# Using the ac Method to Factor

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1 4.6 Using the ac Method to Factor 4.6 OBJECTIVES 1. Use the ac test to determine factorability 2. Use the results of the ac test 3. Completely factor a trinomial In Sections 4.2 and 4.3 we used the trial-and-error method to factor trinomials. We also learned that not all trinomials can be factored. In this section we will look at the same kinds of trinomials, but in a slightly different context. We first determine whether a trinomial is factorable. We then use the results of that analysis to factor the trinomial. Some students prefer the trial-and-error method for factoring because it is generally faster and more intuitive. Other students prefer the method of this section (called the ac method) because it yields the answer in a systematic way. We will let you determine which method you prefer. We will begin by looking at some factored trinomials. Example 1 Matching Trinomials and Their Factors Determine which of the following are true statements. (a) x 2 2x 8 (x 4)(x 2) This is a true statement. Using the FOIL method, we see that (x 4)(x 2) x 2 2x 4x 8 x 2 2x 8 (b) x 2 6x 5 (x 2)(x 3) This is not a true statement. (x 2)(x 3) x 2 3x 2x 6 x 2 5x 6 (c) x 2 5x 14 (x 2)(x 7) This is true: (x 2)(x 7) x 2 7x 2x 14 x 2 5x 14 (d) x 2 8x 15 (x 5)(x 3) This is false: (x 5)(x 3) x 2 3x 5x 15 x 2 8x 15 CHECK YOURSELF 1 Determine which of the following are true statements. (a) 2x 2 2x 3 (2x 3)(x 1) (b) 3x 2 11x 4 (3x 1)(x 4) (c) 2x 2 7x 3 (x 3)(2x 1) 363

2 364 CHAPTER 4 FACTORING The first step in learning to factor a trinomial is to identify its coefficients. So that we are consistent, we first write the trinomial in standard ax 2 bx c form, then label the three coefficients as a, b, and c. Example 2 Identifying the Coefficients of ax 2 bx c First, when necessary, rewrite the trinomial in ax 2 bx c form. Then give the values for a, b, and c, in which a is the coefficient of the x 2 term, b is the coefficient of the x term, and c is the constant. (a) x 2 3x 18 a 1 b 3 c 18 NOTE Notice that the negative sign is attached to the coefficients. (b) x 2 24x 23 a 1 b 24 c 23 (c) x x First rewrite the trinomial in descending order: x 2 11x 8 a 1 b 11 c 8 CHECK YOURSELF 2 First, when necessary, rewrite the trinomials in ax 2 bx c form. Then label a, b, and c, in which a is the coefficient of the x 2 term, b is the coefficient of the x term, and c is the constant. (a) x 2 5x 14 (b) x 2 18x 17 (c) x 6 2x 2 Not all trinomials can be factored. To discover if a trinomial is factorable, we try the ac test. Definitions: The ac Test A trinomial of the form ax 2 bx c is factorable if (and only if) there are two integers, m and n, such that ac mn and b m n In Example 3 we will look for m and n to determine whether each trinomial is factorable.

3 USING THE ac METHOD TO FACTOR SECTION Example 3 Using the ac Test Use the ac test to determine which of the following trinomials can be factored. Find the values of m and n for each trinomial that can be factored. (a) x 2 3x 18 First, we find the values of a, b, and c, so that we can find ac. a 1 b 3 c 18 ac 1( 18) 18 and b 3 Then, we look for two numbers, m and n, such that mn ac, and m n b. In this case, that means mn 18 and m n 3 We now look at all pairs of integers with a product of 18. We then look at the sum of each pair of integers, looking for a sum of 3. mn 1( 18) 18 2( 9) 18 3( 6) 18 6( 3) 18 9( 2) 18 18( 1) 18 m n 1 ( 18) 17 2 ( 9) 7 3 ( 6) 3 We need look no further than 3 and 6. NOTE We could have chosen m 6 and n 3 as well. 3 and 6 are the two integers with a product of ac and a sum of b. We can say that m 3 and n 6 Because we found values for m and n, we know that x 2 3x 18 is factorable. (b) x 2 24x 23 We find that a 1 b 24 c 23 ac 1(23) 23 and b 24 So mn 23 and m n 24 We now calculate integer pairs, looking for two numbers with a product of 23 and a sum of 24. mn m n 1(23) ( 23) 23 1 ( 23) 24 m 1 and n 23 So, x 2 24x 23 is factorable.

