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Direct & Inverse Variation

Direct variation describes a simple relationship between two variables . We say y varies directly with x (or as x , in some textbooks) if:

y = k x

for some constant k .

This means that as x increases, y increases and as x decreases, y decreases—and that the ratio between them always stays the same.

The graph of the direct variation equation is a straight line through the origin.

Math diagram

Direct Variation Equation
for 3 different values of k

Inverse variation describes another kind of relationship. We say y varies inversely with x (or as x , in some textbooks) if :

x y = k ,

or, equivalently,

y = k x

for some constant k .

This means that as x increases, y decreases and as x decreases, y increases.

The graph of the inverse variation equation is a hyperbola .

Math diagram

Inverse Variation Equation
for 3 different values of k

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