Joint Variation

Joint Variation

Question: In a certain business, production index p is directly proportional to efficiency index e, which is in turn directly proportional to investment i. What is p if i = 70?

Statement I: e = 0.5 whenever i = 60

Statement II: p = 2.0 whenever i = 50

Solution:

p/e = k (a constant)

e/i = m (another constant)

Hence, p*i/e = n is the joint variation expression

(where k, m and n are constants)

So we get that p is inversely proportional to i, that is, p*i = Constant

Statement II gives us the values of p and i which can help us get the value of the Constant.

2*50 = Constant

The question asks us the value of p given the value of i = 70. If Constant = 100,

p = 100/70.

But actually, this is wrong and the value that you get for p in this question is different.

The question is “why is it wrong?”

Valid question, right? It certainly seems like a joint variation scenario – relation between three variables. Then why does’t it work in this case?

The takeaway from this question is very important and before you proceed, we would like you to think about it on your own for a while and then proceed to the the rest of the discussion.

Here is how this question is actually done:

Taking one statement at a time:

“production index p is directly proportional to efficiency index e,”

implies p = ke (k is the constant of proportionality)

“e is in turn directly proportional to investment i”

implies e = mi (m is the constant of proportionality. Note here that we haven’t taken the constant of proportionality as k since the constant above and this constant could be different)

Then, p = kmi (km is the constant of proportionality here. It doesn’t matter that we depict it using two variables. It is still just a number)

Here, p seems to be directly proportional to i!

So if you have i and need p, you either need this constant directly (as you can find from statement II) or you need both k and m (statement I only gives you m).

So the issue now is that is p inversely proportional to i or is it directly proportional to i?

Review the joint variation post – In it we discussed that joint variation gives you the relation between 2 quantities keeping the third (or more) constant.

p will vary inversely with i if and only if e is kept constant.

Think of it this way: if p increases, e increases. But we need to keep e constant, we will have to decrease i to decrease e back to original value. So an increase in p leads to a decrease in i to keep e constant.

But if we don’t have to keep e constant, an increase in p will lead to an increase in e which will increase i.

It is all about the sequence of increases/decreases

Here, we are not given that e needs to be kept constant. So we will not use the joint variation approach.

Note how the independent question is framed in the joint variation post:

The rate of a certain chemical reaction is directly proportional to the square of the concentration of chemical M present and inversely proportional to the concentration of chemical N present. If the concentration of chemical N is increased by 100 percent, which of the following is closest to the percent change in the concentration of chemical M required to keep the reaction rate unchanged?

You need relation between N and M when reaction rate is constant.

You are given no such constraint here. So an increase in p leads to an increase in e which in turn, increases i.

So let’s complete the solution to our original question:

p = ke

e = mi

p = kmi

Statement I: e = 0.5 whenever i = 60

0.5 = m * 60

m = 0.5/60

We do not know k so we cannot find p given i and m.

This statement alone is not sufficient.

Statement II: p = 2.0 whenever i = 50

2 = km * 50

km = 1/25

If i = 70, p = (1/25)*70 = 14/5

This statement alone is sufficient.

Answer (B)

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