## Analytic Geometry: The Parabola

What is a parabola, and of what use is it? If a sheet of paper is likened to an infinite plane in space, the x- and y-axes, drawn at right angles to each other, provide a means of describing each point on the plane of the paper in terms of an x and a y value. Thus the point (1, 3) tells us that beginning at the origin or center where the x-axis crosses the y-axis, if we travel one unit to the right and then three units up, we will have reached the point we seek. Introducing the Parabola Now we will pass on to describing a parabola.1 The parabola is an important mathematical "curve," inasmuch as it describes, mathematically, the behavior of a number of important actions, such…