The basic functions are powerful, but they are extremely limited until you can change them to match any given situation. Transformation means that you can change the equation of a basic function by adding, subtracting, and/or multiplying by constants and thus cause a corresponding change in the graph. What are the effects of the following transformations?
1) \begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow f(x+3)\end{align*}
2) \begin{align*}h(x) \rightarrow h(x)5\end{align*}
3) \begin{align*}g(x) \rightarrow g(2x)\end{align*}
4) \begin{align*}j(x) \rightarrow j \left ( \frac{x}{2} \right )\end{align*}
Watch This
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CESXLJaq6Mk James Sousa: Function Transformations: Horizontal and Vertical Translations
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2S9LUinJ8w James Sousa: Function Transformations: Horizontal and Vertical Stretch and Compression
Guidance
A function is a rule that takes any input \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
When transforming a function, you can transform the argument (the part inside the parentheses with the \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
\begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow f(bx+c)\end{align*}
The function itself can also be linearly transformed in the same ways:
\begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow af(x)+d\end{align*}
Each of the letters \begin{align*}a,b,c,\end{align*}

\begin{align*}a\end{align*}
a is a vertical stretch. If \begin{align*}a\end{align*}a is negative, there is also a reflection across the \begin{align*}x\end{align*}x axis. 
\begin{align*}d\end{align*}
d is a vertical shift. If \begin{align*}d\end{align*}d is positive, then the shift is up. If \begin{align*}d\end{align*}d is negative, then the shift is down.
When transforming the argument of the function things are much trickier.

\begin{align*}\frac{1}{b}\end{align*}
1b is a horizontal stretch. If \begin{align*}b\end{align*}b is negative, there is also a reflection across the \begin{align*}y\end{align*}y axis. 
\begin{align*}c\end{align*}
c is a horizontal shift. If \begin{align*}c\end{align*}c is positive, then the shift is to the left. If \begin{align*}c\end{align*}c is negative, then the shift is to the right. Note that this is the opposite of what most people think at first.
The trickiest part with transforming the argument of a function is the order in which you carry out the transformations. See Example A.
Example A
Describe the following transformation in words and show an example with a picture: \begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow f(3x6)\end{align*}
Solution: Often it makes sense to apply the transformation to a specific function that is known and then describe the transformation that you see.
Clearly the graph is narrower and to the right, but in order to be specific you must look closer. First, note that the transformation is entirely within the argument of the function. This affects only the horizontal values. This means while the graph seems like it was stretched vertically, you must keep your perspective focused on a horizontal compression.
Look carefully at the vertex of the parabola. It has moved to the right two units. This is because first the entire graph was shifted entirely to the right 6 units. Then the function was horizontally compressed by a factor of 3 which means the point (6, 0) became (2, 0) and the \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
Alternatively, the argument can be factored and each component of the transformation will present itself. This time the stretch occurs from the center of the transformed graph, not the origin. This method is ultimately the preferred method.
\begin{align*}f(3(x2))\end{align*}
Either way, this is a horizontal compression by a factor of 3 and a horizontal shift to the right by 2 units.
Example B
Describe the transformation in words and show an example with a picture: \begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow  \frac{1}{4}f(x)+3\end{align*}
Solution: This is a vertical stretch by a factor of \begin{align*}\frac{1}{4}\end{align*}
First, the parabola is reflected over the \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
Example C
Describe the transformation in words and show an example with a picture:
\begin{align*}f(x)\rightarrow 3f \left ( \frac{1}{2}x1 \right )+1\end{align*}
Solution: Every possible transformation is occurring in this example. The horizontal and the vertical components do not interact with each other and so your description of the transformation can begin with either component. Here, start by describing the vertical components of the transformation:
There is reflection across the \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
In order to figure out the horizontal components of the transformation, start by factoring the inside of the parentheses (the argument):
\begin{align*}f \left ( \frac{1}{2} x 1 \right ) = f \left ( \frac{1}{2}(x+2) \right )\end{align*}
Factoring reveals a reflection across the \begin{align*}y\end{align*} axis, a horizontal shift left 2 units and a horizontal stretch by a factor of 2. Below is an image of the same function going through the horizontal transformations.
