# COLLEGE ALGEBRA. Paul Dawkins

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1 COLLEGE ALGEBRA Paul Dawkins

2 Table of Contents Preface... iii Outline... iv Preliminaries... Introduction... Integer Exponents... Rational Exponents... 9 Real Exponents...5 Radicals...6 Polynomials...5 Factoring Polynomials...3 Rational Expressions...4 Complex Numbers...5 Solving Equations and Inequalities Introduction...58 Solutions and Solution Sets...59 Linear Equations...63 Application of Linear Equations...7 Equations With More Than One Variable...8 Quadratic Equations Part I...85 Quadratic Equations Part II...93 Solving Quadratic Equations : A Summary...04 Application of Quadratic Equations...07 Equations Reducible to Quadratic Form... Equations with Radicals...6 Linear Inequalities... Polynomial Inequalities...9 Rational Inequalities...35 Absolute Value Equations...40 Absolute Value Inequalities...47 Graphing and Functions... 5 Introduction...5 Graphing...53 Lines...59 Circles...69 The Definition of a Function...75 Graphing Functions...88 Combining Functions...9 Inverse Functions...99 Common Graphs Introduction...06 Lines, Circles and Piecewise Functions...07 Parabolas...08 Ellipses...8 Hyperbolas... Miscellaneous Functions...6 Transformations...9 Symmetry...35 Rational Functions...40 Polynomial Functions Introduction...46 Dividing Polynomials...47 Zeroes/Roots of Polynomials Paul Dawkins i

3 Graphing Polynomials...57 Finding Zeroes of Polynomials...65 Partial Fractions...73 Exponential and Logarithm Functions... 8 Introduction...8 Exponential Functions...8 Logarithm Functions...87 Solving Exponential Equations...97 Solving Logarithm Equations Applications...30 Systems of Equations Introduction...37 Linear Systems with Two Variables...38 Linear Systems with Three Variables...36 Augmented Matrices More on the Augmented Matrix Non-Linear Systems Paul Dawkins ii

4 Preface Here are my online notes for my Algebra course that I teach here at Lamar University, although I have to admit that it s been years since I last taught this course. At this point in my career I mostly teach Calculus and Differential Equations. Despite the fact that these are my class notes, they should be accessible to anyone wanting to learn Algebra or needing a refresher for algebra. I ve tried to make the notes as self contained as possible and do not reference any book. However, they do assume that you ve had some exposure to the basics of algebra at some point prior to this. While there is some review of exponents, factoring and graphing it is assumed that not a lot of review will be needed to remind you how these topics work. Here are a couple of warnings to my students who may be here to get a copy of what happened on a day that you missed.. Because I wanted to make this a fairly complete set of notes for anyone wanting to learn algebra I have included some material that I do not usually have time to cover in class and because this changes from semester to semester it is not noted here. You will need to find one of your fellow class mates to see if there is something in these notes that wasn t covered in class.. Because I want these notes to provide some more examples for you to read through, I don t always work the same problems in class as those given in the notes. Likewise, even if I do work some of the problems in here I may work fewer problems in class than are presented here. 3. Sometimes questions in class will lead down paths that are not covered here. I try to anticipate as many of the questions as possible in writing these up, but the reality is that I can t anticipate all the questions. Sometimes a very good question gets asked in class that leads to insights that I ve not included here. You should always talk to someone who was in class on the day you missed and compare these notes to their notes and see what the differences are. 4. This is somewhat related to the previous three items, but is important enough to merit its own item. THESE NOTES ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR ATTENDING CLASS!! Using these notes as a substitute for class is liable to get you in trouble. As already noted not everything in these notes is covered in class and often material or insights not in these notes is covered in class. 007 Paul Dawkins iii

