The Method of Lagrange Multipliers is used to find maximums and minimums of a function subject to one or more constraints. We could also say that we want to optimize the function or find the extreme values of the function.
We highly recommend that you download the notes for this topic from
Dr Chris Tisdell. Look for the pdf link entitled Extreme values + Lagrange multipliers.
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In basic calculus, we learned that finding the critical points gives us information about maximums, minimums (and saddlepoints). We use the same idea here, i.e. locations where the derivative is zero gives us possible locations of maxs/mins. We use this method to integrate the constraints into the equation.
Basic Technique
If we are given a function \(f(x,y,z)\) that we want to optimize (find maximums, minimums or both) subject to a constraint \(g(x,y,z) = 0\), we set up the gradient equation \( \nabla f = \lambda \nabla g \). [ For a version of the equations that do not use the gradient, see below. ]
The variable \( \lambda \) is just a number (independent of \(x\), \(y\) and \(z\)) called a Lagrange multiplier. We introduce \( \lambda \) during the course of solving this problem but it will not appear in our answer.
Remember that the gradient is a vector. So, the above equation gives us three equations ( one for each variable ) and four unknowns ( \(x\), \(y\), \(z\) and \( \lambda \) ). Using also the constraint equation \(g(x,y,z) = 0\), we can now (theoretically) solve for all four unknowns.
This next video clip explains this technique in more detail.
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

So, why does this work? It seems kind of strange that introducing another variable would enable us to optimize a function. Here is a great video clip that explains this. His use of graphs is very good to visualize what is going on.
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

Two Constraints
Okay, so now you know how to handle one constraint, if you are given two constraints, you just add another lagrange multiplier. We usually use the Greek letter mu, \( \mu \). The equation then looks like \( \nabla f = \lambda \nabla g + \mu \nabla h \) where the function we want to optimize is \(f(x,y,z)\) and the constraint equations are \(g(x,y,z) = 0\) and \(h(x,y,z) = 0\). Here is a video explaining this in more detail, including an example.
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

Equations That Do Not Use The Gradient
An alternate version of the equations using the Lagrange Method that do not use the gradient is given below. We present equations with three variables and two constraints. As you would expect, you can use the same ideas with two variables (drop \(z\)) and one constraint (drop \( h(x,y,z) \)).
Equations And Set Up 

Optimize \(f(x,y,z)\) 
Constraints \(g(x,y,z)=0\) and \(h(x,y,z) = 0\) 
\( L(x,y,z,\lambda, \mu) = f(x,y,z)  \lambda g(x,y,z)  \mu h(x,y,z) \) 
Equations To Solve 
\( \partial L / \partial x = 0 ~~~ \to ~~~ \partial f / \partial x  \lambda ~ \partial g / \partial x  \mu ~ \partial h / \partial x = 0 \) 
\( \partial L / \partial y = 0 ~~~ \to ~~~ \partial f / \partial y  \lambda ~ \partial g / \partial y  \mu ~ \partial h / \partial y = 0 \) 
\( \partial L / \partial z = 0 ~~~ \to ~~~ \partial f / \partial z  \lambda ~ \partial g / \partial z  \mu ~ \partial h / \partial z = 0 \) 
\( g(x,y,z) = 0 \) 
\( h(x,y,z) = 0 \) 
5 equations and 5 unknowns 
Practice
Unless otherwise instructed, follow these guidelines.
1. Optimize the functions subject to the given constraints.
2. Show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. If you are not told whether to find maximums or minimums, find all of them.
4. Give all answers in exact form.
Basic 

optimize: \( f(x,y) = x^2+y^2 \) 

constraint: \( 2x+6y=2000 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y) = x^2+y^2 \) subject to the constraint \( 2x+6y=2000 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
This solution is in two consecutive videos.
video by Krista King Math 

video by Krista King Math 

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optimize: \( f(x,y) = x^2+y^2 \) 

constraint: \( xy=1 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y) = x^2+y^2 \) subject to the constraint \( xy=1 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give your answers in exact form.
Solution
This solution is in two consecutive videos.
video by Krista King Math 

video by Krista King Math 

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Minimize \( C(x,y) = 6x^2 + 12y^2 \) subject to the constraint \( x + y = 90 \).
Problem Statement
Minimize \( C(x,y) = 6x^2 + 12y^2 \) subject to the constraint \( x + y = 90 \).
Solution
video by PatrickJMT 

