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Contents 1

Basic Algebra
1.1 Mathematical Notation and Symbols 2

1.2 Indices 21

1.3 Simplification and Factorisation 40

1.4 Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions 62

1.5 Formulae and Transposition 78

Learning outcomes
In this Workbook you will learn about some of the basic building blocks of mathematics.
As well as becoming familiar with the notation and symbols used in mathematics you
will learn the fundamental rules of algebra upon which much of mathematics is based.
In particular you will learn about indices and how to simplify algebraic expressions,
using a variety of approaches: collecting like terms, removing brackets and factorisation.
Finally, you will learn how to transpose formulae.
Mathematical Notation  

and Symbols 1.1 

Introduction
This introductory Section reminds you of important notations and conventions used throughout
engineering mathematics. We discuss the arithmetic of numbers, the plus or minus sign, ±, the
modulus notation | |, and the factorial notation !. We examine the order in which arithmetical
operations are carried out. Symbols are introduced to represent physical quantities in formulae and
equations. The topic of algebra deals with the manipulation of these symbols. The Section closes
with an introduction to algebraic conventions. In what follows a working knowledge of the addition,
subtraction, multiplication and division of numerical fractions is essential.

#
• be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide
fractions
Prerequisites
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be able to express fractions in equivalent
forms
"
 !


Learning Outcomes • recognise and use a wide range of common


mathematical symbols and notations
On completion you should be able to . . .
 

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1. Numbers, operations and common notations


A knowledge of the properties of numbers is fundamental to the study of engineering mathematics.
Students who possess this knowledge will be well-prepared for the study of algebra. Much of the
terminology used throughout the rest of this Section can be most easily illustrated by applying it to
numbers. For this reason we strongly recommend that you work through this Section even if the
material is familiar.

The number line


A useful way of picturing numbers is to use a number line. Figure 1 shows part of this line. Positive
numbers are represented on the right-hand side of this line, negative numbers on the left-hand side.
Any whole or fractional number can be represented by a point on this line which is also called the
real number line, or simply the real line. Study Figure 1 and note that a minus sign is always
used to indicate that a number is negative, whereas the use of a plus sign is optional when describing
positive numbers.
The line extends indefinitely both to the left and to the right. Mathematically we say that the line
extends from minus infinity to plus infinity. The symbol for infinity is ∞.

3
−2 2.5 π

−5 −4 −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Figure 1: Numbers can be represented on a number line


The symbol > means ‘greater than’; for example 6 > 4. Given any number, all numbers to the right
of it on the number line are greater than the given number. The symbol < means ‘less than’; for
example −3 < 19. We also use the symbols ≥ meaning ‘greater than or equal to’ and ≤ meaning
‘less than or equal to’. For example, 7 ≤ 10 and 7 ≤ 7 are both true statements.
Sometimes we are interested in only a small section, or interval, of the real line. We write [1, 3] to
denote all the real numbers between 1 and 3 inclusive, that is 1 and 3 are included in the interval.
Therefore the interval [1, 3] consists of all real numbers x, such that 1 ≤ x ≤ 3. The square brackets,
[, ] mean that the end-points are included in the interval and such an interval is said to be closed.
We write (1, 3) to represent all real numbers between 1 and 3, but not including the end-points. Thus
(1, 3) means all real numbers x such that 1 < x < 3, and such an interval is said to be open. An
interval may be closed at one end and open at the other. For example, (1, 3] consists of all numbers
x such that 1 < x ≤ 3. Intervals can be represented on a number line. A closed end-point is
denoted by •; an open end-point is denoted by ◦. The intervals (−6, −4), [−1, 2] and (3, 4] are
illustrated in Figure 2.

−6 −5 −4 −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Figure 2: The intervals (−6, −4), [−1, 2] and (3, 4] depicted on the real line

HELM (2006): 3
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
2. Calculation with numbers
To perform calculations with numbers we use the operations, +, −, × and ÷.

Addition (+)
We say that 4 + 5 is the sum of 4 and 5. Note that 4 + 5 is equal to 5 + 4 so that the order in which
we write down the numbers does not matter when we are adding them. Because the order does not
matter, addition is said to be commutative. This first property is called commutativity.
When more than two numbers are to be added, as in 4 + 8 + 9, it makes no difference whether we
add the 4 and 8 first to get 12 + 9, or whether we add the 8 and 9 first to get 4 + 17. Whichever
way we work we will obtain the same result, 21. Addition is said to be associative. This second
property is called associativity.

Subtraction (−)
We say that 8 − 3 is the difference of 8 and 3. Note that 8 − 3 is not the same as 3 − 8 and
so the order in which we write down the numbers is important when we are subtracting them i.e.
subtraction is not commutative. Subtracting a negative number is equivalent to adding a positive
number, thus 7 − (−3) = 7 + 3 = 10.

The plus or minus sign (±)


In engineering calculations we often use the notation plus or minus, ±. For example, we write
12 ± 8 as shorthand for the two numbers 12 + 8 and 12 − 8, that is 20 and 4. If we say a number
lies in the range 12 ± 8 we mean that the number can lie between 4 and 20 inclusive.

Multiplication (×)
The instruction to multiply, or obtain the product of, the numbers 6 and 7 is written 6×7. Sometimes
the multiplication sign is missed out altogether and we write (6)(7).
Note that (6)(7) is the same as (7)(6) so multiplication of numbers is commutative. If we are
multiplying three numbers, as in 2 × 3 × 4, we obtain the same result whether we multiply the 2 and
3 first to obtain 6 × 4, or whether we multiply the 3 and 4 first to obtain 2 × 12. Either way the
result is 24. Multiplication of numbers is associative.
Recall that when multiplying positive and negative numbers the sign of the result is given by the
rules given in Key Point 1.

Key Point 1
Multiplication
When multiplying numbers:
positive × positive = positive negative × negative = positive
positive × negative = negative negative × positive = negative

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For example, (−4) × 5 = −20, and (−3) × (−6) = 18.


1
When dealing with fractions we sometimes use the word ‘of’ as in ‘find of 36’. In this context ‘of’
2
is equivalent to multiply, that is
1 1
of 36 is equivalent to × 36 = 18
2 2

Division (÷) or (/)


8
The quantity 8 ÷ 4 means 8 divided by 4. This is also written as 8/4 or and is known as the
4
8
quotient of 8 and 4. In the fraction the top line is called the numerator and the bottom line is
4
called the denominator. Note that 8/4 is not the same as 4/8 and so the order in which we write
down the numbers is important. Division is not commutative.

When dividing positive and negative numbers, recall the following rules in Key Point 2 for determining
the sign of the result:

Key Point 2
Division
When dividing numbers:

positive positive
= positive = negative
positive negative
negative negative
= negative = positive
positive negative

The reciprocal of a number


2 3
The reciprocal of a number is found by inverting it. If the number is inverted we get . So the
3 2
2 3 4 1
reciprocal of is . Because we can write 4 as , the reciprocal of 4 is .
3 2 1 4

HELM (2006): 5
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
Task
6 1
State the reciprocal of (a) , (b) , (c) −7.
11 5

Your solution
(a) (b) (c)

Answer
11 5 1
(a) (b) (c) −
6 1 7

The modulus notation (| | )


We shall make frequent use of the modulus notation | |. The modulus of a number is the size of
that number regardless of its sign. For example |4| is equal to 4, and | − 3| is equal to 3. The
modulus of a number is thus never negative.

Task
1 1
State the modulus of (a) −17, (b) , (c) − (d) 0.
5 7

Your solution
(a) (b) (c) (d)

Answer
1 1
The modulus of a number is found by ignoring its sign. (a) 17 (b) (c) (d) 0
5 7

The factorial symbol (!)


Another commonly used notation is the factorial, denoted by the exclamation mark ‘!’. The number
5!, read ‘five factorial’, or ‘factorial five’, is a shorthand notation for the expression 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1,
and the number 7! is shorthand for 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1. Note that 1! equals 1, and by
convention 0! is defined as 1 also. Your scientific calculator is probably able to evaluate factorials of
small integers. It is important to note that factorials only apply to positive integers.

Key Point 3
Factorial notation
If n is a positive integer then n! = n × (n − 1) × (n − 2) . . . 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1

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Example 1
(a) Evaluate 4! and 5! without using a calculator.
(b) Use your calculator to find 10!.

Solution

(a) 4! = 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 24. Similarly, 5! = 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 120. Note that


5! = 5 × 4! = 5 × 24 = 120.
(b) 10! = 3, 628, 800.

Task
Find the factorial button on your calculator and hence compute 11!.
(The button may be marked ! or n!). Check that 11! = 11 × 10!

Your solution
11! = 11 × 10! =

Answer
11! = 39916800
11 × 10! = 11 × 3628800 = 39916800

3. Rounding to n decimal places


In general, a calculator or computer is unable to store every decimal place of a real number. Real
numbers are rounded. To round a number to n decimal places we look at the (n + 1)th digit in the
decimal expansion of the number.
• If the (n + 1)th digit is 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 then we round down: that is, we simply chop to n
places. (In other words we neglect the (n + 1)th digit and any digits to its right.)
• If the (n + 1)th digit is 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 then we round up: we add 1 to the nth decimal place
and then chop to n places.
For example
1
= 0.3333 rounded to 4 decimal places
3
8
= 2.66667 rounded to 5 decimal places
3

π = 3.142 rounded to 3 decimal places

2.3403 = 2.340 rounded to 3 decimal places

HELM (2006): 7
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
Sometimes the phrase ‘decimal places’ is abbreviated to ‘d.p.’ or ‘dec.pl.’.

Example 2
Write down each of these numbers rounded to 4 decimal places:
0.12345, −0.44444, 0.5555555, 0.000127351, 0.000005, 123.456789

Solution
0.1235, −0.4444, 0.5556, 0.0001, 0.0000, 123.4568

Task
Write down each of these numbers, rounded to 3 decimal places:
0.87264, 0.1543, 0.889412, −0.5555, 45.6789, 6.0003

Your solution

Answer
0.873, 0.154, 0.889, −0.556, 45.679, 6.000

4. Rounding to n significant figures


This process is similar to rounding to decimal places but there are some subtle differences.
To round a number to n significant figures we look at the (n + 1)th digit in the decimal expansion
of the number.

• If the (n + 1)th digit is 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 then we round down: that is, we simply chop to n
places, inserting zeros if necessary before the decimal point. (In other words we neglect the
(n + 1)th digit and any digits to its right.)

• If the (n + 1)th digit is 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 then we round up: we add 1 to the nth decimal place
and then chop to n places, inserting zeros if necessary before the decimal point.

Examples are given on the next page.

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1
= 0.3333 rounded to 4 significant figures
3
8
= 2.66667 rounded to 6 significant figures
3

π = 3.142 rounded to 4 significant figures

2136 = 2000 rounded to 1 significant figure

36.78 = 37 rounded to 2 significant figures

6.2399 = 6.240 rounded to 4 significant figures


Sometimes the phrase “significant figures” is abbreviated as “s.f.” or “sig.fig.”

Example 3
Write down each of these numbers, rounding them to 4 significant figures:
0.12345, −0.44444, 0.5555555, 0.000127351, 25679, 123.456789, 3456543

Solution
0.1235, −0.4444, 0.5556, 0.0001274, 25680, 123.5, 3457000

Task
Write down each of these numbers rounded to 3 significant figures:
0.87264, 0.1543, 0.889412, −0.5555, 2.346, 12343.21, 4245321

Your solution

Answer
0.873, 0.154, 0.889, −0.556, 2.35, 12300, 4250000

Arithmetical expressions
A quantity made up of numbers and one or more of the operations +, −, × and / is called an
arithmetical expression. Frequent use is also made of brackets, or parentheses, ( ), to sepa-
rate different parts of an expression. When evaluating an expression it is conventional to evaluate
quantities within brackets first. Often a division line implies bracketed quantities. For example in the
3+4
expression there is implied bracketing of the numerator and denominator i.e. the expression
7+9
(3 + 4) 7
is and the bracketed quantities would be evaluated first resulting in the number .
(7 + 9) 16

HELM (2006): 9
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
The BODMAS rule
When several arithmetical operations are combined in one expression we need to know in which order
to perform the calculation. This order is found by applying rules known as precedence rules which
specify which operation has priority. The convention is that bracketed expressions are evaluated first.
Any multiplications and divisions are then performed, and finally any additions and subtractions. For
short, this is called the BODMAS rule.

Key Point 4
The BODMAS rule
Brackets, ( ) First priority: evaluate terms within brackets

Of, ×
Division, ÷ Second priority: carry out all multiplications and divisions
Multiplication, ×

Addition, + Third priority: carry out all additions and subtractions


Subtraction, −

If an expression contains only multiplication and division we evaluate by working from left to right.
Similarly, if an expression contains only addition and subtraction we evaluate by working from left to
right. In Section 1.2 we will meet another operation called exponentiation, or raising to a power. We
shall see that, in the simplest case, this operation is repeated multiplication and it is usually carried
out once any brackets have been evaluated.

Example 4
Evaluate 4 − 3 + 7 × 2

Solution

The BODMAS rule tells us to perform the multiplication before the addition and subtraction. Thus
4 − 3 + 7 × 2 = 4 − 3 + 14
Finally, because the resulting expression contains just addition and subtraction we work from the
left to the right, that is
4 − 3 + 14 = 1 + 14 = 15

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Task
Evaluate 4 + 3 × 7 using the BODMAS rule to decide which operation to carry
out first.

Your solution
4+3×7=

Answer
25 (Multiplication has a higher priority than addition.)

Task
Evaluate (4 − 2) × 5.

Your solution
(4 − 2) × 5 =

Answer
2 × 5 = 10. (The bracketed quantity must be evaluated first.)

Example 5
Evaluate 8 ÷ 2 − (4 − 5)

Solution

The bracketed expression is evaluated first:


8 ÷ 2 − (4 − 5) = 8 ÷ 2 − (−1)
Division has higher priority than subtraction and so this is carried out next giving
8 ÷ 2 − (−1) = 4 − (−1)
Subtracting a negative number is equivalent to adding a positive number. Thus
4 − (−1) = 4 + 1 = 5

HELM (2006): 11
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
Task
9−4
Evaluate .
25 − 5
(Remember that the dividing line implies that brackets are present around the
numerator and around the denominator.)

Your solution

Answer
9−4 (9 − 4) 5 1
= = =
25 − 5 (25 − 5) 20 4

Exercises
5 1 √
1. Draw a number line and on it label points to represent −5, −3.8, −π, − , − , 0, 2, π, 5.
6 2
2. Simplify without using a calculator (a) −5 × −3, (b) −5 × 3, (c) 5 × −3, (d) 15 × −4,
18 −21 −36
(e) −14 × −3, (f) , (g) , (h) .
−3 7 −12
3. Evaluate (a) 3 + 2 × 6, (b) 3 − 2 − 6, (c) 3 + 2 − 6, (d) 15 − 3 × 2, (e) 15 × 3 − 2,
(f) (15 ÷ 3) + 2, (g) 15 ÷ 3 + 2, (h) 7 + 4 − 11 − 2, (i) 7 × 4 + 11 × 2, (j) −(−9),
(k) 7 − (−9), (l) −19 − (−7), (m) −19 + (−7).

4. Evaluate (a) | − 18|, (b) |4|, (c) | − 0.001|, (d) |0.25|, (e) |0.01 − 0.001|, (f) 2!,
9!
(g) 8! − 3!, (h) .
8!
5. Evaluate (a) 8 + (−9), (b) 18 − (−8), (c) −18 + (−2), (d) −11 − (−3)
9
6. State the reciprocal of (a) 8, (b) .
13
1
7. Evaluate (a) 7 ± 3, (b) 16 ± 7, (c) −15 ± , (d) −16 ± 0.05, (e) | − 8| ± 13,
2
(f) | − 2| ± 8.

8. Which of the following statements are true ?


(a) −8 ≤ 8, (b) −8 ≤ −8, (c) −8 ≤ |8|, (d) | − 8| < 8, (e) | − 8| ≤ −8,
(f) 9! ≤ 8!, (g) 8! ≤ 10!.

9. Explain what is meant by saying that addition of numbers is (a) associative, (b) commutative.
Give examples.

10. Explain what is meant by saying that multiplication of numbers is (a) associative, (b) commu-
tative. Give examples.

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Answers

1.

−6
5
−2
1 √
−3.8 −π 2 π

−5 −4 −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

2. (a) 15, (b) −15, (c) −15, (d) −60, (e) 42, (f) −6, (g) −3, (h) 3.

3. (a) 15, (b) −5, (c) −1, (d) 9, (e) 43, (f) 7, (g) 7, (h) −2, (i) 50, (j) 9, (k) 16, (l) −12,
(m) −26

4. (a) 18, (b) 4, (c) 0.001, (d) 0.25, (e) 0.009, (f) 2, (g) 40314, (h) 9,

5. (a) −1, (b) 26, (c) −20, (d) −8


1 13
6. (a) , (b) .
8 9
1 1
7. (a) 4,10, (b) 9,23, (c) −15 , −14 , (d) −16.05, −15.95, (e) −5, 21, (f) −6, 10
2 2
8. (a), (b), (c), (g) are true.

9. For example (a) (1 + 2) + 3 = 1 + (2 + 3), and both are equal to 6. (b) 8 + 2 = 2 + 8.

10. For example (a) (2 × 6) × 8 = 2 × (6 × 8), and both are equal to 96. (b) 7 × 5 = 5 × 7.

5. Using symbols
Mathematics provides a very rich language for the communication of engineering concepts and ideas,
and a set of powerful tools for the solution of engineering problems. In order to use this language it
is essential to appreciate how symbols are used to represent physical quantities, and to understand
the rules and conventions which have been developed to manipulate these symbols.
The choice of which letters or other symbols to use is largely up to the user although it is helpful to
choose letters which have some meaning in any particular context. For instance if we wish to choose
a symbol to represent the temperature in a room we might use the capital letter T . Similarly the
lower case letter t is often used to represent time. Because both time and temperature can vary we
refer to T and t as variables.
In a particular calculation some symbols represent fixed and unchanging quantities and we call these
constants. Often we reserve the letters x, y and z to stand for variables and use the earlier letters
of the alphabet, such as a, b and c, to represent constants. The Greek letter pi, written π, is used to
represent the constant 3.14159.... which appears for example in the formula for the area of a circle.
Other Greek letters are frequently used as symbols, and for reference, the Greek alphabet is given in
Table 1.

HELM (2006): 13
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
Table 1: The Greek alphabet

A α alpha I ι iota P ρ rho


B β beta Λ λ lambda T τ tau
Γ γ gamma K κ kappa Σ σ sigma
∆ δ delta M µ mu Υ υ upsilon
E  epsilon N ν nu Φ φ phi
Z ζ zeta Ξ ξ xi X χ chi
H η eta O o omicron Ψ ψ psi
Θ θ theta Π π pi Ω ω omega

Mathematics is a very precise language and care must be taken to note the exact position of any
symbol in relation to any other. If x and y are two symbols, then the quantities xy, xy , xy can all
mean different things. In the expression xy you will note that the symbol y is placed to the right of
and slightly higher than the symbol x. In this context y is called a superscript. In the expression
xy , y is placed lower than and to the right of x, and is called a subscript.
Example The temperature in a room is measured at four points as shown in Figure 3.

T1

T2 T3

T4

Figure 3: The temperature is measured at four points


Rather than use different letters to represent the four measurements we can use one symbol, T ,
together with four subscripts to represent the temperature. Thus the four measurements are denoted
by T1 , T2 , T3 and T4 .

6. Combining numbers together using +, −, ×, ÷


Addition (+)
If the letters x and y represent two numbers, then their sum is written as x + y. Note that x + y is
the same as y + x just as 4 + 7 is equal to 7 + 4.

Subtraction (−)
Subtracting y from x yields x − y. Note that x − y is not the same as y − x just as 11 − 7 is not
the same as 7 − 11, however in both cases the difference is said to be 4.

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Multiplication (×)
The instruction to multiply x and y together is written as x × y. Usually the multiplication sign is
omitted and we write simply xy. An alternative notation is to use a dot to represent multiplication
and so we could write x.y The quantity xy is called the product of x and y. As discussed earlier
multiplication is both commutative and associative:
i.e. x×y =y×x and (x × y) × z = x × (y × z)
This last expression can thus be written x × y × z without ambiguity. When mixing numbers and
symbols it is usual to write the numbers first. Thus 3 × x × y × 4 = 3 × 4 × x × y = 12xy.

Example 6
Simplify (a) 9(2y), (b) −3(5z), (c) 4(2a), (d) 2x × (2y).

