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In this section, you will:
  • Determine the amplitude and period of sinusoidal functions.
  • Model equations and graph sinusoidal functions.
  • Model periodic behavior.
  • Model harmonic motion functions.
Photo of the top part of a clock.
The hands on a clock are periodic: they repeat positions every twelve hours. (credit: “zoutedrop”/Flickr)

Suppose we charted the average daily temperatures in New York City over the course of one year. We would expect to find the lowest temperatures in January and February and highest in July and August. This familiar cycle repeats year after year, and if we were to extend the graph over multiple years, it would resemble a periodic function.

Many other natural phenomena are also periodic. For example, the phases of the moon have a period of approximately 28 days, and birds know to fly south at about the same time each year.

So how can we model an equation to reflect periodic behavior? First, we must collect and record data. We then find a function that resembles an observed pattern. Finally, we make the necessary alterations to the function to get a model that is dependable. In this section, we will take a deeper look at specific types of periodic behavior and model equations to fit data.

Determining the amplitude and period of a sinusoidal function

Any motion that repeats itself in a fixed time period is considered periodic motion and can be modeled by a sinusoidal function    . The amplitude    of a sinusoidal function is the distance from the midline to the maximum value, or from the midline to the minimum value. The midline    is the average value. Sinusoidal functions oscillate above and below the midline, are periodic, and repeat values in set cycles. Recall from Graphs of the Sine and Cosine Functions that the period    of the sine function and the cosine function is   2 π .   In other words, for any value of   x ,

sin ( x ± 2 π k ) = sin x     and     cos ( x ± 2 π k ) = cos x     where  k  is an integer

Standard form of sinusoidal equations

The general forms of a sinusoidal equation are given as

y = A sin ( B t C ) + D  or  y = A cos ( B t C ) + D

where amplitude = | A | , B is related to period such that the  period = 2 π B , C   is the phase shift such that   C B   denotes the horizontal shift, and   D   represents the vertical shift from the graph’s parent graph.

Note that the models are sometimes written as   y = a sin ( ω t ± C ) + D   or   y = a cos ( ω t ± C ) + D , and period is given as   2 π ω .

The difference between the sine and the cosine graphs is that the sine graph begins with the average value of the function and the cosine graph begins with the maximum or minimum value of the function.

Showing how the properties of a trigonometric function can transform a graph

Show the transformation of the graph of   y = sin x   into the graph of   y = 2 sin ( 4 x π 2 ) + 2.

Consider the series of graphs in [link] and the way each change to the equation changes the image.

Five graphs, side by side, each showing a manipulation to the former. (A) has y=sin(x). (B) has y=2sin(x), which has double the amplitude. (C) has y=2sin(4x), which quadrupled the frequency (or quartered the period). (D) has y=2sin(4x-pi/2), which shifted it on the x-axis by pi/2. (E) has y=2sin(4x-pi/2) + 2, which shifted it on the y-axis by 2.
(a) The basic graph of   y = sin x   (b) Changing the amplitude from 1 to 2 generates the graph of   y = 2 sin x .   (c) The period of the sine function changes with the value of   B , such that  period = 2 π B . Here we have   B = 4 , which translates to a period of   π 2 . The graph completes one full cycle in   π 2   units. (d) The graph displays a horizontal shift equal to   C B , or   π 2 4 = π 8 . (e) Finally, the graph is shifted vertically by the value of   D . In this case, the graph is shifted up by 2 units.
Got questions? Get instant answers now!
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

