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Access the following online resource for additional instruction and practice with graphs of parametric equations.

Key concepts

  • When there is a third variable, a third parameter on which x and y depend, parametric equations can be used.
  • To graph parametric equations by plotting points, make a table with three columns labeled t , x ( t ) , and y ( t ) . Choose values for t in increasing order. Plot the last two columns for x and y . See [link] and [link] .
  • When graphing a parametric curve by plotting points, note the associated t -values and show arrows on the graph indicating the orientation of the curve. See [link] and [link] .
  • Parametric equations allow the direction or the orientation of the curve to be shown on the graph. Equations that are not functions can be graphed and used in many applications involving motion. See [link] .
  • Projectile motion depends on two parametric equations: x = ( v 0 cos θ ) t and y = 16 t 2 + ( v 0 sin θ ) t + h . Initial velocity is symbolized as v 0 . θ represents the initial angle of the object when thrown, and h represents the height at which the object is propelled.

Section exercises

Verbal

What are two methods used to graph parametric equations?

plotting points with the orientation arrow and a graphing calculator

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What is one difference in point-plotting parametric equations compared to Cartesian equations?

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Why are some graphs drawn with arrows?

The arrows show the orientation, the direction of motion according to increasing values of t .

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Name a few common types of graphs of parametric equations.

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Why are parametric graphs important in understanding projectile motion?

The parametric equations show the different vertical and horizontal motions over time.

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Graphical

For the following exercises, graph each set of parametric equations by making a table of values. Include the orientation on the graph.

{ x ( t ) = t y ( t ) = t 2 1

t x y
3
2
1
0
1
2
3
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{ x ( t ) = t 1 y ( t ) = t 2

t 3 2 1 0 1 2
x
y
Graph of the given equations - looks like an upward opening parabola.
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{ x ( t ) = 2 + t y ( t ) = 3 2 t

t 2 1 0 1 2 3
x
y
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{ x ( t ) = 2 2 t y ( t ) = 3 + t

t 3 2 1 0 1
x
y
Graph of the given equations - a line, negative slope.
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{ x ( t ) = t 3 y ( t ) = t + 2

t 2 1 0 1 2
x
y
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{ x ( t ) = t 2 y ( t ) = t + 3

t 2 1 0 1 2
x
y
Graph of the given equations - looks like a sideways parabola, opening to the right.
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For the following exercises, sketch the curve and include the orientation.

{ x ( t ) = t y ( t ) = t

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{ x ( t ) = t y ( t ) = t

Graph of the given equations - looks like the left half of an upward opening parabola.
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{ x ( t ) = 5 | t | y ( t ) = t + 2

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{ x ( t ) = t + 2 y ( t ) = 5 | t |

Graph of the given equations - looks like a downward opening absolute value function.
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{ x ( t ) = 4 sin t y ( t ) = 2 cos t

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{ x ( t ) = 2 sin t y ( t ) = 4 cos t

Graph of the given equations - a vertical ellipse.
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{ x ( t ) = 3 cos 2 t y ( t ) = −3 sin t

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{ x ( t ) = 3 cos 2 t y ( t ) = −3 sin 2 t

Graph of the given equations- line from (0, -3) to (3,0). It is traversed in both directions, positive and negative slope.
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{ x ( t ) = sec t y ( t ) = tan t

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{ x ( t ) = sec t y ( t ) = tan 2 t

Graph of the given equations- looks like an upward opening parabola.
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{ x ( t ) = 1 e 2 t y ( t ) = e t

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For the following exercises, graph the equation and include the orientation. Then, write the Cartesian equation.

{ x ( t ) = t 1 y ( t ) = t 2

Graph of the given equations- looks like a downward opening parabola.
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{ x ( t ) = t 3 y ( t ) = t + 3

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{ x ( t ) = 2 cos t y ( t ) = sin t

Graph of the given equations- horizontal ellipse.

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{ x ( t ) = 7 cos t y ( t ) = 7 sin t

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{ x ( t ) = e 2 t y ( t ) = e t

Graph of the given equations- looks like the lower half of a sideways parabola opening to the right
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For the following exercises, graph the equation and include the orientation.

x = t 2 , y = 3 t , 0 t 5

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x = 2 t , y = t 2 , 5 t 5

Graph of the given equations- looks like an upwards opening parabola
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x = t , y = 25 t 2 , 0 < t 5

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x ( t ) = t , y ( t ) = t , t 0

Graph of the given equations- looks like the upper half of a sideways parabola opening to the left
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x = 2 cos t , y = 6 sin t , 0 t π

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x = sec t , y = tan t , π 2 < t < π 2

Graph of the given equations- the left half of a hyperbola with diagonal asymptotes
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For the following exercises, use the parametric equations for integers a and b :

x ( t ) = a cos ( ( a + b ) t ) y ( t ) = a cos ( ( a b ) t )

Graph on the domain [ π , 0 ] , where a = 2 and b = 1 , and include the orientation.

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Graph on the domain [ π , 0 ] , where a = 3 and b = 2 , and include the orientation.

Graph of the given equations - vertical periodic trajectory
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Graph on the domain [ π , 0 ] , where a = 4 and b = 3 , and include the orientation.

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Questions & Answers

can I get some pretty basic questions
Ama Reply
In what way does set notation relate to function notation
Ama
is precalculus needed to take caculus
Amara Reply
It depends on what you already know. Just test yourself with some precalculus questions. If you find them easy, you're good to go.
Spiro
the solution doesn't seem right for this problem
Mars Reply
what is the domain of f(x)=x-4/x^2-2x-15 then
Conney Reply
x is different from -5&3
Seid
how to prroved cos⁴x-sin⁴x= cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
Don't think that you can.
Elliott
how do you provided cos⁴x-sin⁴x = cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
What are the question marks for?
Elliott
Someone should please solve it for me Add 2over ×+3 +y-4 over 5 simplify (×+a)with square root of two -×root 2 all over a multiply 1over ×-y{(×-y)(×+y)} over ×y
Abena Reply
For the first question, I got (3y-2)/15 Second one, I got Root 2 Third one, I got 1/(y to the fourth power) I dont if it's right cause I can barely understand the question.
Is under distribute property, inverse function, algebra and addition and multiplication function; so is a combined question
Abena
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
Please were did you get y=mx+b from
Abena
y=mx+b is the formula of a straight line. where m = the slope & b = where the line crosses the y-axis. In this case, being that the "m" and "b", are given, all you have to do is plug them into the formula to complete the equation.
Tommy
thanks Tommy
Nimo
0=3x-2 2=3x x=3/2 then . y=3/2X-2 I think
Given
co ordinates for x x=0,(-2,0) x=1,(1,1) x=2,(2,4)
neil
"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
consider r(a+b) = ra + rb. The a and b are the trig identity.
Mike
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

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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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