Parabola (graph of a function)
In general, a parabola is formed when you graph a quadratic function. A quadratic is in the form:
where a,b and c are constants.
The parabola shape really comes from the x2 term, which you can see on the right, which is the graph of
y = x2. This is the absolute simplest quadratic where b=0, c=0 and a=1.
Effect of the a,b,c coefficients
Regardless of the values of a b and c, the graph is a parabola. Their values alter it's shape and position in various ways.
This is explored in depth in
Quadratic Explorer, where you modify a,b and c with sliders to observe the effect on the parabola's shape.
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Other shape topics
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