4 366 CHAPTER 4 FACTORING (c) x 2 11x 8 We find that a 1, b 11, and c 8. Therefore, ac 8 and b 11. Thus mn 8 and m n 11. We calculate integer pairs: mn m n 1(8) (4) ( 8) 8 1 ( 8) 9 2( 4) 8 2 ( 4) 6 There are no other pairs of integers with a product of 8, and none of these pairs has a sum of 11. The trinomial x 2 11x 8 is not factorable. (d) 2x 2 7x 15 We find that a 2, b 7, and c 15. Therefore, ac 2( 15) 30 and b 7. Thus mn 30 and m n 7. We calculate integer pairs: mn m n 1( 30) 30 1 ( 30) 29 2( 15) 30 2 ( 15) 13 3( 10) 30 3 ( 10) 7 5( 6) 30 5 ( 6) 1 6( 5) 30 6 ( 5) 1 10( 3) ( 3) 7 There is no need to go any further. We see that 10 and 3 have a product of 30 and a sum of 7, so m 10 and n 3 Therefore, 2x 2 7x 15 is factorable. It is not always necessary to evaluate all the products and sums to determine whether a trinomial is factorable. You may have noticed patterns and shortcuts that make it easier to find m and n. By all means, use them to help you find m and n. This is essential in mathematical thinking. You are taught a mathematical process that will always work for solving a problem. Such a process is called an algorithm. It is very easy to teach a computer to use an algorithm. It is very difficult (some would say impossible) for a computer to have insight. Shortcuts that you discover are insights. They may be the most important part of your mathematical education. CHECK YOURSELF 3 Use the ac test to determine which of the following trinomials can be factored. Find the values of m and n for each trinomial that can be factored. (a) x 2 7x 12 (b) x 2 5x 14 (c) 3x 2 6x 7 (d) 2x 2 x 6

5 USING THE ac METHOD TO FACTOR SECTION So far we have used the results of the ac test only to determine whether a trinomial is factorable. The results can also be used to help factor the trinomial. Example 4 Using the Results of the ac Test to Factor Rewrite the middle term as the sum of two terms, then factor by grouping. (a) x 2 3x 18 We find that a 1, b 3, and c 18, so ac 18 and b 3. We are looking for two numbers, m and n, where mn 18 and m n 3. In Example 3, part a, we looked at every pair of integers whose product (mn) was 18, to find a pair that had a sum (m n) of 3. We found the two integers to be 3 and 6, because 3( 6) 18 and 3 ( 6) 3, so m 3 and n 6. We now use that result to rewrite the middle term as the sum of 3x and 6x. x 2 3x 6x 18 We then factor by grouping: x 2 3x 6x 18 x(x 3) 6(x 3) (x 3)(x 6) (b) x 2 24x 23 We use the results from Example 3, part b, in which we found m 1 and n 23, to rewrite the middle term of the equation. x 2 24x 23 x 2 x 23x 23 Then we factor by grouping: x 2 x 23x 23 (x 2 x) (23x 23) x(x 1) 23(x 1) (x 1)(x 23) (c) 2x 2 7x 15 From Example 3, part d, we know that this trinomial is factorable, and m 10 and n 3. We use that result to rewrite the middle term of the trinomial. 2x 2 7x 15 2x 2 10x 3x 15 (2x 2 10x) (3x 15) 2x(x 5) 3(x 5) (x 5)(2x 3) Careful readers will note that we did not ask you to factor Example 3, part c, x 2 11x 8. Recall that, by the ac method, we determined that this trinomial was not factorable. CHECK YOURSELF 4 Use the results of Check Yourself 3 to rewrite the middle term as the sum of two terms, then factor by grouping. (a) x 2 7x 12 (b) x 2 5x 14 (c) 2x 2 x 6

