What is the difference between a linear and nonlinear cost function? Give an example of each type.
A linear cost function is a cost function where, within the relevant range, the graph of total costs versus the level of a single activity related to that cost is a straight line. An example of a linear cost function is a cost function for use of a videoconferencing line where the terms are a fixed charge of $10,000 per year plus a $2 per minute charge for line use.
A nonlinear cost function is a cost function where, within the relevant range, the graph of total costs versus the level of a single activity related to that cost is not a straight line. Examples include economies of scale in advertising where an agency can double the number of advertisements for less than twice the costs, step-cost functions, and learning-curve-based costs.