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3.9: Perpendicular Lines in the Coordinate Plane

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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Perpendicular Lines in the Coordinate Plane 

Recall that the definition of perpendicular is two lines that intersect at a 90, or right, angle. In the coordinate plane, that would look like this:

If we take a closer look at these two lines, we see that the slope of one is -4 and the other is 14. This can be generalized to any pair of perpendicular lines in the coordinate plane. The slopes of perpendicular lines are opposite signs and reciprocals of each other.

 

Calculating the Slope of Perpendicular Lines

Find the slope of the perpendicular lines to the lines below.

a) y=2x+3

m=2, so m is the reciprocal and negative, m=12.

b) y=23x5

m=23, take the reciprocal and make the slope positive, m=32

c) y=x+2

Because there is no number in front of x, the slope is 1. The reciprocal of 1 is 1, so the only thing to do is make it negative, m=1.

Finding the Equation of a Perpendicular Line 

Find the equation of the line that is perpendicular to y=13x+4 and passes through (9, -5).

First, the slope is the reciprocal and opposite sign of 13. So, m=3. Now, we need to find the yintercept. 4 is the yintercept of the given line, not our new line. We need to plug in 9 for x and -5 for y to solve for the new yintercept (b).

5532=3(9)+b=27+bTherefore, the equation of line is y=3x32.=b

Graphing the Equation of a Line 

Graph 3x4y=8 and 4x+3y=15. Determine if they are perpendicular.

First, we have to change each equation into slope-intercept form. In other words, we need to solve each equation for y.

3x4y4yy=8=3x+8=34x24x+3y=153y=4x+15y=43x+5

Now that the lines are in slope-intercept form (also called yintercept form), we can tell they are perpendicular because their slopes are opposite reciprocals.

 

Examples

Example 1

Determine which of the following pairs of lines are perpendicular.

  • y=2x+3 and y=12x+3
  • y=4x2 and y=4x+5
  • y=x+5 and y=x+1

Two lines are perpendicular if their slopes are opposite reciprocals. The only pairs of lines this is true for is the first pair, because 2 and 12 are opposites and reciprocals.

Example 2

Find the equation of the line that is perpendicular to the line y=2x+7 and goes through the point (2, -2).

The perpendicular line goes through (2, -2), but the slope is 12 because we need to take the opposite reciprocal of 2.

y221=12x+b=12(2)+b=1+b=b

The equation is y=12x1.

Example 3

Give an example of a line that is perpendicular to the line y=23x4.

 

 

3. Any line perpendicular to y=23x4 will have a slope of 32. Any equation of the form y=32x+b will work.

Interactive Practice

 

 

 

Review 

  1. Determine which of the following pairs of lines are perpendicular.
    1. y=3x+1 and y=3x1
    2. 2x3y=6 and 3x+2y=6
    3. 5x+2y=4 and 5x+2y=8
    4. \begin{align*}x-3y=-3\end{align*} and \begin{align*}x+3y=9\end{align*}
    5. \begin{align*}x+y=6\end{align*} and \begin{align*}4x+4y=-16\end{align*}

Determine the equation of the line that is perpendicular to the given line, through the given point.

  1. \begin{align*}y=x-1; \ (-6, \ 2)\end{align*}
  2. \begin{align*}y=3x+4; \ (9, \ -7)\end{align*}
  3. \begin{align*}5x-2y=6; \ (5, \ 5)\end{align*}
  4. \begin{align*}y = 4; \ (-1, \ 3)\end{align*}
  5. \begin{align*}x = -3; \ (1, \ 8)\end{align*}
  6. \begin{align*}x - 3y = 11; \ (0, \ 13)\end{align*}

Determine if each pair of lines is perpendicular or not.

For the line and point below, find a perpendicular line, through the given point.

Review (Answers)

To view the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 3.9. 

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Difficulty Level:
At Grade
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Date Created:
Jul 17, 2012
Last Modified:
Aug 02, 2016
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