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In mathematics, a point at which a function's value is greatest. If the value is greater than or equal to all other function values, it is an absolute maximum. If it is merely greater than any nearby point, it is a relative, or local, maximum. In calculus, the derivative equals zero or does not exist at a function's maximum point. Techniques for finding maximum and minimum points motivated the early development of calculus and have made it easier to solve problems such as finding the dimensions of a container that will hold the most for a given amount of material used to make it. See alsominimum, optimization.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on maximum, visit Britannica.com.