Determining the Equation of a Line
In this section, you will learn to:
- Find an equation of a line if a point and the slope are given.
- Find an equation of a line if two points are given.
So far, we were given an equation of a line and were asked to give information about it. For example, we were asked to find points on it, find its slope, and find intercepts. Now we are going to reverse the process. That is, we will be given either two points, or a point and the slope of a line, and we will be asked to find its equation.
An equation of a line can be written in two forms, the slope-intercept form or the standard form.
The Slope-Intercept Form of a Line: y = mx + b
A line is completely determined by two points, or a point and slope. So it makes sense to ask to find the equation of a line if one of these two situations is given.
Find the standard form of the line that passes through the points (1, -2), and (4, 0).
The point-slope form is:
Multiplying both sides by 3 gives us:
We should always be able to convert from one form of an equation to another. That is, if we are given a line in the slope-intercept form, we should be able to express it in the standard form, and vice versa.
Write the equation y = – 2/3x +3 in the standard form.
Multiplying both sides of the equation by 3, we get
Finally, we learn a very quick and easy way to write an equation of a line in the standard form. But first we must learn to find the slope of a line in the standard form by inspection.
By solving for y, it can easily be shown that the slope of the line Ax + By = C is −A/B. The reader should verify.
Now that we know how to find the slope of a line in the standard form by inspection, our job in finding the equation of a line is going to be very easy.
1. Write an equation of the line satisfying the following conditions. Write the equation in the form y = mx + b.
a. Passes through (3, 5) and (2, -1).
b. Passes through (5, -2) and m = .
c. Passes through (2, -5) and its x-intercept is 4.
d. Passes through (-3, -4), and (-5, 2).
e. Is a horizontal line passing through (2, -1).
f. Has an x-intercept = 3 and y-intercept = 4.
2. Write an equation of the line that satisfies the following conditions. Write the equation in the form Ax + By = C.
a. Passes through (-4, -2) and m =
b. Passes through (2, -3) and (5, 1).