6 368 CHAPTER 4 FACTORING Let s look at some examples that require us to first find m and n, then factor the trinomial. Example 5 Rewriting Middle Terms to Factor Rewrite the middle term as the sum of two terms, then factor by grouping. (a) 2x 2 13x 7 We find that a 2, b 13, and c 7, so mn ac 14 and m n b 13. Therefore, mn 1( 14) 14 m n 1 ( 14) 13 So, m 1 and n 14. We rewrite the middle term of the trinomial as follows: 2x 2 13x 7 2x 2 x 14x 7 (2x 2 x) (14x 7) x(2x 1) 7(2x 1) (2x 1)(x 7) (b) 6x 2 5x 6 We find that a 6, b 5, and c 6, so mn ac 36 and m n b 5. mn 1( 36) 36 2( 18) 36 3( 12) 36 4( 9) 36 m n 1 ( 36) 35 2 ( 18) 16 3 ( 12) 9 4 ( 9) 5 So, m 4 and n 9. We rewrite the middle term of the trinomial: 6x 2 5x 6 6x 2 4x 9x 6 (6x 2 4x) (9x 6) 2x(3x 2) 3(3x 2) (3x 2)(2x 3) CHECK YOURSELF 5 Rewrite the middle term as the sum of two terms, then factor by grouping. (a) 2x 2 7x 15 (b) 6x 2 5x 4

7 USING THE ac METHOD TO FACTOR SECTION Be certain to check trinomials and binomial factors for any common monomial factor. (There is no common factor in the binomial unless it is also a common factor in the original trinomial.) Example 6 shows the removal of monomial factors. Example 6 Removing Common Factors Completely factor the trinomial. 3x 2 12x 15 We could first remove the common factor of 3: 3x 2 12x 15 3(x 2 4x 5) Finding m and n for the trinomial x 2 4x 5 yields mn 5 and m n 4. mn m n 1( 5) 5 1 ( 5) 4 5( 1) 5 1 (5) 4 So, m 5 and n 1. This gives us 3x 2 12x 15 3(x 2 4x 5) 3(x 2 5x x 5) 3[(x 2 5x) (x 5)] 3[x(x 5) (x 5)] 3[(x 5)(x 1)] 3(x 5)(x 1) CHECK YOURSELF 6 Completely factor the trinomial. 6x 3 3x 2 18x CHECK YOURSELF ANSWERS 1. (a) False; (b) true; (c) true 2. (a) a 1, b 5, c 14; (b) a 1, b 18, c 17; (c) a 2, b 1, c 6 3. (a) Factorable, m 3, n 4; (b) factorable, m 7, n 2; (c) not factorable; (d) factorable, m 4, n 3 4. (a) x 2 3x 4x 12 (x 3)(x 4); (b) x 2 7x 2x 14 (x 7)(x 2); (c) 2x 2 4x 3x 6 (2x 3)(x 2) 5. (a) 2x 2 10x 3x 15 (2x 3)(x 5); (b) 6x 2 8x 3x 4 (3x 4)(2x 1) 6. 3x(2x 3)(x 2)

8 370 CHAPTER 4 FACTORING Not all possible product pairs need to be tried to find m and n. A look at the sign pattern of the trinomial will eliminate many of the possibilities. Assuming the leading coefficient is positive, there are four possible sign patterns. Pattern Example Conclusion 1. b and c are both positive. 2x 2 13x 15 m and n must both be positive. 2. b is negative and c is positive. x 2 7x 12 m and n must both be negative. 3. b is positive and c is negative. x 2 3x 10 m and n are of opposite signs. (The value with the larger absolute value is positive.) 4. b is negative and c is negative. x 2 3x 10 m and n are of opposite signs. (The value with the larger absolute value is negative.)

9 Name 4.6 Exercises Section Date State whether each of the following is true or false. 1. x 2 2x 3 (x 3)(x 1) 2. y 2 3y 18 ( y 6)( y 3) ANSWERS x 2 10x 24 (x 6)(x 4) 4. a 2 9a 36 (a 12)(a 4) x 2 16x 64 (x 8)(x 8) 6. w 2 12w 45 (w 9)(w 5) y 2 10y 1 (5y 1)(5y 1) x 2 5xy 4y 2 (6x 2y)(x 2y) p 2 pq 3q 2 (5p 3q)(2p q) a 2 13a 6 (2a 3)(3a 2) For each of the following trinomials, label a, b, and c. 11. x 2 4x x 2 5x x 2 3x x 2 7x x 2 5x x 2 7x x 2 8x x 2 7x x 2 5x x 2 9x