Solution

(a) Note that 9(2y) means 9×(2×y). Because of the associativity of multiplication 9×(2×y)
means the same as (9 × 2) × y, that is 18y.
(b) −3(5z) means −3 × (5 × z). Because of associativity this is the same as (−3 × 5) × z,
that is −15z.
(c) 4(2a) means 4 × (2 × a). We can write this as (4 × 2) × a, that is 8a.
(d) Because of the associativity of multiplication, the brackets are not needed and we can
write 2x × (2y) = 2x × 2y which equals

2 × x × 2 × y = 2 × 2 × x × y = 4xy.

Example 7
What is the distinction between 9(−2y) and 9 − 2y ?

Solution
The expression 9(−2y) means 9 × (−2y). Because of associativity of multiplication we can write
this as 9 × (−2) × y which equals −18y.
On the other hand 9 − 2y means subtract 2y from 9. This cannot be simplified.

HELM (2006): 15
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
Division (÷)
x
The quantity x ÷ y means x divided by y. This is also written as x/y or and is known as the
y
x
quotient of x and y. In the expression the symbol x is called the numerator and the symbol y
y
is called the denominator. Note that x/y is not the same as y/x. Division by 1 leaves a quantity
x
unchanged so that is simply x.
1

Algebraic expressions

A quantity made up of symbols and the operations +, −, × and / is called an algebraic expression.
One algebraic expression divided by another is called an algebraic fraction. Thus
x+7 3x − y
and
x−3 2x + z
are algebraic fractions. The reciprocal of an algebraic fraction is found by inverting it. Thus the
2 x x+7 x−3
reciprocal of is . The reciprocal of is .
x 2 x−3 x+7

Example 8
State the reciprocal of each of the following expressions:
y x+z 1 1
(a) , (b) , (c) 3y, (d) , (e) −
z a−b a + 2b y

Solution

z
(a) .
y
a−b
(b) .
x+z
3y 1
(c) 3y is the same as so the reciprocal of 3y is .
1 3y
1 a + 2b
(d) The reciprocal of is or simply a + 2b.
a + 2b 1
1 y
(e) The reciprocal of − is − or simply −y.
y 1

Finding the reciprocal of complicated expressions can cause confusion. Study the following Example
carefully.

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Example 9
Obtain the reciprocal of:
1 1
(a) p + q, (b) +
R1 R2

Solution

p+q 1
(a) Because p + q can be thought of as its reciprocal is . Note in particular
1 p+q
1 1
that the reciprocal of p + q is not + . This distinction is important and a common
p q
cause of error. To avoid an error carefully identify the numerator and denominator in the
original expression before inverting.
1 1 1
(b) The reciprocal of + is . To simplify this further requires knowledge of
R1 R2 1 1
+
R1 R2
the addition of algebraic fractions which is dealt with in 1.4. It is important to
1 1
note that the reciprocal of + is not R1 + R2 .
R1 R2

The equals sign (=)


The equals sign, =, is used in several different ways.
Firstly, an equals sign is used in equations. The left-hand side and right-hand side of an equation
are equal only when the variable involved takes specific values known as solutions of the equation.
For example, in the equation x − 8 = 0, the variable is x. The left-hand side and right-hand side are
only equal when x has the value 8. If x has any other value the two sides are not equal.
Secondly, the equals sign is used in formulae. Physical quantities are often related through a formula.
For example, the formula for the length, C, of the circumference of a circle expresses the relationship
between the circumference of the circle and its radius, r. This formula states C = 2πr. When used
in this way the equals sign expresses the fact that the quantity on the left is found by evaluating the
expression on the right.
Thirdly, an equals sign is used in identities. An identity looks just like an equation, but it is true
for all values of the variable. We shall see shortly that (x − 1)(x + 1) = x2 − 1 for any value of x
whatsoever. This mean that the quantity on the left means exactly the same as that on the right
whatever the value of x. To distinguish this usage from other uses of the equals symbol it is more
correct to write (x − 1)(x + 1) ≡ x2 − 1, where ≡ means ‘is identically equal to’. However, in
practice, the equals sign is often used. We will only use ≡ where it is particularly important to do
so.

HELM (2006): 17
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
The ‘not equals’ sign (6=)
The sign 6= means ‘is not equal to’. For example, 5 6= 6, 7 6= −7.

The notation for the change in a variable (δ )


The change in the value of a quantity is found by subtracting its initial value from its final value.
For example, if the temperature of a mixture is initially 13◦ C and at a later time is found to be 17◦ C,
the change in temperature is 17 − 13 = 4◦ C. The Greek letter δ is often used to indicate such a
change. If x is a variable we write δx to stand for a change in the value of x. We sometimes refer
to δx as an increment in x. For example if the value of x changes from 3 to 3.01 we could write
δx = 3.01 − 3 = 0.01. It is important to note that this is not the product of δ and x, rather the
whole symbol ‘δx’ means ‘the increment in x’.

Sigma (or summation) notation ( )


P

This provides a concise and convenient way of writing long sums.


The sum
x1 + x2 + x3 + x4 + . . . + x11 + x12
P
is written using the capital Greek letter sigma, , as
12
X
xk
k=1
P
The symbol stands for the sum of all the values of xk as k ranges from 1 to 12. Note that
the lower-most and upper-most values of k are written at the bottom and top of the sigma sign
respectively.

Example 10
5
X
Write out explicitly what is meant by k3.
k=1

Solution
5
X
We must let k range from 1 to 5. k 3 = 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 + 53
k=1

18 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
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Task
1 1 1 1
Express + + + concisely using sigma notation.
1 2 3 4

1
Each term has the form where k varies from 1 to 4. Write down the sum using the sigma notation:
k

Your solution
1 1 1 1
+ + + =
1 2 3 4

Answer
4
X 1
k=1
k

Example 11
3
X 4
X
Write out explicitly (a) 1, (b) 2.
k=1 k=0

Solution
(a) Here k does not appear explicitly in the terms to be added. This means add the constant 1,
three times.
3
X
1=1+1+1=3
k=1
n
X
In general 1 = n.
k=1

(b) Here k starts at zero so there are n + 1 terms where n = 4:


4
X
2 = 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 10
k=0

HELM (2006): 19
Section 1.1: Mathematical Notation and Symbols
Exercises
1 1 2
1. State the reciprocal of (a) x, (b) , (c) xy, (d) , (e) a + b, (f)
z xy a+b
2. The pressure p in a reaction vessel changes from 35 pascals to 38 pascals. Write down the
value of δp.

3. Express as simply as possible (a) (−3) × x × (−2) × y, (b) 9 × x × z × (−5).

4. Simplify (a) 8(2y), (b) 17x(−2y), (c) 5x(8y), (d) 5x(−8y)

5. What is the distinction between 5x(2y) and 5x − 2y ?

6. The value of x is 100 ± 3. The value of y is 120 ± 5. Find the maximum and minimum values
of
x y
(a) x + y, (b) xy, (c) , (d) .
y x
n
X n
X
7. Write out explicitly (a) fi , (b) fi xi .
i=1 i=1

5
X 5
X
8. By writing out the terms explicitly show that 3k = 3 k
k=1 k=1

3
X
9. Write out explicitly y(xk )δxk .
k=1

Answers
1 1 1 a+b
1. (a) , (b) z, (c) , (d) xy, (e) , (f) .
x xy a+b 2
2. δp = 3 pascals.

3. (a) 6xy, (b) −45xz

4. (a) 16y, (b) −34xy, (c) 40xy, (d) −40xy

5. 5x(2y) = 10xy, 5x − 2y cannot be simplified.

6. (a) max 228, min 212, (b) 12875, 11155, (c) 0.8957, 0.7760, (d) 1.2887, 1.1165
n
X
7. (a) fi = f1 + f2 + . . . + fn−1 + fn ,
i=1
Xn
(b) fi xi = f1 x1 + f2 x2 + . . . + fn−1 xn−1 + fn xn .
i=1

9. y(x1 )δx1 + y(x2 )δx2 + y(x3 )δx3 .

20 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

 

Indices  1.2 

Introduction
Indices, or powers, provide a convenient notation when we need to multiply a number by itself several
times. In this Section we explain how indices are written, and state the rules which are used for
manipulating them.
Expressions built up using non-negative whole number powers of a variable − known as polynomials
− occur frequently in engineering mathematics. We introduce some common polynomials in this
Section.
Finally, scientific notation is used to express very large or very small numbers concisely. This requires
use of indices. We explain how to use scientific notation towards the end of the Section.

 
• be familiar with algebraic notation and
Prerequisites symbols
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• perform calculations using indices

Learning Outcomes • state and use the laws of indices

On completion you should be able to . . . • use scientific notation


& %

HELM (2006): 21
Section 1.2: Indices
1. Index notation
The number 4 × 4 × 4 is written, for short, as 43 and read ‘4 raised to the power 3’ or ‘4 cubed’.
Note that the number of times ‘4’ occurs in the product is written as a superscript. In this context
we call the superscript 3 an index or power. Similarly we could write
5 × 5 = 52 , read ‘5 to the power 2’ or ‘5 squared’
and
7 × 7 × 7 × 7 × 7 = 75 a × a × a = a3 , m × m × m × m = m4
More generally, in the expression xy , x is called the base and y is called the index or power. The
plural of index is indices. The process of raising to a power is also known as exponentiation
because yet another name for a power is an exponent. When dealing with numbers your calculator
is able to evaluate expressions involving powers, probably using the xy button.

Example 12
Use a calculator to evaluate 312 .

Solution
Using the xy button on the calculator check that you obtain 312 = 531441.

Example 13
Identify the index and base in the following expressions. (a) 811 , (b) (−2)5 ,
(c) p−q

Solution

(a) In the expression 811 , 8 is the base and 11 is the index.


(b) In the expression (−2)5 , −2 is the base and 5 is the index.
(c) In the expression p−q , p is the base and −q is the index. The interpretation of a negative index
will be given in sub-section 4 which starts on page 31.

Recall from Section 1.1 that when several operations are involved we can make use of the BODMAS
rule for deciding the order in which operations must be carried out. The BODMAS rule makes no
mention of exponentiation. Exponentiation should be carried out immediately after any brackets have
been dealt with and before multiplication and division. Consider the following examples.

22 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
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Example 14
Evaluate 7 × 32 .

Solution
There are two operations involved here, exponentiation and multiplication. The exponentiation
should be carried out before the multiplication. So 7 × 32 = 7 × 9 = 63.

Example 15
Write out fully (a) 3m4 , (b) (3m)4 .

Solution
(a) In the expression 3m4 the exponentiation is carried out before the multiplication by 3. So
3m4 means 3 × (m × m × m × m) that is 3 × m × m × m × m
(b) Here the bracketed expression is raised to the power 4 and so should be multiplied by itself
four times:
(3m)4 = (3m) × (3m) × (3m) × (3m)
Because of the associativity of multiplication we can write this as
3×3×3×3×m×m×m×m or simply 81m4 .
Note the important distinction between (3m)4 and 3m4 .

Exercises
1. Evaluate, without using a calculator, (a) 33 , (b) 35 , (c) 25 . (d) 0.22 , (e) 152 .

2. Evaluate using a calculator (a) 73 , (b) (14)3.2 .

3. Write each of the following using index notation:


1
(a) 7 × 7 × 7 × 7 × 7, (b) t × t × t × t, (c) 2
× 12 × 71 × 71 × 17 .

4. Evaluate without using a calculator. Leave any fractions in fractional form.


2 3 2 3
(a) 23 , (b) 25 , (c) 12 , (d) 21 , (e) 0.13 .

HELM (2006): 23
Section 1.2: Indices
Answers

1. (a) 27, (b) 243, (c) 32, (d) 0.04, (e) 225

2. (a) 343, (b) 4651.7 (1 d.p.).


2 1 3
3. (a) 75 , (b) t4 , (c) 21 7

4 8 1 1
4. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d) , (e) 0.13 means (0.1) × (0.1) × (0.1) = 0.001
9 125 4 8

2. Laws of indices
There is a set of rules which enable us to manipulate expressions involving indices. These rules are
known as the laws of indices, and they occur so commonly that it is worthwhile to memorise them.

Key Point 5
Laws of Indices
The laws of indices state:

First law: am × an = am+n add indices when multiplying numbers with the same base

am
Second law: = am−n subtract indices when dividing numbers with the same base
an

Third law: (am )n = amn multiply indices together when raising a number to a power

24 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Example 16
Simplify (a) a5 × a4 , (b) 2x5 (x3 ).

Solution
In each case we are required to multiply expressions involving indices. The bases are the same and
we use the first law of indices.

(a) The indices must be added, thus a5 × a4 = a5+4 = a9 .


(b) Because of the associativity of multiplication we can write

2x5 (x3 ) = 2(x5 x3 ) = 2x5+3 = 2x8

The first law of indices (Key Point 5) extends in an obvious way when more terms are involved:

Example 17
Simplify b5 × b4 × b7 .

Solution
The indices are added. Thus b5 × b4 × b7 = b5+4+7 = b16 .

Task
Simplify y 4 y 2 y 3 .

Your solution
y4y2y3 =

Answer
All quantities have the same base. To multiply the quantities together, the indices are added: y 9

HELM (2006): 25
Section 1.2: Indices
Example 18
84
Simplify (a) , (b) x18 ÷ x7 .
82

Solution
In each case we are required to divide expressions involving indices. The bases are the same and we
use the second law of indices (Key Point 5).
84
(a) The indices must be subtracted, thus = 84−2 = 82 = 64.
82
(b) Again the indices are subtracted, and so x18 ÷ x7 = x18−7 = x11 .

Task
59
Simplify .
57

Your solution
59
=
57

Answer
The bases are the same, and the division is carried out by subtracting the indices: 59−7 = 52 = 25

Task
y5
Simplify
y2

Your solution
y5
=
y2

Answer
y 5−2 = y 3

26 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
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Example 19
Simplify (a) (82 )3 , (b) (z 3 )4 .

Solution
We use the third law of indices (Key Point 5).

(a) (82 )3 = 82×3 = 86


(b) (z 3 )4 = z 3×4 = z 12 .

Task
Simplify (x2 )5 .

Your solution
(x2 )5 =

Answer
x2×5 = x10

Task
Simplify (ex )y

Your solution
(ex )y =

Answer
Again, using the third law of indices, the two powers are multiplied: ex×y = exy

Two important results which can be derived from the laws of indices state:

Key Point 6
Any non-zero number raised to the power 0 has the value 1, that is a0 = 1

Any number raised to power 1 is itself, that is a1 = a

HELM (2006): 27
Section 1.2: Indices
A generalisation of the third law of indices states:

Key Point 7

(am bn )k = amk bnk

Example 20
Remove the brackets from (a) (3x)2 , (b) (x3 y 7 )4 .

Solution
(a) Noting that 3 = 31 and x = x1 then (3x)2 = (31 x1 )2 = 32 x2 = 9x2

or, alternatively (3x)2 = (3x) × (3x) = 9x2

(b) (x3 y 7 )4 = x3×4 y 7×4 = x12 y 28

Exercises
1. Show that (−xy)2 is equivalent to x2 y 2 whereas (−xy)3 is equivalent to −x3 y 3 .

2. Write each of the following expressions with a single index:

7 9 67
(a) 6 6 , (b) 19 , (c) (x4 )3
6
3. Remove the brackets from (a) (8a)2 , (b) (7ab)3 , (c) 7(ab)3 , (d) (6xy)4 ,

4. Simplify (a) 15x2 (x3 ), (b) 3x2 (5x), (c) 18x−1 (3x4 ).

5. Simplify (a) 5x(x3 ), (b) 4x2 (x3 ), (c) 3x7 (x4 ), (d) 2x8 (x11 ), (e) 5x2 (3x9 )

Answers

2. (a) 616 , (b) 6−12 , (c) x12

3. (a) 64a2 , (b) 343a3 b3 , (c) 7a3 b3 , (d) 1296x4 y 4

4. (a) 15x5 , (b) 15x3 , (c) 54x3

5. (a) 5x4 , (b) 4x5 , (c) 3x11 , (d) 2x19 , (e) 15x11

28 HELM (2006):
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3. Polynomial expressions
An important group of mathematical expressions which use indices are known as polynomials.
Examples of polynomials are
4x3 + 2x2 + 3x − 7, x2 + x, 17 − 2t + 7t4 , z − z3
Notice that they are all constructed using non-negative whole number powers of the variable. Recall
that x0 = 1 and so the number −7 appearing in the first expression can be thought of as −7x0 .
Similarly the 17 appearing in the third expression can be read as 17t0 .

Key Point 8
Polynomials
A polynomial expression takes the form
a0 + a1 x + a2 x 2 + a3 x 3 + . . . + an x n
where a0 , a1 , a2 , a3 , . . . an are all constants called the coefficients of the polynomial. The number
a0 is also called the constant term. The highest power in a polynomial is called the degree of the
polynomial.
Polynomials with low degrees have special names and subscript notation is often not needed:

Polynomial Degree Name


ax3 + bx2 + cx + d 3 cubic
ax2 + bx + c 2 quadratic
ax + b 1 linear
a 0 constant

Task
Which of the following expressions are polynomials? Give the degree of those
which are.
1 √
(a) 3x2 + 4x + 2, (b) , (c) x, (d) 2t + 4,
x+1
4
(e) 3x2 + + 2.
x
Recall that a polynomial expression must contain only terms involving non-negative
whole number powers of the variable.
Give your answers by ringing the correct word (yes/no) and stating the degree if
it is a polynomial.

HELM (2006): 29
Section 1.2: Indices
Your solution

polynomial degree
(a) 3x2 + 4x + 2 yes no
1
(b) yes no
x+1

(c) x yes no
(d) 2t + 4 yes no
4
(e) 3x2 + +2 yes no
x

Answer
(a) yes: polynomial of degree 2, called quadratic (b) no (c) no

(d) yes: polynomial of degree 1, called linear (e) no

Exercises
1. State which of the following are linear polynomials, which are quadratic polynomials, and which
are constants.
(a) x, (b) x2 + x + 3, (c) x2 − 1, (d) 3 − x, (e) 7x − 2, (f) 12 ,
(g) 12 x + 34 , (h) 3 − 21 x2 .

2. State which of the following are polynomials.


1
(a) −α2 − α − 1, (b) x1/2 − 7x2 , (c) , (d) 19.
x
3. Which of the following are polynomials ?
1 1 1 1
(a) 4t + 17, (b) − t, (c) 15, (d) t2 − 3t + 7, (e) 2
+ +7
2 2 t t
4. State the degree of each of the following polynomials. For those of low degree, give their name.
(a) 2t3 + 7t2 , (b) 7t7 + 14t3 − 2t2 , (c) 7x + 2,
(d) x2 + 3x + 2, (e) 2 − 3x − x2 , (f) 42

Answers

1. (a), (d), (e) and (g) are linear. (b), (c) and (h) are quadratic. (f) is a constant.

2. (a) is a polynomial, (d) is a polynomial of degree 0. (b) and (c) are not polynomials.

3. (a) (b) (c) and (d) are polynomials.

4. (a) 3, cubic, (b) 7, (c) 1, linear, (d) 2, quadratic, (e) 2, quadratic, (f) 0, constant.

30 HELM (2006):
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4. Negative indices
Sometimes a number is raised to a negative power. This is interpreted as follows:

Key Point 9
Negative Powers
1 1
a−m = , am =
am a−m

Thus a negative index can be used to indicate a reciprocal.

Example 21
Write each of the following expressions using a positive index and simplify if pos-
sible.
1
(a) 2−3 , (b) −3 , (c) x−1 , (d) x−2 , (e) 10−1
4

Solution
1 1 1 1 1 1
(a) 2−3 = 3
= , (b) −3 = 43 = 64, (c) x−1 = 1
= , (d) x−2 = ,
2 8 4 x x x2
1 1
(e) 10−1 = 1 = or 0.1.
10 10

Task
Write each of the following using a positive index. Use Key Point 9.
1
(a) −4 , (b) 17−3 , (c) y −1 , (d) 10−2
t

Your solution
1
(a) −4 =
t

Answer
t4

HELM (2006): 31
Section 1.2: Indices
Your solution
(b) 17−3 =

Answer
1
173

Your solution
(c) y −1 =

Answer
1
y

Your solution
(d) 10−2 =

Answer
1 1
2
which equals or 0.01
10 100

Task
a8 × a7
Simplify
a4

Use the first law of indices to simplify the numerator:


Your solution
a8 × a7
=
a4

Answer
a15
a4
Now use the second law to simplify the result:
Your solution

Answer
a11

32 HELM (2006):
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Task
m9 × m−2
Simplify
m−3

First simplify the numerator using the first law of indices:

Your solution
m9 × m−2
=
m−3

Answer
m7
m−3
Then use the second law to simplify the result:
Your solution

Answer
m7−(−3) = m10

Exercises
1. Write the following numbers using a positive index and also express your answers as decimal
fractions:
(a) 10−1 , (b) 10−3 , (c) 10−4

2. Simplify as much as possible:


t4 y −2
(a) x3 x−2 , (b) , (c) .
t−3 y −6

Answers
1
1. (a) 10 = 0.1, (b) 1013 = 0.001, (c) 1014 = 0.0001.
2. (a) x1 = x, (b) t4+3 = t7 , (c) y −2+6 = y 4 .

