Growth Models - OpenTextBookStore Growth Models 173
Growth Models
Populations of people, animals, and items are growing all around us. By understanding how
things grow, we can better understand what to expect in the future. In this chapter, we focus
on time-dependant change.
Linear (Algebraic) Growth
Marco is a collector of antique soda bottles. His collection currently contains 437 bottles.
Every year, he budgets enough money to buy 32 new bottles. Can we determine how many
bottles he will have in 5 years, and how long it will take for his collection to reach 1000
bottles?
While both of these questions you could probably solve without an equation or formal
mathematics, we are going to formalize our approach to this problem to provide a means to
answer more complicated questions.
Suppose that Pn represents the number, or population, of bottles Marco has after n years. So
P0 would represent the number of bottles now, P1 would represent the number of bottles after
1 year, P2 would represent the number of bottles after 2 years, and so on. We could describe
how Marco’s bottle collection is changing using:
P0 = 437
Pn = Pn-1 + 32
This is called a recursive relationship. A recursive relationship is a formula which relates
the next value in a sequence to the previous values. Here, the number of bottles in year n can
be found by adding 32 to the number of bottles in the previous year, Pn-1. Using this
relationship, we could calculate:
P1 = P0 + 32 = 437 + 32 = 469
P2 = P1 + 32 = 469 + 32 = 501
P3 = P2 + 32 = 501 + 32 = 533
P4 = P3 + 32 = 533 + 32 = 565
P5 = P4 + 32 = 565 + 32 = 597
We have answered the question of how many bottles Marco will have in 5 years. However,
solving how long it will take for his collection to reach 1000 bottles would require a lot more
calculations.
While recursive relationships are excellent for describing simply and cleanly how a quantity
is changing, they are not convenient for making predictions or solving problems that stretch
far into the future. For that, a closed or explicit form for the relationship is preferred. An
explicit equation allows us to calculate Pn directly, without needing to know Pn-1. While
you may already be able to guess the explicit equation, let us derive it from the recursive
formula. We can do so by selectively not simplifying as we go:
P1 = 437 + 32
= 437 + 1(32)
Creative Commons BY-SA
174
P2 = P1 + 32 = 437 + 32 + 32
P3 = P2 + 32 = (437 + 2(32)) + 32
P4 = P3 + 32 = (437 + 3(32)) + 32
= 437 + 2(32)
= 437 + 3(32)
= 437 + 4(32)
You can probably see the pattern now, and generalize that
Pn = 437 + n(32) = 437 + 32n
Using this equation, we can calculate how many bottles he’ll have after 5 years:
P5 = 437 + 32(5) = 437 + 160 = 597
We can now also solve for when the collection will reach 1000 bottles by substituting in
1000 for Pn and solving for n
1000 = 437 + 32n
563 = 32n
n = 563/32 = 17.59
700
So Marco will reach 1000 bottles in 18 years.
500
Bottles
In the previous example, Marco’s collection grew by
the same number of bottles every year. This constant
change is the defining characteristic of linear growth.
Plotting the values we calculated for Marco’s
collection, we can see the values form a straight line,
the shape of linear growth.
600
400
300
200
100
0
0
1
2
3
4
Years from now
Linear Growth
If a quantity starts at size P0 and grows by d every time period, then the quantity after n
time periods can be determined using either of these relations:
Recursive form:
Pn = Pn-1 + d
Explicit form:
Pn = P0 + d n
In this equation, d represents the common difference – the amount that the population
changes each time n increases by 1
Connection to prior learning – slope and intercept
You may recognize the common difference, d, in our linear equation as slope. In fact, the
entire explicit equation should look familiar – it is the same linear equation you learned in
algebra, probably stated as y = mx + b.
5
Growth Models 175
In the standard algebraic equation y = mx + b, b was the y-intercept, or the y value when x
was zero. In the form of the equation we’re using, we are using P0 to represent that initial
amount.
In the y = mx + b equation, recall that m was the slope. You might remember this as “rise
over run”, or the change in y divided by the change in x. Either way, it represents the same
thing as the common difference, d, we are using – the amount the output Pn changes when
the input n increases by 1.
The equations y = mx + b and Pn = P0 + d n mean the same thing and can be used the same
ways, we’re just writing it somewhat differently.
Example 1
The population of elk in a national forest was measured to be 12,000 in 2003, and was
measured again to be 15,000 in 2007. If the population continues to grow linearly at this
rate, what will the elk population be in 2014?
To begin, we need to define how we’re going to measure n. Remember that P0 is the
population when n = 0, so we probably don’t want to literally use the year 0. Since we
already know the population in 2003, let us define n = 0 to be the year 2003. Then
P0 = 12,000.
Next we need to find d. Remember d is the growth per time period, in this case growth per
year. Between the two measurements, the population grew by 15,000-12,000 = 3,000, but it
took 2007-2003 = 4 years to grow that much. To find the growth per year, we can divide:
3000 elk / 4 years = 750 elk in 1 year.
Alternatively, you can use the slope formula from algebra to determine the common
difference, noting that the population is the output of the formula, and time is the input.
d = slope =
change in output 15,000 − 12,000 3000
=
=
= 750
change in input
2007 − 2003
4
We can now write our equation in whichever form is preferred.
