# 3.5. Solving inequalities. Introduction. Prerequisites. Learning Outcomes. Learning Style

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1 Solving inequalities 3.5 Introduction An inequality is an expression involving one of the symbols,,> or <. This Block will first show how to manipulate inequalities correctly. Then the solution of inequalities, both algebraically and graphically, will be described. Prerequisites Before starting this Block you should... Learning Outcomes After completing this Block you should be able to... re-arrange expressions involving inequalities solve inequalities be able to solve linear equations Learning Style To achieve what is expected of you... allocate sufficient study time briefly revise the prerequisite material attempt every guided exercise and most of the other exercises

2 1. The inequality symbols Recall the meaning of the following symbols: Key Point The symbols >, <,, are called inequalities > means: is greater than, means: is greater than or equal to < means: is less than, means: is less than or equal to So, we may state, for example, 8 > < A number line is often a helpful way of picturing inequalities. Given two numbers a and b, if b>athen b will be to the right of a on the number line as shown in Figure 1. a b Figure 1. If b>a, b will be to the right of a on the number line. Note from Figure 2 that 3 > 5, 4 > 2 and 8 > Figure 2 Inequalities can always be written in two ways. For example in English we can state that 8 is greater than 7, or equivalently, that 7 is less than 8. Mathematically we write 8 > 7or7< 8. Similarly if b>athen a<b.ifa<bthen a will be to the left of b on the number line. Example Rewrite the inequality 2 5 <xusing only the greater than sign, >. Solution 2 <xcan be written as x> Example Rewrite the inequality 5 >xusing only the less than sign, <. Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 2

3 Solution 5 >xcan be written as x<5. Sometimes two inequalities are combined into a single statement. Consider for example the statement 3 < x < 6. This is a compact way of writing 3 <xand x<6. Now 3 <xis equivalent to x>3 and so 3 <x<6 means x is greater than 3 but less than 6. Inequalities obey simple rules when used in conjunction with arithmetical operations. Key Point 1. Adding or subtracting the same quantity from both sides of an inequality leaves the inequality sign unchanged. 2. Multiplying or dividing both sides by a positive number leaves the inequality sign unchanged. 3. Multiplying or dividing both sides by a negative number reverses the inequality. For example, since 8 > 5, by adding k to both sides we can state 8+k>5+k for any value of k. For example (with k = 3) 8 3 > 5 3. Further, by multiplying both sides of 8 > 5byk we can state 8k >5k provided k is positive. However 8k <5k if k is negative. We emphasise that the inequality sign is reversed when multiplying both sides by a negative number. A common mistake is to forget to reverse the inequality sign when multiplying inequalities by a negative number. For example 8 > 5, but multiplying both sides by 1 gives 8 < 5. Now do this exercise Find the result of multiplying both sides of the inequality 18 < 9 by the number 3. The modulus or magnitude sign is sometimes used with inequalities. For example x < 1 represents the set of all numbers whose actual size, irrespective of sign, is less than 1. This means any value between 1 and 1. Thus x < 1 implies 1 <x<1 Similarly x > 4 means all numbers whose size, irrespective of sign, is greater than 4. This means any value greater than 4 or less than 4. Thus In general, if k is a positive number, x > 4 implies x>4orx< 4 3 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

4 Key Point x <k means k <x<k x >k means x>k or x< k More exercises for you to try 1. State which of the following statements is true and which is false. (a) 4 > 9, (b) 4 > 4, (c) 4 4, (d) < 10 5, (e) 19 < 100, (f) 19 > 20, (g) In questions 2-9 rewrite each of the statements without using a modulus sign: 2. x < 2, 3. x < 5, 4. x 7.5, 5. x 3 < 2, 6. x a < 1, 7. x > 2, 8. x > 7.5, 9. x Solving linear inequalities algebraically When we are asked to solve an inequality, the inequality will contain an unknown variable, say x. Solving means obtaining all values of x for which the inequality is true. In a linear inequality the unknown appears only to the first power, that is as x, and not as x 2, x 3, x 1/2 and so on. It is possible to solve a linear inequality by making the unknown the subject. Consider the following examples. Example Solve the inequality 4x +3> 0. Solution 4x +3 > 0 4x > 3, by subtracting 3 from both sides x > 3 4 Hence all values of x greater than 3 4 by dividing both sides by 4. satisfy 4x +3> 0. Example Solve the inequality 3x 7 0. Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 4

5 Solution 3x 7 0 3x 7 by adding 7 to both sides x 7 3 dividing both sides by 3 and reversing the inequality Hence all values of x greater than or equal to 7 3 satisfy 3x 7 0. Try each part of this exercise Solve the inequality 17x +2< 4x +1. We try to make x the subject and obtain it on its own on the left-hand side. Part right. (a) Start by subtracting 4x from both sides to remove quantities involving x from the Part (b) Now subtract 2 from both sides to remove the 2 on the left: Part (c) Finally find the range of values satisfied by x: Example Solve the inequality 5x 2 < 4 and depict the solution graphically. 5 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

