# Finding Equations of Sinusoidal Functions From Real-World Data

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1 Finding Equations of Sinusoidal Functions From Real-World Data **Note: Throughout this handout you will be asked to use your graphing calculator to verify certain results, but be aware that you will NOT be able to use your calculator during the exam! Please make sure you have read through sections.,., and.3 carefully because there will be references made to examples and terms defined in those sections. Also, this supplement will be using Example and problems and 3 from section.3 (pages 3 and6) from your text book, so make sure you have those in front of you. In order to find the equation of a sinusoidal function from a set of given real-world data you must follow three steps. Step : Make sure the data has a sinusoidal relationship by plotting the data in a graph. Step : If the data shows a sinusoidal relationship, then begin finding the basic parameters of a sinusoidal function (i.e. amplitude, period, etc.). Step 3: Use the information from Step to find an equation that fits the data. As a check on your work plot the equation on a graphing calculator to make sure it fits the data nicely (be aware that doing this by hand will NOT give you an equation that fits the data exactly, but it should appear to fit it nearly perfectly). Steps and 3 are easy, it is Step that requires the most work. Our ultimate goal is to end up with an equation like y Asin B x C D or y Acos B x C D, thus we need to find A, B, C, and D. Let us start by working through Example on page 3. The data has already been plotted for you and it is fairly obvious that it represents a sinusoidal function. By replacing the months with numbers (January = and December = )and using them as our x values, the table of given values is: x y First find the coefficient A. Remember the amplitude A of a sinusoidal function tells us the distance along the y-axis from the graph s midline to its maximum or minimum, therefore A Max. Min.. For a pure sinusoidal wave such as y sin x, this formula gives us A, which is what we expect. For the data given above, the maximum y-value is 9 and the minimum y-

2 value is 5.5, therefore A We can use either the value 6.75 or the value 6.75 for our A. The final value we choose depends on the equation we decide to use at the end. Remember that a negative sign in front of a function reflects it across the x-axis (i.e. the graph is turned upsidedown ). Next find B (in physics and engineering B is usually called the radian frequency ). Remember that the period P is related by P, so in order to B find B we first need to find P (notice that B ). There are several ways to do P this. First we can measure the distance along the x-axis between two maxima (plural for maximum) or two minima (plural for minimum). You can visualize this by recalling the graph of y cos x, its first maximum occurs when x 0 and its next maximum occurs at x. The distance between two points on a number line is x x, therefore the period is P 0 which agrees with the formula P since B for B y cos x. What if we don t have two maxima or two minima such as with y sin x? After all, the data given above has only one maximum y 9 at x 6. If you refer back to section. (page 75), the first full paragraph emphasizes the fact that every cycle (or period) of a sinusoidal function can be divided into four arc sections of equal length. Now notice that between the maximum and minimum values there are two arc sections. Figure : Two arc-sections (the solid portion) of y = sin x.

3 Since each arc section makes one-fourth of one period, two of them make onehalf of one period. Therefore the distance from one maximum to the next minimum makes one-half of a period. Thus the period is twice this distance. Let s use y sin x as an example. The first maximum occurs at x and the next minimum occurs at x 3. The distance between these two points is 3. Multiplying the result by gives us a period of, which is what we expect. Turning back to the problem at hand, our first maximum occurs at x 6 and our next minimum occurs at x, and 6 6 so our period P is which gives us a B of 6. Why we couldn t use from the start? After all, they gave us points and the months repeat themselves every year. In the real-world you can t assume that the data given to you will always represent one period. It may represent several periods, or even less than one period! Also, why not use? We can use a positive or negative value for B just like we can choose a positive or negative value for A, but using a negative value for B can sometimes complicate coming up with the appropriate equation. Thus, for the remainder of this handout and the remainder of the textbook, we will assume B 0. Next let s find the vertical shift D. D is the vertical midpoint between the maximum and minimum of a sinusoidal function. Remember that the midpoint y y between two points is their average. For example, for either y sin xor y cos x, the constant D is: D 0, which is what we expect. For our problem, the maximum is 9 and the minimum is 5.5, therefore: D.5. Lastly, let s find the phase shift (horizontal shift) C. This is the trickiest parameter to find sometimes, and unlike A, B, and D there are an infinite number of choices possible for C! Of course we ll only be focusing on finding a few of them. Again let s refer back to page 75. We can interpret C as the starting point (along the x-axis) for our graph. For y sin x this is the critical point onefourth of a period behind the next (or any) maximum (see Figure ), alternatively

