It has now become a rather standard exercise, with available
technology, to construct graphs to consider the equation
and to overlay several graphs of
for different values of a, b, or c as the other two are held
constant. From these graphs discussion of the patterns for the
can be followed. For example, if we set
for b = -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, and overlay the graphs, the
following picture is obtained.
We can discuss the "movement" of a parabola as b
is changed. The parabola always passes through the same point
on the y-axis ( the point (0,1) with this equation). For b <
-2 the parabola will intersect the x-axis in two points with positive
x values (i.e. the original equation will have two real roots,
both positive). For b = -2, the parabola is tangent to the x-axis
and so the original equation has one real and positive root at
the point of tangency. For -2 < b < 2, the parabola does
not intersect the x-axis -- the original equation has no real
roots. Similarly for b = 2 the parabola is tangent to the x-axis
(one real negative root) and for b > 2, the parabola intersets
the x-axis twice to show two negative real roots for each b.
Now consider the locus of the vertices of the set of parabolas graphed from
Show that the locus is the parabola
Consider again the equation
Now graph this relation in the xb plane. We get the following
If we take any particular value of b, say b = 3, and overlay
this equation on the graph we add a line parallel to the x-axis.
If it intersects the curve in the xb plane the intersection points
correspond to the roots of the original equation for that value
of b. We have the following graph.
For each value of b we select, we get a horizontal line. It
is clear on a single graph that we get two negative real roots
of the original equation when b > 2, one negative real root
when b = 2, no real roots for -2 < b < 2, One positive real
root when b = -2, and two positive real roots when b < -2.
Consider the case when c = - 1 rather than + 1.