find the equation of the line if m=3, and b=-2
Ashley Reply
graph the following linear equation using intercepts method. 2x+y=4
Ashley
how
Wargod
what?
John
ok, one moment
UriEl
how do I post your graph for you?
UriEl
it won't let me send an image?
UriEl
also for the first one... y=mx+b so.... y=3x-2
UriEl
y=mx+b you were already given the 'm' and 'b'. so.. y=3x-2
Tommy
"7"has an open circle and "10"has a filled in circle who can I have a set builder notation
Fiston Reply
x=-b+_Гb2-(4ac) ______________ 2a
Ahlicia Reply
I've run into this: x = r*cos(angle1 + angle2) Which expands to: x = r(cos(angle1)*cos(angle2) - sin(angle1)*sin(angle2)) The r value confuses me here, because distributing it makes: (r*cos(angle2))(cos(angle1) - (r*sin(angle2))(sin(angle1)) How does this make sense? Why does the r distribute once
Carlos Reply
so good
abdikarin
this is an identity when 2 adding two angles within a cosine. it's called the cosine sum formula. there is also a different formula when cosine has an angle minus another angle it's called the sum and difference formulas and they are under any list of trig identities
Brad
strategies to form the general term
carlmark
How can you tell what type of parent function a graph is ?
Mary Reply
generally by how the graph looks and understanding what the base parent functions look like and perform on a graph
William
if you have a graphed line, you can have an idea by how the directions of the line turns, i.e. negative, positive, zero
William
y=x will obviously be a straight line with a zero slope
William
y=x^2 will have a parabolic line opening to positive infinity on both sides of the y axis vice versa with y=-x^2 you'll have both ends of the parabolic line pointing downward heading to negative infinity on both sides of the y axis
William
y=x will be a straight line, but it will have a slope of one. Remember, if y=1 then x=1, so for every unit you rise you move over positively one unit. To get a straight line with a slope of 0, set y=1 or any integer.
Aaron
yes, correction on my end, I meant slope of 1 instead of slope of 0
William
what is f(x)=
Karim Reply
I don't understand
Joe
Typically a function 'f' will take 'x' as input, and produce 'y' as output. As 'f(x)=y'. According to Google, "The range of a function is the complete set of all possible resulting values of the dependent variable (y, usually), after we have substituted the domain."
Thomas
Sorry, I don't know where the "Â"s came from. They shouldn't be there. Just ignore them. :-)
Thomas
GREAT ANSWER THOUGH!!!
Darius
Thanks.
Thomas
Â
Thomas
It is the  that should not be there. It doesn't seem to show if encloses in quotation marks. "Â" or 'Â' ... Â
Thomas
Now it shows, go figure?
Thomas
what is this?
unknown Reply
i do not understand anything
unknown
lol...it gets better
Darius
I've been struggling so much through all of this. my final is in four weeks 😭
Tiffany
this book is an excellent resource! have you guys ever looked at the online tutoring? there's one that is called "That Tutor Guy" and he goes over a lot of the concepts
Darius
thank you I have heard of him. I should check him out.
Tiffany
is there any question in particular?
Joe
I have always struggled with math. I get lost really easy, if you have any advice for that, it would help tremendously.
Tiffany
Sure, are you in high school or college?
Darius
Hi, apologies for the delayed response. I'm in college.
Tiffany
how to solve polynomial using a calculator
Ef Reply
So a horizontal compression by factor of 1/2 is the same as a horizontal stretch by a factor of 2, right?
KARMEL Reply
The center is at (3,4) a focus is at (3,-1), and the lenght of the major axis is 26
Rima Reply
The center is at (3,4) a focus is at (3,-1) and the lenght of the major axis is 26 what will be the answer?
Rima
I done know
Joe
What kind of answer is that😑?
Rima
I had just woken up when i got this message
Joe
Can you please help me. Tomorrow is the deadline of my assignment then I don't know how to solve that
Rima
i have a question.
Abdul
how do you find the real and complex roots of a polynomial?
Abdul
@abdul with delta maybe which is b(square)-4ac=result then the 1st root -b-radical delta over 2a and the 2nd root -b+radical delta over 2a. I am not sure if this was your question but check it up
Nare
This is the actual question: Find all roots(real and complex) of the polynomial f(x)=6x^3 + x^2 - 4x + 1
Abdul
@Nare please let me know if you can solve it.
Abdul
I have a question
juweeriya
hello guys I'm new here? will you happy with me
mustapha
The average annual population increase of a pack of wolves is 25.
Brittany Reply
how do you find the period of a sine graph
Imani Reply
Period =2π if there is a coefficient (b), just divide the coefficient by 2π to get the new period
Am
if not then how would I find it from a graph
Imani
by looking at the graph, find the distance between two consecutive maximum points (the highest points of the wave). so if the top of one wave is at point A (1,2) and the next top of the wave is at point B (6,2), then the period is 5, the difference of the x-coordinates.
Am
you could also do it with two consecutive minimum points or x-intercepts
Am
I will try that thank u
Imani
Case of Equilateral Hyperbola
Jhon Reply
ok
Zander
ok
Shella
f(x)=4x+2, find f(3)
Benetta
f(3)=4(3)+2 f(3)=14
lamoussa
14
Vedant
pre calc teacher: "Plug in Plug in...smell's good" f(x)=14
Devante
8x=40
Chris
Explain why log a x is not defined for a < 0
Baptiste Reply
the sum of any two linear polynomial is what
Esther Reply
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
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