FREE! Click here to Join FunTrivia. Thousands of games, quizzes, and lots more!  # No Calculus Knowledge Needed! Trivia Quiz

### Throw away your instinctive fear of the words "math" and "calculus" as we explore the intuition and common sense behind calculus in a way that requires no calculation and no previous calculus knowledge. (Remember: you can click on images to zoom in!)

A photo quiz by AdamM7. Estimated time: 5 mins.

Author
Time
5 mins
Type
Photo Quiz
Quiz #
407,574
Updated
Jan 29 22
# Qns
10
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Avg Score
7 / 10
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Top 20% Quiz
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Author's Note: Note that clicking on the picture will enlarge it and make it clearer.
1. The gradient (or slope) of a line is a number that tells you the rate of its growth. A gradient of 100 would be a very steep line going upwards, whereas a line with gradient 1/100 is almost flat. A gradient of -1, or any other negative number, would indicate that the line is going down.

Without doing any calculations, we can tell that both of these lines have positive-valued gradients, because they are pointing upwards. We can also tell which line has a larger gradient. What color line is it?

Blue
Red

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2. To check you've got the hang of gradients, let's test with a couple more examples. Which of these terms correctly describes the gradient of this line? Hint

Positive
Infinite
Zero
Negative

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3. It's not just lines that have gradients, but curves too. The value of the gradient may not be the same at every point on a curve: if the curve goes upwards and then downwards, then it'll have a positive gradient when it moves upwards, and a negative gradient in the downwards region.

On this graph, the curve has different gradient values at the three points labelled. The green point (A) has a negative gradient, because the curve is going downwards at that point, while the red (B) and blue (C) points have positive gradients as the curve is increasing. Which point, then, has the largest positive gradient value?

Red (B)
Blue (C)

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4. If we have a curve (in green) and a point on that curve (A, also in green), we can draw a tangent line. The tangent touches the curve just barely, at that particular point, not touching any of the immediately surrounding points on the curve.

Which of the lines is the tangent? (Click on the image to see the colors more clearly.)
Hint

Blue
Yellow
Pink
Red

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5. One last question on gradients: if I move a line upwards, does its gradient change?

Yes
No

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6. Integration is a calculation that helps you find areas. On this co-ordinate graph, the black square has an area of 1. Each square on this grid above the (horizontal) x-axis contributes an area of 1 towards the value we get from integration, but each square below the x-axis contributes an area of -1. So the green square has an area of -1.

I use integration to find the area under the red curve (and above the x-axis) between the x-values of 0 and 3. This is shaded in red. The (approximate) answer I get is one of the four numbers below. Which one must it be?
Hint

8.4
-3.0
5.7
3.9

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7. This red curve is called a sine wave because of its symmetries and repetitive pattern. When I integrate it between the x-values -3 and 0, I get the area in green. What value do I get? Hint

1
1.90
0
-1.90

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8. Our last topic is limits. Shown on the graph is something that looks suspiciously like a straight line, except for one black point (A) where there is a discontinuity. Instead of a line, we will call it a "function". At A, it is undefined: the function has no value.

Even though the function doesn't have a value at A, it does have a limit. The limit is a number. If you approach the discontinuity from the left, you get closer and closer to this number, the y co-ordinate. If you approach the discontinuity from the right, you get closer and closer to the very same number.

So, what is the limit value as the function approaches the black dot from either direction?
Hint

-1
0
1
Infinity

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9. On this graph, we see another function with a discontinuity - it makes a sudden jump down. Which of these statements about the limit value at the discontinuity is true? Hint

The limit value is 3.
There is no limit value.
The limit value is 1.
The limit value is 2.

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10. Lastly, let's visit a topic not generally studied until university level: Rolle's theorem. A "theorem" is just a mathematical fact proven to be true.

With the graph as a guiding example, and our newfound knowledge of gradients, integration and limits, which of these completes the statement of Rolle's theorem: "if a (specific type of) function crosses the x-axis twice, then between these crossings..."
Hint

... there is a point where the limit is not defined
... the integrated area is positive
... the integrated area is 0
... there is a point where the gradient is 0

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The gradient (or slope) of a line is a number that tells you the rate of its growth. A gradient of 100 would be a very steep line going upwards, whereas a line with gradient 1/100 is almost flat. A gradient of -1, or any other negative number, would indicate that the line is going down. Without doing any calculations, we can tell that both of these lines have positive-valued gradients, because they are pointing upwards. We can also tell which line has a larger gradient. What color line is it?