10 ANSWERS Use the ac test to determine which of the following trinomials can be factored. Find the values of m and n for each trinomial that can be factored. 21. x 2 x x 2 2x x 2 x x 2 3x x 2 5x x 2 x x 2 5x x 2 14x x 2 19x x 2 5x Rewrite the middle term as the sum of two terms and then factor by grouping. 31. x 2 6x x 2 3x x 2 9x x 2 8x x 2 2x x 2 6x 55 Rewrite the middle term as the sum of two terms and then factor completely. 37. x 2 8x x 2 11x x 2 11x y 2 y s 2 13s b 2 14b a 2 2a x 2 17x

11 ANSWERS 45. x 2 8x x 2 7x x 2 6x x 2 11x x 2 14x s 2 4s p 2 10p x 2 11x x 2 5x a 2 2a c 2 19c t 2 4t n 2 5n x 2 16x x 2 7xy 10y x 2 8xy 12y a 2 ab 42b m 2 8mn 16n x 2 13xy 40y r 2 9rs 36s x 2 19x x 2 7x x 2 x w 2 19w m 2 25m x 2 6x x 2 12x x 2 23x

12 ANSWERS x 2 8x a 2 40a y 2 7y x 2 11x x 2 27x v 2 5v x 2 3xy y x 2 5xy 2y a 2 8ab 4b x 2 7xy 6y x 2 4xy 5y x 2 32xy 15y m 2 17mn 12n x 2 xy 6y a 2 3ab 5b q 2 17qr 6r x 2 4xy 4y b 2 80bc 64c x 2 20x x 2 18x m 2 12m x 2 20x 6 374

13 ANSWERS r 2 21rs 6s x 2 5xy 30y x 3 2x 2 4x 98. 2y 3 y 2 3y y 4 5y 3 3y z 3 18z 2 10z a 3 66a 2 18a n 4 22n 3 12n p 2 30pq 21q x 2 2xy 24y 2 Find a positive value for k for which each of the following can be factored x 2 kx x 2 kx x 2 kx x 2 kx x 2 kx x 2 kx x 2 3x k 112. x 2 5x k a x 2 2x k 114. x 2 x k Solve. Getting Ready for Section 4.7 [Section 2.3] (a) x 5 0 (b) 2x 1 0 (c) 3x 2 0 (d) x 4 0 (e) 7 x 0 (f) 9 4x 0 b. c. d. e. f. 375

14 Answers 1. True 3. False 5. True 7. False 9. True 11. a 1, b 4, c a 1, b 3, c a 3, b 5, c a 4, b 8, c a 3, b 5, c Factorable; 3, Not factorable 25. Factorable; 3, Factorable; 6, Factorable; 15, x 2 2x 4x 8; (x 2)(x 4) 33. x 2 5x 4x 20; (x 5)(x 4) 35. x 2 9x 7x 63; (x 9)(x 7) 37. (x 3)(x 5) 39. (x 4)(x 7) 41. (s 10)(s 3) 43. (a 8)(a 6) 45. (x 1)(x 7) 47. (x 10)(x 4) 49. (x 7)(x 7) 51. (p 12)(p 2) 53. (x 11)(x 6) 55. (c 4)(c 15) 57. (n 10)(n 5) 59. (x 2y)(x 5y) 61. (a 7b)(a 6b) 63. (x 5y)(x 8y) 65. (3x 2)(2x 5) 67. (5x 3)(3x 2) 69. (6m 5)(m 5) 71. (3x 2)(3x 2) 73. (6x 5)(2x 3) 75. (3y 2)(y 3) 77. (8x 5)(x 4) 79. (2x y)(x y) 81. (5a 2b)(a 2b) 83. (9x 5y)(x y) 85. (3m 4n)(2m 3n) 87. (12a 5b)(3a b) 89. (x 2y) (2x 3)(2x 1) 93. 4(2m 1)(m 1) 95. 3(5r 2s)(r s) 97. 2x(x 2)(x 1) 99. y 2 (2y 3)(y 1) a(3a 1)(2a 3) (p q)(3p 7q) or or 10 or , 8, 15, 24,... a. x 5 b. x 1 c. x 2 d. x 4 e. x 7 f. x

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