HELM (2006): 33
Section 1.2: Indices
5. Fractional indices
So far we have used indices that are whole numbers. We now consider fractional powers. Consider
1
the expression (16 2 )2 . Using the third law of indices, (am )n = amn , we can write
1 1
(16 2 )2 = 16 2 ×2 = 161 = 16
1 1
So 16 2 is a number which when squared equals 16, that is 4 or −4. In other words 16 2 is a square
1
root of 16. There are always two square roots of a non-zero positive number, and we write 16 2 = ±4

Key Point 10
1
In general a2 is a square root of a a≥0

Similarly
1 1
(8 3 )3 = 8 3 ×3 = 81 = 8
1 1 √
3
so that 8 3 is a number which when cubed equals 8. Thus 8 3 is the cube root of 8, that is 8,
namely 2. Each number has only one cube root, and so
1
83 = 2
In general

Key Point 11
1
a3 is the cube root of a

More generally we have

Key Point 12
1
The nth root of a is denoted by a n .
When a < 0 the nth root only exists if n is odd.

If a > 0 the positive nth root is denoted by n a
p
If a < 0 the negative nth root is − n |a|

34 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Your calculator will be able to evaluate fractional powers, and roots of numbers. Check that you
can obtain the results of the following Examples on your calculator, but be aware that calculators
normally give only one root when there may be others.

Example 22
Evaluate (a) 1441/2 , (b) 1251/3

Solution
(a) 1441/2 is a square root of 144, that is ±12.

(b) Noting that 53 = 125, we see that 1251/3 = 3 125 = 5

Example 23
Evaluate (a) 321/5 , (b) 322/5 , (c) 82/3 .

Solution
1 √ √
(a) 32 5 is the 5th root of 32, that is 5
32. Now 25 = 32 and so 5
32 = 2.
2× 51 1
(b) Using the third law of indices we can write 322/5 = 32 = (32 5 )2 . Thus
322/5 = ((32)1/5 )2 = 22 = 4

(c) Note that 81/3 = 2. Then


2 1
8 3 = 82× 3 = (81/3 )2 = 22 = 4
Note the following alternatives:
82/3 = (81/3 )2 = (82 )1/3

Example 24
Write the following as a simple power with a single index:
√ √4
(a) x5 , (b) x3 .

Solution
√ 1 1 5
(a) x5 = (x5 ) 2 . Then using the third law of indices we can write this as x5× 2 = x 2 .
√4 1 1 3
(b) x3 = (x3 ) 4 . Using the third law we can write this as x3× 4 = x 4 .

HELM (2006): 35
Section 1.2: Indices
Example 25
1
Show that z −1/2 = √ .
z

Solution
1 1
z −1/2 = =√
z 1/2 z

Task √
z
Simplify
z 3 z −1/2


First, rewrite z using an index and simplify the denominator using the first law of indices:
Your
√ solution
z
3 −1/2
=
z z

Answer
1
z2
5
z2
Finally, use the second law to simplify the result:
Your solution

Answer
1 5 1
z 2 − 2 = z −2 or
z2

36 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Example 26
The generalisation of the third law of indices states that (am bn )k = amk bnk . By
1 √ √ √
taking m = 1, n = 1 and k = show that ab = a b.
2

Solution
1
Taking m = 1, n = 1 and k = gives (ab)1/2 = a1/2 b1/2 .
2
√ √ √
Taking the case when all these roots are positive, we have ab = a b.

Key Point 13
√ √ √
ab = a b a ≥ 0, b ≥ 0


This
√ result often
√ allows
√ answers
√ to be written in alternative forms. For example, we may write 48
as 3 × 16 = 3 16 = 4 3.
Although this rule works for multiplication we should be aware that it does not work for addition or
subtraction so that
√ √ √
a ± b 6= a ± b

Exercises
1
1. Evaluate using a calculator (a) 31/2 , (b) 15− 3 , (c) 853 , (d) 811/4

2. Evaluate using a calculator (a) 15−5 , (b) 15−2/7


√ √ √
a11 a3/4 z z −5/2 3
a 5
z
3. Simplify (a) −1/2 , (b) 3/2 , (c) √ , (d) √ , (e) .
a z z 2
a z 1/2
4. Write each of the following expressions with a single index:
x1/2
(a) (x−4 )3 , (b) x1/2 x1/4 , (c)
x1/4

Answers
1 (a) 1.7321, (b) 0.4055, (c) 614125, (d) 3
2 (a) 0.000001317 (4 s.f.), (b) 0.4613 (4 s.f.),
3 (a) a12.25 , (b) z −1 , (c) z −3 , (d) a−1/6 , (e) z −3/10
4 (a) x−12 , (b) x3/4 , (c) x1/4

HELM (2006): 37
Section 1.2: Indices
6. Scientific notation
It is often necessary to use very large or very small numbers such as 78000000 and 0.00000034.
Scientific notation can be used to express such numbers in a more concise form. Each number is
written in the form
a × 10n
where a is a number between 1 and 10. We can make use of the following facts:
10 = 101 , 100 = 102 , 1000 = 103 and so on
and
0.1 = 10−1 , 0.01 = 10−2 , 0.001 = 10−3 and so on.
For example,
• the number 5000 can be written 5 × 1000 = 5 × 103
• the number 403 can be written 4.03 × 100 = 4.03 × 102
• the number 0.009 can be written 9 × 0.001 = 9 × 10−3
Furthermore, to multiply a number by 10n the decimal point is moved n places to the right if n is a
positive integer, and n places to the left if n is a negative integer. (If necessary additional zeros are
inserted to make up the required number of digits before the decimal point.)

Task
Write the numbers 0.00678 and 123456.7 in scientific notation.

Your solution

Answer
0.00678 = 6.78 × 10−3 123456.7 = 1.234567 × 105

Engineering constants
Many constants appearing in engineering calculations are expressed in scientific notation. For example
the charge on an electron equals 1.6 × 10−19 coulomb and the speed of light is 3 × 108 m s−1 .
Avogadro’s constant is equal to 6.023 × 1026 and is the number of atoms in one kilomole of an
element. Clearly the use of scientific notation avoids writing lengthy strings of zeros.
Your scientific calculator will be able to accept numbers in scientific notation. Often the E button
is used and a number like 4.2 × 107 will be entered as 4.2E7. Note that 10E4 means 10 × 104 , that
is 105 . To enter the number 103 say, you would key in 1E3. Entering powers of 10 incorrectly is a
common cause of error. You must check how your particular calculator accepts numbers in scientific
notation.

38 HELM (2006):
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The following Task is designed to check that you can enter numbers given in scientific notation into
your calculator.

Task
Use your calculator to find 4.2 × 10−3 × 3.6 × 10−4 .

Your solution
4.2 × 10−3 × 3.6 × 10−4 =

Answer
1.512 × 10−6

Exercises
1. Express each of the following numbers in scientific notation:
(a) 45, (b) 456, (c) 2079, (d) 7000000, (e) 0.1, (f) 0.034,
(g) 0.09856

2. Simplify 6 × 1024 × 1.3 × 10−16

Answers

1. (a) 4.5 × 101 , (b) 4.56 × 102 , (c) 2.079 × 103 , (d) 7 × 106 , (e) 1 × 10−1 ,

(f) 3.4 × 10−2 , (g) 9.856 × 10−2

2. 7.8 × 108

HELM (2006): 39
Section 1.2: Indices
Simplification  

and Factorisation 1.3 

Introduction
In this Section we explain what is meant by the phrase ‘like terms’ and show how like terms are
collected together and simplified.
Next we consider removing brackets. In order to simplify an expression which contains brackets it
is often necessary to rewrite the expression in an equivalent form but without any brackets. This
process of removing brackets must be carried out according to particular rules which are described in
this Section.
Finally, factorisation, which can be considered as the reverse of the process, is dealt with. It is
essential that you have had plenty practice in removing brackets before you study factorisation.

 

• be familiar with algebraic notation


Prerequisites
• have competence in removing brackets
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• use the laws of indices

• simplify expressions by collecting like terms

• use the laws of indices


Learning Outcomes
• identify common factors in an expression
On completion you should be able to . . .
• factorise simple expressions

• factorise quadratic expressions


& %

40 HELM (2006):
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1. Addition and subtraction of like terms


Like terms are multiples of the same quantity. For example 5y, 17y and 21 y are all multiples of y
and so are like terms. Similarly, 3x2 , −5x2 and 14 x2 are all multiples of x2 and so are like terms.
Further examples of like terms are:
kx and `x which are both multiples of x,
x2 y, 6x2 y, −13x2 y, −2yx2 , which are all multiples of x2 y
abc2 , −7abc2 , kabc2 , are all multiples of abc2
Like terms can be added or subtracted in order to simplify expressions.

Example 27
Simplify 5x − 13x + 22x.

Solution
All three terms are multiples of x and so are like terms. The expression can be simplified to 14x.

Example 28
Simplify 5z + 2x.

Solution
5z and 2x are not like terms. They are not multiples of the same quantity. This expression cannot
be simplified.

Task
Simplify 5a + 2b − 7a − 9b.

Your solution
5a + 2b − 7a − 9b =

Answer
−2a − 7b

HELM (2006): 41
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Example 29
Simplify 2x2 − 7x + 11x2 + x.

Solution
2x2 and 11x2 , both being multiples of x2 , can be collected together and added to give 13x2 .
Similarly, −7x and x can be added to give −6x.
We get 2x2 − 7x + 11x2 + x = 13x2 − 6x which cannot be simplified further.

Task
Simplify 12 x + 34 x − 2y.

Your solution
1
2
x + 34 x − 2y =

Answer
5
4
x − 2y

Example 30
Simplify 3a2 b − 7a2 b − 2b2 + a2 .

Solution
Note that 3a2 b and 7a2 b are both multiples of a2 b and so are like terms. There are no other like
terms. Therefore
3a2 b − 7a2 b − 2b2 + a2 = −4a2 b − 2b2 + a2

42 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
1. Simplify, if possible,
(a) 5x + 2x + 3x, (b) 3q − 2q + 11q, (c) 7x2 + 11x2 , (d) −11v 2 + 2v 2 , (e) 5p + 3q

2. Simplify, if possible, (a) 5w + 3r − 2w + r, (b) 5w2 + w + 1, (c) 6w2 + w2 − 3w2

3. Simplify, if possible,
(a) 7x + 2 + 3x + 8x − 11, (b) 2x2 − 3x + 6x − 2, (c) −5x2 − 3x2 + 11x + 11,
(d) 4q 2 − 4r2 + 11r + 6q, (e) a2 + ba + ab + b2 , (f) 3x2 + 4x + 6x + 8,
(g) s3 + 3s2 + 2s2 + 6s + 4s + 12.

4. Explain the distinction, if any, between each of the following expressions, and simplify if possible.
(a) 18x − 9x, (b) 18x(9x), (c) 18x(−9x), (d) −18x − 9x, (e) −18x(9x)

5. Explain the distinction, if any, between each of the following expressions, and simplify if possible.
(a) 4x − 2x, (b) 4x(−2x), (c) 4x(2x), (d) −4x(2x), (e) −4x − 2x, (f) (4x)(2x)

6. Simplify, if possible,
2 2 x2
(a) x + , (b) 0.5x2 + 34 x2 − 11
2
x, (c) 3x3 − 11x + 3yx + 11,
3 3
(d) −4αx2 + βx2 where α and β are constants.

Answers

1. (a) 10x, (b) 12q, (c) 18x2 , (d) −9v 2 , (e) cannot be simplified.

2. (a) 3w + 4r, (b) cannot be simplified, (c) 4w2

3. (a) 18x − 9, (b) 2x2 + 3x − 2, (c) −8x2 + 11x + 11, (d) cannot be simplified,
(e) a2 + 2ab + b2 , (f) 3x2 + 10x + 8, (g) s3 + 5s2 + 10s + 12

4. (a) 9x, (b) 162x2 , (c) −162x2 , (d) −27x, (e) −162x2

5. (a) 4x − 2x = 2x, (b) 4x(−2x) = −8x2 , (c) 4x(2x) = 8x2 , (d) −4x(2x) = −8x2 ,
(e) −4x − 2x = −6x, (f) (4x)(2x) = 8x2
11
6. (a) x2 , (b) 1.25x2 − x, (c) cannot be simplified, (d) (β − 4α)x2
2

HELM (2006): 43
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
2. Removing brackets from expressions a(b + c) and a(b − c)
Removing brackets means multiplying out. For example 5(2 + 4) = 5 × 2 + 5 × 4 = 10 + 20 = 30.
In this simple example we could alternatively get the same result as follows: 5(2 + 4) = 5 × 6 = 30.
That is:
5(2 + 4) = 5 × 2 + 5 × 4
In an expression such as 5(x + y) it is intended that the 5 multiplies both x and y to produce 5x + 5y.
Thus the expressions 5(x + y) and 5x + 5y are equivalent. In general we have the following rules
known as distributive laws:

Key Point 14

a(b + c) = ab + ac
a(b − c) = ab − ac
Note that when the brackets are removed both terms in the brackets are multiplied by a.

As we have noted above, if you insert numbers instead of letters into these expressions you will see
that both left and right hand sides are equivalent. For example
4(3 + 5) has the same value as 4(3) + 4(5), that is 32
and
7(8 − 3) has the same value as 7(8) − 7(3), that is 35

Example 31
Remove the brackets from (a) 9(2 + y), (b) 9(2y).

Solution
(a) In the expression 9(2 + y) the 9 must multiply both terms in the brackets:

9(2 + y) = 9(2) + 9(y)


= 18 + 9y

(b) Recall that 9(2y) means 9 × (2 × y) and that when multiplying numbers together the presence
of brackets is irrelevant. Thus 9(2y) = 9 × 2 × y = 18y

44 HELM (2006):
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The crucial distinction between the role of the factor 9 in the two expressions 9(2 + y) and 9(2y) in
Example 31 should be noted.

Example 32
Remove the brackets from 9(x + 2y).

Solution
In the expression 9(x + 2y) the 9 must multiply both the x and the 2y in the brackets. Thus

9(x + 2y) = 9x + 9(2y)


= 9x + 18y

Task
Remove the brackets from 9(2x + 3y).

Remember that the 9 must multiply both the term 2x and the term 3y:

Your solution
9(2x + 3y) =

Answer
18x + 27y

Example 33
Remove the brackets from −3(5x − z).

Solution
The number −3 must multiply both the 5x and the z.

−3(5x − z) = (−3)(5x) − (−3)(z)


= −15x + 3z

HELM (2006): 45
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Task
Remove the brackets from 6x(3x − 2y).

Your solution

Answer
6x(3x − 2y) = 6x(3x) − 6x(2y) = 18x2 − 12xy

Example 34
Remove the brackets from −(3x + 1).

Solution
Although the 1 is unwritten, the minus sign outside the brackets stands for −1. We must therefore
consider the expression −1(3x + 1).

−1(3x + 1) = (−1)(3x) + (−1)(1)


= −3x + (−1)
= −3x − 1

Task
Remove the brackets from −(5x − 3y).

Your solution

Answer
−(5x − 3y) means −1(5x − 3y).
−1(5x − 3y) = (−1)(5x) − (−1)(3y) = −5x + 3y

46 HELM (2006):
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Task
Remove the brackets from m(m − n).

In the expression m(m − n) the first m must multiply both terms in the brackets:
Your solution
m(m − n) =

Answer
m2 − mn

Example 35
Remove the brackets from the expression 5x − (3x + 1) and simplify the result by
collecting like terms.

Solution
The brackets in −(3x + 1) were removed in Example 34 on page 46.

5x − (3x + 1) = 5x − 1(3x + 1)
= 5x − 3x − 1
= 2x − 1

Example 36
−x − 1 −(x + 1) x+1
Show that , and − are all equivalent expressions.
4 4 4

Solution
Consider −(x + 1). Removing the brackets we obtain −x − 1 and so
−x − 1 −(x + 1)
is equivalent to
4 4
A negative quantity divided by a positive quantity will be negative. Hence
−(x + 1) x+1
is equivalent to −
4 4
You should study all three expressions carefully to recognise the variety of equivalent ways in which
we can write an algebraic expression.

HELM (2006): 47
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Sometimes the bracketed expression can appear on the left, as in (a + b)c. To remove the brackets
here we use the following rules:

Key Point 15

(a + b)c = ac + bc
(a − b)c = ac − bc

Note that when the brackets are removed both the terms in the brackets multiply c.

Example 37
Remove the brackets from (2x + 3y)x.

Solution
Both terms in the brackets multiply the x outside. Thus

(2x + 3y)x = 2x(x) + 3y(x)


= 2x2 + 3yx

Task
Remove the brackets from (a) (x + 3)(−2), (b) (x − 3)(−2).

Your solution
(a) (x + 3)(−2) =

Answer
Both terms in the bracket must multiply the −2, giving −2x − 6

Your solution
(b) (x − 3)(−2) =

Answer
−2x + 6

48 HELM (2006):
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3. Removing brackets from expressions of the form (a + b)(c + d)


Sometimes it is necessary to consider two bracketed terms multiplied together. In the expression
(a + b)(c + d), by regarding the first bracket as a single term we can use the result in Key Point
14 to write it as (a + b)c + (a + b)d. Removing the brackets from each of these terms produces
ac + bc + ad + bd. More concisely:

Key Point 16

(a + b)(c + d) = (a + b)c + (a + b)d = ac + bc + ad + bd

We see that each term in the first bracketed expression multiplies each term in the second bracketed
expression.

Example 38
Remove the brackets from (3 + x)(2 + y)

Solution
We find (3 + x)(2 + y) = (3 + x)(2) + (3 + x)y
= (3)(2) + (x)(2) + (3)(y) + (x)(y) = 6 + 2x + 3y + xy

Example 39
Remove the brackets from (3x + 4)(x + 2) and simplify your result.

Solution
(3x + 4)(x + 2) = (3x + 4)(x) + (3x + 4)(2)
= 3x2 + 4x + 6x + 8 = 3x2 + 10x + 8

HELM (2006): 49
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Example 40
Remove the brackets from (a + b)2 and simplify your result.

Solution
When a quantity is squared it is multiplied by itself. Thus

(a + b)2 = (a + b)(a + b) = (a + b)a + (a + b)b


= a2 + ba + ab + b2 = a2 + 2ab + b2

Key Point 17

(a + b)2 = a2 + 2ab + b2
(a − b)2 = a2 − 2ab + b2

Task
Remove the brackets from the following expressions and simplify the results.
(a) (x + 7)(x + 3), (b) (x + 3)(x − 2),

Your solution
(a) (x + 7)(x + 3) =

Answer
x2 + 7x + 3x + 21 = x2 + 10x + 21

Your solution
(b) (x + 3)(x − 2) =

Answer
x2 + 3x − 2x − 6 = x2 + x − 6

50 HELM (2006):
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Example 41
Explain the distinction between (x + 3)(x + 2) and x + 3(x + 2).

Solution
In the first expression removing the brackets we find

(x + 3)(x + 2) = x2 + 3x + 2x + 6
= x2 + 5x + 6

In the second expression we have


x + 3(x + 2) = x + 3x + 6 = 4x + 6
Note that in the second expression the term (x + 2) is only multiplied by 3 and not by x.

Example 42
Remove the brackets from (s2 + 2s + 4)(s + 3).

Solution
Each term in the first bracket must multiply each term in the second. Working through all combi-
nations systematically we have

(s2 + 2s + 4)(s + 3) = (s2 + 2s + 4)(s) + (s2 + 2s + 4)(3)


= s3 + 2s2 + 4s + 3s2 + 6s + 12
= s3 + 5s2 + 10s + 12

HELM (2006): 51
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Engineering Example 1

Reliability in a communication network

Introduction
The reliability of a communication network depends on the reliability of its component parts. The
reliability of a component can be represented by a number between 0 and 1 which represents the
probability that it will function over a given period of time.
A very simple system with only two components C1 and C2 can be configured in series or in parallel.
If the components are in series then the system will fail if one component fails (see Figure 4)

C1 C2

Figure 4: Both components 1 and 2 must function for the system to function
If the components are in parallel then only one component need function properly (see Figure 5)
and we have built-in redundancy.

