Think about the last time you threw a baseball or kicked a soccer ball. Did it follow a straight-line path through the air? No, it probably had more of a curved or arclike path. In fact, any projectile follows what is called a parabolic path. A parabola is really just a fancy name for a symmetric bump, or arc. The bump can be upside-down or sideways, as shown in Figure 2.5, but one side is always a mirror image of the other.

Figure 2.5. Four different types of parabolas.

You will use two components of the parabola to determine its equation. The first is the vertex, which is the very tip of the bump. The second is the axis of symmetry ...

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