What is a saddle point?

1 Answer
Jun 30, 2015

Answer:

Coming from one direction it looks like we've hit a maximum, but from another direction is looks like we've hit a minimum.

Explanation:

Here are 3 graphs:

#y = x^4# has a minimum at #x=0#

graph{y = x^4 [-12.35, 12.96, -6.58, 6.08]}

#y = -x^2# has a maximum at #x=0#

graph{-x^2 [-12.35, 12.96, -6.58, 6.08]}

#y = x^3# has a saddle point at #x=0#

graph{x^3 [-12.35, 12.96, -6.58, 6.08]}

Coming from the left it looks like a maximum, but coming from the right it looks like a minimum.

Here's one more for comparison:

#y=-x^5#

graph{-x^5 [-10.94, 11.56, -5.335, 5.92]}