6 Linear Inequalities We will start solving inequalities in this section by looking at linear inequalities. Polynomial Inequalities In this section we will look at solving inequalities that contain polynomials. Rational Inequalities Here we will solve inequalities involving rational expressions. Absolute Value Equations We will officially define absolute value in this section and solve equations that contain absolute value. Absolute Value Inequalities We will solve inequalities that involve absolute value in this section. Graphing and Functions Graphing In this section we will introduce the Cartesian coordinate system and most of the basics of graphing equations. Lines Here we will review the main ideas from the study of lines including slope and the special forms of the equation of a line. Circles We will look at the equation of a circle and graphing circles in this section. The Definition of a Function We will discuss the definition of a function in this section. We will also introduce the idea of function evaluation. Graphing Functions In this section we will look at the basics of graphing functions. We will also graph some piecewise functions in this section. Combining functions Here we will look at basic arithmetic involving functions as well as function composition. Inverse Functions We will define and find inverse functions in this section. Common Graphs Lines, Circles and Piecewise Functions This section is here only to acknowledge that we ve already talked about graphing these in a previous chapter. Parabolas We ll be graphing parabolas in this section. Ellipses In this section we will graph ellipses. Hyperbolas Here we will be graphing hyperbolas. Miscellaneous Functions In this section we will graph a couple of common functions that don t really take all that much work to so. We ll be looking at the constant function, square root, absolute value and a simple cubic function. Transformations We will be looking at shifts and reflections of graphs in this section. Collectively these are often called transformations. Symmetry We will briefly discuss the topic of symmetry in this section. Rational Functions In this section we will graph some rational functions. We will also be taking a look at vertical and horizontal asymptotes. Polynomial Functions Dividing Polynomials We ll review some of the basics of dividing polynomials in this section. Zeroes/Roots of Polynomials In this section we ll define just what zeroes/roots of polynomials are and give some of the more important facts concerning them. Graphing Polynomials Here we will give a process that will allow us to get a rough sketch of some polynomials. Finding Zeroes of Polynomials We ll look at a process that will allow us to find some of the zeroes of a polynomial and in special cases all of the zeroes. Partial Fractions In this section we will take a look at the process of partial fractions and finding the partial fraction decomposition of a rational expression. 007 Paul Dawkins v

7 Exponential and Logarithm Functions Exponential Functions In this section we will introduce exponential functions. We will be taking a look at some of the properties of exponential functions. Logarithm Functions Here we will introduce logarithm functions. We be looking at how to evaluate logarithms as well as the properties of logarithms. Solving Exponential Equations We will be solving equations that contain exponentials in this section. Solving Logarithm Equations Here we will solve equations that contain logarithms. Applications In this section we will look at a couple of applications of exponential functions and an application of logarithms. Systems of Equations Linear Systems with Two Variables In this section we will use systems of two equations and two variables to introduce two of the main methods for solving systems of equations. Linear Systems with Three Variables Here we will work a quick example to show how to use the methods to solve systems of three equations with three variables. Augmented Matrices We will look at the third main method for solving systems in this section. We will look at systems of two equations and systems of three equations. More on the Augmented Matrix In this section we will take a look at some special cases to the solutions to systems and how to identify them using the augmented matrix method. Nonlinear Systems We will take a quick look at solving nonlinear systems of equations in this section. 007 Paul Dawkins vi

8 Preliminaries Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to review several topics that will arise time and again throughout this material. Many of the topics here are so important to an Algebra class that if you don t have a good working grasp of them you will find it very difficult to successfully complete the course. Also, it is assumed that you ve seen the topics in this chapter somewhere prior to this class and so this chapter should be mostly a review for you. However, since most of these topics are so important to an Algebra class we will make sure that you do understand them by doing a quick review of them here. Exponents and polynomials are integral parts of any Algebra class. If you do not remember the basic exponent rules and how to work with polynomials you will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to pass an Algebra class. This is especially true with factoring polynomials. There are more than a few sections in an Algebra course where the ability to factor is absolutely essential to being able to do the work in those sections. In fact, in many of these sections factoring will be the first step taken. It is important that you leave this chapter with a good understanding of this material! If you don t understand this material you will find it difficult to get through the remaining chapters. Here is a brief listing of the material covered in this chapter. Integer Exponents In this section we will start looking at exponents and their properties. Rational Exponents We will define rational exponents in this section and extend the properties from the previous section to rational exponents. Real Exponents This is a short acknowledgment that the exponent properties from the previous two sections will hold for any real exponent. Radicals Here we will define radical notation and relate radicals to rational exponents. We will also give the properties of radicals. Polynomials We will introduce the basics of polynomials in this section including adding, subtracting and multiplying polynomials. Factoring Polynomials This is the most important section of all the preliminaries. Factoring polynomials will appear in pretty much every chapter in this course. Without the ability to factor polynomials you will be unable to complete this course. Rational Expressions In this section we will define rational expressions and discuss adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing them. Complex Numbers Here is a very quick primer on complex numbers and how to manipulate them. 007 Paul Dawkins