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optimize: \( f(x,y) = xy \) 

constraint: \( x^2 + 2y^2 = 1 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y) = xy \) subject to the constraint \( x^2 + 2y^2 = 1 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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Minimize \( f(x,y,z) = x^2 + y^2 + z^2 \) subject to the constraint \( 2x + y  z = 1 \).
Problem Statement
Minimize \( f(x,y,z) = x^2 + y^2 + z^2 \) subject to the constraint \( 2x + y  z = 1 \).
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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Maximize \( f(x,y,z) = x^2+2yz^2 \) subject to the constraints \( 2x=y \) and \( y+z=0 \).
Problem Statement
Maximize \( f(x,y,z) = x^2+2yz^2 \) subject to the constraints \( 2x=y \) and \( y+z=0 \).
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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optimize: \( f(x,y) = 3x+4y \) 

constraint: \( x^2+y^2 = 1 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y) = 3x+4y \) subject to the constraint \( x^2+y^2 = 1 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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Determine the point on the surface of \( xyz = 1 \) that is closest to the origin and satifies \( x > 0 \), \( y > 0 \) and \( z > 0 \).
Problem Statement
Determine the point on the surface of \( xyz = 1 \) that is closest to the origin and satifies \( x > 0 \), \( y > 0 \) and \( z > 0 \).
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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Maximize \( T(x,y) = 6xy \) subject to the constraint \( x^2 + y^2 = 8 \).
Problem Statement
Maximize \( T(x,y) = 6xy \) subject to the constraint \( x^2 + y^2 = 8 \).
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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We have a thin metal plate that occupies the region in the xyplane \( x^2 + y^2 \leq 25 \). If \( f(x,y) = 4x^2  4xy + y^2 \) denotes the temperature (in degrees C) at any point on the plate, determine the highest and lowest temperatures on the edge of the plate.
Problem Statement
We have a thin metal plate that occupies the region in the xyplane \( x^2 + y^2 \leq 25 \). If \( f(x,y) = 4x^2  4xy + y^2 \) denotes the temperature (in degrees C) at any point on the plate, determine the highest and lowest temperatures on the edge of the plate.
Solution
video by Dr Chris Tisdell 

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optimize: \( f(x,y,z) = xyz \) 

constraint: \( x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = 3 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y,z) = xyz \) subject to the constraint \( x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = 3 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
video by Krista King Math 

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Find the maximum and minimum values of the function \( f(x,y) = e^{xy} \) subject to \( x^3 + y^3 = 16 \).
Problem Statement
Find the maximum and minimum values of the function \( f(x,y) = e^{xy} \) subject to \( x^3 + y^3 = 16 \).
Solution
video by MIP4U 

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Find the rectangle with maximum perimeter that can inscribed in the ellipse \( x^2 + 4y^2 = 4 \).
Problem Statement
Find the rectangle with maximum perimeter that can inscribed in the ellipse \( x^2 + 4y^2 = 4 \).
Solution
video by MIT OCW 

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Intermediate 

optimize: \( f(x,y) = (x1)^2 + (y2)^2  4 \) 

constraint: \( 3x + 5y = 47 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y) = (x1)^2 + (y2)^2  4 \) subject to the constraint \( 3x + 5y = 47 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
This solution is in three consecutive videos.
video by Krista King Math 

video by Krista King Math 

video by Krista King Math 

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optimize: \( f(x,y,z) = x^2+y^2+z^2 \) 

constraints: \( x+y+z = 1 \) and \( x+2y+3z = 6 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y,z) = x^2+y^2+z^2 \) subject to the constraints \( x+y+z = 1 \) and \( x+2y+3z = 6 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
video by Krista King Math 

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optimize: \( f(x,y,z) = 3xy3z \) 

constraints: \( x+yz=0 \) and \( x^2+2z^2 = 1 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y,z) = 3xy3z \) subject to the constraints \( x+yz=0 \) and \( x^2+2z^2 = 1 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
This solution is presented in two consecutive videos.
video by PatrickJMT 

video by PatrickJMT 

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optimize: \( f(x,y,z) = x^2+x+2y^2+3z^2 \) 

constraint: \( x^2+y^2+z^2 = 1 \) 
Problem Statement
1. Optimize the function \( f(x,y,z) = x^2+x+2y^2+3z^2 \) subject to the constraint \( x^2+y^2+z^2 = 1 \).
2. Find all of the maximums and minimums and show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. Give all answers in exact form.
Solution
video by MIT OCW 

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Practice Instructions
Unless otherwise instructed, follow these guidelines.
1. Optimize the functions subject to the given constraints.
2. Show whether they are maximums or minimums.
3. If you are not told whether to find maximums or minimums, find all of them.
4. Give all answers in exact form.