The blue line is steeper, so it has a faster rate of change, and thus a larger gradient.

A gradient of 2 tells you that for every 1 square you move to the right, you move 2 squares upwards. That is, the ratio of growth of y to x is 2. A gradient of 1, then, is a line which moves rightwards at the same speed it moves upwards - a line at a 45� angle from the horizontal.

We can see that every time you move 1 square to the right on the blue line, you have to move 2 squares upwards, so the blue line has a gradient of 2. Similarly, the red line moves 1 upwards for every 1 you move to the right, so its gradient is 1. So we can also reach the answer by calculating gradients and comparing (as 2 is greater than 1).
2. To check you've got the hang of gradients, let's test with a couple more examples. Which of these terms correctly describes the gradient of this line?

The line is decreasing, so the gradient is negative.

If the gradient was positive, the line would be going up. If it was zero, the line can't be going up or down (zero is neither positive nor negative), so it must be horizontal. A gradient of infinity corresponds to a vertical line.

We can check that these ideas accord with the formal definition of gradients as the ratio of the change in y to the change in x. For the red line, every 1 you move to the right, you move 1 downwards. To calculate the gradient we need to phrase this slightly unnaturally as "for every 1 you move to the right, you move -1 upwards", and then the ratio is -1. So the gradient is -1.

For the horizontal line, every 1 you move to the right corresponds to moving 0 upwards, so the gradient is 0. It doesn't grow or shrink at all. The vertical line, in contrast, grows infinitely fast: for every 1 square you move upwards, you move 0 squares to the right! If you were to calculate the ratio 1/0, you would get a math error: dividing by 0 does not make sense. The line is steeper than any line with a positive gradient, so we call its gradient "(positive) infinity".
3. It's not just lines that have gradients, but curves too. The value of the gradient may not be the same at every point on a curve: if the curve goes upwards and then downwards, then it'll have a positive gradient when it moves upwards, and a negative gradient in the downwards region. On this graph, the curve has different gradient values at the three points labelled. The green point (A) has a negative gradient, because the curve is going downwards at that point, while the red (B) and blue (C) points have positive gradients as the curve is increasing. Which point, then, has the largest positive gradient value?

The curve is much steeper at the blue point - between the x-values -2 and -1, the curve just dips slightly below 0 and rises again, whereas from 0 to 1 it grows too large to be shown on the graph, above the y-value 5. This means the graph will have a much larger gradient at the blue point.

You might notice that the curve is symmetric: it has a line of symmetry at (the vertical line) x = -1. Because of this symmetry, A and C have the same height above the x-axis (i.e. the same y co-ordinates). Additionally, their gradients are negatives of each other: the curve has gradient -21/2 at A, and gradient 21/2 at C. This is because the curve must be moving downwards at the same speed that it later moves upwards at.

To those with existing calculus knowledge, the equation of this curve is y = x(x+2)(x+1)^2. The points are A = (-5/2, 45/16), B = (-3/2, -3/16) and C = (1/2, 45/16). The gradient of the curve has equation y = 4x^3 + 12x^2 + 10x + 2, from which we calculate that the gradient at A is -21/2, the gradient at B is 1/2 and the gradient at C is 21/2. This means the gradient is 21 times larger at C than at B.
4. If we have a curve (in green) and a point on that curve (A, also in green), we can draw a tangent line. The tangent touches the curve just barely, at that particular point, not touching any of the immediately surrounding points on the curve. Which of the lines is the tangent? (Click on the image to see the colors more clearly.)

The blue and orange lines do not touch the point A at all, while the pink line touches an immediately surrounding point. The red line does touch the green curve again, but not at a point in the same "hump" that A is at the peak of, so this is not "immediately surrounding".

The tangent is important in calculus because it has the same gradient as the curve at the point. Remember from question 2 that a flat line has gradient 0, so the red tangent has a gradient of 0 and the point A on the green curve has gradient 0. These special points are known as "turning points", and it should be clear from looking at the graph why that is. In this example, the curve "turns around" and starts decreasing rather than increasing.

There are two other types of turning points. The first is when the curve turns around the other way, and goes from increasing to decreasing. The second is an "inflection point", where the curve motions as if it is about to turn around... and then starts growing again in the same direction. A web search will yield some examples if you are interested.
5. One last question on gradients: if I move a line upwards, does its gradient change?

The technical term for moving a shape or geometric object is "translating".

