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Int. Alg.

Notes

Section 8.4

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Section 8.4: Graphing Quadratic Equations Using Transformations


Big Idea: The graph of any quadratic function is a parabola that can quickly be sketched by transforming the
graph of the parabola y = x2 with a vertical shift, a horizontal shift, a reflection about the x-axis, and/or a vertical
stretch or compression.
Big Skill: You should be able to sketch a quadratic function by completing the square so that the function
explicitly show the transformations to be made, and then using those transformations to make the sketch.
Definition: Quadratic Function
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A quadratic function (in general form) is a function of the form f x ax bx c where a, b, and c are real
numbers and a 0. The domain consists of all real numbers. The point (0, c) is the y-intercept of the graph of
the quadratic function. The graph of a quadratic function is always a parabola.
A quadratic function (in standard form) is a function of the form f x a x h k where a, h, and k are
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real numbers and a 0. The point (h, k) is the vertex of the graph of the quadratic function.
A quadratic function (in factored form) is a function of the form f x a x r1 x r2 where a, is a real
number (a 0), and r1 and r2 are complex numbers (remember that the real numbers are a subset of the complex
numbers). The points (r1, 0) and (r2, 0) are the zeros of the graph of the quadratic function, provided r1 and r2
are real numbers.
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Graph of the Quadratic Function f x x

Here are some points on the curve y = x2:


x
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3

y = x2
9
4
1
0
1
4
9

Notice that the vertex is at (0, 0).


Notice that the graph open up.
Notice that the y-axis (eqn: x = 0) is an axis of
symmetry.

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.

Int. Alg. Notes

Section 8.4

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The graph of every quadratic function can be obtained by transforming the graph of y = x2 with:
1. a vertical shift,
2. a horizontal shift,
3. a reflection about the x-axis,
4. and/or a vertical stretch or compression
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Graph of the Quadratic Function f x x k (a vertical shift):

Adding a constant to the graph of y = x2 has the effect


of shifting the graph vertically (up/down).
The graph of y = x2 + k is the graph of y = x2 shifted up
by k units when k is a positive number.
The graph of y = x2 + k is the graph of y = x2 shifted
down by k units when k is a negative number.
Notice that the vertex is at (0, k).
Notice that the graph still opens up.
Notice that the y-axis (eqn: x = 0) is still the axis of
symmetry.

Practice:
1. Sketch a graph of y = x2 + 1.5 and y = x2 3.

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.

Int. Alg. Notes

Section 8.4

Page 3 of 7

Graph of the Quadratic Function f x x h (a horizontal shift):


2

Adding a constant to the x variable in y = x2 before


squaring has the effect of shifting the graph
horizontally (left/right).
The graph of y = (x h)2 is the graph of y = x2 shifted
right by h units when h is a positive number.
The graph of y = (x h)2 is the graph of y = x2 shifted
left by h units when h is a negative number.
Notice that the vertex is at (h, 0).
Notice that the graph still opens up.
Notice that the vertical line x = h is the new axis of
symmetry.

Practice:
2. Sketch a graph of y = (x + 1.5)2 and y = (x 3)2.

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.

Int. Alg. Notes

Section 8.4

Page 4 of 7

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Graph of the Quadratic Function f x ax (a reflection about the x-axis, and/or a vertical stretch):

Multiplying the x variable by a constant in y = x2 after


squaring can reflect the graph about the x-axis, or
produce a vertical stretching of the graph.
The graph of y = ax2 is the graph of y = x2 stretched
vertically upwards when a is a positive number greater
than 1.
The graph of y = ax2 is the graph of y = x2 compressed
vertically upwards when a is a positive number less
than 1.
The graph of y = ax2 is the graph of y = x2 reflected
about the x-axis and stretched vertically downwards
when a is a negative number less than -1.
The graph of y = ax2 is the graph of y = x2 reflected
about the x-axis and compressed vertically downwards
when a is a positive number greater than -1.
Notice that the vertex is at (0, 0).
Notice that the graph opens up when a>0 and
opens down when a< 0.
Notice that the vertical line x = 0 is still the axis of
symmetry.
Practice:
3. Sketch a graph of y = 1.5x2 and y = -x2.

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.

Int. Alg. Notes

Section 8.4

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Graph of the Quadratic Function in Standard Form f x a x h k :


2

Locate the vertex of the graph at (h, k).


If a > 0, sketch the parabola opening up, otherwise
sketch it opening down.
If |a| > 0, sketch the parabola vertically stretched,
otherwise sketch it vertically compressed.
The picture to the left shows the steps for graphing
y 1.5 x 3 1 :
2

Locate vertex at (3, -1)


Sketch parabola opening down
Sketch parabola vertically stretched.

Practice:
4. Sketch a graph of y

1
2
x 2 3 .
4

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.

Int. Alg. Notes

Section 8.4

Page 6 of 7

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Graph of the Quadratic Function in General Form f x ax bx c :

Convert the function to standard form


f x a x h k by completing the square
2

Graph the function f x a x h k using


2

transformations.
To graph y x 2 2 x 5 :
y x2 2x 5

y 1 x 2 2 x 1 5
y 1 x 1 5
2

y x 1 6
2

Practice:
5. Sketch a graph of y x 2 4 x 1 .

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.

Int. Alg. Notes

Section 8.4

Page 7 of 7

6. Sketch a graph of y 3 x 2 3 x 1 .

7. Determine the equation of the graph shown below.

Algebra is:
the study of how to perform multi-step arithmetic calculations more efficiently,
and the study of how to find the correct number to put into a multi-step calculation to get a desired answer.