6 Solution 5x 2 < 4 isequivalentto 4 < 5x 2 < 4 We treat each part of the inequality separately: 4 < 5x 2 2 < 5x by adding 2 to both sides 2 5 < x by dividing both sides by 5 So x> 2. Now consider the second part: 5x 2 < x 2 < 4 5x < 6 by adding 2 to both sides x < 6 5 by dividing both sides by 5 Putting both parts of the solution together we see that the inequality is satisfied when 2 <x< 6. This range of values is shown in Figure /5 0 6/5 Figure 3. 5x 2 < 4 when 2 5 <x< 6 5 Try each part of this exercise Solve the inequality 1 2x < 5. Part (a) First of all rewrite the inequality without using the modulus sign. Part (b) Then treat each part separately. First of all consider 5 < 1 2x. Solve this. Part (c) The second part is 1 2x <5. Solve this. Finally, confirm that the solution is 2 <x<3. Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 6

7 More exercises for you to try In questions 1-16 solve the given inequality algebraically. 1. 4x >8 2. 5x>8 3. 8x>5 4. 8x x >1 6. 3x< x>2 8. 2x> x < x x > x x x x x +1< x x x +2> x +11> x x x < x >2x x >x 5 In questions solve the inequality x 3 > x x < x x > x x 1 < 1 3. Solving inequalities using graphs Graphs can be used to help solve inequalities. This approach is particularly useful if the inequality is not linear as, in these cases solving the inequalities algebraically can often be very tricky. Graphics calculators or software can help save a lot of time and effort here. Example Solve graphically the inequality 5x + 2 < 0. Solution We consider the function y =5x + 2 whose graph is shown in Figure y y =5x +2 x = 2/ x Figure 4. Graph of y =5x +2. The values of x which make 5x + 2 negative are those for which y is negative. We see directly from the graph that y is negative when x< 2 5. Example Find the range of values of x for which x 2 x 6 < 0. 7 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

8 Solution We consider the graph of y = x 2 x 6 which is shown in Figure 5. y y = x 2 x 6 x 5 Figure 5. Graph of y = x 2 x 6. Note that the graph crosses the x axis when x = 2 and when x =3. Nowx 2 x 6 will be negative when y is negative. Directly from the graph we see that y is negative when 2 <x<3. Now do this exercise Find the range of values of x for which x 2 x 6 > 0. The graph of y = x 2 x 6 has been drawn in Figure 5. We require y = x 2 x 6 to be positive. Use the graph to solve the problem. Example By plotting a graph of y =20x 4 4x 3 143x 2 +46x find the range of values of x for which 20x 4 4x 3 143x 2 +46x < 0 Solution A software package has been used to plot the graph which is shown in Figure 6. We see that y is negative when 2.5 <x< 1 and when 1.5 <x<2.2. y x Figure 6. Graph of y =20x 4 4x 3 143x 2 +46x More exercises for you to try In questions 1-4 solve the given inequality graphically: 1. 3x +1< x 7 < x +9> 0, 4. 5x 3 > 0 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 8

9 4. Computer Exercise or Activity For this exercise it will be necessary for you to access the computer package DERIVE. DERIVE can be used to solve some inequalities. For example to solve 3x +2< 5 you would key in Author:Expression 3x + 2 < 5. DERIVE responds 3 x +2< 5 Now key Solve:Algebraically and DERIVE responds [x <1] To solve an inequality of the form 3x +2 < 6 we would proceed as above. DERIVE responds [ 6 < 3 x +2< 6] When solving Which is only a partial solution. To solve completely highlight part of this expression say 6 < 3 x + 2 and ask DERIVE to solve again. DERIVE responds [x > 8 3 ] The remaining part of the solution can be treated similarly. For more complicated inequalities the curve drawing capabilities of DERIVE can be used to aid the analysis, as outlined in this Block. Use DERIVE to solve the following inequalities: Exercises 1. 6x 3 + x 2 4x +1< x 4 +9x 3 3x 2 10x >0 3. x+2 x 3 < 0 4. x+1 x+2 > 0 5. (x 1)(x+1) x 3 < 0 9 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

10 End of Block 3.5 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 10

11 54 > Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

12 1. (a) F (b) F (c) T (d) F (e) T (f) T (g) T 2. 2 <x< <x< x <x 3 < <x a<1 7. x>2orx< 2 8. x>7.5 orx< x 0orx 0, in fact any x. Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 12

13 13x +2< 1 13 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

14 13x < 1 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 14

15 x< 1/13 15 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

16 5 < 1 2x <5 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 16

17 x<3 17 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

18 x> 2 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 18

19 1. x>2 2. x>8/5 3. x>5/8 4. x 5/8 5. x>1/2 6. x< 1/3 7. x>2/5 8. x>0 9. x < x x > 4/3 12. x > 4/3 13. x 3/4 14. x 4/3 15. x x x < 7/5 18. x 7/5 19. x 3/7 20. x > 7/ x > 11/ x 1/5 23. x 1/5 24. x > 9/7 25. x > x < x > 4/7 orx < 2/7 28. x 1orx /5 <x<1/5 30. x = <x<1 31. x< 1, x>3/ x 1, x Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

20 x< 2 orx>3 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0 20

21 1. x< x<7/2, 3. x> 3/2 4. x>3/5 21 Engineering Mathematics: Open Learning Unit Level 0

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