Translating a line does not change how steep it is - though rotating would - so translating does not change the gradient. In the given graph, we can see three lines of equal steepness (gradient 1/2, in fact) that are translations of one another.

For those who already know how to calculate the derivative of a function, notice that translating a graph only changes the constant term: the depicted lines are y = x/2+1, y = x/2 and y = x/2-1. The constant term disappears in differentiation, so it does not contribute towards the gradient value. This is because the gradient is a measure of rate of change.
6. Integration is a calculation that helps you find areas. On this co-ordinate graph, the black square has an area of 1. Each square on this grid above the (horizontal) x-axis contributes an area of 1 towards the value we get from integration, but each square below the x-axis contributes an area of -1. So the green square has an area of -1. I use integration to find the area under the red curve (and above the x-axis) between the x-values of 0 and 3. This is shaded in red. The (approximate) answer I get is one of the four numbers below. Which one must it be?

The red area is entirely above the x-axis, so we do not need to worry about subtracting areas or negative numbers. We can see 4 squares entirely in red, and then a small amount of area above those squares, and a more substantial amount of area to the right of those squares. Overall, it definitely covers more than 4 squares, and definitely less than 8 (as the red area only spills into 8 squares).

So, we can rule out all other possible answers as they are either more than 8 (8.4) or less than 4 (3.9 and -3.0). We do not even need to begin counting to rule out -3.0 as the area is positive.

"Counting squares" is a perfectly valid method of integration, though students are more likely to learn algebraic methods to find exact answers in particular cases. It is a sad reality, however, that many functions are too complicated for us to integrate algebraically, and so some sophisticated area-counting method (such as the trapezium rule) is the best we can do.
7. This red curve is called a sine wave because of its symmetries and repetitive pattern. When I integrate it between the x-values -3 and 0, I get the area in green. What value do I get?

The area under the x-axis contributes a negative value, so we have to find the area above the x-axis and then subtract away the area below the x-axis. Because of the symmetries of the graph, these two areas are the same size and shape (if you were to rotate one of them by 180�), so when we subtract one away from the other, we are left with 0.

The graph, for those with existing calculus expertise, is a scaling of cosine so the period is 3 rather than pi radians i.e. y = cos(pi*x/3).
8. Our last topic is limits. Shown on the graph is something that looks suspiciously like a straight line, except for one black point (A) where there is a discontinuity. Instead of a line, we will call it a "function". At A, it is undefined: the function has no value. Even though the function doesn't have a value at A, it does have a limit. The limit is a number. If you approach the discontinuity from the left, you get closer and closer to this number, the y co-ordinate. If you approach the discontinuity from the right, you get closer and closer to the very same number. So, what is the limit value as the function approaches the black dot from either direction?

The function has equation y = (x^2+x)/x, and there is a discontinuity at x = 0 because if you type (0^2+0)/0 in your calculator, you'll get a math error (division by 0 doesn't work).

A function (line or curve or shape) is continuous if it has no discontinuities, which seems fairly straightforward. What is less straightforward is how to define this formally, and indeed mathematicians had no answer to this for the first century of calculus' existence. They eventually settled on a rather complex definition beyond the scope of this quiz.

Suffice it to say that the definition of continuous formalizes the idea that the function must be defined everywhere (unlike here, where division by 0 prevents this) and there can be no sudden jumps in value (like we will see in the next question). If you can draw something without lifting your pen from the paper, and it does not loop back on itself, then it is continuous. Moreover, it is actually a special kind of continuous known as "uniformly continuous".
9. On this graph, we see another function with a discontinuity - it makes a sudden jump down. Which of these statements about the limit value at the discontinuity is true?

Answer: There is no limit value.

Remember that a function needs to get closer and closer to the limit value as you approach it in each direction. If you were confused about what it is because it needs to equal 3 (the value if you approach from the left) and equal 1 at the same time (the value approaching from the right), that's a good confusion to have! The resolution is that there is no limit value. It can't possibly exist, because no number is both equal to 3 and equal to 1.

The value 2 is the x co-ordinate at the discontinuity. Formally, we have said "the function has no limit as x approaches 2".

This function is a piecewise function, with equation y = 3 when x is less than 2, and equation y = 1 when x is greater than 2.
10. Lastly, let's visit a topic not generally studied until university level: Rolle's theorem. A "theorem" is just a mathematical fact proven to be true. With the graph as a guiding example, and our newfound knowledge of gradients, integration and limits, which of these completes the statement of Rolle's theorem: "if a (specific type of) function crosses the x-axis twice, then between these crossings..."