9 Integer Exponents We will start off this chapter by looking at integer exponents. In fact, we will initially assume that the exponents are positive as well. We will look at zero and negative exponents in a bit. Let s first recall the definition of exponentiation with positive integer exponents. If a is any number and n is a positive integer then, n a = a a a a So, for example, n times 5 3 = = 43 We should also use this opportunity to remind ourselves about parenthesis and conventions that we have in regards to exponentiation and parenthesis. This will be particularly important when dealing with negative numbers. Consider the following two cases. 4 4 and These will have different values once we evaluate them. When performing exponentiation remember that it is only the quantity that is immediately to the left of the exponent that gets the power. In the first case there is a parenthesis immediately to the left so that means that everything in the parenthesis gets the power. So, in this case we get, 4 = = 6 In the second case however, the is immediately to the left of the exponent and so it is only the that gets the power. The minus sign will stay out in front and will NOT get the power. In this case we have the following, 4 4 = = = 6= 6 We put in some extra parenthesis to help illustrate this case. In general they aren t included and we would write instead, 4 = = 6 The point of this discussion is to make sure that you pay attention to parenthesis. They are important and ignoring parenthesis or putting in a set of parenthesis where they don t belong can completely change the answer to a problem. Be careful. Also, this warning about parenthesis is not just intended for exponents. We will need to be careful with parenthesis throughout this course. Now, let s take care of zero exponents and negative integer exponents. In the case of zero exponents we have, 0 a = provided a 0 0 Notice that it is required that a not be zero. This is important since 0 is not defined. Here is a quick example of this property. ( 68) 0 = 007 Paul Dawkins

10 We have the following definition for negative exponents. If a is any non-zero number and n is a positive integer (yes, positive) then, n a = n a Can you see why we required that a not be zero? Remember that division by zero is not defined and if we had allowed a to be zero we would have gotten division by zero. Here are a couple of quick examples for this definition, 3 5 = = ( 4) = = = Here are some of the main properties of integer exponents. Accompanying each property will be a quick example to illustrate its use. We will be looking at more complicated examples after the properties. Properties n m n m. aa = a + Example : a a = a = a a n. m nm 7 3 ( 7)( 3) = a Example : ( a ) = a = a n m n a a 3. =, a 0 m a m n a Example : 4 a 4 7 = a = a a 4 a = = = a 4 7 a a a 7 4. n n n ab = a b Example : ab = a b n n a a 5. =, b 0 n b b Example : 8 8 a a = b b 8 6. n n n a b b = = b a a n Example : a b b = = b a a 0 7. ( ab) n = Example : n ( ab) ( ab) 0 = ( ab) n a n a = Example : a b n b a m = Example : m n = a a b a b a 6 7 = Paul Dawkins 3

11 ab 0. k ( ) = a b Example : ( ab ) = a b = a b n m nk mk n k a m = b a b nk mk Example : 6 6 a a a = ( 5) = b b b 5 0 Notice that there are two possible forms for the third property. Which form you use is usually dependent upon the form you want the answer to be in. Note as well that many of these properties were given with only two terms/factors but they can be extended out to as many terms/factors as we need. For example, property 4 can be extended as follows. n n n n n abcd = a b c d We only used four factors here, but hopefully you get the point. Property 4 (and most of the other properties) can be extended out to meet the number of factors that we have in a given problem. There are several common mistakes that students make with these properties the first time they see them. Let s take a look at a couple of them. Consider the following case. Correct : a ab = a = b b Incorrect : ab ab In this case only the b gets the exponent since it is immediately off to the left of the exponent and so only this term moves to the denominator. Do NOT carry the a down to the denominator with the b. Contrast this with the following case. ( ab) = ( ab) In this case the exponent is on the set of parenthesis and so we can just use property 7 on it and so both the a and the b move down to the denominator. Again, note the importance of parenthesis and how they can change an answer! Here is another common mistake. a Correct : = = a a 3 5 Incorrect : 3a 5 3a In this case the exponent is only on the a and so to use property 8 on this we would have to break up the fraction as shown and then use property 8 only on the second term. To bring the 3 up with the a we would have needed the following Paul Dawkins 4

