Okay so a graph has x-intercepts -3, -0.5 1 and 2, and it asks you to find the equation of the function, which passes through the point (-1,-6). So I wrote the parent function f(x)=a(x+3)(x+0.5)(x-1)(x-2). However, when i substituted (-1,-6) I got a different value for a as the textbook did, and it's because they used (2x+1) as a factor instead of (x+0.5). So does that mean that I you can't use decimals in the factor?

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since those are your zeros, multiply them up

given intercepts at: a,b,c,d, then:
(x-a)(x-b)(x-c)(x-d)=0 will give you your basic equation

then determine that value of that basic for x=-1 and see what you have to scale by to get it to -6

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