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Note that when solving a related-rates problem, it is crucial not to substitute known values too soon. For example, if the value for a changing quantity is substituted into an equation before both sides of the equation are differentiated, then that quantity will behave as a constant and its derivative will not appear in the new equation found in step 4. We examine this potential error in the following example.

Examples of the process

Let’s now implement the strategy just described to solve several related-rates problems. The first example involves a plane flying overhead. The relationship we are studying is between the speed of the plane and the rate at which the distance between the plane and a person on the ground is changing.

An airplane flying at a constant elevation

An airplane is flying overhead at a constant elevation of 4000 ft . A man is viewing the plane from a position 3000 ft from the base of a radio tower. The airplane is flying horizontally away from the man. If the plane is flying at the rate of 600 ft/sec , at what rate is the distance between the man and the plane increasing when the plane passes over the radio tower?

Step 1. Draw a picture, introducing variables to represent the different quantities involved.

A right triangle is made with a person on the ground, an airplane in the air, and a radio tower at the right angle on the ground. The hypotenuse is s, the distance on the ground between the person and the radio tower is x, and the side opposite the person (that is, the height from the ground to the airplane) is 4000 ft.
An airplane is flying at a constant height of 4000 ft. The distance between the person and the airplane and the person and the place on the ground directly below the airplane are changing. We denote those quantities with the variables s and x , respectively.

As shown, x denotes the distance between the man and the position on the ground directly below the airplane. The variable s denotes the distance between the man and the plane. Note that both x and s are functions of time. We do not introduce a variable for the height of the plane because it remains at a constant elevation of 4000 ft . Since an object’s height above the ground is measured as the shortest distance between the object and the ground, the line segment of length 4000 ft is perpendicular to the line segment of length x feet, creating a right triangle.

Step 2. Since x denotes the horizontal distance between the man and the point on the ground below the plane, d x / d t represents the speed of the plane. We are told the speed of the plane is 600 ft/sec. Therefore, d x d t = 600 ft/sec. Since we are asked to find the rate of change in the distance between the man and the plane when the plane is directly above the radio tower, we need to find d s / d t when x = 3000 ft .

Step 3. From the figure, we can use the Pythagorean theorem to write an equation relating x and s :

[ x ( t ) ] 2 + 4000 2 = [ s ( t ) ] 2 .

Step 4. Differentiating this equation with respect to time and using the fact that the derivative of a constant is zero, we arrive at the equation

x d x d t = s d s d t .

Step 5. Find the rate at which the distance between the man and the plane is increasing when the plane is directly over the radio tower. That is, find d s d t when x = 3000 ft . Since the speed of the plane is 600 ft/sec , we know that d x d t = 600 ft/sec . We are not given an explicit value for s ; however, since we are trying to find d s d t when x = 3000 ft , we can use the Pythagorean theorem to determine the distance s when x = 3000 and the height is 4000 ft . Solving the equation

3000 2 + 4000 2 = s 2

for s , we have s = 5000 ft at the time of interest. Using these values, we conclude that d s / d t is a solution of the equation

( 3000 ) ( 600 ) = ( 5000 ) · d s d t .

Therefore,

d s d t = 3000 · 600 5000 = 360 ft/sec .

Note : When solving related-rates problems, it is important not to substitute values for the variables too soon. For example, in step 3, we related the variable quantities x ( t ) and s ( t ) by the equation

[ x ( t ) ] 2 + 4000 2 = [ s ( t ) ] 2 .

Since the plane remains at a constant height, it is not necessary to introduce a variable for the height, and we are allowed to use the constant 4000 to denote that quantity. However, the other two quantities are changing. If we mistakenly substituted x ( t ) = 3000 into the equation before differentiating, our equation would have been

3000 2 + 4000 2 = [ s ( t ) ] 2 .

After differentiating, our equation would become

0 = s ( t ) d s d t .

As a result, we would incorrectly conclude that d s d t = 0 .

