Transformations of Functions and their Graphs
Before we begin our discussion on transformations of function, it will be helpful to compile a list of some common functions and their graphs. Armed with those, we shall consider various transformations and what effect that has on the graph of the function.
Function: y = x Function: y = x Function: y = x^{2} Function: y = x^{3}
Domain: (∞, ∞) Domain: (∞, ∞) Domain: (∞, ∞) Domain: (∞, ∞)
Range: (∞, ∞) Range: [0, ∞) Range: [0, ∞) Range: (∞, ∞)
Function: Function: Function: y = 1/x Function: y = 1/x^{2}
Domain: [0, ∞) Domain: [1, 1] Domain: x ≠ 0 Domain: x ≠ 0
Range: [0, ∞) Range: [0, 1] Range: y ≠ 0 Range: (0, ∞)
Figure 1: Eight Common Functions and their Graphs
There are two types of transformations that shall discuss. First are translations. By a translation of a graph, we mean a shift in its location such that every point of the graph is moved the same distance and in the same direction. Essentially, think of lifting the graph out of the paper, moving it around, and then placing it down at a new location.
There are four ways to move the graph: left, right, up and down. The effect this has on the graph is summarized in the following table:
TranslationsSuppose that c is a positive constant.
Equation Effect on the Graph 1. y = f(x) + c Translate c units upward 2. y = f(x) c Translate c units downward 3. y = f(x + c) Translate c units to the left 4. y = f(x c) Translate c units to the right

Example 1:
Write out the function of and graph the translation the graph of y = x^{2} to the left by 1.
Solution:
From the table above, we see that a translation to the left by 1 can be accomplished by replacing x with x + 1. That is, our function is y = (x + 1)^{2}. Its graph is the following:
Figure 2: The graph y = (x + 1)^{2}
Example 2:
Translate the graph of y = x to the right by 2 and down by 1.
Solution:
First, we translate to the right by 2, and then we translate down by 1.
Figure 3: The graph of y = x 2 1
The second type of transformation we are interested in is a reflection. There are two types of reflections that we will be concerned about. A reflection about the xaxis is where each point (x, y) is mapped to the point (x, y). That is, we think of the xaxis as fixed and we spin our graph 180°.
Similarly, a reflection about the yaxis is where each point (x, y) is mapped to the point (x, y). This time we think of the yaxis as fixed and we spin our graph 180°. We record this in the following:
ReflectionsEquation Effect on the Graph 1. y = f(x) Reflect about the xaxis 2. y = f(x) Reflect about the yaxis

Example 3:
Graph the functions and .
Solution:
Notice that the first graph is a translation of 1/x^{2} to the right by 1. The second graph is a reflection of the first graph about the xaxis. Their graphs appear below.
Figure 4: The graphs of and
Example 4:
Graph the
functions and .
Solution:
Notice that the first graph is a reflection of about the yaxis. The second graph is a translation of the first graph up by 1. Their graphs appear below.
Figure 5: The graphs of and
What if instead we wanted to graph the function . There will be a reflection involved because of the x. But there will also be a translation, because of the +1. So, which do we do first?
A common mistake would be to apply the translation rule y = f(x + c). The problem is that there is no “x” in the rule. Instead, we have to massage the function.
Notice that . We read this to say “translate the graph to the right by 1, then reflect about the yaxis”.
In general, when presented with both reflections and translations, factor out the negative signs first. Then perform the translations, and finally apply the reflections.