Recursive form:
P0 = 12,000
Pn = Pn-1 + 750
Explicit form:
Pn = 12,000 + 750n
To answer the question, we need to first note that the year 2014 will be n = 11, since 2014 is
11 years after 2003. The explicit form will be easier to use for this calculation:
P11 = 12,000 + 750(11) = 20,250 elk
176
Example 2
Gasoline consumption in the US has been increasing steadily. Consumption data from 1992
to 2004 is shown below 1. Find a model for this data, and use it to predict consumption in
2016. If the trend continues, when will consumption reach 200 billion gallons?
Plotting this data, it appears to have an
approximately linear relationship:
While there are more advanced statistical
techniques that can be used to find an equation
to model the data, to get an idea of what is
happening, we can find an equation by using
two pieces of the data – perhaps the data from
1993 and 2003.
Gas Consumption
Year
‘92 ‘93 ‘94 ‘95 ‘96 ‘97 ‘98 ‘99 ‘00 ‘01 ‘02 ‘03 ‘04
Consumption
(billion of
gallons)
110 111 113 116 118 119 123 125 126 128 131 133 136
140
130
120
110
100
1992
1996
2000
2004
Year
Letting n = 0 correspond with 1993 would
give P0 = 111 billion gallons.
To find d, we need to know how much the gas consumption increased each year, on average.
From 1993 to 2003 the gas consumption increased from 111 billion gallons to 133 billion
gallons, a total change of 133 – 111 = 22 billion gallons, over 10 years. This gives us an
average change of 22 billion gallons / 10 year = 2.2 billion gallons per year.
Equivalently,
d = slope =
change in output 133 − 111 22
=
=
= 2.2 billion gallons per year
change in input
10 − 0
10
We can now write our equation in whichever form is preferred.
Recursive form:
P0 = 111
Pn = Pn-1 + 2.2
Calculating values using the explicit form and
plotting them with the original data shows how
well our model fits the data.
Gas Consumption
Explicit form:
Pn = 111 + 2.2n
140
130
120
110
100
1992
1
1996
2000
Year
http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/2005/html/table_04_10.html
2004
Growth Models 177
We can now use our model to make predictions about the future, assuming that the previous
trend continues unchanged. To predict the gasoline consumption in 2016:
n = 23 (2016 – 1993 = 23 years later)
P23 = 111 + 2.2(23) = 161.6
Our model predicts that the US will consume 161.6 billion gallons of gasoline in 2016 if the
current trend continues.
To find when the consumption will reach 200 billion gallons, we would set Pn = 200, and
solve for n:
Pn = 200
Replace Pn with our model
111 + 2.2n = 200
Subtract 111 from both sides
2.2n = 89
Divide both sides by 2.2
n = 40.4545
This tells us that consumption will reach 200 billion about 40 years after 1993, which would
be in the year 2033.
Example 3
The cost, in dollars, of a gym membership for n months can be described by the explicit
equation Pn = 70 + 30n. What does this equation tell us?
The value for P0 in this equation is 70, so the initial starting cost is \$70. This tells us that
there must be an initiation or start-up fee of \$70 to join the gym.
The value for d in the equation is 30, so the cost increases by \$30 each month. This tells us
that the monthly membership fee for the gym is \$30 a month.
Try it Now 1
The number of stay-at-home fathers in Canada has been growing steadily 2. While the trend
is not perfectly linear, it is fairly linear. Use the data from 1976 and 2010 to find an explicit
formula for the number of stay-at-home fathers, then use it to predict the number if 2020.
Year
Number of stay-at-home fathers
1976
1984
1991
2000
2010
20,610 28,725 43,530 47,665 53,555
When good models go bad
When using mathematical models to predict future behavior, it is important to keep in mind
that very few trends will continue indefinitely.
2
http://www.fira.ca/article.php?id=140
178
Example 4
Suppose a four year old boy is currently 39 inches tall, and you are told to expect him to
grow 2.5 inches a year.
We can set up a growth model, with n = 0 corresponding to 4 years old.
Recursive form:
P0 = 39
Pn = Pn-1 + 2.5
Explicit form:
Pn = 39 + 2.5n
So at 6 years old, we would expect him to be
P2 = 39 + 2.5(2) = 44 inches tall
Any mathematical model will break down eventually. Certainly, we shouldn’t expect this
boy to continue to grow at the same rate all his life. If he did, at age 50 he would be
P46 = 39 + 2.5(46) = 154 inches tall = 12.8 feet tall!
When using any mathematical model, we have to consider which inputs are reasonable to
use. Whenever we extrapolate, or make predictions into the future, we are assuming the
model will continue to be valid.
Exponential (Geometric) Growth
Suppose that every year, only 10% of the fish in a lake have surviving offspring. If there
were 100 fish in the lake last year, there would now be 110 fish. If there were 1000 fish in
the lake last year, there would now be 1100 fish. Absent any inhibiting factors, populations
of people and animals tend to grow by a percent of the existing population each year.