12 ( 3 ) = 5 a ( 3a) 5 Once again, notice this common mistake comes down to being careful with parenthesis. This will be a constant refrain throughout these notes. We must always be careful with parenthesis. Misusing them can lead to incorrect answers. Let s take a look at some more complicated examples now. Example Simplify each of the following and write the answers with only positive exponents. 4 5 (a) ( 4x y ) 3 [Solution] (b) ( 0z y ) (c) [Solution] n m 4 3 7m n 5x y 4 (d) 3y 5 z (e) z x zy [Solution] 5 9 [Solution] x 6 [Solution] 3 8 4ab (f) 5 [Solution] 6a b Solution Note that when we say simplify in the problem statement we mean that we will need to use all the properties that we can to get the answer into the required form. Also, a simplified answer will have as few terms as possible and each term should have no more than a single exponent on it. There are many different paths that we can take to get to the final answer for each of these. In the end the answer will be the same regardless of the path that you used to get the answer. All that this means for you is that as long as you used the properties you can take the path that you find the easiest. The path that others find to be the easiest may not be the path that you find to be the easiest. That is okay. Also, we won t put quite as much detail in using some of these properties as we did in the examples given with each property. For instance, we won t show the actual multiplications anymore, we will just give the result of the multiplication. 4x y For this one we will use property 0 first. 4x y = 4 x y 4 5 (a) Don t forget to put the exponent on the constant in this problem. That is one of the more common mistakes that students make with these simplification problems. 007 Paul Dawkins 5

13 At this point we need to evaluate the first term and eliminate the negative exponent on the second term. The evaluation of the first term isn t too bad and all we need to do to eliminate the negative exponent on the second term is use the definition we gave for negative exponents y ( 4x y ) = 64 y = x x We further simplified our answer by combining everything up into a single fraction. This should always be done. The middle step in this part is usually skipped. All the definition of negative exponents tells us to do is move the term to the denominator and drop the minus sign in the exponent. So, from this point on, that is what we will do without writing in the middle step (b) ( 0z y ) zy In this case we will first use property 0 on both terms and then we will combine the terms using property. Finally, we will eliminate the negative exponents using the definition of negative exponents ( 0z y ) ( z y) = ( 0) z y z y = 00z y = 3 z y There are a couple of things to be careful with in this problem. First, when using the property 0 on the first term, make sure that you square the -0 and not just the 0 (i.e. don t forget the minus sign ). Second, in the final step, the 00 stays in the numerator since there is no negative exponent on it. The exponent of - is only on the z and so only the z moves to the denominator. (c) n m 4 3 7m n This one isn t too bad. We will use the definition of negative exponents to move all terms with negative exponents in them to the denominator. Also, property 8 simply says that if there is a term with a negative exponent in the denominator then we will just move it to the numerator and drop the minus sign. So, let s take care of the negative exponents first. 4 3 n m mnm = 4 3 7m n 7n Now simplify. We will use property to combine the m s in the numerator. We will use property 3 to combine the n s and since we are looking for positive exponents we will use the first form of this property since that will put a positive exponent up in the numerator. 5 n m mn = 4 3 7m n 7 Again, the 7 will stay in the denominator since there isn t a negative exponent on it. It will NOT 007 Paul Dawkins 6

