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In my free response, I explain that I use a process approach to problem solving. My approach to calculus optimization problems is one idea of my process approach: Process for Optimization Problems: 1. Determine any limitations that bound the problem. 2. Determine the function that we are interested in optimizing -- make sure it is in 1 variable. f(x) 3. Take the first derivative of the function => f ' (x). 4. Look for critical points where f '(x)=0 or f '(x)=infinity. Solve for appropriate x values (ones that make sense for the problem). 5. Take the second derivative f ''(x) to determine if the x's found in step 4 are max's or min's. Remember that f ''(x) gives concavity of the function f(x). 6. Plug in the critical point values of x into f ''(x). If f ''(x)>0 ==> min value (i.e. the curve is concave upward at x); if f ''(x)<0 ==> max value (i.e. the curve is concave downward at x). I hope this helps all you calculus students out there... read more

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