Suppose our lake began with 1000 fish, and 10% of the fish have surviving offspring each
year. Since we start with 1000 fish, P0 = 1000. How do we calculate P1? The new
population will be the old population, plus an additional 10%. Symbolically:
P1 = P0 + 0.10P0
Notice this could be condensed to a shorter form by factoring:
P1 = P0 + 0.10P0 = 1P0 + 0.10P0 = (1+ 0.10)P0 = 1.10P0
While 10% is the growth rate, 1.10 is the growth multiplier. Notice that 1.10 can be
thought of as “the original 100% plus an additional 10%”
For our fish population,
P1 = 1.10(1000) = 1100
Growth Models 179
We could then calculate the population in later years:
P2 = 1.10P1 = 1.10(1100) = 1210
P3 = 1.10P2 = 1.10(1210) = 1331
Notice that in the first year, the population grew by 100 fish, in the second year, the
population grew by 110 fish, and in the third year the population grew by 121 fish.
While there is a constant percentage growth, the actual increase in number of fish is
increasing each year.
Graphing these values we see that this growth
doesn’t quite appear linear.
Like we did for the linear model, we will start
building from the recursive equation:
1600
Fish
To get a better picture of how this percentagebased growth affects things, we need an explicit
form, so we can quickly calculate values further
out in the future.
1800
1400
1200
1000
800
0
1
2
3
4
5
Years from now
P1 = 1.10P0 = 1.10(1000)
P2 = 1.10P1 = 1.10(1.10(1000)) = 1.102(1000)
P3 = 1.10P2 = 1.10(1.102(1000)) = 1.103(1000)
P4 = 1.10P3 = 1.10(1.103(1000)) = 1.104(1000)
Observing a pattern, we can generalize the explicit form to be:
Pn = 1.10n(1000), or equivalently, Pn = 1000(1.10n)
From this, we can quickly calculate the number of fish
in 10, 20, or 30 years:
18000
P10 = 1.1010(1000) = 2594
P20 = 1.1020(1000) = 6727
P30 = 1.1030(1000) = 17449
12000
Fish
15000
9000
6000
3000
Adding these values to our graph reveals a shape that is
0
definitely not linear. If our fish population had been
0
5
growing linearly, by 100 fish each year, the population
would have only reached 4000 in 30 years compared to
almost 18000 with this percent-based growth, called exponential growth.
10
15
20
25
Years from now
In exponential growth, the population grows proportional to the size of the population, so as
the population gets larger, the same percent growth will yield a larger numeric growth.
30
180
Exponential Growth
If a quantity starts at size P0 and grows by R% (written as a decimal, r) every time
period, then the quantity after n time periods can be determined using either of these
relations:
Recursive form:
Pn = (1+r) Pn-1
Explicit form:
Pn = (1+r)n P0
or equivalently, Pn = P0 (1+r)n
We call r the growth rate.
The term (1+r) is called the growth multiplier, or common ratio.
Example 5
Between 2007 and 2008, Olympia, WA grew almost 3% to a population of 245 thousand
people. If this growth rate was to continue, what would the population of Olympia be in
2014?
As we did before, we first need to define what year will correspond to n = 0. Since we know
the population in 2008, it would make sense to have 2008 correspond to n = 0, so P0 =
245,000. The year 2014 would then be n = 6.
We know the growth rate is 3%, giving r = 0.03.
Using the explicit form:
P6 = (1+0.03)6 (245,000) = 1.19405(245,000) = 292,542.25
The model predicts that in 2014, Olympia would have a population of about 293 thousand
people.
Evaluating exponents on the calculator
To evaluate expressions like (1.03)6, it will be easier to use a calculator than multiply
1.03 by itself six times. Most scientific calculators have a button for exponents. It is
typically either labeled like:
^ ,
yx , or
xy .
To evaluate 1.036 we’d type 1.03 ^ 6, or 1.03 yx 6. Try it out - you should get an
Growth Models 181
Try it Now 2
India is the second most populous country in the world, with a population in 2008 of about
1.14 billion people. The population is growing by about 1.34% each year. If this trend
continues, what will India’s population grow to by 2020?
Example 6
A friend is using the equation Pn = 4600(1.072)n to predict the annual tuition at a local
college. She says the formula is based on years after 2010. What does this equation tell us?
In the equation, P0 = 4600, which is the starting value of the tuition when n = 0. This tells us
that the tuition in 2010 was \$4,600.
The growth multiplier is 1.072, so the growth rate is 0.072, or 7.2%. This tells us that the
tuition is expected to grow by 7.2% each year.
Putting this together, we could say that the tuition in 2010 was \$4,600, and is expected to
grow by 7.2% each year.
Example 7
In 1990, the residential energy use in the US was responsible for 962 million metric tons of
carbon dioxide emissions. By the year 2000, that number had risen to 1182 million metric
tons 3. If the emissions grow exponentially and continue at the same rate, what will the
emissions grow to by 2050?
Similar to before, we will correspond n = 0 with 1990, as that is the year for the first piece of
data we have. That will make P0 = 962 (million metric tons of CO2). In this problem, we are
not given the growth rate, but instead are given that P10 = 1182.