C1

C2

Figure 5: Either component 1 or 2 must function for the system to function


The reliability of a system with two units in parallel is given by 1 − (1 − R1 )(1 − R2 ) which is the
same as R1 + R2 − R1 R2 , where Ri is the reliability of component Ci . The reliability of a system
with 3 units in parallel, as in Figure 6, is given by
1 − (1 − R1 )(1 − R2 )(1 − R3 )

C1

C2

C3

Figure 6: At least one of the three components must function for the system to function

52 HELM (2006):
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Problem in words

(a) Show that the expression for the system reliability for three components in parallel is equal
to R1 + R2 + R3 − R1 R2 − R1 R3 − R2 R3 + R1 R2 R3
(b) Find an expression for the reliability of the system when the reliability of each of the
components is the same i.e. R1 = R2 = R3 = R
(c) Find the system reliability when R = 0.75
(d) Find the system reliability when there are two parallel components each with reliability
R = 0.75.

Mathematical statement of the problem

(a) Show that 1−(1−R1 )(1−R2 )(1−R3 ) ≡ R1 +R2 +R3 −R1 R2 −R1 R3 −R2 R3 +R1 R2 R3
(b) Find 1 − (1 − R1 )(1 − R2 )(1 − R3 ) in terms of R when R1 = R2 = R3 = R
(c) Find the value of (b) when R = 0.75
(d) Find 1 − (1 − R1 )(1 − R2 ) when R1 = R2 = 0.75.

Mathematical analysis

(a) 1 − (1 − R1 )(1 − R2 )(1 − R3 ) ≡ 1 − (1 − R1 − R2 + R1 R2 )(1 − R3 )

= 1 − ((1 − R1 − R2 + R1 R2 ) × 1 − (1 − R1 − R2 + R1 R2 ) × R3 )

= 1 − (1 − R1 − R2 + R1 R2 − (R3 − R1 R3 − R2 R3 + R1 R2 R3 ))

= 1 − (1 − R1 − R2 + R1 R2 − R3 + R1 R3 + R2 R3 − R1 R2 R3 )

= 1 − 1 + R1 + R2 − R1 R2 + R3 − R1 R3 − R2 R3 + R1 R2 R3

= R1 + R2 + R3 − R1 R2 − R1 R3 − R2 R3 + R1 R2 R3

(b) When R1 = R2 = R3 = R the reliability is

1 − (1 − R)3 which is equivalent to 3R − 3R2 + R3

(c) When R1 = R2 = R3 = 0.75 we get

1 − (1 − 0.75)3 = 1 − 0.253 = 1 − 0.015625 = 0.984375

(d) 1 − (0.25)2 = 0.9375

Interpretation
The mathematical analysis confirms the expectation that the more components there are in par-
allel then the more reliable the system becomes (1 component: 0.75; 2 components: 0.9375; 3
components: 0.984375). With three components in parallel, as in part (c), although each individual
component is relatively unreliable (R = 0.75 implies a one in four chance of failure of an individual
component) the system as a whole has an over 98% probability of functioning (under 1 in 50 chance
of failure).

HELM (2006): 53
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Exercises
1. Remove the brackets from each of the following expressions:

(a) 2(mn), (b) 2(m + n), (c) a(mn), (d) a(m + n), (e) a(m − n),
(f) (am)n, (g) (a + m)n, (h) (a − m)n, (i) 5(pq), (j) 5(p + q),
(k) 5(p − q), (l) 7(xy), (m) 7(x + y), (n) 7(x − y), (o) 8(2p + q),
(p) 8(2pq), (q) 8(2p − q), (r) 5(p − 3q), (s) 5(p + 3q) (t) 5(3pq).

2. Remove the brackets from each of the following expressions:


(a) 4(a + b), (b) 2(m − n), (c) 9(x − y),

3. Remove the brackets from each of the following expressions and simplify where possible:
(a) (2 + a)(3 + b), (b) (x + 1)(x + 2), (c) (x + 3)(x + 3), (d) (x + 5)(x − 3)

4. Remove the brackets from each of the following expressions:

(a) (7 + x)(2 + x), (b) (9 + x)(2 + x), (c) (x + 9)(x − 2), (d) (x + 11)(x − 7),
(e) (x + 2)x, (f) (3x + 1)x, (g) (3x + 1)(x + 1), (h) (3x + 1)(2x + 1),
(i) (3x + 5)(2x + 7), (j) (3x + 5)(2x − 1), (k) (5 − 3x)(x + 1) (l) (2 − x)(1 − x).

5. Remove the brackets from (s + 1)(s + 5)(s − 3).

Answers

1. (a) 2mn, (b) 2m + 2n, (c) amn, (d) am + an, (e) am − an, (f) amn, (g) an + mn,
(h) an − mn, (i) 5pq, (j) 5p + 5q, (k) 5p − 5q, (l) 7xy, (m) 7x + 7y, (n) 7x − 7y,
(o) 16p + 8q, (p) 16pq, (q) 16p − 8q, (r) 5p − 15q, (s) 5p + 15q, (t) 15pq

2. (a) 4a + 4b, (b) 2m − 2n, (c) 9x − 9y

3. (a) 6 + 3a + 2b + ab, (b) x2 + 3x + 2, (c) x2 + 6x + 9, (d) x2 + 2x − 15

4. On removing brackets we obtain:


(a) 14 + 9x + x2 , (b) 18 + 11x + x2 , (c) x2 + 7x − 18, (d) x2 + 4x − 77
(e) x2 + 2x, (f) 3x2 + x, (g) 3x2 + 4x + 1 (h) 6x2 + 5x + 1
(i) 6x2 + 31x + 35, 2
(j) 6x + 7x − 5, (k) −3x + 2x + 5, (l) x2 − 3x + 2
2

5. s3 + 3s2 − 13s − 15

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4. Factorisation
A number is said to be factorised when it is written as a product. For example, 21 can be factorised
into 7 × 3. We say that 7 and 3 are factors of 21.
Algebraic expressions can also be factorised. Consider the expression 7(2x + 1). Removing the
brackets we can rewrite this as
7(2x + 1) = 7(2x) + (7)(1) = 14x + 7.
Thus 14x + 7 is equivalent to 7(2x + 1). We see that 14x + 7 has factors 7 and (2x + 1). The
factors 7 and (2x + 1) multiply together to give 14x + 7. The process of writing an expression as a
product of its factors is called factorisation. When asked to factorise 14x + 7 we write
14x + 7 = 7(2x + 1)
and so we see that factorisation can be regarded as reversing the process of removing brackets.
Always remember that the factors of an algebraic expression are multiplied together.

Example 43
Factorise the expression 4x + 20.

Solution
Both terms in the expression 4x + 20 are examined to see if they have any factors in common.
Clearly 20 can be factorised as (4)(5) and so we can write
4x + 20 = 4x + (4)(5)
The factor 4 is common to both terms on the right; it is called a common factor and is placed at
the front and outside brackets to give
4x + 20 = 4(x + 5)
Note that the factorised form can be checked by removing the brackets again.

Example 44
Factorise z 2 − 5z.

Solution
Note that since z 2 = z × z we can write
z 2 − 5z = z(z) − 5z
so that there is a common factor of z. Hence
z 2 − 5z = z(z) − 5z = z(z − 5)

HELM (2006): 55
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Example 45
Factorise 6x − 9y.

Solution
By observation, we see that there is a common factor of 3. Thus 6x − 9y = 3(2x − 3y)

Task
Factorise 14z + 21w.

(a) Find the factor common to both 14z and 21w:


Your solution

Answer
7
(b) Now factorise 14z + 21w:
Your solution
14z + 21w =

Answer
7(2z + 3w)

Note: If you have any doubt, you can check your answer by removing the brackets again.

Task
Factorise 6x − 12xy.

First identify the two common factors:


Your solution

Answer
6 and x
Now factorise 6x − 12xy:
Your solution
6x − 12xy =

Answer
6x(1 − 2y)

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Exercises
1. Factorise
(a) 5x + 15y, (b) 3x − 9y, (c) 2x + 12y, (d) 4x + 32z + 16y, (e) 12 x + 41 y.
In each case check your answer by removing the brackets again.

2. Factorise
(a) a2 + 3ab, (b) xy + xyz, (c) 9x2 − 12x

3. Explain why a is a factor of a + ab but b is not. Factorise a + ab.

4. Explain why x2 is a factor of 4x2 + 3yx3 + 5yx4 but y is not.


Factorise 4x2 + 3yx3 + 5yx4 .
Answers

1. (a) 5(x + 3y), (b) 3(x − 3y), (c) 2(x + 6y), (d) 4(x + 8z + 4y), (e) 21 (x + 12 y)

2. (a) a(a + 3b), (b) xy(1 + z), (c) 3x(3x − 4).

3. a(1 + b).

4. x2 (4 + 3yx + 5yx2 ).

5. Factorising quadratic expressions


Quadratic expressions commonly occur in many areas of mathematics, physics and engineering. Many
quadratic expressions can be written as the product of two linear factors and, in this Section, we
examine how these factors can be easily found.

Key Point 18
An expression of the form
ax2 + bx + c a 6= 0
where a, b and c are numbers is called a quadratic expression (in the variable x).

The numbers b and c may be zero but a must not be zero (for, then, the quadratic reduces to a
linear expression or constant). The number a is called the coefficient of x2 , b is the coefficient of
x and c is called the constant term.

HELM (2006): 57
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Case 1
Consider the product (x + 1)(x + 2). Removing brackets yields x2 + 3x + 2. Conversely, we see that
the factors of x2 + 3x + 2 are (x + 1) and (x + 2). However, if we were given the quadratic expression
first, how would we factorise it ? The following examples show how to do this but note that not all
quadratic expressions can be easily factorised.
To enable us to factorise a quadratic expression in which the coefficient of x2 equals 1, we note the
following expansion:
(x + m)(x + n) = x2 + mx + nx + mn = x2 + (m + n)x + mn
So, given a quadratic expression we can think of the coefficient of x as m + n and the constant term
as mn. Once the values of m and n have been found the factors can be easily obtained.

Example 46
Factorise x2 + 4x − 5.

Solution
Writing x2 + 4x − 5 = (x + m)(x + n) = x2 + (m + n)x + mn we seek numbers m and n such
that m + n = 4 and mn = −5. By trial and error it is not difficult to find that m = 5 and n = −1
(or, the other way round, m = −1 and n = 5). So we can write
x2 + 4x − 5 = (x + 5)(x − 1)
The answer can be checked easily by removing brackets.

Task
Factorise x2 + 6x + 8.
As the coefficient of x2 is 1, we can write
x2 + 6x + 8 = (x + m)(x + n) = x2 + (m + n)x + mn
so that m + n = 6 and mn = 8.

First, find suitable values for m and n:

Your solution

Answer
m = 4, n = 2 or, the other way round, m = 2, n = 4

Finally factorise the quadratic:

58 HELM (2006):
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Your solution
x2 + 6x + 8 =

Answer
(x + 4)(x + 2)

Case 2
When the coefficient of x2 is not equal to 1 it may be possible to extract a numerical factor. For
example, note that 3x2 + 18x + 24 can be written as 3(x2 + 6x + 8) and then factorised as in
the previous Task in Case 1. Sometimes no numerical factor can be found and a slightly different
approach may be taken. We will demonstrate a technique which can always be used to transform
the given expression into one in which the coefficient of the squared variable equals 1.

Example 47
Factorise 2x2 + 5x + 3.

Solution
First note the coefficient of x2 ; in this case 2. Multiply the whole expression by this number and
rearrange as follows:
2(2x2 + 5x + 3) = 2(2x2 ) + 2(5x) + 2(3) = (2x)2 + 5(2x) + 6.
We now introduce a new variable z such that z = 2x Thus we can write
(2x)2 + 5(2x) + 6 as z 2 + 5z + 6
This can be factorised to give (z + 3)(z + 2). Returning to the original variable by replacing z by
2x we find
2(2x2 + 5x + 3) = (2x + 3)(2x + 2)
A factor of 2 can be extracted from the second bracket on the right so that
2(2x2 + 5x + 3) = 2(2x + 3)(x + 1)
so that
2x2 + 5x + 3 = (2x + 3)(x + 1)

As an alternative to the technique of Example 47, experience and practice can often help us to
identify factors. For example suppose we wish to factorise 3x2 + 7x + 2. We write
3x2 + 7x + 2 = ( )( )
In order to obtain the term 3x2 we can place terms 3x and x in the brackets to give
3x2 + 7x + 2 = (3x + ? )(x + ? )

HELM (2006): 59
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
In order to obtain the constant 2, we consider the factors of 2. These are 1,2 or −1,−2. By placing
these factors in the brackets we can factorise the quadratic expression. Various possibilities exist: we
could write (3x + 2)(x + 1) or (3x + 1)(x + 2) or (3x − 2)(x − 1) or (3x − 1)(x − 2), only one of which
is correct. By removing brackets from each in turn we look for the factorisation which produces the
correct middle term, 7x. The correct factorisation is found to be
3x2 + 7x + 2 = (3x + 1)(x + 2)
With practice you will be able to carry out this process quite easily.

Task
Factorise the quadratic expression 5x2 − 7x − 6.
Write 5x2 − 7x − 6 = ( )( )
To obtain the quadratic term 5x2 , insert 5x and x in the brackets:
5x2 − 7x − 6 = (5x + ? )(x + ? )

Now find the factors of −6:


Your solution

Answer
3, −2 or −3, 2 or −6, 1 or 6, −1

Use these factors in turn to find which pair, if any, gives rise to the middle term, −7x, and complete
the factorisation:
Your solution
5x2 − 7x − 6 = (5x + )(x + ) =

Answer
(5x + 3)(x − 2)

On occasions you will meet expressions of the form x2 −y 2 known as the difference of two squares.
It is easy to verify by removing brackets that this factorises as
x2 − y 2 = (x + y)(x − y)
So, if you can learn to recognise such expressions it is an easy matter to factorise them.

60 HELM (2006):
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Example 48
Factorise
(a) x2 − 36z 2 , (b) 25x2 − 9z 2 , (c) α2 − 1

Solution
In each case we are required to find the difference of two squared terms.

(a) Note that x2 − 36z 2 = x2 − (6z)2 . This factorises as (x + 6z)(x − 6z).


(b) Here 25x2 − 9z 2 = (5x)2 − (3z)2 . This factorises as (5x + 3z)(5x − 3z).
(c) α2 − 1 = (α + 1)(α − 1).

Exercises
1. Factorise
(a) x2 + 8x + 7, (b) x2 + 6x − 7, (c) x2 + 7x + 10, (d) x2 − 6x + 9.

2. Factorise
(a) 2x2 + 3x + 1, (b) 2x2 + 4x + 2, (c) 3x2 − 3x − 6, (d) 5x2 − 4x − 1, (e) 16x2 − 1,
(f) −x2 + 1, (g) −2x2 + x + 3.

3. Factorise
(a) x2 + 9x + 14, (b) x2 + 11x + 18, (c) x2 + 7x − 18, (d) x2 + 4x − 77,
(e) x2 + 2x, 2
(f) 3x + x, 2
(g) 3x + 4x + 1, (h) 6x2 + 5x + 1,
(i) 6x2 + 31x + 35, (j) 6x2 + 7x − 5, (k) −3x2 + 2x + 5, (l) x2 − 3x + 2.

4. Factorise (a) z 2 − 144, (b) z 2 − 41 , (c) s2 − 1


9

Answers

1. (a) (x + 7)(x + 1), (b) (x + 7)(x − 1), (c) (x + 2)(x + 5), (d) (x − 3)(x − 3)

2. (a) (2x + 1)(x + 1), (b) 2(x + 1)2 , (c) 3(x + 1)(x − 2), (d)(5x + 1)(x − 1),
(e) (4x + 1)(4x − 1), (f) (x + 1)(1 − x), (g) (x + 1)(3 − 2x)

3. The factors are:


(a) (7 + x)(2 + x), (b) (9 + x)(2 + x), (c) (x + 9)(x − 2), (d) (x + 11)(x − 7),
(e) (x + 2)x, (f) (3x + 1)x, (g) (3x + 1)(x + 1), (h) (3x + 1)(2x + 1),
(i) (3x + 5)(2x + 7), (j) (3x + 5)(2x − 1), (k) (5 − 3x)(x + 1), (l) (2 − x)(1 − x).

4. (a) (z + 12)(z − 12), (b) (z + 12 )(z − 21 ), (c) (s + 31 )(s − 13 )

HELM (2006): 61
Section 1.3: Simplification and Factorisation
Arithmetic of  

Algebraic Fractions 1.4


 

Introduction
Just as one whole number divided by another is called a numerical fraction, so one algebraic expression
divided by another is known as an algebraic fraction. Examples are
x 3x + 2y x2 + 3x + 1
, , and
y x−y x−4
In this Section we explain how algebraic fractions can be simplified, added, subtracted, multiplied
and divided.

 

Prerequisites • be familiar with the arithmetic of numerical


fractions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

 


Learning Outcomes • add, subtract, multiply and divide algebraic


fractions
On completion you should be able to . . .
 

62 HELM (2006):
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1. Cancelling common factors


10
Consider the fraction . To simplify it we can factorise the numerator and the denominator and then
35
cancel any common factors. Common factors are those factors which occur in both the numerator
and the denominator. Thus
10 65×2 2
= =
35 7× 6 5 7
Note that the common factor 5 has been cancelled. It is important to remember that only common
10 2
factors can be cancelled. The fractions and have identical values - they are equivalent fractions
35 7
2 10
- but is in a simpler form than .
7 35
We apply the same process when simplifying algebraic fractions.

Example 49
Simplify, if possible,
yx x x
(a) , (b) , (c)
2x xy x+y

Solution

yx
(a) In the expression , x is a factor common to both numerator and denominator. This
2x
common factor can be cancelled to give
y6x y
=
26x 2
x 1x
(b) Note that can be written . The common factor of x can be cancelled to give
xy xy
16x 1
=
6 xy y
x
(c) In the expression notice that an x appears in both numerator and denominator.
x+y
However x is not a common factor. Recall that factors of an expression are multi-
plied together whereas in the denominator x is added to y. This expression cannot be
simplified.

HELM (2006): 63
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Task
abc 3ab
Simplify, if possible, (a), (b)
3ac b+a
When simplifying remember only common factors can be cancelled.

Your solution
abc 3ab
(a) = (b) =
3ac b+a

Answer
b
(a) (b) This cannot be simplified.
3

Task
21x3
Simplify ,
14x

Your solution

Answer
Factorising and cancelling common factors gives:
21x3 6 7 × 3× 6 x × x2 3x2
= =
14x 6 7 × 2× 6 x 2

Task
36x
Simplify
12x3

Your solution

Answer
Factorising and cancelling common factors gives:
36x 12 × 3 × x 3
3
= 2
= 2
12x 12 × x × x x

64 HELM (2006):
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Example 50
3x + 6
Simplify .
6x + 12

Solution
First we factorise the numerator and the denominator to see if there are any common factors.
3x + 6 3(x + 2) 3 1
= = =
6x + 12 6(x + 2) 6 2
The factors x + 2 and 3 have been cancelled.

