Many algebra problems can be represented graphically in a coordinate system, whether the system is a number line if the problem involves one variable, or a coordinate plane if the problem involves two variables. Such graphs can clarify relationships that may be less obvious in algebraic representations.

• This strategy is used in the following sample question.

This is a Multiple-Choice – Select One Answer Choice question.

The figure above shows the graph of the function f, defined by for all numbers x. For which of the following functions g, defined for all numbers x, does the graph of g intersect the graph of f ?

(A)

(B)

(C)

(D)

(E)Explanation

You can see that all five choices are linear functions whose graphs are lines with various slopes and y-intercepts. The graph of Choice A is a line with slope 1 and y-intercept shown in the following figure.

It is clear that this line will not intersect the graph of f to the left of the y-axis. To the right of the y-axis, the graph of f is a line with slope 2, which is greater than slope 1. Consequently, as the value of x increases, the value of y increases faster for f than for g, and therefore the graphs do not intersect to the right of the y-axis. Choice B is similarly ruled out. Note that if the y-intercept of either of the lines in Choices A and B were greater than or equal to 4 instead of less than 4, they would intersect the graph of f.

Choices C and D are lines with slope 2 and y-intercepts less than 4. Hence, they are parallel to the graph of f (to the right of the y-axis) and therefore will not intersect it. Any line with a slope greater than 2 and a y-intercept less than 4, like the line in Choice E, will intersect the graph of f (to the right of the y-axis). The correct answer is Choice E,

Note: This question and explanation also appear as an example of Strategy 6.

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