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# Inflection point

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introducing more precise citations. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove th
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Plot of y = x with inflection point of (0,0), also a saddle point.
The roots, turning points, stationary points, inflection point and concavity of
a cubic polynomial x3 - 3x2 - 144x + 432 (black line) and its first and second d
erivatives (red and blue).
In differential calculus, an inflection point, point of inflection, flex, or inf
lection (inflexion (British English)) is a point on a curve at which the curve c
hanges from being concave (concave downward) to convex (concave upward), or vice
versa.
A point where the curvature vanishes but does not change sign is sometimes calle
d a point of undulation or undulation point.
In algebraic geometry an inflection point is defined slightly more generally, as
a point where the tangent meets the curve to order at least 3, and an undulatio
n point or hyperflex is defined as a point where the tangent meets the curve to
order at least 4.
Contents [hide]
1
Definition
2
A necessary but not sufficient condition
3
Categorization of points of inflection
4
Functions with discontinuities
5
6
References and Sources
6.1
References
6.2
Sources
7
Definition
A differentiable function has an inflection point at (x, f(x)) if and only if it
s first derivative, f', has an isolated extremum at x. (This is not the same as
saying that f has an extremum). That is, in some neighborhood, x is the one and
only point at which f' has a (local) minimum or maximum. If all extrema of f' ar
e isolated, then an inflection point is a point on the graph of f at which the t
angent crosses the curve.
A rising point of inflection is an inflection point where the derivative has a l
ocal minimum, and a falling point of inflection is a point where the derivative
has a local maximum.
For an algebraic curve, a non singular point is an inflection point if and only
if the multiplicity of the intersection of the tangent line and the curve (at th
e point of tangency) is odd and greater than 2.
For a curve given by parametric equations, a point is an inflection point if its
signed curvature changes from plus to minus or from minus to plus, i.e., change
s sign.[citation needed]
For a twice differentiable function, an inflection point is a point on the graph
at which the second derivative has an isolated zero and changes sign.

Plot of f(x) = sin(2x) from -p/4 to 5p/4; note f s second derivative is f?(x) = 4si
n(2x). Tangent is blue where the curve is convex (above its own tangent), green
where concave (below its tangent), and red at inflection points: 0, p/2 and p
A necessary but not sufficient condition
If x is an inflection point for f then the second derivative, f?(x), is equal to
zero if it exists, but this condition does not provide a sufficient definition
of a point of inflection. One also needs the lowest-order (above the second) non
-zero derivative to be of odd order (third, fifth, etc.). If the lowest-order no
n-zero derivative is of even order, the point is not a point of inflection, but
an undulation point. However, in algebraic geometry, both inflection points and
undulation points are usually called inflection points. An example of such an un
dulation point is x = 0 for the function f given by f(x) = x4.
This definition assumes that f has some higher-order non-zero derivative at x, w
hich is not necessarily the case, But if it has one, it follows from the definit
ion that the sign of f'(x) is the same on either side of x in a neighborhood of
x. If this is positive, the point is a rising point of inflection; if it is nega
tive, the point is a falling point of inflection.
Inflection points sufficient conditions:
1) A sufficient existence condition for a point of inflection is:
If f(x) is k times continuously differentiable in a certain neighbourhood of a p
oint x with k odd and k = 3, while f(n)(x0)=0 for n = 2,...,k - 1 and f(k)(x0) ?
0 then f(x) has a point of inflection at x0.
2) Another sufficient existence condition requires f''(x + e) and f''(x - e) to
have opposite signs in the neighborhood of x (Bronshtein and Semendyayev 2004, p
. 231).
Categorization of points of inflection
Points of inflection can also be categorized according to whether f'(x) is zero
or not zero.
if f'(x) is zero, the point is a stationary point of inflection
if f'(x) is not zero, the point is a non-stationary point of inflection
y = x4 x has a 2nd derivative of zero at point (0,0), but it is not an inflectio
n point because the fourth derivative is the first higher order non-zero derivat
ive (the third derivative is zero as well).
An example of a saddle point is the point (0,0) on the graph y = x3. The tangent
is the x-axis, which cuts the graph at this point.
A non-stationary point of inflection can be visualised if the graph y = x3 is ro
tated slightly about the origin. The tangent at the origin still cuts the graph
in two, but its gradient is non-zero.
Functions with discontinuities
Some functions change concavity without having points of inflection. Instead, th
ey can change concavity around vertical asymptotes or discontinuities. Take, for
example, the function 2x2/(x2
1). It is concave when |x| > 1 and convex when |x
| < 1. However, it has no points of inflection because 1 and -1 are not in the d
omain of the function.