The importance of lines and slopes

  1. Light travels along straight lines. In fact, the shortest distance between any two points is the path taken by a light wave to travel from the initial point to the final point. In other words, it is a straight line. (A slight detour: using this elementary fact, can you prove the triangle inequality?)
  2. Bodies falling from rest in a planet’s gravitational field do so in a straight line.
  3. Bodies coasting under their own momentum (like a hockey puck gliding across the ice) do so in a straight line. (Think of Newton’s First Law of Motion).

So we often use the equations of lines (called linear equations) to study such motions.

Many important quantities are related by linear equations. Once we know that a relationship between two variables is linear, we can find it from any two pairs of corresponding values just as we find the equation of a line from the coordinates of two points.

Slope is important because it gives us a way to say how steep something is (roadbeds, roofs, stairs, banking of railway tracks). The notion of a slope also enables us to describe how rapidly things are changing. (To philosophize, everything in the observable universe is changing). For this reason, slope plays an important role in calculus.

More later,

Nalin Pithwa.

PS: Ref: Calculus and Analytic Geometry by G B Thomas and Finney; or any other book on calculus.

PS: I strongly recommend the Thomas and Finney book : You can get it from Amazon India or Flipkart:

https://www.amazon.in/Thomas-Calculus-George-B/dp/9353060419/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36S3685TG7OYF&keywords=thomas+calculus&qid=1561503390&s=books&sprefix=Thomas+%2Caps%2C259&sr=1-1

or Flipkart:

https://www.flipkart.com/thomas-calculus-1/p/itmebug5kzrnttfj?pid=9789332547278&lid=LSTBOK9789332547278CHN4GH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_23&otracker=AS_Query_OrganicAutoSuggest_2_9&otracker1=AS_Query_OrganicAutoSuggest_2_9&fm=SEARCH&iid=fdc8327b-756c-4f6d-aa10-b45acc900e12.9789332547278.SEARCH&ppt=sp&ppn=sp&ssid=uz7zckp71c0000001561503474614&qH=2488f76736a10369

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