When n = 10, the explicit equation looks like:
P10 = (1+r)10 P0
We know the value for P0, so we can put that into the equation:
P10 = (1+r)10 962
We also know that P10 = 1182, so substituting that in, we get
1182 = (1+r)10 962
We can now solve this equation for the growth rate, r. Start by dividing by 962.
1182
Take the 10th root of both sides
= (1 + r )10
962
1182
10
= 1+ r
Subtract 1 from both sides
962
3
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/ggrpt/carbon.html
182
r = 10
1182
− 1 = 0.0208 = 2.08%
962
So if the emissions are growing exponentially, they are growing by about 2.08% per year.
We can now predict the emissions in 2050 by finding P60
P60 = (1+0.0208)60 962 = 3308.4 million metric tons of CO2 in 2050
Rounding
As a note on rounding, notice that if we had rounded the growth rate to 2.1%, our
calculation for the emissions in 2050 would have been 3347. Rounding to 2% would
have changed our result to 3156. A very small difference in the growth rates gets
magnified greatly in exponential growth. For this reason, it is recommended to round
the growth rate as little as possible.
If you need to round, keep at least three significant digits - numbers after any leading
zeros. So 0.4162 could be reasonably rounded to 0.416. A growth rate of 0.001027
could be reasonably rounded to 0.00103.
Evaluating roots on the calculator
In the previous example, we had to calculate the 10th root of a number. This is
different than taking the basic square root, √. Many scientific calculators have a button
for general roots. It is typically labeled like:
y
n
, x
, or
x
To evaluate the 3rd root of 8, for example, we’d either type 3 x 8, or 8 x 3,
depending on the calculator. Try it on yours to see which to use – you should get an
If your calculator does not have a general root button, all is not lost. You can instead
use the property of exponents which states that n a = a 1 / n . So, to compute the 3rd root
of 8, you could use your calculator’s exponent key to evaluate 81 / 3 . To do this, type:
8 yx ( 1 ÷ 3 )
The parentheses tell the calculator to divide 1/3 before doing the exponent.
Try it Now 3
The number of users on a social networking site was 45 thousand in February when they
officially went public, and grew to 60 thousand by October. If the site is growing
exponentially, and growth continues at the same rate, how many users should then expect
two years after they went public?
Growth Models 183
Example 8
Looking back at the last example, for the sake of comparison, what would the carbon
emissions be in 2050 if emissions grow linearly at the same rate?
Again we will get n = 0 correspond with 1990, giving P0 = 962. To find d, we could take the
same approach as earlier, noting that the emissions increased by 220 million metric tons in 10
years, giving a common difference of 22 million metric tons each year.
Alternatively, we could use an approach similar to that which we used to find the exponential
equation. When n = 10, the explicit linear equation looks like:
P10 = P0 + 10d
We know the value for P0, so we can put that into the equation:
P10 = 962 + 10d
Since we know that P10 = 1182, substituting that in we get
1182 = 962 + 10d
P60 = 962 + 22(60) = 2282 million metric tons.
You will notice that this number is substantially
smaller than the prediction from the exponential
growth model. Calculating and plotting more
values helps illustrate the differences.
Emissions (Millions Metric
Tons)
We can now solve this equation for the common difference, d.
1182 – 962 = 10d
220 = 10d
d = 22
This tells us that if the emissions are changing
linearly, they are growing by 22 million metric
3500
tons each year. Predicting the emissions in 2050,
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
Years after 1990
So how do we know which growth model to use
when working with data? There are two approaches which should be used together whenever
possible:
1) Find more than two pieces of data. Plot the values, and look for a trend. Does the
data appear to be changing like a line, or do the values appear to be curving upwards?
2) Consider the factors contributing to the data. Are they things you would expect to
change linearly or exponentially? For example, in the case of carbon emissions, we
could expect that, absent other factors, they would be tied closely to population
values, which tend to change exponentially.
184
Solving Exponentials for Time: Logarithms
Earlier, we found that since Olympia, WA had a population of 245 thousand in 2008 and had
been growing at 3% per year, the population could be modeled by the equation
Pn = (1+0.03)n (245,000), or equivalently, Pn = 245,000(1.03)n.
Using this equation, we were able to predict the population in the future.
Suppose we wanted to know when the population of Olympia would reach 400 thousand.
Since we are looking for the year n when the population will be 400 thousand, we would
need to solve the equation
400,000 = 245,000(1.03)n
1.6327 = 1.03n
dividing both sides by 245,000 gives
One approach to this problem would be to create a table of values, or to use technology to
draw a graph to estimate the solution.
From the graph, we can estimate that the solution will be around 16 to 17 years after 2008
(2024 to 2025). This is pretty good, but we’d really like to have an algebraic tool to answer
this question. To do that, we need to introduce a new function that will undo exponentials,
similar to how a square root undoes a square. For exponentials, the function we need is
called a logarithm. It is the inverse of the exponential, meaning it undoes the exponential.
While there is a whole family of logarithms with different bases, we will focus on the
common log, which is based on the exponential 10x.