Task
12
Simplify .
2x + 8

Your solution
12
=
2x + 8

Answer
6×2 6
Factorise the numerator and denominator, and cancel any common factors. =
2(x + 4) x+4

Example 51
3 3(x + 4)
Show that the algebraic fraction and 2 are equivalent.
x+1 x + 5x + 4

Solution
The denominator, x2 + 5x + 4, can be factorised as (x + 1)(x + 4) so that
3(x + 4) 3(x + 4)
=
x2 + 5x + 4 (x + 1)(x + 4)
Note that (x + 4) is a factor common to both the numerator and the denominator and can be
3 3 3(x + 4)
cancelled to leave . Thus and 2 are equivalent fractions.
x+1 x+1 x + 5x + 4

HELM (2006): 65
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Task
x−1 1
Show that is equivalent to .
x2 − 3x + 2 x−2

First factorise the denominator:


Your solution
x2 − 3x + 2 =

Answer
(x − 1)(x − 2)

Now identify the factor common to both numerator and denominator and cancel this common factor:
Your solution
x−1
=
(x − 1)(x − 2)

Answer
1
. Hence the two given fractions are equivalent.
x−2

Example 52
6(4 − 8x)(x − 2)
Simplify
1 − 2x

Solution
The factor 4 − 8x can be factorised to 4(1 − 2x). Thus
6(4 − 8x)(x − 2) (6)(4)(1 − 2x)(x − 2)
= = 24(x − 2)
1 − 2x (1 − 2x)

Task
x2 + 2x − 15
Simplify
2x2 − 5x − 3

First factorise the numerator and factorise the denominator:


Your solution
x2 + 2x − 15
=
2x2 − 5x − 3

66 HELM (2006):
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Answer
(x + 5)(x − 3)
(2x + 1)(x − 3)

Then cancel any common factors:


Your solution
(x + 5)(x − 3)
=
(2x + 1)(x − 3)

Answer
x+5
2x + 1

Exercises
1. Simplify, if possible,
19 14 35 7 14
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d) , (e)
38 28 40 11 56
14 36 13 52
2. Simplify, if possible, (a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
21 96 52 13
5z 25z 5 5z
3. Simplify (a) , (b) , (c) 2
, (d)
z 5z 25z 25z 2
4. Simplify
4x 15x 4s 21x4
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
3x x2 s3 7x3
5. Simplify, if possible,
x+1 x+1 2(x + 1) 3x + 3 5x − 15 5x − 15
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d) , (e) , (f) .
2(x + 1) 2x + 2 x+1 x+1 5 x−3
6. Simplify, if possible,
5x + 15 5x + 15 5x + 15 5x + 15
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
25x + 5 25x 25 25x + 1
x2 + 10x + 9 x2 − 9 2x2 − x − 1
7. Simplify (a) , (b) , (c) ,
x2 + 8x − 9 x2 + 4x − 21 2x2 + 5x + 2
3x2 − 4x + 1 5z 2 − 20z
(d) , (e)
x2 − x 2z − 8
6 2x 3x2
8. Simplify (a) , (b) 2 , (c)
3x + 9 4x + 2x 15x3 + 10x2
x2 − 1 x2 + 5x + 6
9. Simplify (a) , (b) .
x2 + 5x + 4 x2 + x − 6

HELM (2006): 67
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Answers
1 1 7 7 1
1. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d) , (e) .
2 2 8 11 4
2 3 1
2. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d) 4
3 8 4
1 1
3. (a) 5, (b) 5, (c) 2
, (d) .
5z 5z
4 15 4
4. (a) , (b) , (c) 2 , (d) 3x
3 x s
1 1
5. (a) , (b) , (c) 2, (d) 3, (e) x − 3, (f) 5
2 2
x+3 x+3 x+3 5(x + 3)
6. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
5x + 1 5x 5 25x + 1
x+1 x+3 x−1 3x − 1 5z
7. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d) , (e)
x−1 x+7 x+2 x 2
2 1 3
8. (a) , (b) , (c) .
x+3 2x + 1 5(3x + 2)
x−1 x+2
9. (a) , (b) .
x+4 x−2

2. Multiplication and division of algebraic fractions


To multiply together two fractions (numerical or algebraic) we multiply their numerators together
and then multiply their denominators together. That is

Key Point 19
Multiplication of fractions
a c ac
× =
b d bd

Any factors common to both numerator and denominator can be cancelled. This cancellation can be
performed before or after the multiplication.
To divide one fraction by another (numerical or algebraic) we invert the second fraction and then
multiply.

68 HELM (2006):
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Key Point 20
Division of fractions
a c a d ad
÷ = × = b 6= 0, c 6= 0, d 6= 0
b d b c bc

Example 53
2a 4 2a c 2a 4
Simplify (a) × , (b) × , (c) ÷
c c c 4 c c

Solution
2a 4 8a
(a) × = 2
c c c
2a c 2ac 2a a
(b) × = = =
c 4 4c 4 2
(c) Division is performed by inverting the second fraction and then multiplying.
2a 4 2a c a
÷ = × = (from the result in (b))
c c c 4 2

Example 54
1 1
Simplify (a) × 3x, (b) × x.
5x x

Solution
3x 1 1 3x 3x 3
(a) Note that 3x = . Then × 3x = × = =
1 5x 5x 1 5x 5
x 1 1 x x
(b) x can be written as . Then × x = × = = 1
1 x x 1 x

HELM (2006): 69
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Task
1 y
Simplify (a) × x, (b) × x.
y x

Your solution

Answer
1 1 x x
(a) ×x= × =
y y 1 y
y y x yx
(b) ×x= × = =y
x x 1 x

Example 55
2x
y
Simplify
3x
2y

Solution
2x 3x
We can write the fraction as ÷ .
y 2y
Inverting the second fraction and multiplying we find
2x 2y 4xy 4
× = =
y 3x 3xy 3

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Example 56
4x + 2 x+3
Simplify ×
x2 + 4x + 3 7x + 5

Solution
Factorising the numerator and denominator we find
4x + 2 x+3 2(2x + 1) x+3 2(2x + 1)(x + 3)
× = × =
x2 + 4x + 3 7x + 5 (x + 1)(x + 3) 7x + 5 (x + 1)(x + 3)(7x + 5)
2(2x + 1)
=
(x + 1)(7x + 5)
It is usually better to factorise first and cancel any common factors before multiplying. Don’t remove
any brackets unnecessarily otherwise common factors will be difficult to spot.

Task
Simplify
15 3
÷
3x − 1 2x + 1

Your solution

Answer
To divide we invert the second fraction and multiply:
15 3 15 2x + 1 (5)(3)(2x + 1) 5(2x + 1)
÷ = × = =
3x − 1 2x + 1 3x − 1 3 3(3x − 1) 3x − 1

HELM (2006): 71
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Exercises
5 3 14 3 6 3 4 28
1. Simplify (a) × , (b) × , (c) × , (d) ×
9 2 3 9 11 4 7 3
5 3 14 3 6 3 4 28
2. Simplify (a) ÷ , (b) ÷ , (c) ÷ , (d) ÷
9 2 3 9 11 4 7 3
3. Simplify
x+y 1 2
(a) 2 × , (b) × 2(x + y), (c) × (x + y)
3 3 3
4. Simplify
x+4 1 3 x x+1 1 x2 + x
(a) 3 × , (b) × 3(x + 4), (c) × (x + 4), (d) × , (e) × ,
7 7 7 y y+1 y y+1
πd2 Q Q
(f) × 2, (g)
4 πd πd2 /4
6/7
5. Simplify
s+3
3 x
6. Simplify ÷
x + 2 2x + 4
5 x
7. Simplify ÷
2x + 1 3x − 1
Answers
5 14 9 16
1. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
6 9 22 3
10 8 3
2. (a) , (b) 14, (c) , (d)
27 11 49
2(x + y) 2(x + y) 2(x + y)
3. (a) , (b) , (c)
3 3 3
3(x + 4) 3(x + 4) 3(x + 4) x(x + 1) x(x + 1)
4. (a) , (b) , (c) , (d) , (e) , (f) Q/4,
7 7 7 y(y + 1) y(y + 1)
4Q
(g)
πd2
6
5.
7(s + 3)
6
6.
x
5(3x − 1)
7.
x(2x + 1)

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3. Addition and subtraction of algebraic fractions


To add two algebraic fractions the lowest common denominator must be found first. This is the
simplest algebraic expression that has the given denominators as its factors. All fractions must be
written with this lowest common denominator. Their sum is found by adding the numerators and
dividing the result by the lowest common denominator.
To subtract two fractions the process is similar. The fractions are written with the lowest common
denominator. The difference is found by subtracting the numerators and dividing the result by the
lowest common denominator.

Example 57
State the simplest expression which has x + 1 and x + 4 as its factors.

Solution
The simplest expression is (x + 1)(x + 4). Note that both x + 1 and x + 4 are factors.

Example 58
State the simplest expression which has x − 1 and (x − 1)2 as its factors.

Solution
The simplest expression is (x − 1)2 . Clearly (x − 1)2 must be a factor of this expression. Also,
because we can write (x − 1)2 = (x − 1)(x − 1) it follows that x − 1 is a factor too.

HELM (2006): 73
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Example 59
3 2
Express as a single fraction +
x+1 x+4

Solution
The simplest expression which has both denominators as its factors is (x + 1)(x + 4). This is the
lowest common denominator. Both fractions must be written using this denominator. Note that
3 3(x + 4) 2 2(x + 1)
is equivalent to and is equivalent to . Thus writing
x+1 (x + 1)(x + 4) x+4 (x + 1)(x + 4)
both fractions with the same denominator we have
3 2 3(x + 4) 2(x + 1)
+ = +
x+1 x+4 (x + 1)(x + 4) (x + 1)(x + 4)
The sum is found by adding the numerators and dividing the result by the lowest common denomi-
nator.
3(x + 4) 2(x + 1) 3(x + 4) + 2(x + 1) 5x + 14
+ = =
(x + 1)(x + 4) (x + 1)(x + 4) (x + 1)(x + 4) (x + 1)(x + 4)

Key Point 21
Addition of two algebraic fractions
Step 1: Find the lowest common denominator
Step 2: Express each fraction with this denominator
Step 3: Add the numerators and divide the result by the lowest common denominator

Example 60
1 5
Express + as a single fraction.
x − 1 (x − 1)2

Solution
The simplest expression having both denominators as its factors is (x − 1)2 . We write both fractions
with this denominator.
1 5 x−1 5 x−1+5 x+4
+ 2
= 2
+ 2
= 2
=
x − 1 (x − 1) (x − 1) (x − 1) (x − 1) (x − 1)2

74 HELM (2006):
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Task
3 5
Express + as a single fraction.
x+7 x+2

First find the lowest common denominator:


Your solution

Answer
(x + 7)(x + 2)

Re-write both fractions using this lowest common denominator:


Your solution
3 5
+ =
x+7 x+2

Answer
3(x + 2) 5(x + 7)
+
(x + 7)(x + 2) (x + 7)(x + 2)

Finally, add the numerators and simplify:


Your solution
3 5
+ =
x+7 x+2

Answer
8x + 41
(x + 7)(x + 2)

Example 61
5x 3x − 4
Express − as a single fraction.
7 2

Solution
In this example both denominators are simply numbers. The lowest common denominator is 14, and
both fractions are re-written with this denominator. Thus
5x 3x − 4 10x 7(3x − 4) 10x − 7(3x − 4) 28 − 11x
− = − = =
7 2 14 14 14 14

HELM (2006): 75
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Task
1 1
Express + as a single fraction.
x y

Your solution

Answer
The simplest expression which has x and y as its factors is xy. This is the lowest common denom-
1 y 1 x
inator. Both fractions are written using this denominator. Noting that = and that =
x xy y xy
we find
1 1 y x y+x
+ = + =
x y xy xy xy
No cancellation is now possible because neither x nor y is a factor of the numerator.

Exercises
x x 2x x 2x 3x x 2 x+1 3
1. Simplify (a)+ , (b) + , (c) − , (d) − , (e) + ,
4 7 5 9 3 4 x+1 x+2 x x+2
2x + 1 x x+3 x x x
(f) − , (g) − , (h) −
3 2 2x + 1 3 4 5
2. Find
1 2 2 5 2 3 x+1 x+4
(a) + , (b) + , (c) − , (d) + ,
x+2 x+3 x+3 x+1 2x + 1 3x + 2 x+3 x+2
x−1 x−1
(e) + .
x − 3 (x − 3)2
5 4
3. Find + .
2x + 3 (2x + 3)2
1 11
4. Find s+
7 21
A B
5. Express + as a single fraction.
2x + 3 x + 1

A B C
6 Express + + as a single fraction.
2x + 5 (x − 1) (x − 1)2
A B
7 Express + as a single fraction.
x + 1 (x + 1)2

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Ax + B C
8 Express + as a single fraction.
x2+ x + 10 x − 1
C
9 Express Ax + B + as a single fraction.
x+1
x1 x1 x2 x3
10 Show that is equal to .
1 1 x2 − x3

x3 x2
3x x x 3x  x x 
11 Find (a) − + , (b) − + .
4 5 3 4 5 3

Answers
11x 23x x x2 − 2 x2 + 6x + 2
1. (a) , (b) , (c) − , (d) , (e) ,
28 45 12 (x + 1)(x + 2) x(x + 2)

x+2 9 + 2x − 2x2 x
(f) , (g) , (h)
6 3(2x + 1) 20
3x + 7 7x + 17 1
2. (a) , (b) , (c) ,
(x + 2)(x + 3) (x + 3)(x + 1) (2x + 1)(3x + 2)

2x2 + 10x + 14 x2 − 3x + 2
(d) , (e)
(x + 3)(x + 2) (x − 3)2
10x + 19
3.
(2x + 3)2
3s + 11
4.
21
A(x + 1) + B(2x + 3)
5.
(2x + 3)(x + 1)
A(x − 1)2 + B(x − 1)(2x + 5) + C(2x + 5)
6.
(2x + 5)(x − 1)2
A(x + 1) + B
7.
(x + 1)2
(Ax + B)(x − 1) + C(x2 + x + 10)
8.
(x − 1)(x2 + x + 10)
(Ax + B)(x + 1) + C
9.
x+1
53x 13x
11. (a) , (b)
60 60

HELM (2006): 77
Section 1.4: Arithmetic of Algebraic Fractions
Formulae and  

Transposition 1.5 

Introduction
Formulae are used frequently in almost all aspects of engineering in order to relate a physical quantity
to one or more others. Many well-known physical laws are described using formulae. For example,
you may have already seen Ohm’s law, v = iR, or Newton’s second law of motion, F = ma.
In this Section we describe the process of evaluating a formula, explain what is meant by the subject
of a formula, and show how a formula is rearranged or transposed. These are basic skills required in
all aspects of engineering.

 

Prerequisites • be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide


algebraic fractions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

 


Learning Outcomes • transpose a formula


On completion you should be able to . . .
 

78 HELM (2006):
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1. Using formulae and substitution


In the study of engineering, physical quantities can be related to each other using a formula. The
formula will contain variables and constants which represent the physical quantities. To evaluate a
formula we must substitute numbers in place of the variables.
For example, Ohm’s law provides a formula for relating the voltage, v, across a resistor with resistance
value, R, to the current through it, i. The formula states
v = iR
We can use this formula to calculate v if we know values for i and R. For example, if i = 13 A, and
R = 5 Ω, then

v = iR
= (13)(5)
= 65

The voltage is 65 V.
Note that it is important to pay attention to the units of any physical quantities involved. Unless a
consistent set of units is used a formula is not valid.

Example 62
The kinetic energy, K, of an object of mass M moving with speed v can be
calculated from the formula, K = 21 M v 2 .
Calculate the kinetic energy of an object of mass 5 kg moving with a speed of 2
m s−1 .

Solution
In this example M = 5 and v = 2. Substituting these values into the formula we find
1
K = M v2
2
1
= (5)(22 )
2
= 10

In the SI system the unit of energy is the joule. Hence the kinetic energy of the object is 10 joules.

HELM (2006): 79
Section 1.5: Formulae and Transposition
Task
The area, A, of the circle of radius r can be calculated from the formula A = πr2 .
If we know the diameter of the circle, d, we can use the equivalent formula A =
πd2
. Find the area of a circle having diameter 0.1 m. Your calculator will be
4
preprogrammed with the value of π.

Your solution
A=

Answer
π(0.1)2
= 0.0079 m2
4

Example 63
The volume, V , of a circular cylinder is equal to its cross-sectional area, A, times
its length, h.
Find the volume of a cylinder having diameter 0.1 m and length 0.3 m.

Solution
πd2
We can use the result of the previous Task to obtain the cross-sectional area A = . Then
4
V = Ah
π(0.1)2
= × 0.3
4
= 0.0024

The volume is 0.0024 m3 .

80 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

2. Rearranging a formula
In the formula for the area of a circle, A = πr2 , we say that A is the subject of the formula. A
variable is the subject of the formula if it appears by itself on one side of the formula, usually the
left-hand side, and nowhere else in the formula. If we are asked to transpose the formula for
r, or solve for r, then we have to make r the subject of the formula. When transposing a formula
whatever is done to one side is done to the other. There are five rules that must be adhered to.

Key Point 22
Rearranging a formula
You may carry out the following operations
• add the same quantity to both sides of the formula
• subtract the same quantity from both sides of the formula
• multiply both sides of the formula by the same quantity
• divide both sides of the formula by the same quantity
• take a ‘function’ of both sides of the formula: for example,
find the reciprocal of both sides (i.e. invert).

Example 64
Transpose the formula p = 5t − 17 for t.

Solution
We must obtain t on its own on the left-hand side. We do this in stages by using one or more of
the five rules in Key Point 22. For example, by adding 17 to both sides of p = 5t − 17 we find

p + 17 = 5t − 17 + 17
so that p + 17 = 5t

Dividing both sides by 5 we obtain t on its own:


p + 17
=t
5
p + 17
so that t = .
5

HELM (2006): 81
Section 1.5: Formulae and Transposition
Example 65

Transpose the formula 2q = p for q.

Solution

First we square both sides to remove the square root. Note that ( 2q)2 = 2q. This gives
2q = p2
p2
Second we divide both sides by 2 to get q = 2
.

Note that in general by squaring both sides of an equation may introduce extra solutions not valid
for the original equation. In Example 65 if p = 2 then q = 2 is the only solution. However, if we
p2
transform to q = , then if q = 2, p can be +2 or −2.
2

Task √
Transpose the formula v = t2 + w for w.
You must obtain w on its own on the left-hand side. Do this in several stages.

First square both sides to remove the square root:

Your solution

Answer
v 2 = t2 + w

Then, subtract t2 from both sides to obtain an expression for w:


Your solution

Answer
v 2 − t2 = w

Finally, write down the formula for w:


Your solution

Answer
w = v 2 − t2

82 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Example 66
1
Transpose x = for y.
y

Solution
We must try to obtain an expression for y. Multiplying both sides by y has the effect of removing
this fraction:
1
Multiply both sides of x = by y to get
y
1
yx = y ×
y
so that yx = 1
1
Divide both sides by x to leaves y on its own, y = .
x
1 1
Alternatively: simply invert both sides of the equation x = to get = y.
y x

Example 67
Make R the subject of the formula
2 3
=
R x+y

Solution
In the given form R appears in a fraction. Inverting both sides gives
R x+y
=
2 3
Thus multiplying both sides by 2 gives
2(x + y)
R=
3

HELM (2006): 83
Section 1.5: Formulae and Transposition
Task
1 1 1
Make R the subject of the formula = + .
R R1 R2

(a) Add the two terms on the right:

Your solution

Answer
1 1 R2 + R1
+ =
R1 R2 R1 R2

(b) Write down the complete formula:

Your solution

Answer
1 R2 + R1
=
R R1 R2

(c) Now invert both sides:

Your solution

Answer
R1 R2
R=
R2 + R1

84 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Engineering Example 2

Heat flow in an insulated metal plate

Introduction
Thermal insulation is important in many domestic (e.g. central heating) and industrial (e.g cooling
and heating) situations. Although many real situations involve heat flow in more than one dimension,
we consider only a one dimensional case here. The flow of heat is determined by temperature and
thermal conductivity. It is possible to model the amount of heat Q (J) crossing point x in one
dimension (the heat flow in the x direction) from temperature T2 (K) to temperature T1 (K) (in
which T2 > T1 ) in time t s by
 
Q T2 − T1
= λA ,
t x
where λ is the thermal conductivity in W m−1 K.
Problem in words
Suppose that the upper and lower sides of a metal plate connecting two containers are insulated and
one end is maintained at a temperature T2 (K) (see Figure 7).
The plate is assumed to be infinite in the direction perpendicular to the sheet of paper.

Insulator
Container 2 metal plate Container 1
Temperature T2 Heat flow Temperature T1
Insulator

Figure 7: A laterally insulated metal plate

(a) Find a formula for T .


(b) If λ = 205 (W m−1 K−1 ), T1 = 300 (K), A = 0.004 (m2 ), x = 0.5 (m), calculate the
value of T2 required to achieve a heat flow of 100 J s−1 .

Mathematical statement of the problem


 
Q T2 − T1
(a) Given = λA express T2 as the subject of the formula.
t x
(b) In the formula found in part (a) substitute λ = 205, T1 = 300, A = 0.004, x = 0.5 and
Q
= 100 to find T2 .
t

HELM (2006): 85
Section 1.5: Formulae and Transposition
Mathematical analysis
 
Q T2 − T1
(a) = λA
t x
Divide both sides by λA
Q T2 − T1
=
tλA x
Multiply both sides by x
Qx
= T2 − T1
tλA
Add T1 to both sides
Qx
+ T1 = T2
tλA
which is equivalent to
Qx
T2 = + T1
tλA
Q
(b) Substitute λ = 205, T1 = 300, A = 0.004, x = 0.5 and = 100 to find T2 :
t
100 × 0.5
T2 = + 300 ≈ 60.9 + 300 = 360.9
205 × 0.004
So the temperature in container 2 is 361 K to 3 sig.fig.

Interpretation
Qx
The formula T2 = + T1 can be used to find a value for T2 that would achieve any desired heat
tλA
flow. In the example given T2 would need to be about 361 K (≈ 78◦ C) to produce a heat flow of
100 J s−1 .

86 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Exercises
1. The formula for the volume of a cylinder is V = πr2 h. Find V when r = 5 cm and h = 15
cm.

