# Can asymptotes be curved? When I was first introduced to the idea of an asymptote, I was taught about horizontal asymptotes (of form y=a) and vertical ones ( of form x=b). I was then shown oblique asymptotes-- slanted asymptotes which are not constant (of the form y=ax+b). What happens, though, if we've got a function such as f(x)=e^x+1/x? Is y=e^x considered an asymptote in this example? Another example, just to show you where I'm coming from, is g(x)=x^2+sin(x) -- is y=x^2 an asymptote in this case?

Can asymptotes be curved?
When I was first introduced to the idea of an asymptote, I was taught about horizontal asymptotes (of form y=a) and vertical ones ( of form x=b).
I was then shown oblique asymptotes-- slanted asymptotes which are not constant (of the form y=ax+b).
What happens, though, if we've got a function such as
$f\left(x\right)={e}^{x}+\frac{1}{x}?$
Is $y={e}^{x}$ considered an asymptote in this example?
Another example, just to show you where I'm coming from, is
$g\left(x\right)={x}^{2}+\mathrm{sin}\left(x\right)$
-- is $y={x}^{2}$ an asymptote in this case?
The reason that I ask is that I don't really see the point in defining oblique asymptotes and not curved ones; surely, if we want to know the behaviour of y as $x\to \mathrm{\infty }$, we should include all types of functions as asymptotes.
If asymptotes cannot be curves, then why arbitrarily restrict asymptotes to lines?
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dominicsheq8
The concept of asymptotes is quite common for curved graphs, although somehow the terminology is not much used outside of the context of lines. The way in which the concept is used is that if one is given a function f(x), it is interesting to study other functions g(x) that are "asymptotic to f(x)" in various ways. One meaning of this phrase would be that
$\left(1\right)\phantom{\rule{1em}{0ex}}\underset{x\to +\mathrm{\infty }}{lim}|f\left(x\right)-g\left(x\right)|=0$which is exactly what "asymptotic" means in the ordinary sense when the graph of f(x) is a line. Another somewhat different notion is that
$\left(2\right)\phantom{\rule{1em}{0ex}}\underset{x\to +\mathrm{\infty }}{lim}\frac{f\left(x\right)}{g\left(x\right)}=1$which only really makes sense when f(x) and g(x) are nonzero near $+\mathrm{\infty }$. There are many other variations on this concept. This discussion falls under the name of "growth types of functions", which are important in computer science and other places; these notes look like a good basic discussion, for example.
And regarding your question of whether $g\left(x\right)={x}^{2}+\mathrm{sin}\left(x\right)$ is asymptotic to $y={x}^{2}$, it is asymptotic in sense (2) but not in sense (1).
###### Did you like this example?
pliwraih
terminology is up to you. However, it is useful, when graphing rational functions, to realize that they are essentially polynomial (or the reciprocal of a polynomial) for large absolute values of the argument. Graph
$y=\frac{{x}^{5}-7}{{x}^{3}-12x},$
for large $|x|,$, y is pretty much ${x}^{2}.$.