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Related rates: Approaching cars

AP.CALC:
CHA‑3 (EU)
,
CHA‑3.E (LO)
,
CHA‑3.E.1 (EK)
As two cars approach the same intersection from different roads, how does the rate of change of the distance between them change? Created by Sal Khan.

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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user NotMyRealUsername
    Did anyone notice that around that the triangle was a 3-4-5 triangle?
    (29 votes)
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  • old spice man green style avatar for user Taran Cacacho
    2 caveats: what if we redid the problem, but instead the intersection of the roads wasn't perpendicular, say 60º, and the cars were moving away from the intersection...at different times?
    (11 votes)
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  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user gabfadini
    What happens when he two cars go beyond the interception?
    Do I have to change only the sign of the rate of change found or do I have to recalculate everything?
    (8 votes)
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    • mr pants teal style avatar for user cravicz
      you only have to change the signs because all though the speeds are the same the cars are now moving AWAY from the intersection, so dy/dt = 60, not -60, and dx/dt = 30, not -30. This means that instead of 1.2 * -30 + 1.6 * -60 = 2 ds/dt, it would be 1.2 * 30 + 1.6 * 60 = 2 ds/dt. Therefore if you simplify you get a ds/dt of 66 miles/hour, which means that the cars are moving away from each other which does indeed occur.
      (6 votes)
  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Vladimir Khimochko
    Great video!
    It have that impact on me to raise some questions!

    Do we already know that two cars will "intersect"? What if they just drive from each other at a certain positive distance?
    Let call that distance G (from gap). Then G can be called a global minimum of a function representing the distance between two cars.

    The main question is how I can calculate that G?
    I guess I can still use the benefits of geometry tools, but kinda got confused...
    (6 votes)
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    • marcimus pink style avatar for user Thomas Horsten
      You're right that it can be calculated in this way. See my answer to @creationmak's question for the calculations - they won't intersect and their closest approach is 0.18 miles. But your general idea is right - expressing their distance as a function of time, using pythagoras, that's how I came up with the definition of s(t) in that answer. Then to find the global minimum of that function, I differentiate and solve for s'(t)=0.
      (2 votes)
  • mr pink red style avatar for user Yashwi P
    shouldn't the answer be -66 miles^2/hour instead of -66 mph?...[1.2 miles * (-30mph) + 1.6 miles * (-60mph)] = -66 miles^2/hour.
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user endeavor1991
    at , during the calculation of X^2+Y^2=S^2, are we using the implicit differentiation? since there are multiple variables, I wondered if we should use either partial derivative or implicit derivative techniques...
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user creationmak
    what will be the least value of 's' possible? How will we calculate that?
    (3 votes)
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    • marcimus pink style avatar for user Thomas Horsten
      To find the smallest value of s, you can express s as a function of t:

      s(t) = sqrt( (0.8-60t)^2 + (0.6-30t)^2 )

      Then take the derivative, using the chain rule and simplifying I get:

      s'(t) = ( -60(0.8-60t)-30(0.6-30t) ) / sqrt(0.8-60t)^2 + (0.6-30t)^2)

      Now we already know that as t increases then s(t) will keep decreasing until the closest pass, and then it starts to increase again. So at this point, s'(t) will be 0, at which point we'll have the minimum. So we set our expression for s'(t) = 0 and solve for t. I won't show the steps here but you can do it for yourself, the result is t = 11/750. So the closest approach occurs after 11/750 of an hour (or approximately 53 seconds, by multiplying 11/750 with 3600) . You can insert this into the s(t) to find the distance at that point, and you'll see that s(11/750) is approximately 0.18 miles (to 2 significant figures).
      (3 votes)
  • female robot ada style avatar for user Visalbotr Chan
    I am not quite sure why can't we just use Pythagorean theorem directly to solve for ds/dt ? Isn't ds/dt = sqr[ (dx/dt)^2 +(dy/dt)^2] ?? I know it is not right, but why not?
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user kubleeka
      Because differentiation is a linear operation, but the expression s²=x²+y² is not linear (it's quadratic). So we shouldn't expect the result to be linear.

