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Understanding Proportional Relationships

In mathematics, two variables are said to be proportional if an increase in one results in a corresponding increase in the other. This relationship is represented by the symbol ∝, with A ∝ B denoting that there exists a constant of proportionality, k, that connects the two variables. Let's delve further into this concept.

The Symbol for Proportion

The symbol ∝ is used to indicate that two variables are proportional. For instance, according to Ohm's law, the current (I) through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage (V) across the same two points. This can be expressed as V ∝ I, which can also be written as V = kI, where k is the constant of proportionality.

Direct Proportions

In a direct proportion, an increase in one variable causes a corresponding increase in the other, while a decrease in one results in a decrease in the other. This relationship can be represented as A = kB, with k being the constant of proportionality. On a graph, this is shown by a straight line passing through the origin. For example, the weight of a string is directly proportional to its length. If a 30cm string weighs 0.2N, what is the weight of a 50cm string? Using the equation W = aL, we can solve for the constant of proportionality, a, and find the weight to be 0.33N.

Inverse Proportions

Inverse proportion occurs when an increase in one variable leads to a decrease in the other, and vice versa. This relationship can be expressed as A ∝ 1/B, or y = k/x on a graph, with k being the constant of proportionality. For example, as speed increases, the time to travel a certain distance decreases. If two variables, b and n, are inversely proportional, and b = 6 when n = 2, what is the value of n when b = 15? Using the equation b = 12/n, we find that n = 0.8.

Proportions and Shapes

In geometry, two shapes are considered proportional if they have the same shape, but one is scaled up or down. This requires a constant of proportionality, which varies depending on the dimensions of the shapes. For instance, in one dimension, it is called a length scale factor, while in two dimensions, an area scale factor. To convert between these scale factors, we simply multiply the length scale factor. For example, to get an area scale factor, we multiply the length scale factor by itself, and to get a volume scale factor, we multiply the length scale factor by itself twice.

Example of Proportional Shapes

In this given example, two mathematically similar cubes have different dimensions. The first cube has a face area of 16m², while the sides of the second cube are half the length of the first cube. If the first cube has a volume of 64m³, what is the volume of the second cube? The length scale factor between the two cubes is 1/2, meaning the volume scale factor is (1/2)^3 = 1/8. Therefore, the volume of the second cube is 64/8 = 8m³.

Finding the Constant of Proportionality with Similar Triangles

When two triangles are similar, it means they have the same shape, but one has been scaled up or down. We can use this concept to find the length of a specific side in a similar triangle. For example, given two similar triangles ABE and ACD, with the task of finding the length of CD in centimeters. By using the formula (AC) = k (AB), we can establish the constant of proportionality (k) between the corresponding sides. In this case, we are given that AC is 12 and AB is 8, allowing us to set up the equation 12 = k 8. Solving for k, we get a value of 1.5. Therefore, we can use this constant to find the length of CD, given by CD = k (BE). In this case, CD = 1.5 x 10 = 15 cm.

The Proportional Relationship Formula

The proportional relationship between two variables or shapes can be expressed using the formula y=k/x, where k is a constant. This formula is widely used in various mathematical calculations and holds a significant role in many real-life scenarios.

It is essential to understand that when two quantities are in proportion, there exists a constant that relates them, known as the length scale factor. This factor plays a crucial role in determining the relationship between the two variables and is often used as a reference point for measurements.

The length scale factor not only applies to linear measurements but also extends to area and volume. The area scale factor can be determined by squaring the length scale factor, while the volume scale factor can be found by cubing the length scale factor. This relationship is represented by (length scale factor)² and (length scale factor)³, respectively.

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