Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Shanti, a student:

how do you graph a step function or piecewise function such as
u^2 if u is greater than or equal to -2 and less than 1
2- u if u is greater than or equal to 1 and less than 4

Hi Shanti,

I would start by sketching both graphs y = u2 and y = 2 - u making sure that I covered the entire range of the u-values, -2 to 4.

both graphs

y = u2 and y = 2 - u

But you only want pieces of these graphs. The piece of the parabola y = u2 for u between -2 and 1,

the parabols

and the piece of the line y = 2 - u for u between 1 and 4.

the line

Hence removing the unwanted pieces from the graph containing both equations I get

The piecewise graph


I hope this helps,

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