Main content

# Worked example: average rate of change from table

Finding the average rate of change of a function over the interval -5<x<-2, given a table of values of the function. Created by Sal Khan.

## Want to join the conversation?

- The question says, -5 < x < -2, wouldn't it mean from x greater than -5 upto x less than -2, which would actually mean from x >= -4 upto x <= -3

i.e., excluding the -5 and -2?(65 votes)- So, in the two previous videos on this topic Sal mentioned that: The average rate of change is really the slope of the line that connects the two endpoints. If you plotted the function, you would get a line with two endpoints of (-5,6) and (-2,0). Basically the average rate of change is everything between those two points (on the line). If we used (-4,4) and (-3,2) then we would be talking about the average rate of change of a completely different line segment. I'm sorry if this answer confused you; with a graph it would be much easier to explain. :)(35 votes)

- I don't understand why he picks the points -5, 6 and -2, 0. Since the interval is -5 < x < -2 wouldn't he have to pick a number less than -5 and -2 respectively?? Thanks!(28 votes)
- The interval applies to the x variable, saying that x is greater than -5 and less than -2. Since he was finding the slope on that interval of -5 to -2 for x, he used the two endpoints: -5 and -2.

The y coordinates are not bound by the interval, when x = -5, then y = 6, and when x = -2, y = 0. With the two coordinates, (-5, 6) and (-2, 0), you can use the slope formula to find it.

(0 - 6) / (-2 - -5) = -2(21 votes)

- ok, i'm lost trying to figure out the problems in "Average rate of change". i also can't figure out where the method of solution was explained in the Average Rate of Change Examples 1, 2 or 3.
**for example**:

"over which interval does y(x) have an average rate of change of 5/2?"

a graph is provided with five seemingly random horizontal segments, spread across the four quadrants. each is four units wide. some have solid dots marking end points, some have hollow dots, some have no end point dot and run off the graph. i don't know what these lines are for. they don't match to the possible answers. (and there's five of them, with only four possible solutions). all possible answers are given in form of A < x < B.

here's what the hint says:

"average rate of change over an interval is total change in value of y(x) over change in x."

"let's look at - 6 < x < -2 :

y (-6) = -3

y (-2) = 2

change in y = 2 - (-3) 5

--------------- ---------- = --

change in x - 2 - (-6) 4

i can see that the range of the possible answer is being dropped in to test it for a solution but that's as far as i get. i don't know why y (-6) = -3, or why y (-2) = 2. all help greatly appreciated! :)(12 votes)- Let us first explain what the line segments mean:

If there is a point with an hollow dot, it means that the line segment begins or ends at that point, but does NOT include that point.

If there is a point with a filled dot, that means the line segment begins or ends at that point and DOES include that point.

If a line runs off the page without an ending dot, that means that the line just goes on forever in the fashion indicated by the portion that is being shown.

To find the rate of change for any segment, which is the same thing as the slope of the segment, just take any two points you know the value for in that segment (it doesn't matter which two points or which order you put them in). Call one of the points (x₁ , y₁ ) and the other point (x₂ , y₂). The rate of change will = (y₁ - y₂) / (x₁ -x₂ )

The part that looks like - 6 < x < -2 means that it is the line segment that begins at x=-6 and ends at x=-2(17 votes)

- Does 'Average Rate of Change' mean slope??

I feel like this section on graphing went from line intuition to average rate of change examples without a video explaining what rate of change is. Any help is appreciated.(8 votes)- Yes, it is essentially the same thing.

Average rate of change = Slope = Rise/Run = (y2-y1)/(x2-x1)(10 votes)

- Around0:50what does he mean by "with respect to" ?(7 votes)
- "With respect to something" means "in regards to" or "relating to".(9 votes)

- Hello everyone! I am Ali from Afghanistan. I love learning math on Khan Academy.

I think there is a mistake in this video. The question says x is greater than-5 and less than -2. So, the average rate of change should be calculated from -4 to -1.

I read some of the comments and someone said that there is no mistake because Sal calculated the the slope. But the question is, Sal included -5 and -2 when those points are strictly excluded. If Sal is right, then what's the difference between -5<x<-2 and -5<=x<=-2?(6 votes)- First, -1 is not in the interval of -5<x<-2, and using -3 instead of -1 doesn't help either.

You can't change the points to -4 and -3 because you skip all the values that are between -5 and -4; and all those between -3 and -2. There is an infinite set of numbers between every pair of integers. We use the -5 and -2 to simplify the calculations. If you didn't, You need numbers extremely close to -5 and -2, something like -4.99999999999999999 and -2.000000000000000000000001. And, even then, you could get even closer by picking values even closer to the -5 and -2. We're finding an average - so, we simplify the math and just use the -5 and -2(7 votes)

- X has my respect already, why can't I solve the equation?(8 votes)
- If the problem was -5 <= x <= -2, would that have changed the answer? Why or why not?(6 votes)
- No. The average rate of change is exactly the same for this set of data, within this interval, whether the interval includes the endpoints or not. You still calculate it by the end points.

∆y is still -6 and ∆x is still 3, so the average rate of change is still -2.

All the little rates of changes between points in the interval are also -2, so this part of the graph is a straight line segment.

Notice that the rate of change is constant within this interval, but it is`different`

outside this interval. Look at the rate of change between 1 < x < 5

Zowie--it has turned positive, and is +3

In fact, it is interesting to graph all the points and see that the function is made up of three different slopes. It makes it more clear why Sal chose the end points for calculating the rate of change.(2 votes)

- it's all a matter of opinion, but the answer is no.(7 votes)

- the moment when my brain went 'wait this is just finding the slope'
**face palm**(5 votes)

## Video transcript

What is the average
rate of change of y of x over the
interval negative 5 is less than x is
less than negative 2? So this is x is
equal to negative 5. When x is equal to negative
5, y of x is equal to 6. And when x is equal to negative
2, y of x is equal to 0. So to figure out the
average rate of change, so the average rate
of change, of y of x, with respect--
and we can assume it's with respect to x-- let me
make that a little bit neater-- this is going to
be the change in y of x over that interval over the
change of x of that interval. And the shorthand for change
is this triangle symbol, delta. Delta y-- I'll just write y. I could write delta y of x. It's delta y. Change in y over
our change in x. That's going to be our
average rate of change over this interval. So how much did y change
over this interval? So y went from a 6 to a 0. So let's say that we
can kind of view this as our endpoint right over here. So this is our end. This is our start. And we could have done
it the other way around. We would get a
consistent result. But since this is
higher up on the list, let's call this the start. And the x is a lower value. We'll call that our start. This is our end. So we start at 6. We end at 0. So our change in y is
going to be negative 6. We went down by 6
in the y direction. It's negative 6. You could say that's 0 minus 6. And our change in x, well,
we are at negative 5, and we go up to negative 2. We increased by 3. So when we increased x by
3, we decreased y of x by 6. Or if we want to simplify
this right over here, negative 6 over 3 is the
same thing as negative 2. So our average
rate of change of y of x over the interval from
negative 5 to negative 2 is negative 2. Every time, on
average, x increased 1, y went down by negative 2.