14 move up to the numerator with the m. Do not get excited if all the terms move up to the numerator or if all the terms move down to the denominator. That will happen on occasion. 5x 3y y (d) x This example is similar to the previous one except there is a little more going on with this one. The first step will be to again, get rid of the negative exponents as we did in the previous example. Any terms in the numerator with negative exponents will get moved to the denominator and we ll drop the minus sign in the exponent. Likewise, any terms in the denominator with negative exponents will move to the numerator and we ll drop the minus sign in the exponent. Notice this time, unlike the previous part, there is a term with a set of parenthesis in the denominator. Because of the parenthesis that whole term, including the 3, will move to the numerator. Here is the work for this part. ( 3y ) ( y ) 5x y y 45y = = = x xy x xy x x z (e) z x There are several first steps that we can take with this one. The first step that we re pretty much always going to take with these kinds of problems is to first simplify the fraction inside the parenthesis as much as possible. After we do that we will use property 5 to deal with the exponent that is on the parenthesis z zx x x = 5 = 3 = 8 z x z z z In this case we used the second form of property 3 to simplify the z s since this put a positive exponent in the denominator. Also note that we almost never write an exponent of. When we have exponents of we will drop them ab (f) 5 6a b This one is very similar to the previous part. The main difference is negative on the outer exponent. We will deal with that once we ve simplified the fraction inside the parenthesis ab 4aa 4a 5 = 8 = 9 6a b bb b Now at this point we can use property 6 to deal with the exponent on the parenthesis. Doing this gives us, 007 Paul Dawkins 7

15 ab b b = = 6a b 4a 6a Before leaving this section we need to talk briefly about the requirement of positive only exponents in the above set of examples. This was done only so there would be a consistent final answer. In many cases negative exponents are okay and in some cases they are required. In fact, if you are on a track that will take you into calculus there are a fair number of problems in a calculus class in which negative exponents are the preferred, if not required, form. 007 Paul Dawkins 8

16 Rational Exponents Now that we have looked at integer exponents we need to start looking at more complicated exponents. In this section we are going to be looking at rational exponents. That is exponents in the form m n b where both m and n are integers. We will start simple by looking at the following special case, n b where n is an integer. Once we have this figured out the more general case given above will actually be pretty easy to deal with. Let s first define just what we mean by exponents of this form. n n a= b is equivalent to a = b n In other words, when evaluating b we are really asking what number (in this case a) did we n raise to the n to get b. Often b is called the n th root of b. Let s do a couple of evaluations. Example Evaluate each of the following. (a) (b) (c) 5 [Solution] 5 3 [Solution] 4 8 [Solution] (d) ( 8) 3 [Solution] (e) ( 6) 4 [Solution] (f) 6 4 [Solution] Solution When doing these evaluations we will do actually not do them directly. When first confronted with these kinds of evaluations doing them directly is often very difficult. In order to evaluate these we will remember the equivalence given in the definition and use that instead. We will work the first one in detail and then not put as much detail into the rest of the problems. 5 (a) So, here is what we are asking in this problem. 5 =? 007 Paul Dawkins 9

17 Using the equivalence from the definition we can rewrite this as,? = 5 So, all that we are really asking here is what number did we square to get 5. In this case that is (hopefully) easy to get. We square 5 to get 5. Therefore, 5 = (b) So what we are asking here is what number did we raise to the 5 th power to get 3? = because = (c) What number did we raise to the 4 th power to get 8? = 3 because 3 = 8 (d) ( 8) 3 We need to be a little careful with minus signs here, but other than that it works the same way as the previous parts. What number did we raise to the 3 rd power (i.e. cube) to get -8? (e) ( 6) = because = 8 3 This part does not have an answer. It is here to make a point. In this case we are asking what number do we raise to the 4 th power to get -6. However, we also know that raising any number (positive or negative) to an even power will be positive. In other words, there is no real number that we can raise to the 4 th power to get -6. Note that this is different from the previous part. If we raise a negative number to an odd power we will get a negative number so we could do the evaluation in the previous part. As this part has shown, we can t always do these evaluations. (f) 6 4 Again, this part is here to make a point more than anything. Unlike the previous part this one has an answer. Recall from the previous section that if there aren t any parentheses then only the part immediately to the left of the exponent gets the exponent. So, this part is really asking us to evaluate the following term. 007 Paul Dawkins 0