2. If R = 5p2 , find R when (a) p = 10, (b) p = 16.

3. For the following formulae, find y at the given values of x.

(a) y = 3x + 2, x = −1, x = 0, x = 1.
(b) y = −4x + 7, x = −2, x = 0, x = 1.
(c) y = x2 , x = −2, x = −1, x = 0, x = 1, x = 2.
3
4. If P = find P if Q = 15 and R = 0.300.
QR
r
x
5. If y = find y if x = 13.200 and z = 15.600.
z
π
6. Evaluate M = when r = 23.700 and s = −0.2.
2r + s
7. To convert a length measured in metres to one measured in centimetres, the length in metres
is multiplied by 100. Convert the following lengths to cm. (a) 5 m, (b) 0.5 m, (c) 56.2 m.

8. To convert an area measured in m2 to one measured in cm2 , the area in m2 is multiplied by


104 . Convert the following areas to cm2 . (a) 5 m2 , (b) 0.33 m2 , (c) 6.2 m2 .

9. To convert a volume measured in m3 to one measured in cm3 , the volume in m3 is multiplied


by 106 . Convert the following volumes to cm3 . (a) 15 m3 , (b) 0.25 m3 , (c) 8.2 m3 .
4QP
10. If η = evaluate η when QP = 0.0003, d = 0.05, L = 0.1 and n = 2.
πd2 Ln
11. The moment of inertia of an object is a measure of its resistance to rotation. It depends upon
both the mass of the object and the distribution of mass about the axis of rotation. It can be
shown that the moment of inertia, J, of a solid disc rotating about an axis through its centre
and perpendicular to the plane of the disc, is given by the formula
1
J = M a2
2
where M is the mass of the disc and a is its radius. Find the moment of inertia of a disc of
mass 12 kg and diameter 10 m. The SI unit of moment of inertia is kg m2 .

12. Transpose the given formulae to make the given variable the subject.
(a) y = 3x − 7, for x, (b) 8y + 3x = 4, for x, (c) 8x + 3y = 4 for y,
(d) 13 − 2x − 7y = 0 for x.

13. Transpose the formula P V = RT for (a) V , (b) P , (c) R, (d) T .

HELM (2006): 87
Section 1.5: Formulae and Transposition

14. Transpose v = x + 2y, (a) for x, (b) for y.

15. Transpose 8u + 4v − 3w = 17 for each of u, v and w.

16. When a ball is dropped from rest onto a horizontal surface it will bounce before eventually
coming to rest after a time T where
 
2v 1
T =
g 1−e

where v is the speed immediately after the first impact, and g is a constant called the accel-
eration due to gravity. Transpose this formula to make e, the coefficient of restitution, the
subject.
s
2gh
17. Transpose q = A1 for A2 .
(A1 /A2 )2 − 1
r
r+x x−1
18. Make x the subject of (a) y = , (b) y = .
1 − rx x+1
19. In the design of orifice plate flowmeters, the volumetric flowrate, Q (m3 s−1 ), is given by
s
2g∆h
Q = Cd Ao
1 − A2o /A2p

where Cd is a dimensionless discharge coefficient, ∆h (m) is the head difference across the
orifice plate and Ao (m2 ) is the area of the orifice and Ap (m2 ) is the area of the pipe.

(a) Rearrange the equation to solve for the area of the orifice, Ao , in terms of the other
variables.
(b) A volumetric flowrate of 100 cm3 s−1 passes through a 10 cm inside diameter pipe.
Assuming a discharge coefficient of 0.6, calculate the required orifice diameter, so that
the head difference across the orifice plate is 200 mm.

[Hint: be very careful with the units!]

88 HELM (2006):
Workbook 1: Basic Algebra
®

Answers
1. 1178.1 cm3
2. (a) 500, (b) 1280
3. (a) −1, 2, 5, (b) 15, 7, 3, (c) 5,3,1,0,
4. P =0.667
5. y = 0.920
6. M = 0.067
7. (a) 500 cm, (b) 50 cm, (c) 5620 cm.
8. (a) 50000 cm2 , (b) 3300 cm2 , (c) 62000 cm2 .
9. (a) 15000000 cm3 , (b) 250000 cm3 , (c) 8200000 cm3 .
10. η = 0.764.
11. 150 kg m2
y+7 4 − 8y 4 − 8x 13 − 7y
12. (a) x = , (b) x = , (c) y = , (d) x =
3 3 3 2
RT RT PV PV
13. (a) V = , (b) P = , (c) R = , (d) T =
P V T R
2
v − x
14. (a) x = v 2 − 2y, (b) y =
2
17 − 4v + 3w 17 − 8u + 3w 8u + 4v − 17
15. u = , v= , w=
8 4 3
2v
16. e = 1 −
sgT
A21 q 2
17. A2 = ±
2A21 gh + q 2
y−r 1 + y2
18. (a) x = , (b) x =
1 + yr 1 − y2
19.
QAp
(a) A0 = q
Q2 + 2g∆hA2p Cd2
(b) Q = 100 cm3 s−1 = 10−4 m2 s−1
0.12
Ap = π = 0.007854 m2
4
Cd = 0.6
∆h = 0.2 m
g = 9.81 m s−2
Substituting in answer (a) gives
Ao = 8.4132 ×r 10−5 m2
4Ao
so diameter = = 0.01035 m = 1.035 cm
π

HELM (2006): 89
Section 1.5: Formulae and Transposition
Contents 2
Basic Functions
1. Basic Concepts of Functions 2
2. Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form 11
3. One-to-One and Inverse Functions 20
4. Characterising Functions 26
5. The Straight Line 36
6. The Circle 46
7. Some Common Functions 62

Learning outcomes
In this Workbook you will learn about some of the basic building blocks of mathematics.
You will gain familiarity with functions and variables. You will learn how to graph a
function and what is meant by an inverse function. You will learn how to use a parametric
approach to describe a function. Finally, you will meet some of the functions which occur
in engineering and science: polynomials, rational functions, the modulus function and
the unit step function.
Contents 2
Basic Functions
1. Basic Concepts of Functions 2
2. Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form 11
3. One-to-One and Inverse Functions 20
4. Characterising Functions 26
5. The Straight Line 36
6. The Circle 46
7. Some Common Functions 62

Learning outcomes
In this Workbook you will learn about some of the basic building blocks of mathematics.
You will gain familiarity with functions and variables. You will learn how to graph a
function and what is meant by an inverse function. You will learn how to use a parametric
approach to describe a function. Finally, you will meet some of the functions which occur
in engineering and science: polynomials, rational functions, the modulus function and
the unit step function.
Basic Concepts of  

Functions 2.1 

Introduction
In engineering there are many quantities that change their value as time changes. For example, the
temperature of a furnace may change with time as it is heated. Similarly, there are many quantities
that change their value as the location of a point of interest changes. For example, the shear stress
in a bridge girder will vary from point to point across the bridge. A quantity whose value can change
is known as a variable. We use functions to describe how one variable changes as a consequence
of another variable changing. There are many different types of function that are used by engineers.
We will be examining some of these in later Sections. The purpose of this Section is to look at the
basic concepts associated with all functions.

 

Prerequisites • have a thorough understanding of basic


algebraic notation and techniques
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• explain what is meant by a function

Learning Outcomes • use common notations for functions

On completion you should be able to . . . • explain what is meant by the argument of a


function
& %

2 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
1. The function rule
A function can be thought of as a rule which operates on an input and produces an output. This
is often illustrated pictorially in two ways as shown in Figure 1. The first way is by using a block
diagram which consists of a box showing the input, the output and the rule. We often write the rule
inside the box. The second way is to use two sets, one to represent the input and one to represent
the output with an arrow showing the relationship between them.

input output
function

input a specific rule output function


which transforms the
input into the output

Figure 1: A general function

More precisely, a rule is a function if it produces only a single output for any given input. The
function with the rule ‘treble the input’ is shown in Figure 2.

f f
input treb he input
le t output
4 Treble the input 12
4 12
f
x 3x
x Treble the input 3x

Figure 2: The function with the rule ‘treble the input’

Note that with an input of 4 the function will produce an output of 12. With a more general input,
x say, the output will be 3x. It is usual to assign a letter or other symbol to a function in order to
label it. The trebling function in Figure 2 has been given the symbol f .

Key Point 1
A function is a rule which operates on an input
and produces a single output from that input.

HELM (2006): 3
Section 2.1: Basic Concepts of Functions
Task

Write down the output from the function shown in Figure 3 when the input is
(a) 4, (b) −3, (c) x (d) t.

function

input multiply the input by 7 output


and then subtract 2

Figure 3

Your solution
In each case the function rule instructs you to multiply the input by 7 and then subtract 2. Evaluate
the corresponding outputs.

Answer
(a) When the input is 4 the output is 26
(b) When the input is −3 the output is −23
(c) When the input is x the output is 7x − 2
(d) When the input is t the output is 7t − 2.

Several different notations are used by engineers to describe functions. For the trebling function in
Figure 2 it is common to write
f (x) = 3x
This indicates that with an input x, the function, f , produces an output of 3x. The input to the
function is placed in the brackets after the ‘f ’. f (x) is read as ‘f is a function of x’, or simply ‘f of
x’, meaning that the value of the output from the function depends upon the value of the input x.
The value of the output is often called the ‘value of the function’.

4 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Example 1
State in words the rule defined by each of the following functions:
(a) f (x) = 6x
(b) f (t) = 6t − 1
(c) g(x) = x2 − 7
(d) h(t) = t3 + 5
(e) p(x) = x3 + 5

Solution
(a) The rule for f is ‘multiply the input by 6’.
(b) Here the input has been labelled t. The rule for f is ‘multiply the input by 6 and subtract 1’.
(c) Here the function has been labelled g. The rule for g is ‘square the input and subtract 7’.
(d) The rule for h is ‘cube the input and add 5’.
(e) The rule for p is ‘cube the input and add 5’.

Note from Example 1, parts (d) and (e), that it is the rule that is important when describing a
function and not the letters used. Both h(t) and p(x) instruct us to ‘cube the input and add 5’.

Task
Write down a mathematical function which can be used to describe the following
rules:
(a) ‘square the input and divide the result by 2’. Use the letter x for input and
the letter f to represent the function.
(b) ‘divide the input by 3 and add 7’. Call the function g and call the input t.

Your solution

Answer
x2 t
(a) f (x) = , (b) g(t) = + 7
2 3

Exercise
State the rule of each of the following functions:
(a) f (x) = 5x, (b) f (t) = 5t, (c) f (x) = 8x + 10, (d) f (t) = 7t − 27, (e) f (t) = 1 − t,
t 2 1
(f) h(t) = + , (g) f (x) =
3 3 1+x

HELM (2006): 5
Section 2.1: Basic Concepts of Functions
Answers
(a) multiply the input by 5. (b) same as (a). (c) multiply the input by 8 and then add 10. (d)
multiply the input by 7 and then subtract 27. (e) subtract the input from 1. (f) divide the input
by 3 and then add 2/3. (g) add 1 to the input and then find the reciprocal of the result.

2. The argument of a function


The input to a function is sometimes called its argument. It is frequently necessary to obtain the
output from a function if we are given its argument. For example, given the function g(t) = 3t + 2
we may require the value of the output when the argument is 4. We write this as g(t = 4) or more
usually and compactly as g(4). In this case the value of g(4) is 3 × 4 + 2 = 14.

Example 2
Given the function f (x) = 3x + 1 find
(a) f (2)
(b) f (−1)
(c) f (6)

Solution

(a) The output from the function needs to be found when the argument or input is 2. We
need to replace x by 2 in the expression for the function. We find

f (2) = 3 × 2 + 1 = 7
(b) Here the argument is −1. We find

f (−1) = 3 × (−1) + 1 = −2
(c) f (6) = 3 × 6 + 1 = 19.

Task

Given the function g(t) = 6t + 4 find (a) g(3), (b) g(6), (c) g(−2)

Your solution

Answer
a) g(3) = 6 × 3 + 4 = 22, (b) g(6) = 40, (c) g(−2) = −8

6 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
It is possible to obtain the value of a function when the argument is an algebraic expression. Consider
the following Example.

Example 3
Given the function y(x) = 3x + 2 find
(a) y(t)
(b) y(2t)
(c) y(z + 2)
(d) y(5x)

Solution
The rule for this function is ‘multiply the input by 3 and then add 2’. We can apply this rule
whatever the argument.

(a) In this case the argument is t. Multiplying this by 3 and adding 2 we find y(t) = 3t + 2.
Equivalently we can replace x by t in the expression for the function, so, y(t) = 3t + 2.
(b) In this case the argument is 2t. We need to replace x by 2t in the expression for the
function. So y(2t) = 3(2t) + 2 = 6t + 2
(c) In this case the argument is z + 2. We find y(z + 2) = 3(z + 2) + 2 = 3z + 8. It is
important to note that y(z + 2) is not y × (z + 2) = yz + y2 but instead reads ‘y of
(z + 2)’ where ‘of’ means ‘take the function of’.
(d) Here we have a complication. The argument is 5x and so there appears to be a clash
of notation with the original expression for the function. There is no problem if we
remember that the rule is to multiply the input by 3 and then add 2. The input now is
5x. So y(5x) = 3(5x) + 2 = 15x + 2.

Task
Given the function g(x) = 8 − 2x find (a) g(4), (b) g(4t), (c) g(2x − 3)

Your solution
(a)

(b)

(c)

HELM (2006): 7
Section 2.1: Basic Concepts of Functions
Answer
(a) g(4) = 8 − 2 × 4 = 0
(b) g(4t) = 8 − 2 × 4t = 8 − 8t
(c) g(2x − 3) = 8 − 2(2x − 3) = 14 − 4x

Exercises
1. Explain what is meant by the ‘argument’ of a function.

2. Given the function g(t) = 8t + 3 find (a) g(7), (b) g(2), (c) g(−0.5), (d) g(−0.11)

3. Given the function f (t) = 2t2 + 4 find: (a) f (x) (b) f (2x) (c) f (−x) (d) f (4x + 2)
t
(e) f (3t + 5) (f) f (λ) (g) f (t − λ) (h) f ( )
α
4. Given g(x) = 3x2 − 7 find (a) g(3t), (b) g(t + 5), (c) g(6t − 4), (d) g(4x + 9)
1
5. Calculate f (x + h) when (a) f (x) = x2 , (b) f (x) = x3 , (c) f (x) = . In each case write
x
down the corresponding expression for f (x + h) − f (x).
1 x
6. If f (x) = 2
find f ( ).
(1 − x) `
Answers

1. The argument is the input.

2. (a) 59, (b) 19, (c) −1, (d) 2.12.

3. (a) 2x2 + 4, (b) 8x2 + 4, (c) 2x2 + 4, (d) 32x2 + 32x + 12, (e) 18t2 + 60t + 54,
2t2
(f) 2λ2 + 4, (g) 2(t − λ)2 + 4, (h) + 4.
α2
4. (a) 27t2 − 7, (b) 3t2 + 30t + 68, (c) 108t2 − 144t + 41, (d) 48x2 + 216x + 236.
1
5. (a) x2 + 2xh + h2 , (b) x3 + 3x2 h + 3xh2 + h3 , (c) .
x+h
The corresponding expressions are (a) 2xh + h2 , (b) 3x2 h + 3xh2 + h3 ,
1 1 h
(c) − =− .
x+h x x(x + h)
1
6. .
(1 − x` )2

8 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
3. Composition of functions
Consider the two functions g(x) = x2 , and h(x) = 3x + 5. Block diagrams showing the rules for
these functions are shown in Figure 4.

x square the input x2

h
treble the input 3x + 5
x and add 5

Figure 4: Block diagrams of two functions g and h

Suppose we place these Block diagrams together in series as shown in Figure 5, so that the output
from function g is used as the input to function h.

g h
x2 treble the input
x square the input
and add 5 3x2 + 5

Figure 5: The composition of the two functions to give h(g(x))

Study Figure 5 carefully and deduce that when the input to g is x the output from the two functions
in series is 3x2 + 5. Since the output from g is used as input to h we write
h(g(x)) = h(x2 ) = 3x2 + 5
The form h(g(x)) is known as the composition of the functions g and h.
Suppose we interchange the two functions so that h is applied first as shown in Figure 6.

h g
treble the input
x and add 5 square the input (3x + 5)2

Figure 6: The composition of the two functions to give g(h(x))

Study Figure 6 and note that when the input to h is x the final output is (3x + 5)2 . We write
g(h(x)) = (3x + 5)2
Note that the function h(g(x)) is different from g(h(x)).

HELM (2006): 9
Section 2.1: Basic Concepts of Functions
Example 4
Given two functions g(t) = 3t + 2 and h(t) = t + 3 obtain an expression for the
composition g(h(t)).

Solution
We have g(h(t)) = g(t + 3). Now the rule for g is ‘triple the input and add 2’, and so we can
write g(t + 3) = 3(t + 3) + 2 = 3t + 11 so, g(h(t)) = 3t + 11.

Task
Given the two functions g(t) = 3t + 2 and h(t) = t + 3 as in Example 4 above,
obtain an expression for the composition h(g(t)).

Your solution
We have
h(g(t)) = h(3t + 2)
State the rule for h and write down h(g(t)).

Answer
‘add 3 to the input’, h(3t + 2) = 3t + 5. Note that h(g(t)) 6= g(h(t)).

Exercises
1. Find f (g(x)) when f (x) = x − 7 and g(x) = x2 .
2. If f (x) = 8x + 2 find f (f (x)).
3. If f (x) = x + 6 and g(x) = x2 − 5 find (a) f (g(0)), (b) g(f (0)), (c) g(g(2)), (d) f (g(7)).
x−3 1
4. If f (x) = and g(x) = find g(f (x)).
x+1 x
Answers

1. x2 − 7.

2. 8(8x + 2) + 2 = 64x + 18.

3. (a) 1, (b) 31, (c) −4, (d) 50.


x+1
4. .
x−3

10 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Graphs of Functions  

and Parametric Form 2.2 

Introduction
Engineers often find mathematical ideas easier to understand when these are portrayed visually as
opposed to algebraically. Graphs are a convenient and widely-used way of portraying functions. By
inspecting a graph it is easy to describe a number of properties of a function. For example, where
is the function positive, and where is it negative? Where is it increasing and where is it decreasing?
Do function values repeat? Questions like these can be answered once the graph of a function has
been drawn. In this Section we will describe how the graph of a function is obtained and introduce
various terminology associated with graphs.
We have seen in Section 2.1 that it is possible to represent a function using the form y = f (x). An
alternative representation is to write expressions for both y and x in terms of a third variable known
as a parameter. The variables t or θ are normally used to denote the parameter.
For example, when a projectile such as a ball or rocket is thrown or launched, the x and y coordinates
of its path can be described by a function in the form y = f (x). However, it is often useful to also
give its x coordinate as a function of the time after launch, that is x(t), and the y coordinate similarly
as y(t). Here time t is the parameter.

 

Prerequisites • understand what is meant by a function


Before starting this Section you should . . .

 

• draw the graphs of a variety of functions
Learning Outcomes • explain what is meant by the domain and
On completion you should be able to . . . range of a function
 

HELM (2006): 11
Section 2.2: Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form
1. The graph of a function
Consider the function f (x) = 2x. The output is obtained by multiplying the input by 2. We can
choose several values for the input to this function and calculate the corresponding outputs. We
have done this for integer values of x between −2 and 2 and the results are shown in Table 1.

Table 1
input, x −2 −1 0 1 2
output, f (x) −4 −2 0 2 4

To construct the graph of this function we first draw a pair of axes - a vertical axis and a horizontal
axis. These are drawn at right-angles to each other and intersect at the origin as shown in Figure 7.

vertical ( y ) axis
y = 2x
4
origin 3
2
1
−2 −1 1 1.5 2 horizontal ( x ) axis
−1
−2
−3
−4

Figure 7: The two axes intersect at the origin

Each pair of input and output values can be represented on a graph by a single point. The input
values are measured along the horizontal axis and the output values are measured along the vertical
axis. The horizontal axis is often called the x axis. The vertical axis is commonly referred to as the
y axis so that we often write the function as
y = f (x) = 2x
or simply
y = 2x
Each pair of x and y values in the table is plotted as a single point, shown as • in Figure 7. A general
point is often labelled as (x, y). The values x and y are said to be the coordinates of the point.
The points are then joined with a smooth curve to produce the required graph as shown in Figure
7. Note that in this case the graph is a straight line. The graph can then be used to find function
values other than those given in the table. For example, directly from the graph we can see that
when x = 1.5, the value of y is 3.

12 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
Draw up a table of values of the function f (x) = x3 for x between −3 and 3. Use
the table to plot a graph of this function.

