What Are Some Real World Uses for Linear Functions?

Real world uses for linear functions include solving problems and finding unknowns in engineering, economics and finances. A linear function describes a gradual rate of change, either positive or negative. When drawn, it presents a straight line.

Linear functions are a mathematical concept often taught first in an Algebra I class. Specific real world problems that can be solved using a linear function include:

  • predicting equipment rental cost given a rate and rental period
  • calculating profit for a small business
  • taxes due on a particular amount of income
  • in structural engineering design

Some real world examples with corresponding linear functions are:

  • To convert a temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit: F = 1.8C + 32
  • To calculate the total monthly income for a salesperson with a base salary of $1,500 plus a commission of $400/unit sold: I = 400T + 1,500, where T represents the total number of units sold