How to Graph Slope Fields on Wolfram|Alpha

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A slope field is a graph of the possible solutions to a given function or derivative. Derivatives are equations that have multiple solutions for a given variable, and the correct solution is an array of possible values for the variable. Since there can be a vast number of possible values, a graph is usually the preferred method to express the nature of the answer. Wolfram|Alpha is a free online computational engine that makes it easy to graph the slope fields of derivatives.

  • Navigate to Wolfram|Alpha in a web browser. Type the word "plot," then your derivative equation in the box in the center of the page. You may need to convert the equation to symbols a computer can understand, though Wolfram|Alpha is smart enough to understand many notational variations. For example, "plot f(x) = sin(0.2 * x^2)" uses an asterisk for multiplication and a caret to indicate a superscript.

  • Push the "Enter" or "Return" button on your keyboard.

  • Double-check the "Input" field on the resulting page to make sure Wolfram|Alpha's interpretation of your equation is correct. The graph of the slope field will be directly beneath, usually with two different scales to choose from.

  • Hover over the lower left corner of the "plot" box to see an option to save the graph as an image file or export it as text.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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