Common Logarithm
The common logarithm, written log(x), undoes the exponential 10x
This means that log(10x) = x, and likewise 10log(x) = x
This also means the statement 10a = b is equivalent to the statement log(b) = a
log(x) is read as “log of x”, and means “the logarithm of the value x”. It is important to
note that this is not multiplication – the log doesn’t mean anything by itself, just like √
doesn’t mean anything by itself; it has to be applied to a number.
Growth Models 185
Example 9
Evaluate each of the following
a) log(100)
b) log(1000)
c) log(10000)
d) log(1/100)
e) log(1)
a) log(100) can be written as log(102). Since the log undoes the exponential, log(102) = 2
b) log(1000) = log(103) = 3
c) log(10000) = log(104) = 4
1
 1 
−2
d) Recall that x − n = n . log
 = log(10 ) = −2
100
x


e) Recall that x0 = 1. log(1) = log(100) = 0
It is helpful to note that from the first three parts of the previous example that the number
we’re taking the log of has to get 10 times bigger for the log to increase in value by 1.
Of course, most numbers cannot be written as a nice simple power of 10. For those numbers,
we can evaluate the log using a scientific calculator with a log button.
Example 10
Evaluate log(300)
Using a calculator, log(300) is approximately 2.477121
With an equation, just like we can add a number to both sides, multiply both sides by a
number, or square both sides, we can also take the logarithm of both sides of the equation
and end up with an equivalent equation. This will allow us to solve some simple equations.
Example 11
a) Solve 10x = 1000
b) Solve 10x = 3
c) Solve 2(10x) = 8
a) Taking the log of both sides gives log(10x) = log(1000)
Since the log undoes the exponential, log(10x) = x. Similarly log(1000) = log(103) = 3.
The equation simplifies then to x = 3.
b) Taking the log of both sides gives log(10x) = log(3).
On the left side, log(10x) = x, so x = log(3). We can approximate this value with a calculator.
x ≈ 0.477
c) Here we would first want to isolate the exponential by dividing both sides of the equation
by 2, giving
10x = 4.
Now we can take the log of both sides, giving log(10x) = log(4), which simplifies to
x = log(4) ≈ 0.602
186
This approach allows us to solve exponential equations with powers of 10, but what about
problems like 2 = 1.03n from earlier, which have a base of 1.03? For that, we need the
exponent property for logs.
Properties of Logs: Exponent Property
log A r = r log( A)
( )
To show why this is true, we offer a proof.
Since the logarithm and exponential undo each other, 10 log A = A .
(
So A r = 10 log A
)
r
( )
Utilizing the exponential rule that states x a
(
A r = 10 log A
)
r
b
= x ab ,
= 10 r log A
( )
(
)
So then log A r = log 10 r log A
Again utilizing the property that the log undoes the exponential on the right side yields the
result
log A r = r log A
( )
Example 12
Rewrite log(25) using the exponent property for logs
log(25) = log(52) = 2log(5)
This property will finally allow us to answer our original question.
Solving exponential equations with logarithms
1. Isolate the exponential. In other words, get it by itself on one side of the equation.
This usually involves dividing by a number multiplying it.
2. Take the log of both sides of the equation.
3. Use the exponent property of logs to rewrite the exponential with the variable
exponent multiplying the logarithm.
4. Divide as needed to solve for the variable.
Example 13
If Olympia is growing according to the equation, Pn = 245(1.03)n, where n is years after
2008, and the population is measured in thousands. Find when the population will be 400
thousand.
We need to solve the equation
400 = 245(1.03)n
Begin by dividing both sides by 245 to isolate the exponential
Growth Models 187
1.633 = 1.03n
log(1.633) = log(1.03n)
log(1.633)= n log(1.03)
log(1.633)
=n
log(1.03)
n ≈ 16.591
Now take the log of both sides
Use the exponent property of logs on the right side
Now we can divide by log(1.03)
We can approximate this value on a calculator
Alternatively, after applying the exponent property of logs on the right side, we could have
evaluated the logarithms to decimal approximations and completed our calculations using
those approximations, as you’ll see in the next example. While the final answer may come
out slightly differently, as long as we keep enough significant values during calculation, our
answer will be close enough for most purposes.
Example 14
Polluted water is passed through a series of filters. Each filter removes 90% of the remaining
impurities from the water. If you have 10 million particles of pollutant per gallon originally,
how many filters would the water need to be passed through to reduce the pollutant to 500
particles per gallon?
In this problem, our “population” is the number of particles of pollutant per gallon. The
initial pollutant is 10 million particles per gallon, so P0 = 10,000,000. Instead of changing
with time, the pollutant changes with the number of filters, so n will represent the number of
filters the water passes through.
Also, since the amount of pollutant is decreasing with each filter instead of increasing, our
“growth” rate will be negative, indicating that the population is decreasing instead of
increasing, so r = -0.90.
We can then write the explicit equation for the pollutant:
Pn = 10,000,000(1 – 0.90)n = 10,000,000(0.10)n
To solve the question of how many filters are needed to lower the pollutant to 500 particles
per gallon, we can set Pn equal to 500, and solve for n.
