4.04 Finding the equation from a graph

Lesson

So far we have looked at methods for sketching graphs given their equation. We know that all linear equations can be written in the form $y=mx+b$y=mx+b where $m$m is the slope and $b$b is the value of the $y$y-intercept.

Knowing this, we can also work out the equation of a straight line if we are given its graph - we just need to work out the slope and $y$y-intercept. That is, we want to find $m$m and $b$b

To find $b$b we can just look at where the line crosses the $y$y-axis. The value of $y$y at this point is our $y$y-intercept.

To find the slope, we want to choose two points on the line that we can easily identify the co-ordinates of, ideally points with integer co-ordinates. Using these two points we can identify by how much the $y$y-value has increased, or decreased, as $x$x increases by $1$1. If our two points are more than $1$1 unit apart on the $x$x-axis we can divide the change in the $y$y-coordinate by the change in the $x$x-coordinate.

Exploration

Consider the following graph. How can we work out its equation?

Every linear equation can be written in the form $y=mx+b$y=mx+b so if we can find $m$m and $b$b we can find the equation.

We can see that the $x$x and $y$y-intercepts are clearly marked on the graph and to find the equation of a straight-line graph we actually only need to know two points, so let's use the two intercepts.

The $y$y-intercept is at $\left(0,-6\right)$(0,6) which means $b=-6$b=6.

To find the slope $m$m we want to work out how much the $y$y-value increases as $x$x increases by $1$1. As we move along the line from the $x$x-intercept to the $y$y-intercept , we have moved from $\left(0,-6\right)$(0,6) to $\left(2,0\right)$(2,0).That is, the $x$x-value has increased by $2$2 and the $y$y-value has increased by $6$6. This means that every time the $x$x-value increases by $2$2 the $y$y-value increases by $6$6. We can now divide $6$6 by $2$2 to find how much the $y$y-value increases as $x$x increases by $1$1. This means the slope  $m$m is equal to $\frac{6}{2}=3$62=3.

We could have chosen any two points on this line, but sometimes the coordinates might not be clear if they are not integer values. In this case, the point that is one unit along the $x$x-axis from the point $\left(0,-6\right)$(0,6) has coordinates of $\left(1,-3\right)$(1,3) which confirms the slope is $3$3 and as expected.

Did you know?

If the line passes through the origin $\left(0,0\right)$(0,0) the $x$x and $y$y-intercept both occur at this point, so you will need to find a second point to calculate the slope.

This line passes through the origin, we can see it also passes through the point $\left(2,-1\right)$(2,1)

Practice questions

Question 1

Consider the graph plotted below.

1. Complete the table of values for the points shown on the line:

 $x$x $y$y $-1$−1 $0$0 $1$1 $2$2 $\editable{}$ $\editable{}$ $\editable{}$ $\editable{}$
2. Linear relations can be written in the form $y=mx+c$y=mx+c.

For this relationship, state the values of $m$m and $c$c:

$m=\editable{}$m=

$c=\editable{}$c=

3. Write the linear equation expressing the relationship between $x$x and $y$y.

4. Complete the coordinate value for the point on the line where $x=21$x=21:
$\left(21,\editable{}\right)$(21,)

Question 2

Consider the line shown on the coordinate-plane:

1. Complete the table of values by using the line shown in the graph.

 $x$x $y$y $-1$−1 $0$0 $1$1 $2$2 $\editable{}$ $\editable{}$ $\editable{}$ $\editable{}$
2. Linear relations can be written in the form $y=mx+c$y=mx+c.

For this relationship, state the values of $m$m and $c$c:

$m=\editable{}$m=

$c=\editable{}$c=

3. Write the linear equation expressing the relationship between $x$x and $y$y.

4. Complete the coordinate value for the point on the line where $x=27$x=27:
$\left(27,\editable{}\right)$(27,)

Question 3
Consider the line shown on the coordinate-plane:

1. State the value of the $y$y-intercept.

2. By how much does the $y$y-value increase as the $x$x-value increases by $1$1?

3. Write the linear equation expressing the relationship between $x$x and $y$y.

Outcomes

8.B2.8

Compare proportional situations and determine unknown values in proportional situations, and apply proportional reasoning to solve problems in various contexts.

8.C1.1

Identify and compare a variety of repeating, growing, and shrinking patterns, including patterns found in real-life contexts, and compare linear growing and shrinking patterns on the basis of their constant rates and initial values.

8.C1.2

Create and translate repeating, growing, and shrinking patterns involving rational numbers using various representations, including algebraic expressions and equations for linear growing and shrinking patterns.

8.C4

Apply the process of mathematical modelling to represent, analyse, make predictions, and provide insight into real-life situations.