Inverse Functions – Example and Practice Problems

An inverse function is a function that will reverse the effect produced by the original function. These functions have the main characteristic that they are a reflection of the original function with respect to the line y = x. The coordinates of the inverse function are the same as the original function, but the values of x and y are swapped.

We will look at an overview of inverse functions along with the process used to find the inverse of a function. In addition, we will see several examples with answers to understand the application of this process.

ALGEBRA
how to know if a function has an inverse 2

Relevant for

Learning about inverse functions with examples.

See examples

ALGEBRA
how to know if a function has an inverse 2

Relevant for

Learning about inverse functions with examples.

See examples

Summary of inverse functions

Inverse functions are functions that reverse the effect of the original function. The inverse of a function has the same points as the original function except that the values ​​of x and y are swapped.

For example, if the original function contains the points (1, 2) and (-3, -5), the inverse function will contain the points (2, 1) and (-5, -3).

The inverse of $latex f(x)$ is denoted as $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$. Note that in the notation for inverses, the “-1” is not an exponent despite looking like one. Thus, we have to remember that:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)\neq \frac{1}{f(x)}$

Finding the inverse of a function

Given the function $latex f(x)$, we can find the inverse function $latex {{f}^{- 1}}(x)$ by following these steps:

Step 1: First, substitute $latex f(x)$ with y. This helps us to facilitate the rest of the process.

Step 2: Substitute each x with a y and each y with an x.

Step 3: Solve the equation obtained in step 2 for y.

Step 4: Replace y by $latex {{f}^{-1}}$ since this is the inverse function.


Inverse functions – Examples with answers

The process to find inverse functions is applied to solve the following examples. Each example has its step-by-step solution to learn how to find inverse functions. It is recommended to try to solve the exercises first before looking at the solution.

EXAMPLE 1

Find the inverse of the function $latex f(x)=2x-3$.

Step 1: Substitute $latex f(x)$ with y:

$latex f(x)=2x-3$

$latex y=2x-3$

Step 2: Swap the variables x and y:

$latex x=2y-3$

Step 3: Solve the equation for y:

$latex x=2y-3$

$latex x+3=2y$

$latex \frac{x+3}{2}=y$

Step 4: Substitute y with $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)=\frac{x+3}{2}$

EXAMPLE 2

If we have the function $latex f(x)=3x+4$, find $latex {{f}^{- 1}}(x)$.

Step 1: We start substituting $latex f(x)$ with to facilitate the process:

$latex f(x)=3x+4$

$latex y=3x+4$

Step 2: Substitute the x with the y and the y with the x:

$latex x=3y+4$

Step 3: Solve for y in the equation from step 2:

$latex x=3y+4$

$latex x-4=3y$

$latex \frac{x-4}{3}=y$

Step 4: We swap y with $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)=\frac{x-4}{3}$

EXAMPLE 3

What is the inverse of the function $latex f(x)=\frac{x+ 4}{2x-5}$?

Step 1: We have to substitute $latex f(x)$ with to facilitate the process:

$latex f(x)=\frac{x+4}{2x-5}$

$latex y=\frac{x+4}{2x-5}$

Step 2: We swap the variables x and y:

$latex x=\frac{y+4}{2y-5}$

Step 3: We solve for in the equation from step 2:

$latex x=\frac{y+4}{2y-5}$

$latex x(2y-5)=y+4$

$latex 2xy-5x=y+4$

$latex 2xy-y=5x+4$

$latex y(2x-1)=5x+4$

$latex y=\frac{5x+4}{2x-1}$

Step 4: We have to substitute $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$ with y:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)=\frac{5x+4}{2x-1}$

EXAMPLE 4

Given the function $latex f(x)=\log_{10}(x)$, find the inverse function $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$.

Step 1: We start substituting $latex f(x)$ with to visualize more easily:

 $latex f(x)=\log_{10}(x)$

$latex y=\log_{10}(x)$

Step 2: We substitute x with y and with x:

$latex x=\log_{10}(y)$

Step 3: We solve the equation for y:

$latex x=\log_{10}(y)$

$latex {{10}^x}=y$

Step 4: We substitute y with $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)={{10}^x}$

EXAMPLE 5

If we have $latex f(x)=\sqrt{x-5}$, find $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$.

Step 1: We start swapping $latex f(x)$ with y:

$latex f(x)=\sqrt{x-5}$

$latex y=\sqrt{x-5}$

Step 2: We swap the variables x and y:

$latex x=\sqrt{y-5}$

Step 3: We solve for y by squaring both sides of the equation:

$latex x=\sqrt{y-5}$

$latex {{x}^2}=y-5$

$latex {{x}^2}+5=y$

Step 4: We substitute y with $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)={{x}^2}+5$

EXAMPLE 6

Find the inverse function of $latex f(x)=\frac{x+1}{x}$.

Step 1: We substitute $latex f(x)$ with y:

$latex f(x)=\frac{x+1}{x}$

$latex y=\frac{x+1}{x}$

Step 2: We substitute x with y and y with x:

$latex x=\frac{y+1}{y}$

Step 3: We solve for y:

$latex x=\frac{y+1}{y}$

$latex xy=y+1$

$latex xy-y=1$

$latex y(x-1)=1$

$latex y=\frac{1}{x-1}$

Step 4: We subsitute y with $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)=\frac{1}{x-1}$

EXAMPLE 7

Given the function $latex f(x)=\sqrt[4]{2x+5}$, find its inverse function.

Step 1: We substitute $latex f(x)$ with y:

$latex f(x)=\sqrt[4]{2x+5}$

$latex y=\sqrt[4]{2x+5}$

Step 2: We swap the variables x and y:

$latex x=\sqrt[4]{2y+5}$

Step 3: We raise both sides to the power of 4 in order to solve for y:

$latex x=\sqrt[4]{2y+5}$

$latex {{x}^4}=2y+5$

$latex {{x}^4}-5=2y$

$latex \frac{{{x}^4}-5}{2}=y$

Step 4: We substitute y with $latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)$:

$latex {{f}^{-1}}(x)=\frac{{{x}^4}-5}{2}$


Inverse functions – Practice problems

Put your knowledge of inverse functions into practice with the following problems. If you need help with this, you can look at the process used in the examples above.

What is the inverse of $latex f(x)=5x-6$?

Choose an answer






Find the inverse of $latex f(x)=7x+2$.

Choose an answer






Find the inverse of $latex f(x)=\frac{4x+3}{2x+5}$.

Coose an answer






What is the inverse of $latex g(x)=\sqrt{x-8}$?

Choose an answer






Find the inverse of $latex f(x)=\sqrt[5]{3x+11}$.

Choose an answer







See also

Interested in learning more about functions? Take a look at these pages:

Learn mathematics with our additional resources in different topics

LEARN MORE