Complete the following table:


Your solution

input, x −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3
output, f (x) −27 −8 27

Answer
input, x −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3
output, f (x) −27 −8 −1 0 1 8 27

Now add your points to the graph of f (x) = x3 and draw a smooth curve through them:
Your solution

y
30
20
10

−3 −2 −1 1 2 3 x
− 10
−20
−30

Dependent and independent variables


Since x and y can have a number of different values they are variables. Here x is called the
independent variable and y is called the dependent variable. Knowing or choosing a value of
the independent variable x, the function rule enables us to calculate the corresponding value of the
dependent variable y. To show this dependence we often write y(x). This is read as ‘y is a function
of x’ or ‘y depends upon x’, or simply ‘y of x’. Note that it is the independent variable which is the
input to the function and the dependent variable which is the output.
The domain and range of a function
The set of values which we allow the independent variable to take is called the domain of the
function. A domain is often an interval on the x axis. For example, the function
y = g(x) = 5x + 2, −5 ≤ x ≤ 20
has any value of x between −5 and 20 inclusive as its domain because it has been stated as this. If
the domain of a function is not stated then it is taken to be the largest set possible. For example
h(t) = t2 + 1
has domain −∞ < x < ∞ since h is defined for every value of t and the domain has not been stated
otherwise.

HELM (2006): 13
Section 2.2: Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form
Later, you will meet some functions for which certain values of the independent variable must be
excluded from the domain because at these values the function would be undefined. One such
1 1
example is f (x) = for which we must exclude the value x = 0, since is a meaningless quantity.
x 0
1
Similarly, we must exclude the value x = 2 from the domain of f (x) = .
x−2
The set of values of the function for a given domain, that is, the set of y values, is called the
range of the function. The range of g(x) (above) is −23 ≤ g(x) ≤ 102 and the range of h(t) is
1 ≤ h(t) < ∞, although this may not be apparent to you at this stage. Usually the range of a
function can be identified quite easily by inspecting its graph.

Example 5
Consider the function given by g(t) = 2t2 + 1, −2 ≤ t ≤ 2.
(a) State the domain of the function.
(b) Plot a graph of the function.
(c) Deduce the range of the function from the graph.

Solution

(a) The domain is given as the interval −2 ≤ t ≤ 2, that is any value of t between −2 and
2 inclusive.
(b) To draw the graph a table of input and output values must be constructed first. See
Table 2.

Table 2
t −2 −1 0 1 2
y = g(t) 9 3 1 3 9
Each pair of t and y values in the table is plotted as a single point shown as • in Figure
8. The points are then joined with a smooth curve to produce the required graph.

y
9
g(t) = 2t2 + 1

−2 −1 0 1 2 t

Figure 8: Graph of g(t) = 2t2 + 1


(c) The range is the set of values which the function takes. By inspecting the graph we see
that the range of g is the interval 1 ≤ g(t) ≤ 9.

14 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task

Consider the function given by f (x) = x2 + 2, −3 ≤ x ≤ 3

(a) State the domain of the function:

Your solution
Recall that the domain of a function f (x) is the set of values that x is allowed to take. Write
down this set of values:

Answer
−3 ≤ x ≤ 3

(b) Draw up a table of input and output values for this function:

Your solution
The table of values has been partially calculated. Complete this now:

input, x −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3
2
output, x + 2 6 2

Answer
x −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3
2
x + 2 11 6 3 2 3 6 11

(c) Plot a graph of the function:

Your solution
Part of the graph f (x) = x2 + 2 is shown in the figure. Complete it.

f (x) = x2 + 2
10

x
−3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3

HELM (2006): 15
Section 2.2: Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form
(d) Deduce the range of the function by inspecting the graph:

Your solution
Recall that the range of the function is the set of values that the function takes as x is varied. It is
possible to deduce this from the graph. Write this set as an interval.

Answer
(d) [2, 11]

Exercises
1. Explain the meaning of the terms ‘dependent variable’ and ‘independent variable’. When
plotting a graph, which variables are plotted on which axes ?

2. When stating the coordinates of a point, which coordinate is given first ?

3. Explain the meaning of an expression such as y(x) in the context of functions. What is the
interpretation of x(t) ?

4. Explain the meaning of the terms ‘domain’ and ‘range’ when applied to functions.

5. Plot a graph of the following functions. In each case state the domain and the range of the
function.

(a) f (x) = 3x + 2, −2 ≤ x ≤ 5
2
(b) g(x) = x + 4, −2 ≤ x ≤ 3
2
(c) p(t) = 2t + 8, −2 ≤ t ≤ 4
(d) f (t) = 6 − t2 , 1≤t≤5
5
6. Explain why the value x = −7 should be excluded from the domain of f (x) = x+7
.
1
7. What value(s) should be excluded from the domain of f (t) = t2
?
Answers
1. The independent variable is plotted on the horizontal axis.
2. The independent variable is given first, as in (x, y).
3. x(t) means that the dependent variable x is a function of the independent variable t.
5. (a) domain [−2, 5], range [−4, 17], (b) [−2, 3], [4, 13], (c) [−2, 4], [8, 40], (d) [1, 5], [−19, 5].
6. f is undefined when x = −7.
7. t = 0.

16 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
2. Parametric representation of a function
Suppose we write x and y in terms of t in the form
x = 4t y = 2t2 , for − 1 ≤ t ≤ 1 (1)
For different values of t between −1 and 1, we can calculate pairs of values of x and y. For example
when t = 1 we see that x = 4(1) = 4 and y = 2 × 12 = 2. That is, t = 1 corresponds to the point
with (x, y) coordinates (4, 2).
A table of values is given in Table 3.
Table 3

t −1 −0.5 0 0.5 1
x −4 −2 0 2 4
y 2 0.5 0 0.5 2

If the resulting points are plotted on a graph then different values of t correspond to different points
on the graph. The graph of (1) is plotted in Figure 9.

2 t=1
t = −1

t = −0.5 t = 0.5

−4 −3 −2 −1 1 2 3 4 x
t=0
Figure 9: Graph of the function defined parametrically by x = 4t, y = 2t2 , −1 ≤ t ≤ 1

It is often possible to convert a parametric representation of a function into the more usual form by
x
combining the two expressions to eliminate the parameter. Thus if x = 4t we can write t = and
4
so
 x 2
2
y = 2t = 2
4
2x2
=
16
x2
=
8

x2
Using y = we can, by giving x values, find corresponding values of y. Plotting these (x, y) values
8
gives, of course, exactly the same curve as in Figure 9.

HELM (2006): 17
Section 2.2: Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form
Task

Consider the function x = 21 t + 1t , y = 12 t − 1t , 1 ≤ t ≤ 8.


 

(a) Draw up a table of values of this function.


(b) Plot a graph of the function

Your solution
(a) A partially completed table of values has been prepared. Complete the table.

t 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
x 1 1.25 1.67 4.06
y 0 0.75 3.94

Answer
t 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
x 1 1.25 1.67 2.13 2.60 3.08 3.57 4.06
y 0 0.75 1.33 1.88 2.40 2.92 3.43 3.94

Your solution
(b) The graph is shown in the figure. Add your points to those already marked on the graph.

4
3
2
1

x
1 2 3 4

It is possible to eliminate t between the two equations so that the original parametric form can be
expressed as x2 − y 2 = 1.

18 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task

A particle with mass m falls under gravity so that at time t its distance from the
t2
y-axis is 2t and its distance from the x-axis is −mg + 3 where g is a constant
2
(the acceleration due to gravity). Find the value of t when the particle crosses the
x-axis and, at this time, find the distance from the y-axis.

Begin by obtaining the parametric equations of the path of the particle:


Your solution

x= y=

Answer
t2
x = 2t y = −mg + 3
2
Now find the value of t when y = 0:
Your solution

t=

Answer
p
t = 6/(mg)

Finally, obtain the value of x at this value of t:


Your solution

x=

Answer
p
x = 2 6/(mg)

Exercises
1. Explain what is meant by the term ‘parameter’.

2. Consider the parametric equations x = t, y = t, for t ≥ 0.

(a) Draw up a table of values of t, x and y for values of t between 0 and 10.
(b) Plot a graph of this function.
(c) Obtain an explicit equation for y in terms of x.

Answers

2. (c) y = x2 , 0 ≤ x ≤ 10

HELM (2006): 19
Section 2.2: Graphs of Functions and Parametric Form
One-to-One and  

Inverse Functions 2.3 

Introduction
In this Section we examine more terminology associated with functions. We explain one-to-one and
many-to-one functions and show how the rule associated with certain functions can be reversed to
give so-called inverse functions. These ideas will be needed when we deal with particular functions
in later Sections.

 

• understand what is meant by a function


Prerequisites
• be able to sketch graphs of simple functions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• explain what is meant by a one-to-one
function

• explain what is meant by a many-to-one


Learning Outcomes function
On completion you should be able to . . . • explain what is meant by an inverse function,
and determine when and how such a function
can be found
& %

20 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
1. One-to-many rules, many-to-one and one-to-one
functions
One-to-many rules
Recall from Section 2.1 that a rule for a function must produce a single output for a given input.
Not all rules satisfy this criterion. For example, the rule ‘take the square root of the input’ cannot be
a rule for a function because for a given input there are two outputs; an input of 4 produces outputs
of 2 and −2. Figure 10 shows two ways in which we can picture this situation, the first being a block
diagram, and the second using two sets representing input and output values and the relationship
between them.

e square ro
2 input take th ot output
take the square root
4 of the input
−2 2
√ 4
x −2
take the square root
x of the input √
− x

Figure 10: This rule cannot be a function - it is a one-to-many rule

Such a rule is described as a one-to-many rule. This means that one input produces more than
one output. This is obvious from inspecting the sets in Figure 10.

The graph of the rule ‘take ± x’ can be drawn by constructing a table of values:
Table 4

x 0 1 √2 √3 4

y=± x 0 ±1 ± 2 ± 3 ±2

The graph is shown in Figure 11(a). For each value of x there are two corresponding values of y.
Plotting a graph of a one-to-many rule will result in a curve through which a vertical line can be
drawn which cuts the curve more than once as you can see. The vertical line cuts the curve more
than once because there is more than one y value for each x value.

y y

x x

(a) (b)
Figure 11

HELM (2006): 21
Section 2.3: One-to-One and Inverse Functions
By describing a rule more carefully it is possible to make sure a single output results from a single
input, thereby defining a valid rule for a function. For example, the rule ‘take the positive square
root of the input’ is a valid function rule because a given input produces a single output. The graph
of this function is displayed in Figure 11(b).

Many-to-one and one-to-one functions


Consider the function y(x) = x2 . An input of x = 3 produces an output of 9. Similarly, an input of
−3 also produces an output of 9. In general, a function for which different inputs can produce the
same output is called a many-to-one function. This is represented pictorially in Figure 12 from
which it is clear why we call this a many-to-one function.

input y = x2
output

−3
9
3

Figure 12: This represents a many-to-one function

Note that whilst this is many-to-one it is still a function since any chosen input value has only one
arrow emerging from it. Thus there is a single output for each input.
It is possible to decide if a function is many-to-one by examining its graph. Consider the graph of
y = x2 shown in Figure 13.

y
y = x2

x
−3 3

Figure 13: The function y = x2 is a many-to-one function

We see that a horizontal line drawn on the graph cuts it more than once. This means that two (or
more) different inputs have yielded the same output and so the function is many-to-one.
If a function is not many-to-one then it is said to be one-to-one. This means that each different
input to the function yields a different output.

Consider the function y(x) = x3 which is shown in Figure 14. A horizontal line drawn on this graph
will intersect the curve only once. This means that each input value of x yields a different output
value for y.

22 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
y y = x3
10

x
−5 5

−10

Figure 14: The function y(x) = x3 is a one-to-one function

Task
Study the graphs shown in Figure 15. Decide which, if any, are graphs of functions.
For those which are, state if the function is one-to-one or many-to-one.

y y
a) y b) c)

x x
x

Figure 15

Your solution

Answer
(a) not a function, (b) one-to-one function, (c) many-to-one function

2. Inverse of a function
We have seen that a function can be regarded as taking an input, x, and processing it in some way
to produce a single output f (x) as shown in Figure 16(a). A natural question to ask is whether we
can find another function that will reverse the process. In other words, can we find a function that
will start with f (x) and process it to produce x again? This idea is also shown in Figure 16(b). If we
can find such a function it is called the inverse function to f (x) and is given the symbol f −1 (x).
Do not confuse the ‘−1’ with an index, or power. Here the superscript is used purely as the notation
for the inverse function. Note that the composite function f −1 (f (x)) = x as shown in Figure 17.

HELM (2006): 23
Section 2.3: One-to-One and Inverse Functions
f

x process f (x) (a)

f −1

f (x) reverse process x (b)

Figure 16: The second block reverse the process in the first

f f −1
f (x)
x process reverse process x

Figure 17: f −1 reverses the process in f

Example 6
Find the inverse function to f (x) = 3x − 8.

Solution
The given function takes an input, x and produces an output 3x − 8. The inverse function, f −1 ,
must take an input 3x − 8 and give an output x. That is
f −1 (3x − 8) = x
If we introduce a new variable z = 3x − 8, and transpose this for x to give
z+8 z+8
x= then f −1 (z) =
3 3
So the rule for f is add 8 to the input and divide the result by 3. Writing f −1 with x as its
−1

argument gives
x+8
f −1 (x) =
3
This is the inverse function.

24 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Not all functions possess an inverse function. In fact, only one-to-one functions do so. If a function
is many-to-one the process to reverse it would require many outputs from one input contradicting
the definition of a function.

Task
Find the inverse of the function f (x) = 7 − 3x, using the fact that the inverse
function must take an input 7−3x and produce an output x. So f −1 (7−3x) = x

Introduce a new variable z so that z = 7 − 3x and transpose this to find x. Hence write down the
inverse function:
Your solution

Answer
7−z 7−x
f −1 (z) = . With x as its argument the inverse function is f −1 (x) = .
3 3

Exercises
1. Explain why a one-to-many rule cannot be a function.
2. Illustrate why y = x4 is a many-to-one function by providing a suitable example.
3. By sketching a graph of y = 3x − 1 show that this is a one-to-one function.
4. Explain why a many-to-one function does not have an inverse function. Give an example.
5. Find the inverse of each of the following functions:
1
(a) f (x) = 4x + 7, (b) f (x) = x, (c) f (x) = −23x, (d) f (x) = .
x+1
Answers
x−7 x 1−x
5. (a) f −1 (x) = , (b) f −1 (x) = x, (c) f −1 (x) = − , (d) f −1 (x) = .
4 23 x

HELM (2006): 25
Section 2.3: One-to-One and Inverse Functions
Characterising  

Functions 2.4 

Introduction
There are a number of different terms used to describe the ways in which functions behave. In this
Section we explain some of these terms and illustrate their use.

 

• understand what is meant by a function


Prerequisites
• be able to graph simple functions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• explain the distinction between a continuous
and discontinuous function

• find the limits of simple functions


Learning Outcomes
• explain what is meant by a periodic function
On completion you should be able to . . .
• explain what is meant by an odd function and
an even function
& %

26 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
1. Continuous and discontinuous functions and limits
Look at the graph shown in Figure 18a. The curve can be traced out from left to right without
moving the pen from the paper. The function represented by this curve is said to be continuous at
every point. If we try to trace out the curve in Figure 18b, the presence of a jump in the graph (at
x = x1 ) means that the pen must be lifted from the paper and moved in order to trace the graph.
Such a function is said to be discontinuous at the point where the jump occurs. The jumps are
known as discontinuities.

x1
(a) (b)
Figure 18: (a) A continuous function (b) A discontinuous function

Task
Sketch a graph of a function which has two discontinuities.

Your solution

(Get your tutor to check it.)

When defining a discontinuous function algebraically it is often necessary to give different function
rules for different values of x. Consider, for example, the function defined as:

3 x<0
f (x) =
x2 x ≥ 0
Notice that there is one rule for when x is less than 0 and another rule for when x is greater than or
equal to 0.
A graph of this function is shown in Figure 19.

HELM (2006): 27
Section 2.4: Characterising Functions
f(x)

x
−3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3

Figure 19: An example of a discontinuous function


Suppose we ask ‘to what value does y approach as x approaches 0?’. From the graph we see that
as x gets nearer and nearer to 0, the value of y gets nearer to 0, if we approach from the right-hand
side. We write this formally as
lim f (x) = 0
x→0+

and say ‘the limit of f (x) as x tends to 0 from above is 0.’


On the other hand if x gets closer to zero, from the left-hand side, the value of y remains at 3. In
this case we write
lim f (x) = 3
x→0−

and say ‘the limit of f (x) as x tends to 0 from below is 3.’


In this example the right-hand limit and the left-hand limit are not equal, and this is indicative of
the fact that the function is discontinuous.
In general a function is continuous at a point x = a if the left-hand and right-hand limits are the
same there and are finite, and if both of these are equal to the value of the function at that point.
That is

Key Point 2
A function f (x) is continuous at x = a if and only if:

lim f (x) = lim− f (x) = f (a)


x→a+ x→a

If the right-hand and left-hand limits are the same, we can simply describe this common limit as
lim f (x). If the limits are not the same we say the limit of the function does not exist at x = a.
x→a

28 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Exercises
1. Explain the distinction between a continuous and a discontinous function. Draw a graph
showing an example of each type of function.

2. Study graphs of the functions y = x2 and y = −x2 . Are these continuous functions?

3. Study graphs of y = 3x − 2 and y = −7x + 1. Are these continuous functions?

4. Draw a graph of the function



 2x + 1 x < 3
f (x) = 5 x=3
6 x>3

Find

(a) lim+ f (x), (b) lim− f (x), (c) lim f (x), (d) lim+ f (x), (e) lim− f (x),
x→0 x→0 x→0 x→3 x→3

(f) lim f (x),


x→3

Answers 2. Yes. 3. Yes. 4. (a) 1, (b) 1, (c) 1, (d) 6, (e) 7, (f) limit does not exist.

2. Periodic functions
Any function that has a definite pattern repeated at regular intervals is said to be periodic. The
interval over which the repetition takes place is called the period of the function, and is usually given
the symbol T . The period of a periodic function is usually obvious from its graph.
Figure 20 figure shows a graph of a periodic function with period T = 3. This function has discon-
tinuities at values of x which are divisible by 3.

f(x)

−6 −3 0 3  x
T

Figure 20

HELM (2006): 29
Section 2.4: Characterising Functions
Figure 21 shows a graph of a periodic function with period T = 6. This function has no discontinu-
ities.

f(x)

−6 −3 0 3  x
T

Figure 21
If a function is a periodic function with period T then, for any value of the independent variable x,
the value of f (x + T ) is the same as the value of f (x).

Key Point 3
A function f (x) is periodic if we can find a number T such that
f (x + T ) = f (x) for all values of x

Often a periodic function will be defined by simply specifying the period of the function and by
stating the rule for the function within one period. This information alone is sufficient to draw the
graph for all values of the independent variable.
Figure 22 shows a graph of the periodic function defined by
f (x) = x, −π < x < π, period T = 2π

0
! 3! x

"!

Figure 22

30 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Exercises
1. Explain what is meant by a periodic function.
2. Sketch a graph of a periodic function which has no discontinuities.
3. Sketch a graph of a periodic function which has discontinuities.
4. A periodic function has period 0.01 seconds. How many times will the pattern in the graph repeat
over an interval of 10 seconds ?

Answer 4. 1000.

3. Odd and even functions

Example 7
Figure 23 shows graphs of several functions. They share a common property.
Study the graphs and comment on any symmetry.

Figure 23

Answer
The graphs are all symmetrical about the y axis.

Any function which is symmetrical about the y axis, i.e. where the graph of the right-hand part is the
mirror image of that on the left, is said to be an even function. Even functions have the following
property:

Key Point 4
Even Function

An even function is such that f (−x) = f (x) for all values of x.

Key Point 4 is saying that the function value at a negative value of x is the same as the function
value at the corresponding positive value of x.

HELM (2006): 31
Section 2.4: Characterising Functions
Example 8
Show algebraically that f (x) = x4 + 5 is an even function.

Solution
We must show that f (−x) = f (x).

f (−x) = (−x)4 + 5 = x4 + 5
Hence f (−x) = f (x) and so the function is even. Check for yourself that f (−3) = f (3).

Task
Extend the graph in the solution box in order to produce a graph of an even
function.

Your solution

Answer

Task
The following diagrams shows graphs of several functions. They share a common
property. Study the graphs and comment on any symmetry.

32 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Your solution

Answer
There is rotational symmetry about the origin. That is, each curve, when rotated through 180◦ ,
transforms into itself.

Any function which possesses such symmetry − that is the graph of the right can be obtained by
rotating the curve on the left through 180◦ about the origin − is said to be an odd function. Odd
functions have the following property:

Key Point 5
Odd Function

An odd function is such that f (−x) = −f (x) for all values of x.