Concept Problem Revisited
1) \begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow f(x+3)\end{align*}
This transformation shifts the entire graph left 3 units. A common misconception is to shift right because the three is positive.
2) \begin{align*}h(x) \rightarrow h(x) 5\end{align*}
This transformation shifts the entire graph down 5 units.
3) \begin{align*}g(x) \rightarrow g(2x)\end{align*}
This transformation is a vertical reflection across the \begin{align*}x\end{align*} axis and a horizontal compression by a factor of 2.
4) \begin{align*}j(x) = j \left (  \frac{x}{2} \right )\end{align*}
This transformation is a horizontal reflection across the \begin{align*}y\end{align*} axis and a horizontal stretch by a factor of 2. A common misconception is to see the \begin{align*}\frac{1}{2}\end{align*} and believe that the \begin{align*}x\end{align*} values will be half as big which is a horizontal compression. However, the \begin{align*}x\end{align*} values need to be twice as big to counteract this factor of \begin{align*}\frac{1}{2}\end{align*}.
Vocabulary
Horizontal comes from the word horizon and means flat.
Vertical means up and down.
Shift is a rigid transformation that means the shape keeps the exact shape.
Stretch is a scaled transformation.
Guided Practice
1. Describe the following transformation in words: \begin{align*}g(x) \rightarrow 2 g (x)\end{align*}
2. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}h(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Vertical compression by a factor of 3.
 Vertical shift down 4 units.
 Horizontal shift right 5 units.
3. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}f(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Horizontal stretch by a factor of 4 and a horizontal shift 3 units to the right.
 Vertical reflection across the \begin{align*}x\end{align*} axis and a shift down 2 units.
Answers:
1. Vertical stretch by a factor of 2 and a reflection across the \begin{align*}y\end{align*} axis.
2. \begin{align*}\frac{1}{3}h(x5)4\end{align*}
3.\begin{align*}f \left ( \frac{1}{4}(x 3)\right ) 2\end{align*} or \begin{align*}f \left ( \frac{1}{4}x \frac{3}{4}\right ) 2\end{align*}
Practice
Describe the following transformations in words.
1. \begin{align*}g(x) \rightarrow g(x)\end{align*}
2. \begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow f(x+3)\end{align*}
3. \begin{align*}h(x) \rightarrow h(x+1)2\end{align*}
4. \begin{align*}j(x) \rightarrow j(x+3)\end{align*}
5. \begin{align*}k(x) \rightarrow  k(2x)\end{align*}
6. \begin{align*}f(x) \rightarrow 4 f \left ( \frac{1}{2}x + 1 \right )\end{align*}
7. \begin{align*}g(x) \rightarrow 3g(x2)2\end{align*}
8. \begin{align*}h(x) \rightarrow 5h (x+1)\end{align*}
9. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}h(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Vertical stretch by a factor of 2
 Vertical shift up 3 units.
 Horizontal shift right 2 units.
10. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}f(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Vertical reflection across the \begin{align*}x\end{align*} axis.
 Vertical shift down 1 unit.
 Horizontal shift left 2 units.
11. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}g(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Vertical compression by a factor of 4.
 Reflection across the \begin{align*}y\end{align*} axis.
12. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}j(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Horizontal compression by a factor of 3.
 Vertical shift up 3 units.
 Horizontal shift right 2 units.
13. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}k(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Horizontal stretch by a factor of 4.
 Vertical shift up 3 units.
 Horizontal shift left 1 unit.
14. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}h(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Vertical compression by a factor of 2.
 Horizontal shift right 3 units.
 Reflection across the \begin{align*}y\end{align*} axis.
15. Describe the transformation that would change \begin{align*}f(x)\end{align*} in the following ways:
 Vertical stretch by a factor of 5.
 Reflection across the \begin{align*}x\end{align*} axis.