4 if we extend the graph backwards for negative values of x, it is also the point onefourth of a period after the previous (or any) minimum (see Figure 3). Figure : The critical point before a maximum. Figure 3: The critical point after a minimum. Thus, for y sin x C 0, but we could also use,,, and so on. To see for yourself, try graphing y sin x, ysin x, ysin x, and ysin x on a graphing calculator to see that they all yield the same graph. Note that this is only true if A 0. If A is negative, then C is located one-fourth of a period before any minimum or one-fourth of a period after any maximum (this is simply the opposite of the case when A 0 ). Graph y sin x to verify this. For y cos x the problem is much easier. Let the starting point of the graph of y cos x be its first maximum. Thus, we can find C by finding the first (or any) maximum and its horizontal distance from the origin x 0. For y cos x C 0 again, and we can also use the values,, and just like we did for y sin x (test this on a graphing calculator). Again, this is only true when A 0. If A is negative, then C is the horizontal distance to any minimum. We ll hold off on choosing a value for C for our problem for now. The reason for this is that an appropriate value for C depends on whether we want to use a sine or cosine function and whether or not there are any restrictions such as ( A 0 and C 0 ). So let s recap the information we ve determined:

6 y Solution(s) to Problem from section.3 (page 6): Problem 0 8, 5, 9 7, 6 5, 5, 6, 3, , 0.5.5, x We want to find an equation in the form sin list some important points: y A B x C D where A 0. Let s There are two maxima at the points 7,. There are two minima at the points 9.5,0.5 and.5,0.5. We can see that the data seems to follow a sinusoidal relationship. See the next page for a summary of the information we can gather from the data., and

7 From the given information we can find our parameters A, P (in order to find B and C), B, C, and D. A So A = 5.5 (because the given restriction says A 0 ) P 7 5 P (we need this value to find C) B P 5 C Max. P D 5.75 Therefore, the answer is: y 5.5sin x Because the book gives no restriction on the phase shift C, we can use an alternative value by using the point one-fourth of a period after the first minimum. C Min. P Using this value, we come up with the alternative answer: y 5.5sin x Now, just as some extra practice, let s assume the restrictions were A 0 and 0 C. In this case, P, B and D are the same, but A and C must change. A 5.5 A 5.5 (because of our restriction) P 5 and 3.75 P B 5 D 5.75

8 , 73, 7 y 3, 7, 7, 79 5, 8, 79 6, 85 7, 87 9, 87 0, 83 8, 90 C Max. P (remember that we must reverse our formula for C when A 0). Thus, our answer is: y 5.5sin x Another pair of equivalent answers are: y 5.5sin x and (using a cosine function) y 5.5cos x Do some extra practice by figuring out how to find these last two answers. Solution(s) to Problem 3 from section.3 (page 6): The data given in the book is: x y Graphing this by hand should yield a graph similar to this one: Problem x

9 We want to find an equation in the form sin list some important points: y A B x C D where A 0. Let s There is one maximum at the point 8,90. There is one minimum at the point,7. We can see that the data seems to follow a sinusoidal relationship. From the given information we can find our parameters A, P (in order to find B and C), B, C, and D. A A 9.5 (because of the restriction on A) P 8 6 (our max. and min. occur at x = 8 and x = ) P 3 B P 6 C Max. P D sin Therefore, the answer is: y x Extra practice: Do problem 3 again but this time assume the restriction is A < 0. See if you can come up with these answers: 9.5sin y 9.75sin x Answer : y x Answer : Extra practice: Do problem 3 again but this time use a cosine function and find one answer where A > 0 and another where A < 0 and see if you can come up with these answers. 9.5cos Answer : y x

10 Answer : y 9.5cos x **Optional: Here s a neat trick to quickly find another phase shift C for any given problem (that is after you have already found one value). Now think about the graph of sine or cosine, remember that we considered C to be our starting point (on the x-axis) for the graph. Notice that if we extend the graph in either direction, these points repeat themselves every cycle/period of the graph Thus we can use the formula: Cnew Cold k P where C old is the first value of C you found the traditional way, C new is your new value for C, k is any integer (remember the integers are the numbers...,, 0,,... ) and P is the period of your function. Try this out with any of the problems worked out in this handout find a family of equivalent functions with different values of C. Remember in order to check if they re equivalent you can use your graphing calculator to graph them. If all the functions have the same graph, then they are equivalent.

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