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We define a Rational Expression as a fraction where the numerator and the denominator are

polynomials in one or more variables.

Examples

A. x2 - y2

is a rational expression.

(x - y)

(x - y)(x + y)

x +y

=

(x - y)

B.

x-y

3x2 - 4x

x(3x - 4)

=

2x - x

Exercises:

A.

2x2 - x - 1

3x2 - 2x - 1

3x - 4

=

x(2x - 1)

2x - 1

B.

8x2 + 18x + 9

12x2 + 17x + 6

C. x2 - xy - 2x + 2y

x2 - xy - 3x + 3y

Multiplication of Fractions

Recall that when we multiply fractions we first cross cancel. For example:

8 21

=

9 10

28

=

15

When we multiply rational expressions we follow the same approach. First we factor then we

cross cancel.

Examples:

A. 32a2

21x2b4

Cross Cancel

7xb2

8a3

B. x2 - 2x + 1

x2 + 4x + 3

First Factor

x +1

x-1

(x - 1)2

(x + 3)(x + 1)

x+1

x-1

= (x - 1)(x + 3)

Exercises

Multiply and simplify

A. 14x2

21x3y3

9y

8x

B. 2x2 - 5x - 12

3x2 - 11x - 4

3x2 -14x - 5

2x2 - 7x - 15

C. 9x2 - 6xy + y2

6x3y

2xy2 -6x2y

3x - y

Division of Fractions

Recall that when we divide fractions we multiply by the reciprocal.

For example:

8

9

21

=

10

=

9

10

28

=

15

21

For rational functions we do the same thing. To divide rational functions, multiply by the

reciprocal and then factor and cross cancel.

Example

A.

17a2b3

17a2b3

18yx

9xy

=

34a2

9xy

=

18yx

34a2

b3

x2 - x - 2

B.

x2 - x - 2

x+3

3x + 9

=

2x + 2

x+3

2x + 2

3x + 9

(x - 2)(x + 1)

3(x + 3)

=

x+3

2(x + 1)

Exercises

Divide.

A.

17a2b3

18xy

34a2

9xy

B.

3x - 6

=

32x2c

12a2b

17a2x2

16x

34b2c

9a

C.

8x + 4

x-3

2x2 - 5x - 3

D.

x2 - 3x - 18

x2 + 5x + 6

x2 - 8x + 12

x2 - 4

Back to the Basic Algebra Part II Page

Back to the Math Department Home Page

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