500 = 10,000,000(0.10)n
0.00005 = 0.10n
log(0.00005) = log(0.10n)
log(0.00005) = n log(0.10)
-4.301 = n (-1)
4.301 = n
Divide both sides by 10,000,000
Take the log of both sides
Use the exponent property of logs on the right side
Evaluate the logarithms to a decimal approximation
Divide by -1, the value multiplying n
It would take about 4.301 filters. Of course, since we probably can’t install 0.3 filters, we
would need to use 5 filters to bring the pollutant below the desired level.
188
Try it Now 4
India had a population in 2008 of about 1.14 billion people. The population is growing by
about 1.34% each year. If this trend continues, when will India’s population reach 1.2
billion?
Logistic Growth
In our basic exponential growth scenario, we had a recursive equation of the form
Pn = Pn-1 + r Pn-1
In a confined environment, however, the growth rate may not remain constant. In a lake, for
example, there is some maximum sustainable population of fish, also called a carrying
capacity.
Carrying Capacity
The carrying capacity, or maximum sustainable population, is the largest
population that an environment can support.
For our fish, the carrying capacity is the largest population that the resources in the lake can
sustain. If the population in the lake is far below the carrying capacity, then we would expect
the population to grow essentially exponentially. However, as the population approaches the
carrying capacity, there will be a scarcity of food and space available, and the growth rate
will decrease. If the population exceeds the carrying capacity, there won’t be enough
resources to sustain all the fish and there will be a negative growth rate, causing the
population to decrease back to the carrying capacity.
radjusted = 0.1 −
0.1
P 

P = 0.11 −

5000
 5000 
0.1
Growth Rate
If the carrying capacity was 5000, the growth rate
might vary something like that in the graph
shown. Note that this is a linear equation with
0.1
intercept at 0.1 and slope −
, so we could
5000
write an equation for this adjusted growth rate as:
0
0
5000
-0.1
Population
Substituting this in to our original exponential growth model for r gives
P 

Pn = Pn −1 + 0.11 − n −1  Pn −1
 5000 
10000
Growth Models 189
Logistic Growth
If a population is growing in a constrained environment with carrying capacity K, and
absent constraint would grow exponentially with growth rate r, then the population
behavior can be described by the logistic growth model:
 P 
Pn = Pn −1 + r 1 − n −1  Pn −1
K 

Unlike linear and exponential growth, logistic growth behaves differently if the populations
grow steadily throughout the year or if they have one breeding time per year. The recursive
formula provided above models generational growth, where there is one breeding time per
year (or, at least a finite number); there is no explicit formula for this type of logistic growth.
Example 15
A forest is currently home to a population of 200 rabbits. The forest is estimated to be able
to sustain a population of 2000 rabbits. Absent any restrictions, the rabbits would grow by
50% per year. Predict the future population using the logistic growth model.
Modeling this with a logistic growth model, r = 0.50, K = 2000, and P0 = 200. Calculating
the next year:
P 
200 


P1 = P0 + 0.501 − 0  P0 = 200 + 0.501 −
200 = 290
 2000 
 2000 
We can use this to calculate the following year:
P 
290 


P2 = P1 + 0.501 − 1  P1 = 290 + 0.501 −
290 ≈ 414
 2000 
 2000 
A calculator was used to compute several more values:
0
1
2
3
4
200 290 414 578 784
5
6
7
8
9
10
1022 1272 1503 1690 1821 1902
Plotting these values, we can see that the
population starts to increase faster and the
graph curves upwards during the first few
years, like exponential growth, but then the
growth slows down as the population
approaches the carrying capacity.
2000
Population
n
Pn
1500
1000
500
0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
Years
7
8
9 10
190
Example 16
On an island that can support a population of 1000 lizards, there is currently a population of
600. These lizards have a lot of offspring and not a lot of natural predators, so have very
high growth rate, around 150%. Calculating out the next couple generations:
P 
600 


P1 = P0 + 1.501 − 0  P0 = 600 + 1.501 −
600 = 960
 1000 
 1000 
P 
960 


P2 = P1 + 1.501 − 1  P1 = 960 + 1.501 −
960 = 1018
 1000 
 1000 
Interestingly, even though the factor that limits the growth rate slowed the growth a lot, the
population still overshot the carrying capacity. We would expect the population to decline
the next year.
P 

 1018 
P3 = P2 + 1.501 − 3  P3 = 1018 + 1.501 −
1018 = 991
 1000 
 1000 
1200
1000
Population
Calculating out a few more years and plotting the
results, we see the population wavers above and
below the carrying capacity, but eventually settles
down, leaving a steady population near the carrying
capacity.
800
600
400
200
0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9 10
Years
Try it Now 5
A field currently contains 20 mint plants. Absent constraints, the number of plants would
increase by 70% each year, but the field can only support a maximum population of 300
plants. Use the logistic model to predict the population in the next three years.
Example 17
On a neighboring island to the one from the previous
example, there is another population of lizards, but
the growth rate is even higher – about 205%.
