6.14: Graphing Polynomial Functions with a Graphing Calculator
To make a fair race between a dragster and a funny car, a scientist devised the following polynomial equation:
\begin{align*}f(x) = 71.682x 60.427x^2 + 84.710x^3 27.769x^4 + 4.296x^5  0.262x^6\end{align*}
Source: http://ceee.rice.edu/Books/CS/chapter3/data1.html
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James Sousa: Ex: Solve a Polynomial Equation Using a Graphing Calculator (Approximate Solutions)
Guidance
In the Quadratic Functions chapter, you used the graphing calculator to graph parabolas. Now, we will expand upon that knowledge and graph higherdegree polynomials. Then, we will use the graphing calculator to find the zeros, maximums and minimums.
Example A
Graph \begin{align*}f(x)=x^3+x^28x8\end{align*}
Solution: These instructions are for a TI83 or 84. First, press \begin{align*}Y=\end{align*}
To adjust the window, press ZOOM. To get the typical 10 to 10 screen (for both axes), press 6:ZStandard. To zoom out, press ZOOM, 3:ZoomOut, ENTER, ENTER. For this particular function, the window needs to go from 15 to 15 for both \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
Example B
Find the zeros, maximum, and minimum of the function from Example A.
Solution: To find the zeros, press \begin{align*}2^{nd}\end{align*}
To find the minimum and maximum, the process is almost identical to finding zeros. Instead of selecting 2:Zero, select 3:min or 4:max. The minimum is (1.33, 14.52) and the maximum is (2, 4).
Example C
Find the \begin{align*}y\end{align*}
Solution: If you decide not to use the calculator, plug in zero for \begin{align*}x\end{align*}
\begin{align*}f(0) &= 0^3+0^2  8 \cdot 0  8\\
&= 8\end{align*}
Using the graphing calculator, press \begin{align*}2^{nd}\end{align*}
Intro Problem Revisit If you plug the equation \begin{align*}f(x) = 71.682x 60.427x^2 + 84.710x^3 27.769x^4 + 4.296x^5  0.262x^6\end{align*}
Guided Practice
Graph and find the critical values of the following functions.
1. \begin{align*}f(x)=\frac{1}{3}x^4x^3+10x^2+25x4\end{align*}
2. \begin{align*}g(x)=2x^5x^4+6x^3+18x^23x8\end{align*}
3. Find the domain and range of the previous two functions.
4. Describe the types of solutions, as specifically as possible, for question 2.
Answers
Use the steps given in Examples \begin{align*}A, B\end{align*}
1. zeros: 5.874, 2.56, 0.151, 5.283
\begin{align*}y\end{align*}
minimum: (1.15, 18.59)
local maximum: (4.62, 40.69)
absolute maximum: (3.52, 113.12)
2. zeros: 1.413, 0.682, 0.672
\begin{align*}y\end{align*}
minimum: (1.11, 4.41)
maximum: (0.08, 8.12)
3. The domain of #1 is all real numbers and the range is all real numbers less than the maximum; \begin{align*}(\infty, 113.12]\end{align*}
4. There are three irrational solutions and two imaginary solutions.
Practice
Graph questions 16 on your graphing calculator. Sketch the graph in an appropriate window. Then, find all the critical values, domain, range, and describe the end behavior.

\begin{align*}f(x)=2x^3+5x^24x12\end{align*}
f(x)=2x3+5x2−4x−12 
\begin{align*}h(x)=\frac{1}{4}x^42x^3\frac{13}{4} x^28x9\end{align*}
h(x)=−14x4−2x3−134x2−8x−9 
\begin{align*}y=x^38\end{align*}
y=x3−8 
\begin{align*}g(x)=x^311x^214x+10\end{align*}
g(x)=−x3−11x2−14x+10 
\begin{align*}f(x)=2x^4+3x^326x^23x+54\end{align*}
f(x)=2x4+3x3−26x2−3x+54 
\begin{align*}y=x^4+2x^35x^212x6\end{align*}
y=x4+2x3−5x2−12x−6  What are the types of solutions in #2?
 Find the two imaginary solutions in #3.
 Find the exact values of the irrational roots in #5.
Determine if the following statements are SOMETIMES, ALWAYS, or NEVER true. Explain your reasoning.
 The range of an even function is \begin{align*}(\infty, max]\end{align*}
(−∞,max] , where max is the maximum of the function.  The domain and range of all odd functions are all real numbers.
 A function can have exactly three imaginary solutions.
 An \begin{align*}n^{th}\end{align*}
nth degree polynomial has \begin{align*}n\end{align*}n real solutions.  The parent graph of any polynomial function has one zero.

Challenge The exact value for one of the zeros in #2 is \begin{align*}4+\sqrt{7}\end{align*}
−4+7√ . What is the exact value of the other root? Then, use this information to find the imaginary roots.
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Image Attributions
Here you'll learn how to graph polynomial functions and find critical values using a graphing calculator.