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July 18, 2022

# Rate of Change Formula - What Is the Rate of Change Formula? Examples

The rate of change formula is one of the most important math principles throughout academics, especially in physics, chemistry and accounting.

It’s most often applied when talking about momentum, though it has many applications across different industries. Because of its value, this formula is a specific concept that students should understand.

This article will share the rate of change formula and how you should solve them.

## Average Rate of Change Formula

In mathematics, the average rate of change formula denotes the variation of one value when compared to another. In practice, it's utilized to identify the average speed of a variation over a specific period of time.

To put it simply, the rate of change formula is expressed as:

R = Δy / Δx

This calculates the change of y compared to the change of x.

The variation within the numerator and denominator is shown by the greek letter Δ, expressed as delta y and delta x. It is further expressed as the difference within the first point and the second point of the value, or:

Δy = y2 - y1

Δx = x2 - x1

Consequently, the average rate of change equation can also be described as:

R = (y2 - y1) / (x2 - x1)

## Average Rate of Change = Slope

Plotting out these numbers in a X Y graph, is helpful when working with dissimilarities in value A versus value B.

The straight line that links these two points is called the secant line, and the slope of this line is the average rate of change.

Here’s the formula for the slope of a line:

y = 2x + 1

To summarize, in a linear function, the average rate of change between two values is the same as the slope of the function.

This is why the average rate of change of a function is the slope of the secant line passing through two random endpoints on the graph of the function. At the same time, the instantaneous rate of change is the slope of the tangent line at any point on the graph.

## How to Find Average Rate of Change

Now that we have discussed the slope formula and what the figures mean, finding the average rate of change of the function is feasible.

To make studying this topic less complex, here are the steps you must follow to find the average rate of change.

### Step 1: Determine Your Values

In these sort of equations, mathematical scenarios usually offer you two sets of values, from which you extract x and y values.

For example, let’s assume the values (1, 2) and (3, 4).

In this instance, then you have to search for the values along the x and y-axis. Coordinates are generally provided in an (x, y) format, as in this example:

x1 = 1

x2 = 3

y1 = 2

y2 = 4

### Step 2: Subtract The Values

Calculate the Δx and Δy values. As you may remember, the formula for the rate of change is:

R = Δy / Δx

Which then translates to:

R = y2 - y1 / x2 - x1

Now that we have obtained all the values of x and y, we can plug-in the values as follows.

R = 4 - 2 / 3 - 1

### Step 3: Simplify

With all of our figures inputted, all that remains is to simplify the equation by subtracting all the numbers. So, our equation will look something like this.

R = 4 - 2 / 3 - 1

R = 2 / 2

R = 1

As we can see, by replacing all our values and simplifying the equation, we obtain the average rate of change for the two coordinates that we were given.

## Average Rate of Change of a Function

As we’ve mentioned before, the rate of change is applicable to numerous diverse situations. The aforementioned examples focused on the rate of change of a linear equation, but this formula can also be used in functions.

The rate of change of function follows a similar rule but with a different formula because of the distinct values that functions have. This formula is:

R = (f(b) - f(a)) / b - a

In this case, the values provided will have one f(x) equation and one Cartesian plane value.

### Negative Slope

If you can recall, the average rate of change of any two values can be graphed. The R-value, therefore is, equal to its slope.

Every so often, the equation results in a slope that is negative. This denotes that the line is descending from left to right in the X Y graph.

This means that the rate of change is decreasing in value. For example, rate of change can be negative, which means a decreasing position.

### Positive Slope

On the other hand, a positive slope means that the object’s rate of change is positive. This means that the object is increasing in value, and the secant line is trending upward from left to right. With regards to our previous example, if an object has positive velocity and its position is increasing.

## Examples of Average Rate of Change

Next, we will talk about the average rate of change formula via some examples.

### Example 1

Calculate the rate of change of the values where Δy = 10 and Δx = 2.

In this example, all we have to do is a plain substitution because the delta values are already given.

R = Δy / Δx

R = 10 / 2

R = 5

### Example 2

Calculate the rate of change of the values in points (1,6) and (3,14) of the X Y graph.

For this example, we still have to find the Δy and Δx values by using the average rate of change formula.

R = y2 - y1 / x2 - x1

R = (14 - 6) / (3 - 1)

R = 8 / 2

R = 4

As given, the average rate of change is the same as the slope of the line connecting two points.

### Example 3

Find the rate of change of function f(x) = x2 + 5x - 3 on the interval [3, 5].

The third example will be finding the rate of change of a function with the formula:

R = (f(b) - f(a)) / b - a

When calculating the rate of change of a function, calculate the values of the functions in the equation. In this situation, we simply replace the values on the equation using the values given in the problem.

The interval given is [3, 5], which means that a = 3 and b = 5.

The function parts will be solved by inputting the values to the equation given, such as.

f(a) = (3)2 +5(3) - 3

f(a) = 9 + 15 - 3

f(a) = 24 - 3

f(a) = 21

f(b) = (5)2 +5(5) - 3

f(b) = 25 + 10 - 3

f(b) = 35 - 3

f(b) = 32

With all our values, all we must do is plug in them into our rate of change equation, as follows.

R = (f(b) - f(a)) / b - a

R = 32 - 21 / 5 - 3

R = 11 / 2

R = 11/2 or 5.5