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Questions & Answers

find the domain and range of f(x)= 4x-7/x²-6x+8
Nick Reply
find the range of f(x)=(x+1)(x+4)
Jane Reply
-1, -4
Marcia
That's domain. The range is [-9/4,+infinity)
Jacob
If you're using calculus to find the range, you have to find the extrema through the first derivative test and then substitute the x-value for the extrema back into the original equation.
Jacob
Good morning,,, how are you
Harrieta Reply
d/dx{1/y - lny + X^3.Y^5}
mogomotsi Reply
How to identify domain and range
Umar Reply
hello
Akpevwe
He,,
Harrieta
hi
Dr
hello
velocity
I only talk to girls
Dr
women are smart then guys
Dr
Smarter
Adri
sorry
Dr
hi adri ana
Dr
:(
Shun
was up
Dr
hello
Adarsh
is it chatting app?.. I do not see any calculus here. lol
Adarsh
Find the arc length of the graph of f(x) = In (sinx) on the interval [Π/4, Π/2].
mukul Reply
Sand falling freely from a lorry form a conical shape whose height is always equal to one-third the radius of the base. a. How fast is the volume increasing when the radius of the base is (1m) and increasing at the rate of 1/4cm/sec Pls help me solve
ade
show that lim f(x) + lim g(x)=m+l
BARNABAS Reply
list the basic elementary differentials
Chio Reply
Differentiation and integration
Okikiola Reply
yes
Damien
proper definition of derivative
Syed Reply
the maximum rate of change of one variable with respect to another variable
Amdad
terms of an AP is 1/v and the vth term is 1/u show that the sum of uv terms is 1/2(uv+1)
Inembo Reply
what is calculus?
BISWAJIT Reply
calculus is math that studies the change in math, such as the rate and distance,
Tamarcus
what are the topics in calculus
Augustine
what is limit of a function?
Geoffrey Reply
what is x and how x=9.1 take?
Pravin Reply
what is f(x)
Inembo Reply
the function at x
Marc
also known as the y value so I could say y=2x or f(x)= 2x same thing just using functional notation your next question is what is dependent and independent variables. I am Dyslexic but know math and which is which confuses me. but one can vary the x value while y depends on which x you use. also
Marc
up domain and range
Marc
enjoy your work and good luck
Marc
I actually wanted to ask another questions on sets if u dont mind please?
Inembo
I have so many questions on set and I really love dis app I never believed u would reply
Inembo
Hmm go ahead and ask you got me curious too much conversation here
Adri
am sorry for disturbing I really want to know math that's why *I want to know the meaning of those symbols in sets* e.g n,U,A', etc pls I want to know it and how to solve its problems
Inembo
and how can i solve a question like dis *in a group of 40 students, 32 offer maths and 24 offer physics and 4 offer neither maths nor physics , how many offer both maths and physics*
Inembo
next questions what do dy mean by (A' n B^c)^c'
Inembo
The sets help you to define the function. The function is like a magic box where you put inside stuff(numbers or sets) and you get out the stuff but in different shapes (forms).
Adri
I dont understand what you wanna say by (A' n B^c)^c'
Adri
(A' n B (rise to the power of c)) all rise to the power of c
Inembo
Aaaahh
Adri
Ok so the set is formed by vectors and not numbers
Adri
A vector of length n
Adri
But you can make a set out of matrixes as well
Adri
I I don't even understand sets I wat to know d meaning of all d symbolsnon sets
Inembo
Wait what's your math level?
Adri
High-school?
Adri
yes
Inembo
am having big problem understanding sets more than other math topics
Inembo
So f:R->R means that the function takes real numbers and provides real numer. For ex. If f(x) =2x this means if you give to your function a real number like 2,it gives you also a real number 2times2=4
Adri
pls answer this question *in a group of 40 students, 32 offer maths and 24 offer physics and 4 offer neither maths nor physics , how many offer both maths and physics*
Inembo
If you have f:R^n->R^n you give to your function a vector of length n like (a1,a2,...an) where all a1,.. an are reals and gives you also a vector of length n... I don't know if i answering your question. Otherwise on YouTube you havr many videos where they explain it in a simple way
Adri
I would say 24
Adri
Offer both
Adri
Sorry 20
Adri
Actually you have 40 - 4 =36 who offer maths or physics or both.
Adri
I know its 20 but how to prove it
Inembo
You have 32+24=56who offer courses
Adri
56-36=20 who give both courses... I would say that
Adri
solution: In a question involving sets and Venn diagram, the sum of the members of set A + set B - the joint members of both set A and B + the members that are not in sets A or B = the total members of the set. In symbolic form n(A U B) = n(A) + n (B) - n (A and B) + n (A U B)'.
Mckenzie
In the case of sets A and B use the letters m and p to represent the sets and we have: n (M U P) = 40; n (M) = 24; n (P) = 32; n (M and P) = unknown; n (M U P)' = 4
Mckenzie
Now substitute the numerical values for the symbolic representation 40 = 24 + 32 - n(M and P) + 4 Now solve for the unknown using algebra: 40 = 24 + 32+ 4 - n(M and P) 40 = 60 - n(M and P) Add n(M and P), as well, subtract 40 from both sides of the equation to find the answer.
Mckenzie
40 - 40 + n(M and P) = 60 - 40 - n(M and P) + n(M and P) Solution: n(M and P) = 20
Mckenzie
thanks
Inembo
Simpler form: Add the sums of set M, set P and the complement of the union of sets M and P then subtract the number of students from the total.
Mckenzie
n(M and P) = (32 + 24 + 4) - 40 = 60 - 40 = 20
Mckenzie
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, Calculus volume 1. OpenStax CNX. Feb 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11964/1.2
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