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Unformatted text preview: the directrix of the parabola.
Schematically, we have the following. F V
Each dashed line from the point F to a point on the curve has the same length as the dashed line
from the point on the curve to the line D. The point suggestively labeled V is, as you should
expect, the vertex. The vertex is the point on the parabola closest to the focus.
We want to use only the distance deﬁnition of parabola to derive the equation of a parabola and,
if all is right with the universe, we should get an expression much like those studied in Section 2.3.
Let p denote the directed1 distance from the vertex to the focus, which by deﬁnition is the same as
the distance from the vertex to the directrix. For simplicity, assume that the vertex is (0, 0) and
that the parabola opens upwards. Hence, the focus is (0, p) and the directrix is the line y = −p.
Our picture becomes
y (x, y )
y = −p x (x, −p) From the deﬁnition of parabola, we know the distance from (0, p) to (x, y ) is the same as the
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