18 4 4 6 = 6 So, we need to determine what number raised to the 4 th power will give us 6. This is and so in this case the answer is, = 6 = = As the last two parts of the previous example has once again shown, we really need to be careful with parenthesis. In this case parenthesis makes the difference between being able to get an answer or not. Also, don t be worried if you didn t know some of these powers off the top of your head. They are usually fairly simple to determine if you don t know them right away. For instance in the part b we needed to determine what number raised to the 5 will give 3. If you can t see the power right off the top of your head simply start taking powers until you find the correct one. In other words compute, 3, 4 until you reach the correct value. Of course in this case we wouldn t need to go past the first computation. The next thing that we should acknowledge is that all of the properties for exponents that we gave in the previous section are still valid for all rational exponents. This includes the more general rational exponent that we haven t looked at yet. Now that we know that the properties are still valid we can see how to deal with the more general rational exponent. There are in fact two different ways of dealing with them as we ll see. Both methods involve using property from the previous section. For reference purposes this property is, n nm a = a m So, let s see how to deal with a general rational exponent. We will first rewrite the exponent as follows. b m n = b In other words we can think of the exponent as a product of two numbers. Now we will use the exponent property shown above. However, we will be using it in the opposite direction than what we did in the previous section. Also, there are two ways to do it. Here they are, n ( m) m m m n n n n m b = b OR b = b Using either of these forms we can now evaluate some more complicated expressions 007 Paul Dawkins

19 Example Evaluate each of the following. 3 (a) 8 [Solution] (b) [Solution] (c) [Solution] 3 Solution We can use either form to do the evaluations. However, it is usually more convenient to use the first form as we will see. 3 8 (a) Let s use both forms here since neither one is too bad in this case. Let s take a look at the first form = 8 = = 4 8 = because = 8 Now, let s take a look at the second form = 8 = 64 = 4 64 = 4 because 4 = 64 So, we get the same answer regardless of the form. Notice however that when we used the second form we ended up taking the 3 rd root of a much larger number which can cause problems on occasion. 3 4 (b) 65 Again, let s use both forms to compute this one = 65 = ( 5) = 5 65 = 5 because 5 = = 65 = = 5 because 5 = As this part has shown the second form can be quite difficult to use in computations. The root in this case was not an obvious root and not particularly easy to get if you didn t know it right off the top of your head (c) 3 In this case we ll only use the first form. However, before doing that we ll need to first use property 5 of our exponent properties to get the exponent onto the numerator and denominator. 007 Paul Dawkins

20 ( 3) 8 = = = = We can also do some of the simplification type problems with rational exponents that we saw in the previous section. Example 3 Simplify each of the following and write the answers with only positive exponents. w (a) 6v [Solution] (b) xy [Solution] 3 x y Solution (a) For this problem we will first move the exponent into the parenthesis then we will eliminate the negative exponent as we did in the previous section. We will then move the term to the denominator and drop the minus sign. w v 4 w = = v vw 8 8 (b) In this case we will first simplify the expression inside the parenthesis = = = x y 3 3 xy xx y x y x y y Don t worry if, after simplification, we don t have a fraction anymore. That will happen on occasion. Now we will eliminate the negative in the exponent using property 7 and then we ll use property 4 to finish the problem up. 7 3 xy = = x y x y x y Paul Dawkins 3

21 We will leave this section with a warning about a common mistake that students make in regards to negative exponents and rational exponents. Be careful not to confuse the two as they are totally separate topics. In other words, and NOT b b n n = n b b n This is a very common mistake when students first learn exponent rules. 007 Paul Dawkins 4

22 Real Exponents This is a fairly short section. It s only real purpose is to acknowledge that the exponent properties we listed in the first section work for any exponent. We ve already used them on integer and rational exponents but we aren t actually restricted to these kinds of exponents. The properties will work for any exponent that we want to use. Example Simplify each of the following and write the answers with only positive exponents (a) ( x y z ) xy (b).7 x Solution We will not put as much detail into these as we have in the previous sections. By this point it is assumed that you re starting to get a good handle on the exponent rules. (a) (b) x x y z = x y z = y 4. z xy xx x y y = = = = x y y x x Note that we won t be doing anything like this in the remainder of this course. This section is here only to acknowledge that these rules will work for any kind of exponent that we might need to work with. 007 Paul Dawkins 5

