the most basic example of the form. 
Function Family  Function families are groups of functions with similarities that make them easier to graph when you are familiar with the parent function, the most basic example of the form. 
linear equation  A linear equation is an equation between two variables that produces a straight line when graphed. 
Linear Function  A linear function is a relation between two variables that produces a straight line when graphed. 
parent function  A parent function is the simplest form of a particular type of function. All other functions of this type are usually compared to the parent function. 
Piecewise defined function  A piecewise defined function is a function that pieces together two or more parts of other functions to create a new function. 