Let be a parabola that cuts the coordinate axes at three distint points. Show that the circle passing through these three points also passes through (0,1).
Teacher: There are two alternative routes of solving this problem. One is using the general equation of a circle. Second is by computing the center of the circle.
Student: Let me try them one by one. We take the general equation to a circle
Suppose this circle passes through the three given points in which the parabola cuts the coordinate axes. We put y = 0 in equation to circle to get, . Surely this equation cuts the x axis at two points at which the parabola cuts the x -axis. As the leading coefficient in both equations is 1, hence we may compare the coefficients to conclude 2g = a and c = b
Now we rewrite the equation to the circle replacing 2g by a and c by b to have
In the equation putting x = 0 we find the y intercept as (0, b). Hence circle also passes through (0, b)
Since b is not 0 (then the parabola would have intersected the coordinate axes at two points only that is (0,0) and (-a, 0) ) we have 2f = – (b+1).
Hence the final equation to circle is . This equation is definitely satisfied by (0, 1). Therefore the circle passes through (0,1) as well.
Teacher: Excellent. Now let us quickly sketch the aliter.
The two points at which parabola intersects x axis are . The perpendicular bisector of these two points is x = -a/2
Similarly the perpendicular bisector of (0, b) and (0, 1) is y = (b+1)/2
We take the intersection of these two lines (-a/2, (b+1)/2 ) and show that it is the center (by measuring distance from the vertices).