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You are in a boat "a" miles from the nearest point on the coast. You are to go to a point Q, which is "b" miles down the coast and 1 mile inland. You can row at 2 miles per hour and walk at 4 miles per hour. If a=3, and b=4, toward what point on the coast should you row in order to reach Q in the least time? (Round answer to 3 decimal places)

Thanks everyone!!

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4 answers
  1. if the point on the coast is P, a distance 0<=x<=b down the coast, then the distance traveled (assuming straight cross-country hiking) is

    d=√(x^2+3^2) + √((4-x)^2+1^2)
    = √(x^2+9) + √(x^2-8x+17)
    The travel time is thus

    t = √(x^2+9)/2 + √(x^2-8x+17)/4
    dt/dx = 4x/√(x^2+9) - 2(4-x)/√(x^2-8x+17)
    dt/dx = 0 at x=1.565

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  2. The key here is the function of time, one wants to minimize it.

    time= time rowing+timewalking
    = distancerowing*2 + distancewaking*4
    = 2 sqrt(x^2+3^2) + 4*(sqrt(1^2+(4-x)^2)

    now examine you diagram, x is the distance down the coast you are aiming for.

    dtime/dx=you can do this, set to zero, and find x

    It is much more interesting with a current moving along the shore, or a tide going out.

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    bobpursley
  3. Hmmm. You made the same mistake I did the first time through. time = distance/speed, not distance*speed.

    I might have missed it, but the answer I came up with was about 3.58, which seemed awfully close to 4, considering the boat was so much slower than the feet.

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  4. Darn.

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    bobpursley

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