29 As noted above we did need to do a little simplification on the first term after doing the multiplication. (b) ( 3 x y)( x 5 y) Don t get excited about the fact that there are two variables here. It works the same way! 3 x y x 5 y = 6 x 5 x y x y + 5 y = 6x 5 xy xy + 5y = 6x 7 xy + 5y Again, notice that we combined up the terms with two radicals in them. (c) ( 5 x + )( 5 x ) Not much to do with this one. ( 5 x + )( 5 x ) = 5 x 0 x + 0 x 4 = 5x 4 Notice that, in this case, the answer has no radicals. That will happen on occasion so don t get excited about it when it happens. The last part of the previous example really used the fact that ( a+ b)( a b) = a b If you don t recall this formula we will look at it in a little more detail in the next section. Okay, we are now ready to take a look at some simplification examples illustrating the final two rules. Note as well that the fourth rule says that we shouldn t have any radicals in the denominator. To get rid of them we will use some of the multiplication ideas that we looked at above and the process of getting rid of the radicals in the denominator is called rationalizing the denominator. In fact, that is really what this next set of examples is about. They are really more examples of rationalizing the denominator rather than simplification examples. Example 5 Rationalize the denominator for each of the following. Assume that x is positive. (a) 4 x [Solution] (b) 5 3 x [Solution] (c) 3 x [Solution] 5 (d) 4 x + 3 [Solution] Solution There are really two different types of problems that we ll be seeing here. The first two parts illustrate the first type of problem and the final two parts illustrate the second type of problem. 007 Paul Dawkins

30 Both types are worked differently. 4 (a) x In this case we are going to make use of the fact that n a n = a. We need to determine what to multiply the denominator by so that this will show up in the denominator. Once we figure this out we will multiply the numerator and denominator by this term. Here is the work for this part. 4 4 x 4 x 4 x = = = x x x x x Remember that if we multiply the denominator by a term we must also multiply the numerator by a the same term. In this way we are really multiplying the term by (since = ) and so aren t a changing its value in any way. (b) 5 3 x We ll need to start this one off with first using the third property of radicals to eliminate the fraction from underneath the radical as is required for simplification. 5 5 = 3 x 5 3 x Now, in order to get rid of the radical in the denominator we need the exponent on the x to be a 5. This means that we need to multiply by 5 x so let s do that x x x 5 = = = 3 x x x x x (c) 3 x In this case we can t do the same thing that we did in the previous two parts. To do this one we will need to instead to make use of the fact that a+ b a b = a b When the denominator consists of two terms with at least one of the terms involving a radical we will do the following to get rid of the radical. 3+ x 3+ x 3+ x = = = 3 x 3 x 3+ x 3 x 3+ x 9 x 007 Paul Dawkins 3

31 So, we took the original denominator and changed the sign on the second term and multiplied the numerator and denominator by this new term. By doing this we were able to eliminate the radical in the denominator when we then multiplied out. 5 (d) 4 x + 3 This one works exactly the same as the previous example. The only difference is that both terms in the denominator now have radicals. The process is the same however. 5 5 ( 4 x 3 ) 5 ( 4 x 3 ) 5 ( 4 x 3 ) = = = 4 x x x 3 4 x x 3 6x 3 Rationalizing the denominator may seem to have no real uses and to be honest we won t see many uses in an Algebra class. However, if you are on a track that will take you into a Calculus class you will find that rationalizing is useful on occasion at that level. We will close out this section with a more general version of the first property of radicals. Recall that when we first wrote down the properties of radicals we required that a be a positive number. This was done to make the work in this section a little easier. However, with the first property that doesn t necessarily need to be the case. Here is the property for a general a (i.e. positive or negative) n n a if n is even a = a if n is odd where a is the absolute value of a. If you don t recall absolute value we will cover that in detail in a section in the next chapter. All that you need to do is know at this point is that absolute value always makes a a positive number. So, as a quick example this means that, 8 8 x = x AND x = x For square roots this is, x = x This will not be something we need to worry all that much about here, but again there are topics in courses after an Algebra course for which this is an important idea so we needed to at least acknowledge it. 007 Paul Dawkins 4

### SECTION 0.6: POLYNOMIAL, RATIONAL, AND ALGEBRAIC EXPRESSIONS

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