Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Finding the vertex of a parabola with given points
Name: philip rust
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

This is a question pertaining to parabolas. Suppose you are given three points on a parabola, for example (2,1), (4,8), and (-2,-1) (just random points). How could you determine the vertex if given this information?

The general form of a parabola is given by the equation:

A * x^2 + B * x + C = y where A, B, and C are arbitrary Real constants. You have three pairs of points that are (x,y) ordered pairs. Substitute the x and y values of each point into the equation for a parabola. You will get three LINEAR equations in three unknowns, the three constants. You can then easily solve this system of three equations for the values of A, B, and C, and you'll have the equation of the parabola that intersects your 3 points. The vertex is where the first derivative is 0, a little algebra gives: ( -B/2A , C - B^2/4A ) for the vertex.


Click here to return to the Mathematics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory