# Homework Help: Worked example of a limit

1. Sep 16, 2008

### naele

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

This is a worked example from Stewart's Early Transcendentals 6e section 2.7 p. 145 for anybody curious.

Let $$f(x)= \frac{3}{x}$$. Find an equation of the tangent line to the hyperbola at point (3,1).

2. Relevant equations

$$m = \lim_{h\rightarrow 0}\frac{f(a+h) - f(a)}{h}$$

3. The attempt at a solution

His solution goes as such:

1) $$m = \lim_{h\rightarrow 0}\frac{f(3+h) - f(3)}{h}= \lim_{h\rightarrow 0}\frac{\frac{3}{3+h} -1}{h}$$
Plug in the point coordinates into the equation and evaluate.

2) $$\lim_{h\rightarrow 0}\frac{\frac{3-(3+h)}{3+h}}{h}$$
Consider the 1 as 1/1, cross multiply and multiply through the denominator. The reverse of partial fraction decomposition (recomposition?)

3) $$\lim_{h\rightarrow 0}\frac{-h}{h(3+h)}$$
This is where I become confused. Do you have to distribute the negative sign such that 3-(3+h) = 3-3-h = -h?

4) $$\lim_{h\rightarrow 0}-\frac{1}{3+h}=-\frac{1}{3}$$
I would have gotten 1/3 instead of -1/3 so I would have made a mistake between steps 2 and 3.

2. Sep 16, 2008

### CompuChip

Would it help if I wrote it this way?
3 - (3 + h) = 3 + (-1)(3 + h)

Also, if you'd gotten 1/3 you knew you would be wrong, because the graph is clearly going down so the derivative should be negative.

Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
3. Sep 16, 2008

### naele

Yes! But then why did Stewart write it like that? It's so confusing.

4. Sep 16, 2008

### HallsofIvy

Perhaps Stewart didn't think he had to remind you that -(3-h)= -3+ h. You shouldn't have to ask if you use the distributive law!