This post about how to evaluate a function is part of a series of posts to help you prepare for the Advanced Algebra and Functions part of the Accuplacer test.
For the function
what is the value of ?
f(x-1) is what you get when you replace x with x-1 in . That is called “evaluating the function for x-1.”
Sidebar: Function Notation
In algebra, usually when you write two things side by side with one of them in parentheses, that means you multiply those two things together:
So no one can blame you for thinking f(x) means f multiplied by x. But math notation, like other kinds of language, has exceptions. f(x) means function f, carried out on x. And f(something else) means function f carried out on something else. For example, say function g is defined as . That means ; ; and means (whatever * means).
It gets interesting when the parentheses in the function definition contain a function. For example, if , what is ? Well, we said that if you want to find , you insert * into the function definition. To find , insert into the function definition: if , then .
So to find f(x-1) in the expression
insert x-1 wherever you see x. You should get:
That’s answer choice B.
Usually an answer like this would be expressed as , but this question is multiple choice so you go with what you’ve got.
Another example of how to evaluate a function is here.
This question is similar to question number 13 in the sample questions for the Accuplacer Advanced Algebra and Functions test.