      The equation s=x+y is linear (though it doesn't describe the problem in the video), and differentiating this gives s'=x'+y', which is also linear. So our end result is only linear is everything along the way is also linear (or we have two nonlinear, but inverse functions).
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user haleylovessports
    does it matter what in interval you use when you find the rate of change of a proportional relationship
    (2 votes)
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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Troy Taylor
    Now how do you determine how much time until the cars crash? I have an air traffic control question similar to this and the second part of the question says: "How much time does the air traffic controller have to get one of the planes on a different flight path?"
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

So this car right over here is approaching an intersection at 60 miles per hour. And right now, right at this moment, it is 0.8 miles from the intersection. Now we have this truck over here, it's approaching the same intersection on a street that is perpendicular to the street that the car is on. And right now it is 0.6 miles from the intersection. And it is approaching the intersection at 30 miles per hour. Now my question to you is, what is the rate at which the distance between the car and the truck is changing? Well to think about that, let's first just think about what we're asking. So we're asking about the distance between the car and the truck. So right at this moment, when the car is 0.8 miles from the intersection, the truck is 0.6 miles from the intersection. The truck is traveling at 30 miles per hour towards intersection, the car is travelling at 60 miles per hour towards the intersection right at this moment. What is the rate at which this distance right over here is changing? And just so that we have some variables in place, let's call this distance s. So what we really are trying to figure out is right at this moment, what is ds dt going to be equal to? Let's think about what we know that we could use to somehow come to terms or figure out what ds dt is. Well we know the distance of the car and the intersection. And let's just call that distance, let's call that-- I don't know, let's call that distance y. So y is equal to 0.8 miles. We also know that-- so let me write this-- we know that y is 0.8 miles right now. We also know the dy dt, the rate at which y is changing with respect to time is what? Well y is decreasing by 60 miles per hour. So let me write it as negative 60 miles per hour. Now similarly, let's say that this distance right over here is x. x is 0.6 miles right at this moment. So we know that x is equal to 0.6 miles. What is the rate at which x is changing with respect to time? Well, we know it's 30 miles per hour is how fast we're approaching the intersection, but x is decreasing by 30 miles every hour. So we should say it's negative 30 miles per hour. So we know what y is. We know what x is. We know how fast y is changing, how fast x is changing with respect to time. So what we could try to do here is come up with a relationship between x, y, and s. And then differentiate that relationship with respect to time. And it seems like we have pretty much everything we need to solve for this. So what's a relationship between x, y, and s? Well we know that this is a right triangle. The streets are perpendicular to each other. So we can use the Pythagorean theorem. We know that x squared plus y squared is going to be equal to s squared. And then we can take the derivative of both sides of this with respect to time to get a relationship between all the things that we care about. So what's the derivative of x squared with respect to time? Well, so you're going to need the derivative of x squared with respect to x, which is just 2x, times the derivative of x with respect to time, times dx dt. Once again, just the chain rule. Derivative of something squared with respect to the something, times the derivative of the something with respect to time. And we use similar logic right over here when we want to take the derivative of y squared with respect to time. Derivative of y squared with respect to y, times the derivative of y with respect to time. Now on the right-hand side of this equation, we once again take the derivative with respect to time. So it's the derivative of s squared with respect to s, which is just 2s. Times the derivative of s with respect to time. Once again, this is all just an application of the chain rule. So now it looks like we know what x is, we know what dx dt is, we know what y is, we know what dy dt is. All we need to figure out is what s and then what ds dt is, the rate at which this distance is changing with respect to time. Well what's s right now? Well we can actually use the Pythagorean theorem at this exact moment. We know that x squared-- so x is 0.6-- we know that 0.6 squared plus y squared, 0.8 squared is equal to s squared. Well this is 0.36, plus 0.64 is equal to s squared. This is 1, it is equal to s squared. And we only care about positive distances, so we have s is equal to 1 right now. So we also know what s is. So let's substitute all of these numbers in and then try to solve for what we came here to do. Solve for ds dt. So the rate at which, so 2 times x-- maybe I'll do that in yellow-- 2 times x, x is 0.6 so it's going to be 1.2 times dx dt, so that's negative 30 miles per hour. So times negative 30 miles per hour, plus 2 times y is 1.6, times dy dt is negative 60 miles per hour. And I'm not writing the units here. But if you were to write the units, you will see that all of our distances are in miles. And all of our time is within hours, so we're going to get an answer when we solve for ds dt that's miles per hour. But I encourage you, if you want to, to actually write out the units and see how they work out. And so this is going to be equal to 2 times s. Well, s is 1 mile, so it's just going to be 2 times ds dt, which is what we're trying to solve for. So what do we get here on the left-hand side? So 1.2 times negative 30, that's negative 36. Right? 1/5 of 30 is 6, yep that's right. And then 1.6 times negative sixty, that's going to be negative 96, is equal to 2 times ds dt, is equal to 2 times the rate at which our distance is changing with respect to time. On the left-hand side right over here, this is negative 132. Negative 132 is equal to 2 times ds dt. Divide both sides by 2, we get negative 66. And now we could put our units if we want, miles per hour is the rate at which our distance is changing with respect to time. So ds dt is negative 66 miles per hour. Does it make sense that we got a negative number here? Well sure, this distance is decreasing right at this moment, as they approach the intersection.