What Does the Area Under a Growth Curve Mean?

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The area under a growth curve typically represents a very specific thing. Find out what the area under a growth curve means with help from a research scientist and one of the world's leading experts on star formation in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

And I'll be talking about what does the area under a growth curve mean. Now a growth curve is something which you plot in a diagram as a function of time. In other words you have one axis which you use for plotting something. The other axis is time. In the example, I'm giving here, let's assume we have a car that can accelerate from zero miles per hour to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds. So this is the growth of velocity as a function of time. The area now is the area of this triangle, if I'm assuming constant acceleration. And the area is 60 miles per hour x 6 seconds x 1/2. And that means something. That's the distance of about 1/20 of a mile. Another example is the number of decays of strontianite, as a function of time. So here we have negative growth. So the decay per time is given by this black curve. And if we look at the number of decays and we want to see the area up to 28.8 years then this area is the total number of decays of strontianite during those years. So now, let's try another example of a growth curve. Suppose you measure baby's weight every year, and you put that on a diagram. The area underneath this curve doesn't have any meaning. The area is given in pound years. Not pounds per year but pound years. Pound years doesn't really mean very much. So this area is not meaningful. Sometimes though that having people years or pound years, sometimes that can mean something. Here's an example of the number of people working on a project. Starting with day zero, for 1 day you have 1 person. On the second day you have 2 people. On the third day you have 3 people and on the fourth day you have again 2 people. So the are underneath this curve is 8 people days and that has a meaning because that can tell you how much work you can get done. Eight people days of work can be done in 4 days with this growth curve. So I've given four examples of what the area underneath a growth curve means. And the answers you have to look at what is growing. It may not mean a thing, but it also may mean something. Thank you for watching.


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