Have you ever marveled at the graceful curve of a parabola and wondered about its mysterious vertex?

The vertex, often described as a parabolic shape’s pinnacle or turning point, is key to unlocking its secrets.

Whether you are a math enthusiast, a student preparing for exams, or simply someone curious about the beauty of mathematics, understanding how to find the vertex of a parabola is an essential skill that can open up new dimensions of problem-solving and creativity.

## Table of contents

## What is Vertex of a Parabola?

The vertex of a parabola holds a pivotal position in defining the curve’s characteristics and behavior. It serves as the optimal point of the parabolic arc, representing either the maximum or minimum value of the quadratic function depending on its orientation.

Understanding the significance of the vertex goes beyond mere mathematical analysis; it offers a glimpse into real-world applications such as projectile motion, economics, and engineering.

One intriguing aspect is that the x-coordinate of the vertex directly indicates the axis of symmetry for a given parabola, providing essential insight into its overall shape and extent.

### Different Types of Parabolas

There can be two types of equations of a parabola, which represent 4 different types of parabolas. The equation of any parabola involves a quadratic polynomial.

- Top/Bottom opened parabolas are of the form y = ax
^{2}+ bx + c - Left/right opened parabolas are of the form x = ay
^{2}+ by + c

**Top/Bottom Opened Parabolas:**

The equation of a top/bottom opened parabola can be in one of the following three forms:

- Standard form: y = ax
^{2}+ bx + c - Vertex Form: y = a (x – h)
^{2}+ k - Intercept Form: y = a (x – p)(x – q)

In each case, the parabola opens up if a > 0 and opens down if a < 0. These types of parabolas are quadratic functions.

**Left/Right Opened Parabolas:**

The equation of a left/right opened parabola can be in one of the following three forms:

- Standard form: x = ay
^{2}+ by + c - Vertex Form: x = a (y – k)
^{2}+ h - Intercept Form: x = a (y – p)(y – q)

In each case, the parabola opens to the right side if a > 0 and to the left side of a < 0.

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## Finding Vertex of a Parabola From Standard Form

We know that the equation of a standard-form parabola can be either the form y = ax2 + bx + c (up/down) or the form x = ay^{2} + by + c (left/right). How to find vertex from standard form? Let’s see.

### Vertex of a Top/Bottom Opened Parabola

When a parabola opens up or down, its standard form equation is y = ax2 + bx + c. Here are the steps to find such parabolas’ vertex (h, k). The steps are explained with an example where we will find the vertex of the parabola y = 2x^{2} – 4x + 1.

**Step 1:**Compare the parabola equation with the standard form y = ax^{2}+ bx + c.

By comparing y = 2x^{2}– 4x + 1 with the above equation, a = 2, b = -4, and c = 1.**Step – 2:**Find the x-coordinate of the vertex using the formula, h = -b/2a

Then we get h = -(-4) / (2 × 2) = 1.**Step 3:**To find the y-coordinate (k) of the vertex, substitute x = h in the ax2+ bx + c expression.

Then k = 2(1)^{2}– 4(1) + 1 = 2 – 4 + 1 = -1.**Step 4:**Write the vertex (h, k) as an ordered pair.

The vertex = (h, k) = (1, -1).

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### Vertex of a Left/Right-Opened Parabola

When a parabola opens left or right, its standard form equation is x = ay2 + by + c. Here are the steps to find the vertex (h, k) of such parabolas, which are explained with an example where we will find the parabola x = 2y2 – 4y + 1 vertex.

**Step 1:**Compare the parabola equation with the standard form x = ay^{2}+ by + c.

By comparing x = 2y^{2}– 4y + 1 with the above equation, a = 2, b = -4, and c = 1.**Step – 2:**Find the y-coordinate of the vertex using the formula k = -b/2a

Then we get k = -(-4) / (2 × 2) = 1.**Step 3:**To find the x-coordinate (h) of the vertex, substitute y = k in the expression ay^{2}+ by + c.

Then h = 2(1)^{2}– 4(1) + 1 = 2 – 4 + 1 = -1.**Step 4:**Write the vertex (h, k) as an ordered pair.

The vertex = (h, k) = (-1, 1).

## Finding Vertex of a Parabola From Vertex Form

We know that the equation of a parabola in vertex form can be either of the form y = a(x – h)^{2} + k (up/down) or of the form x = a(y – k)^{2} + h (left/right). Let us see the steps to find the vertex of the parabola in each case.

### Vertex of a Top/Bottom Opened Parabola

When a parabola opens to the top or bottom, its equation in the vertex form is of the form y = a(x – h)^{2} + k. Here are the steps to find such parabolas’ vertex (h, k). The steps are explained with an example where we will find the vertex of the parabola y = 2(x + 3)^{2} + 5

**Step – 1:**Compare the parabola equation with the vertex form y = a(x – h)^{2}+ k and identify the values of h and k.

By comparing y = 2(x + 3)^{2}+ 5 with the above equation, h = -3 and k = 5.**Step – 2:**Write the vertex (h, k) as an ordered pair.

The vertex = (h, k) = (-3, 5).

### Vertex of a Left/Right Opened Parabola

When a parabola opens to the left or to the right side, its equation in the vertex form is of the form x = a(y – k)^{2} + h. Here are the steps to find such parabolas’ vertex (h, k). The steps are explained with an example where we will find the vertex of the parabola x = 2(y + 3)^{2} + 5

**Step – 1:**Compare the parabola equation with the vertex form x = a(y – k)^{2}+ h and identify the values of h and k.

By comparing x = 2(y + 3)^{2}+ 5 with the above equation, h = 5 and k = -3.**Step – 2:**Write the vertex (h, k) as an ordered pair.

The vertex = (h, k) = (5, -3).

## Finding Vertex of a Parabola From Intercept Form

We know that the equation of a parabola in intercept form can be either of the form y = a (x – p) (x – q) (up/down) or of the form y = a(y – p)(y – q) (left/right). Let us see the steps to find the vertex of the parabola in each case.

## Properties of Vertex of a Parabola

Here are some properties of the vertex of a parabola that follow from the definition of the vertex of a parabola.

- The vertex of a parabola is its turning point.
- Since the vertex of a parabola is its turning point, the function’s derivative representing the parabola at the vertex is 0.
- A top/bottom open parabola either has a maximum or a minimum at its vertex.
- The vertex of a left or right open parabola is neither a maximum nor a minimum to it.
- Any parabola intersects its axis of symmetry at its vertex.

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## Conclusion

Understanding how to find the vertex of a parabola is a fundamental skill in algebra and calculus. One can confidently determine the vertex coordinates with precision by utilizing the standard form or completing the square method.

Additionally, recognizing the significance of the vertex as the minimum or maximum point of a parabola enables individuals to solve real-world problems and optimize various scenarios.

Furthermore, mastering this concept provides a solid foundation for more advanced mathematical concepts and applications.