Samuel O. answered • 02/28/13

Math Tutor (Algebra, Geometry, Trig, Calculus, and much more)

There are lots of ways to do this but perhaps one of the most straight forward ways is to simply make a table of values.

x f(x)

-5 542

-4 197

-3 42

-2 -7

-1 -10

0 -3

1 2

2 17

3 78

4 245

5 602

The intermediate value theorem says that a continuous function (such as the polynomial in this problem) obtains all values between it's extrema in a given interval. In other words if at one point y is negative and at another y is positive than somewhere in between it had to be 0.

We look to our list and see that x=-3, f(x)=42 and at x=-2, f(x)=-7. At x=-3, f(x) is positive and at x=-2, f(x) is negative, so somewhere between x=-3 and x=-2 f(x) had to be 0, by the intermediate value theorem. Thus there is a zero somewhere in the interval (-3,-2). Can you find another interval using the same method?