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It is one of the most fundamental theorem of Differential calculus and has far reaching consequences. It states that if y = f (x) be a given function and satisfies,

(i)      f (x) is continuous in [a , b]

(ii)     f (x) is differentiable in (a , b )

(iii)    f (a) = f (b)

Then f'(x) = 0 at least once for some x ∈ (a, b)

Note: (1) There can be more than one such c.

         (2) Think! The conditions of Rolle’s theorem are necessary or sufficient or both? The answer is conditions are only sufficient and necessary will be clear from the following examples:

            (a)       Let   1268_equation.JPG

                                    Here condition (i) is violated

                                    However f ‘(x) = 0 if x = 1/2 ∈ (0, 1)

                                    By defining f(0) = 0 and f(1) = 3 we can see that the result is true when      (i) and (iii) are violated.

            (b)       Let 1437_equation.JPG

                                    Clearly (ii) does not hold in (0, 2) and even so f'(3/2) = 0 

                                    infact f ‘(x) = 0 for 1 < x < 2

            (3) If f(x) is any polynomial then between any pair of roots of f (x) = 0 lies a root of f ’(x) = 0

Illustration 17:   If ax2 + bx + c = 0, a, b, c Î R. Find the condition that this equation would have at least one root in (0, 1).

Solution:             Let f’(x) = ax2 + bx + c

                              Integrating both sides,

                              => f(x) = ax3 / 3 + bx2 / 2 + cx + d 

                              => f(0) = d            and f(1) = a/3 + b/2 + c + d

                              Since, Rolle’s theorem is applicable

                              => f(0) = f(1) => d = a/3 + b/2 + c + d

                              => 2a + 3b + 6c = 0

                              Hence required condition is 2a + 3b + 6c = 0


This theorem is in fact the general version of Rolle’s theorem. It says that if y = f(x) be a given function which is;

(i) Continuous in [a , b]           

(ii) Differentiable in (a , b)

Then f'(x) = f(b)–f(a)/b–a. for a least once for some x ∈ (a, b)

Let A ≡ (a , f (a)) and B º (b , f (b)). Slope of Chord AB = f(b)–f(a)/b–a

Illustration 18:   If a, b, are two numbers with a < b, show that a real number c can be found between a and b such the 3c2 = b2 + ab + a2.

Solution:             Consider the function f(x) = x3 

                              It is continuous and differentiable in (a, b).

                              Hence by LMVT, there exist a point c such that  a < c < b and f’(c) = f'(c) = f(b)–f(a)/b–a

                              f'(x) = 3x2, we get 3c2 = b3–a3/b–a = b2 + ba + a2.


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