Lecture 5 : Solving Equations, Completing the Square, Quadratic Formula

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1 Lecture 5 : Solving Equations, Completing the Square, Quadratic Formula An equation is a mathematical statement that two mathematical expressions are equal For example the statement = 3 is read as one plus two equals three and means that the quantity on the left hand side is equal to the quantity on the right hand side When we have an equation of the form 4x + 1 = 3 where x is a variable, there are a limited number of possibilities for the value of x, in fact in this case, there is just one possible value for x A solution to this equation is a value of x that fits the equation or a value of x which makes the statement true Tip for Success It is important for students to write mathematical statements in such complete sentences and students who do not develop such habits often have difficulty in solving complex problems later, simply because they cannot keep track of their own calculations Definition A linear equation in one variable is an equation equivalent to one of the form ax + b = 0 where a and b are real numbers and x is the variable When we wish to solve for the feasible values of x in such an equation, we bring all terms involving x to one side of the equals sign and all other terms to the other side, and divide by the coefficient of x to solve for x Example Solve for x in the following linear equations: 4x + 1 = 3 3x + 2 = x + 1 Example In related rates problems in Calculus I one frequently has to express a variable in terms of another variable Here is an example: Express the surface area of the box below in terms of its width w), length l) and height h) Then solve for the width in terms of the other variables 1

2 Quadratic Equations A Quadratic Equation is an equation of the form or equivalent to) where a, b and c are real numbers and a 0 ax 2 + bx + c = 0 The real) solutions of a quadratic equation are the real numbers x which satisfy the equation or make the statement true There are three possible scenarios 1 There is exactly one real solution 2 There are two distinct not the same) real solutions 3 There are no real solutions in this case there are two solutions in the complex numbers) There are a number of ways to approach finding the solutions to such an equation, all of which will be useful in calculus Solving an equation by Factoring The following basic property of real numbers is important for solving all equations and will be used frequently throughout calculus and higher mathematics courses: Zero-Product Property AB = 0 if and only if A = 0 or B = 0 Note The term if and only if is a frequently used logical statement and it means that if the statement on the left hand side is true then the statement on the right hand side is guaranteed to be true also and vice-versa if the statement on the right is true, then the statement on the left is guaranteed to be true) We can use this and our factorization techniques to solve some) quadratic equations Example Solve the equation x x = 24 Solving Simple Quadratic Equations The solutions to the equation are x = c and x = c x 2 = c, where c > 0 Note For a quadratic of the form x 2 = c where c < 0, there are no solutions among the real numbers, because the square of any real number must be 0 2

3 Example Find the solutions to the following quadratic equations x 2 = 9, x 2) 2 = 16 Completing The Square This technique helps us to solve quadratic equations but is also very useful in its own right especially in graphing functions It is important to master it before studying calculus To make x 2 + bx into a perfect square, we must add b 2 2) to it ie we add the square of half of the coefficient of x ) We get b 2 x 2 + bx + = x + 2) 2) b 2 To convert a quadratic equation x 2 + bx + c = 0 into the form x + d) 2 + e = 0, we add b 2) 2 to both sides of the equation and then bring all terms to the left We get b ) 2 b ) 2 x 2 + bx + + c = or 2 2 x + b ) 2 [ b 2 ] + c = 0 2 2) Example Solve the following quadratic equations by completing the square: x 2 6x + 12 = 0 2x 2 8x 20 = 0 3

5 The Dicriminant Note that there are no real solutions to the quadratic above when b 2 4ac < 0 because we cannot take the square root of a negative number Below we explore all possible scenarios The discriminant of a general quadratic equation ax 2 +bx+c = 0, where a 0, is given by D = b 2 4ac We have the following possibilities: 1 If D > 0, then the equation has two distinct real solutions 2 If D = 0, the equation has exactly one real solution 3 If D < 0, the equation has no real solutions it has complex solutions in this case) Example Use the discriminant to determine how many real solutions each equation has: x 2 + 2x + 1 = 0 x 2 3x 3 = 0 2x 2 10x + 20 = 0 Path of a projectile A commonly used example in Calculus I and II is that of the path of an object thrown or fired straight upwards from an initial height h 0 with an initial speed of v 0 feet per second ft/s) Letting ht) denote the height of the object after t seconds, you will see in Calculus I that if the Earth s gravity is the only force acting on the object then ht) = 16t 2 + v 0 t + h 0 Since this is degree two polynomial in the variable t, we can use our knowledge of quadratic equations to retrieve information about the path of the object Example A ball is thrown vertically upwards from a height of 32 feet with an initial velocity of 80 feet per second 1 When does the ball fall back to ground level? 2 When does the ball reach a height of 20 feet? 5

6 Other Types of Equations We may have to solve equations involving fractional algebraic expressions There are two rules that we should keep in mind when solving such expressions: Rule 1, Rational Expressions: If A = 0, then we must have A = 0 Technical issue This is not an B if and only if statement, the equation A = 0 may have more solutions than the original equation, since some of these solutions may satisfy B = 0 and thus may not be in the domain of this fractional expression This technical issue becomes important when finding the roots of a rational function So when we use this rule to find the roots of a rational function later, we should look over the solutions and discard any that do not belong to the domain of the original rational expression Example Solve for x in the following equations x 2 + 2x + 1 x 2 x 2 = 0, 1 x 1 + x x + 1 = 0, x + 1)x 3)x + 2) x 2 9 = 0 Rule 2: Equations involving radicals : If A = B, then squaring both sides) we must have A = B 2 Again this is not an if and only if statement, since we may have a solution to A = B 2, which does not satisfy A = B eg A = 1, B = -1) So when we use this rule to solve an equation, we should look over the solutions and discard any that do not satisfy the original equation Example Solve the following equations x 1 = x 7, x 1)2 + 2x 4) 2 = 5 Equations involving absolute values When dealing with absolute values, we must always keep in mind the definition of the absolute value: { a if a 0 a = a if a 0 6

7 To solve an equation of the form A = B we must consider the solutions to two equations A = B and A = B We have A = B if and only if either A = B or A = B Example Solve for x in the following equations 3x + 1 = 5, x 2 + 2x = 1 Tip For Success In addition to writing complete mathematical sentences you should develop the habit of showing all of the steps in your calculations This habit will really boost your performance in more complex calculations in Calculus Tip For Success You should always reflect on your solution and make sure you understand the general principles and methods that helped you to derive your answer This will help you to develop a big picture which is essential for problem solving It is also important to reflect on the main ideas from each section or lecture as you progress through a course It helps especially for review at exam time) to make a short summary of the main formulas and ideas as you go 7

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