These are located by tracking where the function changes from increasing to decreasing relative maximum or decreasing to increasing relative minimum.

Below are two examples to help you distinguish these types of extrema. The same processes may be used to find the high and low points of functions from applications. This topic is covered in Section Solution To find the relative extrema, we must track whether the derivative is zero, positive or negative.

Critical point are where the derivative is equal to zero or undefined. The derivative is. Set the derivative equal to zero.

## Calculus/Extrema and Points of Inflection

The resulting equation may be solved by factoring. From the two theorems, the extrema of a closed interval can only occur at either a critical point or an end point. So to find the extrema, set the derivative equal to 0 , and solve.

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Plug the solutions and the endpoints back into the original equation and the largest y value will be the maximum, while the smallest will be the minimum. Now find y ,. Back to Math Home Page.

## Wolfram|Alpha Widgets: "Relative extrema" - Free Mathematics Widget

Because of this, extrema are also commonly called stationary points or turning points. Therefore, the first derivative of a function is equal to 0 at extrema.

If the graph has one or more of these stationary points , these may be found by setting the first derivative equal to 0 and finding the roots of the resulting equation. However, a slope of zero does not guarantee a maximum or minimum: there is a third class of stationary point called a saddle point.

Consider the function.

We have a slope of 0, but while this makes it a stationary point, this doesn't mean that it is a maximum or minimum. True extrema require a sign change in the first derivative. This makes sense - you have to rise positive slope to and fall negative slope from a maximum.

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- Maximums and Minimums: Finding Relative Extrema;

In between rising and falling, on a smooth curve, there will be a point of zero slope - the maximum. A minimum would exhibit similar properties, just in reverse. This leads to a simple method to classify a stationary point - plug x values slightly left and right into the derivative of the function.

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You can also use these slopes to figure out if it is a maximum or a minimum: the left side slope will be positive for a maximum and negative for a minimum. However, you must exercise caution with this method, as, if you pick a point too far from the extremum, you could take it on the far side of another extremum and incorrectly classify the point.

A more rigorous method to classify a stationary point is called the extremum test , or 2nd Derivative Test. As we mentioned before, the sign of the first derivative must change for a stationary point to be a true extremum.