# Definition--Calculus Topics--Piecewise Function

Calculus

## Definition

A piecewise function is a function defined by multiple sub-functions, each applying to a certain interval of the main function's domain. The function is described using a different formula for each of these intervals.

## Description

Piecewise functions are important in calculus for modeling real-world phenomena that behave differently under different conditions. They are commonly used in economics (e.g., tax brackets), physics (e.g., motion with changing acceleration), and engineering (e.g., stress-strain relationships in materials). Piecewise functions also play a crucial role in understanding continuity, differentiability, and integration of functions with abrupt changes.

In mathematics education, piecewise functions help students develop a more nuanced understanding of function behavior. They challenge students to think about domains and ranges more carefully and provide excellent practice in function graphing. Piecewise functions also serve as a stepping stone to more advanced concepts like absolute value functions, step functions, and even distribution functions in probability theory.

Teacher's Script: "Let's consider a real-world example of a piecewise function: a taxi fare structure. Suppose the fare is $5 for the first mile and$2 for each additional mile. How would we represent this mathematically? We could write it as f(x) = 5 if x ≤ 1, and f(x) = 5 + 2(x-1) if x > 1, where x is the distance in miles. Now, let's graph this function. What do you notice about its continuity? Its differentiability? How might this function be useful for both the taxi company and the passengers? Can you think of other scenarios where we might encounter piecewise functions in everyday life?"

For a complete collection of terms related to Calculus click on this link: Calculus Vocabulary Collection.

Common Core Standards CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.C.7, CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.BF.A.1.C 11 - 12 Algebra     • Advanced Topics in Algebra         • Calculus Vocabulary 2023 calculus concepts, limits, derivatives, integrals, composite functions