12.15: Evaluating Quadratic Functions
Have you ever thought about the speed of a baseball? Take a look at this dilemma.
When passing the baseball field, Mr. Travis handed the students the following problem written on a piece of paper that looked like a baseball. Here is what it said.
When an object is thrown into the air with a starting velocity of
To figure out this problem, you will need to know about quadratic functions and their graphs. Pay close attention because you will need to work with this problem again at the end of the Concept.
Guidance
A function is a relation that assigns exactly one value of the domain to each value of the range. When we say quadratic function, we are referring to any function that can be written in the form
Why can’t
Let's look at quadratic functions in more detail.
You know that the word domain refers to input values and the word range refers to output values. Recall that a function is a relation that assigns exactly one value of the domain to each value of the range. That means that for every
We can find
Complete a table of values for the function
















To find the
The completed t – table should look like this.

















Evaluating a quadratic function is always the same. You substitute the
The values of
Value  What it tells you  Example \begin{align*}y = 3x^2 + x 2\end{align*} 

\begin{align*}a\end{align*} 
if \begin{align*}a > 0\end{align*}, graph opens upward if \begin{align*}a < \end{align*} graph opens downward if \begin{align*}a\end{align*} is close to zero, wider graph if \begin{align*}a\end{align*} is far from zero, narrower graph 
\begin{align*}a = 3\end{align*} \begin{align*}a\end{align*} is less than zero so graph opens downward \begin{align*}a\end{align*} is further from zero so will be narrow 
\begin{align*}b\end{align*}  helps predict axis of symmetry 
\begin{align*}b = 1\end{align*} axis of symmetry of the parabola 
\begin{align*}c\end{align*}  \begin{align*}y\end{align*}intercept 
\begin{align*}c = 2\end{align*} graph crosses \begin{align*}y\end{align*}axis at 2 
We know that the graph of a quadratic function will always be a parabola. A parabola is a kind of “U” shape that is always symmetrical on both sides. It can go either upward or downward. Also, a parabola is not linear—no part of the parabola is actually a straight line. Thus, it cannot be vertical, either.
If we wanted to predict the shape of the parabola, we would need to look at the value of \begin{align*}a\end{align*}. We know that \begin{align*}a\end{align*} helps us to determine a parabola’s shape.
Take a look.
\begin{align*}& y = x^2 && y = 3x^2 && y = \frac{1}{3}x^2\\ & a = 1 \ so \ a > 0 && a = 3 \ so \ a > 0 && a = \frac{1}{3} \ so \ a > 0\\ & \text{graph opens upward} && \text{graph opens upward} && \text{graph opens upward}\\ & \text{neither wide nor narrow} && \text{graph is narrow} && \text{graph is wide}\end{align*}
Now that you understand how these graphs look and how the equation of the graph affects its appearance, it is time to make some predictions.
What would you predict about the graph of \begin{align*}y = 7x^2\end{align*}?
Because the \begin{align*}a\end{align*} value is 7, it would be very narrow. Also, because \begin{align*}a > 0\end{align*}, it would open upward.
Answer the following questions by making predictions.
Example A
Predict the opening of \begin{align*}3x^2+4\end{align*}.
Solution: It will open downwards because the \begin{align*}a\end{align*} value is negative.
Example B
For the quadratic function in Example A, where will the vertex be?
Solution: At \begin{align*}4\end{align*}
Example C
Which graph will have a wider opening one with a vertex at 0 or one with a vertex at 8?
Solution: Vertex at 0
Now let's go back to the dilemma from the beginning of the Concept.
First, think about the information that you have and the equation that you can write.
\begin{align*}r & = 80\\ d & = 80t  16t^2\end{align*}
Next, we can make a table of values.
\begin{align*}& t \ (seconds) \quad \qquad 0 \qquad 1 \qquad 2 \qquad 3 \qquad 4 \qquad 5\\ & d \text{ distance } (ft) \quad \ 0 \quad \ \ 64 \quad \ \ 96 \quad \ 96 \quad \ \ 64 \quad \ \ 0\end{align*}
Finally we can take those values, insert them into a graphing calculator and create the following graph.
Vocabulary
 Domain
 input value, independent value
 Range
 output value, dependent value
 Function
 relation that assigns one value of the domain to each value of range
 Quadratic Function
 To the \begin{align*}2^{nd}\end{align*} degree in standard forma parabola is created by a quadratic function.
Guided Practice
Here is one for you to try on your own.
What would you predict about the graph of \begin{align*}y =  \frac{1}{4}x^2\end{align*}?
Solution
Because the \begin{align*}a\end{align*} value is \begin{align*}\frac{1}{4}\end{align*}, it would be very wide. Also, because \begin{align*}a < 0\end{align*}, it would open downward.
Video Review
Practice
Use your tables to graph the following functions.
 \begin{align*}y = x^2  8\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = 3x^2  x + 4\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = 2x^2 + 4\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}2y = 4x^2 + 4\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}3y = 6x^2 + 12\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}4y = 2x^2  12\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}3y1 = 6x^2 + 11\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}2y+2 = 2x^2 + 4\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y =  2x^2 + 5x\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = x^2 + 3x  7\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = \frac{2}{3}x^2 + 2x  1\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = x^2 + 8\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y =  2x^2 + 5x\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = x^2 + 3x  1\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}y = 3x^2 + 2x + 1\end{align*}
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Term  Definition 

Coefficient  A coefficient is the number in front of a variable. 
Dilation  To reduce or enlarge a figure according to a scale factor is a dilation. 
domain  The domain of a function is the set of values for which the function is defined. 
Function  A function is a relation where there is only one output for every input. In other words, for every value of , there is only one value for . 
Horizontal shift  A horizontal shift is the result of adding a constant term to the function inside the parentheses. A positive term results in a shift to the left and a negative term in a shift to the right. 
Parabola  A parabola is the characteristic shape of a quadratic function graph, resembling a "U". 
quadratic function  A quadratic function is a function that can be written in the form , where , , and are real constants and . 
Range  The range of a data set is the difference between the smallest value and the greatest value in the data set. 
standard form  The standard form of a quadratic function is . 
Symmetry  A figure has symmetry if it can be transformed and still look the same. 
Vertex  The vertex of a parabola is the highest or lowest point on the graph of a parabola. The vertex is the maximum point of a parabola that opens downward and the minimum point of a parabola that opens upward. 
vertical axis  The vertical axis is also referred to as the axis of a coordinate graph. By convention, we graph the output variable on the axis. 
Image Attributions
Evaluate and graph quadratic functions by using tables.