1000
Population
Calculating out several generations and plotting the
results, we get a surprise: the population seems to
be oscillating between two values, a pattern called a
2-cycle.
1200
800
600
400
200
0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
Years
7
8
9 10
Growth Models 191
While it would be tempting to treat this only as a strange side effect of mathematics, this has
actually been observed in nature. Researchers from the University of California observed a
stable 2-cycle in a lizard population in California 4.
Taking this even further, we get more and more extreme behaviors as the growth rate
increases higher. It is possible to get stable 4-cycles, 8-cycles, and higher. Quickly, though,
the behavior approaches chaos (remember the movie Jurassic Park?).
r=2.9 Chaos!
1400
1400
1200
1200
1000
Population
Population
r=2.46 A 4-cycle
800
600
400
200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9 10
0
0
5
Years
4
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations2.html
10
15
Years
20
25
30
192
Try it Now Answers
1. Letting n = 0 correspond with 1976, then P0 = 20,610.
From 1976 to 2010 the number of stay-at-home fathers increased by
53,555 – 20,610 = 32,945
This happened over 34 years, giving a common different d of 32,945 / 34 = 969.
Pn = 20,610 + 969n
Predicting for 2020, we use n = 44
P44 = 20,610 + 969(44) = 63,246 stay-at-home fathers in 2020.
2. Using n = 0 corresponding with 2008,
P12 = (1+0.0134)12 (1.14) = about 1.337 billion people in 2020
3. Here we will measure n in months rather than years, with n = 0 corresponding to the
February when they went public. This gives P0 = 45 thousand. October is 8 months later, so
P8 = 60.
P8 = (1+r)8 P0
60 = (1+r)8 45
60
= (1 + r ) 8
45
60
8
= 1+ r
45
60
− 1 = 0.0366 , or 3.66%
45
The general explicit equation is Pn = (1.0366)n 45
Predicting 24 months (2 years) after they went public:
P24 = (1.0366)24 45 = 106.63 thousand users.
r=8
4. 1.14(1.0134)n = 1.2. n = 3.853, which is during 2011
P 
20 


5. P1 = P0 + 0.701 − 0  P0 = 20 + 0.701 −
20 = 33
 300 
 300 
P2 = 54
P3 = 85
Growth Models 193
Exercises
Skills
1. Marko currently has 20 tulips in his yard. Each year he plants 5 more.
a. Write a recursive formula for the number of tulips Marko has
b. Write an explicit formula for the number of tulips Marko has
2. Pam is a Disc Jockey. Every week she buys 3 new albums to keep her collection
current. She currently owns 450 albums.
a. Write a recursive formula for the number of albums Pam has
b. Write an explicit formula for the number of albums Pam has
3. A store’s sales (in thousands of dollars) grow according to the recursive rule
Pn=Pn-1 + 15, with initial population P0=40.
a. Calculate P1 and P2
b. Find an explicit formula for Pn
c. Use your formula to predict the store’s sales in 10 years
d. When will the store’s sales exceed \$100,000?
4. The number of houses in a town has been growing according to the recursive rule
Pn=Pn-1 + 30, with initial population P0=200.
a. Calculate P1 and P2
b. Find an explicit formula for Pn
c. Use your formula to predict the number of houses in 10 years
d. When will the number of houses reach 400 houses?
5. A population of beetles is growing according to a linear growth model. The initial
population (week 0) was P0=3, and the population after 8 weeks is P8=67.
a. Find an explicit formula for the beetle population in week n
b. After how many weeks will the beetle population reach 187?
6. The number of streetlights in a town is growing linearly. Four months ago (n = 0)
there were 130 lights. Now (n = 4) there are 146 lights. If this trend continues,
a. Find an explicit formula for the number of lights in month n
b. How many months will it take to reach 200 lights?
7. Tacoma's population in 2000 was about 200 thousand, and had been growing by
about 9% each year.
a. Write a recursive formula for the population of Tacoma
b. Write an explicit formula for the population of Tacoma
c. If this trend continues, what will Tacoma's population be in 2016?
d. When does this model predict Tacoma’s population to exceed 400 thousand?
194
8. Portland's population in 2007 was about 568 thousand, and had been growing by
about 1.1% each year.
a. Write a recursive formula for the population of Portland
b. Write an explicit formula for the population of Portland
c. If this trend continues, what will Portland's population be in 2016?
d. If this trend continues, when will Portland’s population reach 700 thousand?
9. Diseases tend to spread according to the exponential growth model. In the early days
of AIDS, the growth rate was around 190%. In 1983, about 1700 people in the U.S.
died of AIDS. If the trend had continued unchecked, how many people would have
died from AIDS in 2005?
10. The population of the world in 1987 was 5 billion and the annual growth rate was
estimated at 2 percent per year. Assuming that the world population follows an
exponential growth model, find the projected world population in 2015.
11. A bacteria culture is started with 300 bacteria. After 4 hours, the population has
grown to 500 bacteria. If the population grows exponentially,
a. Write a recursive formula for the number of bacteria
b. Write an explicit formula for the number of bacteria
c. If this trend continues, how many bacteria will there be in 1 day?
d. How long does it take for the culture to triple in size?
