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Introduction

In arithmetic, the concepts and skills of fractions have been restricted to the ratio of

counting number. Fractions involving variables also arise in algebra. They are called rational

algebraic expression or simply algebraic fractions to distinguish them from arithmetic fractions.

Since division by zero is a restriction, the variables in rational algebraic expressions may not

take values which make the denominator equal to zero.

Review Fractions

A rational number of the form

a

b

and b are the terms of the fraction. The term a is called the numerator and the term b is called

the denominator.

a. Simplifying fractions

A fraction is said to be reduced in lowest terms when the greatest common factor (GCF)

of its numerator and denominator is 1.

To reduce fractions to lowest terms,

1) Find the GCF of the numerator and denominator.

2) Divide both the numerator and denominator by the GCF.

Example: Reduce

20

24 to its lowest term.

24 is 4.

20 24 4 5

=

=

24 24 4 6

b. Multiplying fractions

In multiplying two or more fractions, simply multiply their numerators, and then multiply

their denominators. Simplify the product if possible. Note; express mixed fractions as

improper fraction

Before performing the operation.

a

a

c

c

In symbols, if b

are fractions, then b = ac

d

d

bd

c. Dividing Fractions

In dividing a fraction by another, multiply the reciprocal of the divisor by the

dividend. Simplify the quotient if possible. Note: Express mixed fractions as

improper fractions before performing the operation.

a

a

c

d

In symbols, if b

are fraction, then a c = b = ad

d

b d

c

bc

d. Adding and subtracting Fractions

operation.

Adding and Subtracting similar fractions:

Two or more fractions are similar if they have the same denominator. Only similar

fractions can be added or subtracted.

to combine similar fractions, combine the numerators and keep the common

a

c

a c a+ c

b

denominator. In symbols, if

are fractions, then b + b = b , and

b

a c ac

=

.

b b

b

Adding and subtracting dissimilar fractions:

To add or subtract dissimilar fractions, first, rewrite them as similar fractions. In

a

c

symbols, if b

are fractions and e is the least common denominator (LCD),

d

ae ce

then a c = b d .

b d

e

The LCD is the least common multiple (LCM) of the denominators of the fraction.

LCM is the smallest natural number for which the both denominators are factors.

Example:

5 5 15+ 10 25

+ =

=

8 12

24

24

Complex fractions have fractions in their numerator or denominator, or in both.

A complex fraction can be simplified by individually simplifying the terms of the

complex fractons to obtain a single fraction.

8 2

2 4

+

2 4

4+ 4

8

4

6

+

3 6

Example simplify

solution: 3 6 = 6 = 6 = 3 = 16

3

5

3

203 17

17

51

5

4

4

4

4

A complex fraction can also be simplified by multiplying both terms of the complex

fraction by the LCD of all the fractions in the complex fraction.

2 4

2 4

2 4

+

+

( + ) 12

3 6

3 6

3 6

8+8 16

=

=

=

Example: simplify

Solution:

3

3

3

609 51

5

5

(4 ) 12

4

4

4

Exercises:

a) Perform the indicated operations. Express the final answers as fractions in lowest terms.

1.

4

7

12 12

2.

5 7

4 16

3.

2

1

4 2

3

5

4.

12 5

+

17 17

5.

5

7

11 + 9

6

5

6.

3

5

1

7

3

7.

7

4

8

6

4

5

7

8.

3 12

5 35

9.

5

1

2 7

8

2

4)

4 3

5 8

5 7

6 8

( )

4 3

10. 7 6

( )

11.

2

5

12. 2 7 + 3 9

1)

1 3

+

2 5

3 1

4 5

2)

5 5

10 3

3 2

1 +

6 3

3)

4

3

3

3

4+

4

5)

11

4

12

33

13 39

4 64

2

1+

6)

1

2

3

1

1

3

7)

1

2

1+

2

1+

3

8)

5 3

6 8

5 3

6 8

10)

n

d where n and d are polynomials, where

expression cannot be equal to the value of the variable that will make the denominator zero

is excluded.

11)

A rational expression is said to be in lowest terms when its numerator and

denominator have no common factors other than 1. In reducing a rational expression to

lowest terms, divide both terms of the rational expression by the GCF of the terms.

12)Examples: Reduce the following rational expressions to lowest terms.

3

1.

10 x y z

12 x 3 y 7 z 2

13)

2.

10 x 35 x 2

15 x 7

3 5

Solution: GCF= 2 x y z

10 x 4 y 5 z 2 x 3 y 5 z

5x

= 2

3 7 2

3 5

12 x y z 2 x y z 6 y z

Solution: Factor both terms of the rational expression, then divide out the

common factor.

14)

2

10 x 35 x 2 5 x ( 2 x1 ) 2 x1

=

=

3x

15 x 7

5 x 2 ( 3 x )5

3.

x 36

x6

Solution: Factor both terms of the rational expression, then divide out the

common factor.

2

15)

=

=x+ 6

x6

x6

4.

3 y +7 y6

y 2 + y6

Solution: Factor both terms of the rational expression, then divide out the

common factor.

16)

5.

y 2 y6

9 y 2

17)

3 y 2 +7 y6 (3 y2)( y +3) 3 y2

=

=

( y2)( x+5)

y 2

y 2 + y6

solution:

( y +2)( y3)

y 2 y6 ( y+ 2)( y 3)

y +2

=

=

=

2

(37)(3+ y ) (1)( y3)(3+ y) 3+ y

9 y

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