In algebra, equations can be stretched horizontally or vertically along an axis by multiplying either x or y by a number, respectively. By multiplying f(x) by a number greater than one, all the y values of an equation increase. This leads to a "stretched" appearance in the vertical direction. If f(x) is multiplied by a value less than one, all the y values of the equation decrease, leading to a "shrunken" appearance in the vertical direction. Alternatively, if only x is multiplied, the graph stretches or shrinks in the horizontal direction.

For examples, we will use the basic trignometric function f(x) = sin(x), which is black in the two graphs in . Stretches can be a bit confusing with linear or quadratic functions, but they are much more straight forward with the sine function. The red function in has been stretched (dilated) vertically by a factor of 3 and follows the equation:

In general a vertical stretch is given by the equation:

If p is larger than 1, the function gets "taller. " If p is smaller than 1, the function gets "shorter. "

The blue function in has been been stretched horizontally by a factor of 3 and has the equation:

In general, a horizontal stretch is given by the equation:

In the example above, q = 1/3. When q is larger than 1, the function will get "longer" and when q is smaller than 1, the function will "squish".