12. A native wolf species has been reintroduced into a national forest. Originally 200
wolves were transplanted. After 3 years, the population had grown to 270 wolves. If
the population grows exponentially,
a. Write a recursive formula for the number of wolves
b. Write an explicit formula for the number of wolves
c. If this trend continues, how many wolves will there be in 10 years?
d. If this trend continues, how long will it take the population to grow to 1000
wolves?
13. One hundred trout are seeded into a lake. Absent constraint, their population will
grow by 70% a year. The lake can sustain a maximum of 2000 trout. Using the
logistic growth model,
a. Write a recursive formula for the number of trout
b. Calculate the number of trout after 1 year and after 2 years.
14. Ten blackberry plants started growing in my yard. Absent constraint, blackberries
will spread by 200% a month. My yard can only sustain about 50 plants. Using the
logistic growth model,
a. Write a recursive formula for the number of blackberry plants in my yard
b. Calculate the number of plants after 1, 2, and 3 months
Growth Models 195
15. In 1968, the U.S. minimum wage was \$1.60 per hour. In 1976, the minimum wage
was \$2.30 per hour. Assume the minimum wage grows according to an exponential
model where n represents the time in years after 1960.
a. Find an explicit formula for the minimum wage.
b. What does the model predict for the minimum wage in 1960?
c. If the minimum wage was \$5.15 in 1996, is this above, below or equal to what
the model predicts?
Concepts
16. The population of a small town can be described by the equation Pn = 4000 + 70n,
where n is the number of years after 2005. Explain in words what this equation tells
us about how the population is changing.
17. The population of a small town can be described by the equation Pn = 4000(1.04)n,
where n is the number of years after 2005. Explain in words what this equation tells
us about how the population is changing.
Exploration
Most of the examples in the text examined growing quantities, but linear and exponential
equations can also describe decreasing quantities, as the next few problems will explore.
18. A new truck costs \$32,000. The car’s value will depreciate over time, which means it
will lose value. For tax purposes, depreciation is usually calculated linearly. If the
truck is worth \$24,500 after three years, write an explicit formula for the value of the
car after n years.
19. Inflation causes things to cost more, and for our money to buy less (hence your
grandparents saying, "In my day, you could buy a cup of coffee for a nickel").
Suppose inflation decreases the value of money by 5% each year. In other words, if
you have \$1 this year, next year it will only buy you \$0.95 worth of stuff. How much
will \$100 buy you in 20 years?
20. Suppose that you have a bowl of 500 M&M candies, and each day you eat ¼ of the
candies you have. Is the number of candies left changing linearly or exponentially?
Write an equation to model the number of candies left after n days.
21. A warm object in a cooler room will decrease in temperature exponentially,
approaching the room temperature according to the formula Tn = a (1 − r ) n + Tr where
Tn is the temperature after n minutes, r is the rate at which temperature is changing, a
is a constant, and Tr is the temperature of the room. Forensic investigators can use
this to predict the time of death of a homicide victim. Suppose that when a body was
discovered (n = 0) it was 85 degrees. After 20 minutes, the temperature was
measured again to be 80 degrees. The body was in a 70 degree room.
a. Use the given information with the formula provided to find a formula for the
temperature of the body.
b. When did the victim die, if the body started at 98.6 degrees?
196
22. Recursive equations can be very handy for modeling complicated situations for which
explicit equations would be hard to interpret. As an example, consider a lake in
which 2000 fish currently reside. The fish population grows by 10% each year, but
every year 100 fish are harvested from the lake by people fishing.
a. Write a recursive equation for the number of fish in the lake after n years.
b. Calculate the population after 1 and 2 years. Does the population appear to be
increasing or decreasing?
c. What is the maximum number of fish that could be harvested each year
without causing the fish population to decrease in the long run?
23. The number of Starbucks stores grew after first opened. The number of stores from
1990-2007, as reported on their corporate website 5, is shown below.
a. Carefully plot the data. Does is appear to be changing linearly or
exponentially?
b. Try finding an equation to model the data by picking two points to work from.
How well does the equation model the data?
c. Try using an equation of the form Pn = P0 n k , where k is a constant, to model
the data. This type of model is called a Power model. Compare your results
to the results from part b. Note: to use this model, you will need to have 1990
correspond with n = 1 rather than n = 0.
Year
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
Number of
Starbucks stores
84
116
165
272
425
677
1015
1412
1886
Year
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
Number of
Starbucks
stores
2498
3501
4709
5886
7225
8569
10241
12440
15756
24. Thomas Malthus was an economist who put forth the principle that population grows
based on an exponential growth model, while food and resources grow based on a
linear growth model. Based on this, Malthus predicted that eventually demand for
food and resources would out outgrow supply, with doom-and-gloom consequences.
Do some research about Malthus to answer these questions.
a. What societal changes did Malthus propose to avoid the doom-and-gloom
outcome he was predicting?
b. Why do you think his predictions did not occur?
c. What are the similarities and differences between Malthus's theory and the
logistic growth model?
5
http://www.starbucks.com/aboutus/Company_Timeline.pdf retrieved May 2009