Key Point 5 is saying that the function value at a negative value of x is minus the function value at
the corresponding positive value of x.

Example 9
Show that the function f (x) = x3 + 4x is odd.

Solution
We must show that f (−x) = −f (x).

f (−x) = (−x)3 + 4(−x)


= −x3 − 4x
= −(x3 + 4x)
= −f (x)

and so this function is odd. Check for yourself that f (−2) = −f (2).

HELM (2006): 33
Section 2.4: Characterising Functions
Task
Extend the graph in the solution box in order to produce a graph of an odd function.

Your solution

Answer

Note that some functions are neither odd nor even; for example f (x) = x3 + x2 is neither even
nor odd.
The reader should confirm (with simple examples) that, ‘odd’ and ‘even’ functions have the following
properties:

odd + odd = odd even + even = even odd + even = neither


odd × odd = even even × even = even odd × even = odd

34 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Exercises
1. Classify the following functions as odd, even or neither. If necessary sketch a graph to help you
decide. (a) f (x) = 6, (b) f (x) = x2 , (c) f (x) = 2x + 1, (d) f (x) = x, (e) f (x) = 2x

2. The diagram below represents a heavy cable hanging under gravity from two points at the
same height. Such a curve (shown as a dashed line), known as a catenary, is described by a
mathematical function known as a hyperbolic cosine, f (x) = cosh x, discussed in 6.

y
y = cosh x

0 x

A catenary

(a) Comment upon any symmetry.

(b) Is this function one-to-one or many-to-one?

(c) Is this a continuous or discontinuous function?

(d) State lim cosh x.


x→0

Answers
1(a) even, (b) even, (c) neither, (d) odd, (e) odd
2(a) function is even, symmetric about the y-axis, (b) many-to-one, (c) continuous, (d) 1

HELM (2006): 35
Section 2.4: Characterising Functions
 

The Straight Line 2.5 

Introduction
Probably the most important function and graph that you will use are those associated with the
straight line. A large number of relationships between engineering variables can be described using a
straight line or linear graph. Even when this is not strictly the case it is often possible to approximate
a relationship by a straight line. In this Section we study the equation of a straight line, its properties
and graph.

 

• understand what is meant by a function


Prerequisites
• be able to graph simple functions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• recognise the equation of a straight line

• explain the significance of a and b in the


equation of a line f (x) = ax + b

Learning Outcomes • find the gradient of a straight line given two


points on the line
On completion you should be able to . . .
• find the equation of a straight line through
two points

• find the distance between two points


& %

36 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
1. Linear functions
Any function of the form y = f (x) = ax + b where a and b are constants is called a linear function.
The constant a is called the coefficient of x, and b is referred to as the constant term.

Key Point 6
All linear functions can be written in the form:

f (x) = ax + b
where a and b are constants.

1 2
For example, f (x) = 3x + 2, g(x) = x − 7, h(x) = −3x + and k(x) = 2x are all linear functions.
2 3
The graph of a linear function is always a straight line. Such a graph can be plotted by finding just
two distinct points and joining these with a straight line.

Example 10
Plot the graph of the linear function y = f (x) = 4x + 3.

Solution
We start by finding two points. For example if we choose x = 0, then y = f (0) = 3, i.e. the first
point has coordinates (0, 3). Secondly, suppose we choose x = 5, then y = f (5) = 23. The second
point is (5, 23). These two points are then plotted and then joined by a straight line as shown in
the following diagram.
y
25

20
15
10
5

0 1 2 3 4 5 x

HELM (2006): 37
Section 2.5: The Straight Line
Example 11
Plot graphs of the three linear functions y = 4x − 3, y = 4x, and y = 4x + 5, for
−2 ≤ x ≤ 2.

Solution
For each function it is necessary to find two points on the line.
For y = 4x − 3, suppose for the first point we choose x = 0, so that y = −3. For the second point,
let x = 2 so that y = 5. So, the points (0, −3) and (2, 5) can be plotted and joined. This is shown
in the following diagram.
y

10
5

−2 −1 1 2 x
−5

For y = 4x we find the points (0, 0) and (2, 8). Similarly for y = 4x + 5 we find points (0, 5) and
(2, 13). The corresponding lines are also shown in the figure.

Task
Refer to Example 11. Comment upon the effect of changing the value of the
constant term of the linear function.

Your solution

Answer
As the constant term is varied, the line moves up or down the page always remaining parallel to its
initial position.

The value of the constant term is also known as the vertical or y -axis intercept because this is the
value of y where the line cuts the y axis.

38 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
State the vertical intercept of each of the following lines:
1 1
(a) y = 3x + 3, (b) y = x − , (c) y = 1 − 3x, (d) y = −5x.
2 3

In each case you need to identify the constant term:

Your solution
(a) (b) (c) (d)

Answer
1
(a) 3, (b) − , (c) 1, (d) 0
3

Example 12
Plot graphs of the lines y = 3x + 3, y = 5x + 3 and y = −2x + 3.

Solution
Note that all three lines have the same constant term, that is 3. So all three lines pass through
(0, 3), the vertical intercept. A further point has been calculated for each of the lines and their
graphs are shown in the following diagram.
y

10
5

−2 1 x
−5

Note from the graphs in Example 12 that as the coefficient of x is changed the gradient of the
graph changes. The coefficient of x gives the gradient or slope of the line. In general, for the
line y = ax + b a positive value of a produces a graph which slopes upwards from left to right. A
negative value of a produces a graph which slopes downwards from left to right. If a is zero the line
is horizontal, that is its gradient is zero. These properties are summarised in the next figure.

HELM (2006): 39
Section 2.5: The Straight Line
y y y

a is negative
a is zero
a is positive

x x x

Figure 24: The gradient of a line y = ax + b depends upon the value of a.

Key Point 7
Linear Equation
In the linear function f (x) = ax + b, a is the gradient and b is the vertical intercept.

Task
State the gradients of the following lines:
1 x+2
(a) y = 7x + 2 (b) y = − x + 4 (c) y =
3 3

In each case the coefficient of x must be examined:


Your solution

(a) (b) (c)

Answer
(a) 7, (b) −1/3, (c) 1/3

40 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
Which of the following lines has the steepest gradient ?
17x + 4 1
(a) y = , (b) y = 9x − 2, (c) y = x + 4.
5 3

Your solution

Answer
17 1
(b) because the three gradients are (a) (b) 9 (c)
5 3

Exercises
1. State the general form of the equation of a straight line explaining the role of each of the terms
in your answer.

2. State which of the following functions will have straight line graphs.
1
(a) f (x) = 3x − 3, (b) f (x) = x1/2 , (c) f (x) = , (d) f (x) = 13, (e) f (x) = −2 − x.
x
3. For each of the following, identify the gradient and vertical intercept.

(a) f (x) = 2x + 1, (b) f (x) = 3, (c) f (x) = −2x, (d) f (x) = −7 − 17x,

(e) f (x) = mx + c.

Answers

1. e.g. y = ax + b. x is the independent variable, y is the dependent variable, a is the gradient


and b is the vertical intercept.

2. (a), (d) and (e) will have straight line graphs.

3. (a) gradient = 2, vertical intercept =1, (b) 0, 3, (c) −2, 0, (d) −17, −7, (e) m, c.

HELM (2006): 41
Section 2.5: The Straight Line
2. The gradient of a straight line through two points
A common requirement is to find the gradient of a line when we know the coordinates of two points
on it. Suppose the two points are A(x1 , y1 ), B(x2 , y2 ) as shown in the following figure.

y
B(x2 , y2 )

A(x1 , y1 )
0 x

Figure 25
The gradient of the line joining A and B can be calculated from the following formula.

Key Point 8
Gradient of Line Through Two Points
The gradient of the line joining A(x1 , y1 ) and B(x2 , y2 ) is given by
y2 − y1
gradient =
x2 − x1

Example 13
Find the gradient of the line joining the points A(0, 3) and B(4, 5).

Solution
We calculate the gradient as follows:

y2 − y1 y
gradient =
x2 − x1 7
5−3 3
=
4−0
1 0 4 x
= 8
2

Thus the gradient of the line is 12 . Graphically, this means that when x increases by 1, the value of
y increases by 21 .

42 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
Find the gradient of the line joining the points A(−1, 4) and B(2, 1).

Your solution
y2 − y1
gradient = =
x2 − x1
Answer
1−4
= −1
2 − (−1)

Thus the gradient of the line is −1. Graphically, this means that when x increases by 1, the value of
y decreases by 1.

Exercises
1. Calculate the gradient of the line joining (1, 0) and (15, −3).
2. Calculate the gradient of the line joining (10, −3) and (15, −3).
Answers
1. −3/14. 2. 0

HELM (2006): 43
Section 2.5: The Straight Line
3. The equation of a straight line through two points
The equation of the line passing through the points with coordinates A(x1 , y1 ) and B(x2 , y2 ) is given
by the following formula.

Key Point 9
The line passing through points A(x1 , y1 ) and B(x2 , y2 ) is given by
 
y − y1 x − x1 y2 − y1
= or, equivalently y − y1 = (x − x1 )
y2 − y1 x2 − x1 x2 − x1

Task
Find the equation of the line passing through A(−7, 11) and B(1, 3).

y − y1 x − x1
First apply the formula: =
y2 − y1 x2 − x1

Your solution
y−
=

Answer
y − 11 x+7
= .
3 − 11 1+7

Simplify this to obtain the required equation:

Your solution

Answer
y =4−x

Exercises
1. Find the equation of the line joining (1, 5) and (−9, 2).
2. Find the gradient and vertical intercept of the line joining (8, 1) and (−2, −3).

3 47
Answers 1. y = x+ . 2. 0.4, −2.2.
10 10

44 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
4. The distance between two points
Referring again to the figure of 2, the distance between the points A(x1 , y1 ) and B(x2 , y2 ) is
given using Pythagoras’ theorem by the following formula.

Key Point 10
Distance Between Two Points
p
The distance between points A(x1 , y1 ) and B(x2 , y2 ) is (x2 − x1 )2 + (y2 − y1 )2

Task
Find the distance between A(−7, 11) and B(1, 3), using Key Point 10.

Your solution

Answer
p √ √
(1 − (−7))2 + (3 − 11)2 = 64 + 64 = 128

Exercises
1. Find the distance between the points (4, 5) and (−17, 1).
2. Find the distance between the points (−4, −5) and (1, 7).

Answers

1. 457
2. 13

HELM (2006): 45
Section 2.5: The Straight Line
 

The Circle 2.6 

Introduction
A circle is one of the most familiar geometrical figures and has been around a long time! In this
brief Section we discuss the basic coordinate geometry of a circle - in particular the basic equation
representing a circle in terms of its centre and radius.

 
• understand what is meant by a function and
Prerequisites be able to use functional notation
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be able to plot graphs of functions

 

• obtain the equation of any given circle
Learning Outcomes • obtain the centre and radius of a circle from
On completion you should be able to . . . its equation
 

46 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
1. Equations for circles in the Oxy plane
The obvious characteristic of a circle is that every point on its circumference is the same distance
from the centre. This fixed distance is called the radius of the circle and is generally denoted by R
or r or a.
In coordinate geometry terms suppose (x, y) denotes the coordinates of a point. For example, (4,2)
means x = 4, y = 2, (−1, 1) means x = −1, y = 1 and so on. See Figure 26.

(4, 2)
(−1, 1)
x

Figure 26

Example 14
Write down the distances d1 and d2 from the origin of the points with coordinates
(4,2) and (−1, 1) respectively. Generalise the result to obtain the distance d from
the origin of any arbitrary point with coordinates (x, y).

Solution
Using Pythagoras’ Theorem:
√ √
d1 = 42 + 22 = 20 is the distance between the origin (0,0) and the point (4,2).
p √
d2 = (−1)2 + 12 = 2 is the distance between the origin and (−1, 1).
p
d = x2 + y 2 is the distance from the origin to an arbitrary point (x, y). Note that the positive
square root is taken in each case.

HELM (2006): 47
Section 2.6: The Circle
Circles with centre at the origin
Suppose (x, y) is any point P on a circle of radius R whose centre is at the origin. See Figure 27.

(x, y)
P
R
x

Figure 27

Task
Using the final result of Example (14), write down an equation relating x, y and
R.

Your solution

Answer p
Since x2 + y 2 is distance of any point (x, y) from the origin, then for any point P on the above
circle.
p
x2 + y 2 = R or x2 + y 2 = R 2

As the point P in Figure 27 moves around the circle its x and y coordinates change. However P will
remain at the same distance R from the origin by the very definition of a circle.
Hence we say that
p
x2 + y 2 = R or, more usually,
x2 + y 2 = R 2 (1)
is the equation of the circle radius R centre at the origin. What this means is that if a point (x, y)
satisfies (1) then it lies on the circumference of the circle radius R. If (x, y) does not satisfy (1) then
it does not lie on that circumference.
Note carefully that the right-hand sides of the circle equation (1) is the square of the radius.

48 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
Consider the circle centre at the origin and of radius 5.

(a) Write down the equation of this circle.


(b) For the following points determine which lie on the circumference of
this circle, which lie inside the circle and which lie outside the circle.
√ √
(5, 0) (0, −5) (4, 3) (−3, 4) (2, 21) (−2 6, 1) (1, 4) (4, −4)

Your solution
(a)

(x, y) x2 + y 2 conclusion
(5, 0)
(0, −5)
(4, 3)
(b) (−3,√−4)
(2, √21)
(−2 6, 1)
(1, 4)
(4, −4)

Answer

(a) x2 + y 2 = 52 = 25 is the equation of the circle.


(b) For each point (x, y) we calculate x2 + y 2 . If this equals 25 the point lies on the circle’
if greater than 25 then outside and if less than 25 then inside.

x, y x2 + y 2 conclusion
(5, 0) 25 on circle
(0, −5) 25 on circle
(4, 3) 25 on circle
(−3,√−4) 25 on circle
(2, √21) 25 on circle
(−2 6, 1) 25 on circle
(1, 4) 17 inside circle
(4, −4) 32 outside circle

HELM (2006): 49
Section 2.6: The Circle
Figure 28 demonstrates some of the results of the previous Task.

y
x2 + y 2 = 25

(1, 4) (4, 3)

(5, 0)
x

(−3, − 4) (4, −4)


(0, −5)

Figure 28
Note that the circle centre at the origin and of radius 1 has a special name – the unit circle.

Task
Calculate the distance between the points P1 (−1, 1) and P2 (4, 2).

(4, 2)
(−1, 1)
x

Your solution

50 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Answer
y

P2
d
P1
A
x

Using Pythagoras’ Theorem the distance between the two given points is
p
d = (P1 A)2 + (AP2 )2
where P1 A = 4 − (−1) = 5, AP2 = 2 − 1 = 1
√ √
∴ d = 52 + 12 = 26

Task
Generalise your result to the previous Task to obtain the distance between any two
points whose coordinates are (x1 , y1 ) and (x2 , y2 ).

Your solution

HELM (2006): 51
Section 2.6: The Circle
Answer
y

(x1 , y1 )
P1
d
P2
A (x2 , y2 )

Between the arbitrary points P1 and P2 the distance is


p
d = (AP2 )2 + (P1 A)2
where AP2 = x2 − x1 , P1 A = y1 − y2 = −(y2 − y1 )
p
so d = (x2 − x1 )2 + (y2 − y1 )2

Using the result of the last Task, we now consider a circle centre at the point C(x0 ; y0 ) and of radius
R. Suppose P is an arbitrary point on this circle which has co-ordinates (x, y):

P (x, y)
R

C (x0 , y0 )

Figure 29
p
Clearly R = CP = (x − x0 )2 + (y − y0 )2
Hence, squaring both sides,
(x − x0 )2 + (y − y0 )2 = R2 (2)
which is said to be the equation of the circle centre (x0 , y0 ) radius R.
Note that if x0 = y0 = 0 (i.e. circle centre is at origin) then (2) reduces to (1) so the latter is simply
a special case.
The interpretation of (2) is similar to that of (1): any point (x, y) satisfying (2) lies on the circum-
ference of the circle.

52 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Example 15
What does the equation (x − 3)2 + (y − 4)2 = 4 represent?

Solution
It represents a circle of radius 2 (the positive square root of 4) and has centre C (3, 4).

N.B. There is no need to expand the√terms on the left-hand side of the equation here. The given
form reveals quite plainly the radius ( 4) and centre (3, 4) of the circle.

Task
Write down the equations of each of the following circles for which the centre C
and radius R are given:

(a) C(0, 2), R = 2


(b) C(−2, 0), R = 3
(c) C(−3, 4), R = 5

(d) C(1, 1), R = 3

Your solution
(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

Answer

(a) x0 = 0, y0 = 2, R2 = 4 so by Equation (2) the circle’s equation is

x2 + (y − 2)2 = 4
(b) x0 = −2, y0 = 0, R2 = 9 ∴ (x + 2)2 + y 2 = 9

(c) (x + 3)2 + (y − 4)2 = 25


(d) (x − 1)2 + (y − 1)2 = 3

Again we emphasise that the right-hand side of each of these equations is the square of the radius.

HELM (2006): 53
Section 2.6: The Circle
Task
Write down the equations of each of the circles shown below:

y
(a) (b) (c) (d)
2 3

2 1 2 −1
x
3
−1

Your solution

Answer

(a) x2 + y 2 = 4 (centre (0, 0) i.e. the origin, radius 2)


(b) (x − 1)2 + y 2 = 1 (centre (1, 0), radius 1)
(c) (x − 3)2 + (y − 3)2 = 0 (centre (3, 3), radius 3)
(d) (x + 1)2 + (y + 1)2 = 1 (centre (−1, −1), radius 1)

Consider again the equation of the circle, centre (3,4) of radius 2:

(x − 3)2 + (y − 4)2 = 4 (3)

In this form of the equation the centre and radius of the circle can be clearly identified and, as we
said, there is no advantage in squaring out. However, if we did square out the equation would become

x2 − 6x + 9 + y 2 − 8x + 16 = 4 or x2 − 6x + y 2 − 8x + 21 = 0 (4)

Equation (4) is of course a valid equation for this circle but, we cannot immediately obtain the centre
and radius from it.

54 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
For the case of the general circle of radius R
(x − x0 )2 + (y − y0 )2 = R2
expand out the square terms and simplify.

Your solution

Answer
We obtain
x2 − 2x0 x + x20 + y 2 − 2y0 y + y02 − R2 = 0
or
x2 + y 2 − 2x0 x − 2y0 y + c = 0
where the constant c = x20 + y02 − R2 .

It follows from the above task that any equation of the form
x2 + y 2 − 2gx − 2f y + c = 0 (5)
represents a circle with centre (g, f ) and a radius obtained by solving
c = g 2 + f 2 − R2
for R.
Thus
p
R= g2 + f 2 − c (6)
There is no need to remember Equation (6). In any specific problem the technique of completion
of square can be used to turn an equation of the form (5) into the form of Equation (2) (i.e.
(x − x0 )2 + (y − y0 )2 = R2 ) and hence obtain the centre and radius of the circle.
NB. The key point about Equation (5) is that the coefficients of the term x2 and y 2 are the same,
i.e. 1. An equation with the coefficient of x2 and y 2 identical with value k 6= 1 could be converted
into the form (5) by division of the whole equation by k.

HELM (2006): 55
Section 2.6: The Circle
Task
If
x2 + y 2 − 2x + 10y + 16 = 0
obtain the centre and radius of the circle that this equation represents.

Begin by completing the square separately on the x−terms and the y−terms:

Your solution

Answer

x2 − 2x = (x − 1)2 − 1
y 2 + 10y = (y + 5)2 − 25

Now complete the problem:

Your solution

Answer
The original equation
x2 + y 2 − 2x + 10y + 16 = 0
becomes
(x − 1)2 − 1 + (y + 5)2 − 25 + 16 = 0

∴ (x − 1)2 + (y + 5)2 = 10

which represents a circle with centre (1, −5) and radius 10.

56 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Circles and functions
Let us return to the equation of the unit circle
x2 + y 2 = 1
Solving for y we obtain

y = ± 1 − x2 .
This equation does not represent a function because of the two possible square roots which imply
that for any value of x there are two values of y. (You will recall from earlier in this Workbook that
a function requires only one value of the dependent variable y corresponding to each value of the
independent variable x.) √ √
However two functions can be obtained in this case: y = y1 = + 1 − x2 y = y2 = − 1 − x2
whose graphs are the semicircles shown.

y √ y
y = + 1 − x2

−1 1
x x
−1 1

y = − 1 − x2

Figure 30

2. Annuli between circles


Equations in x and y, such as (1) i.e. x2 + y 2 = R2 and (2) i.e. (x − x0 )2 + (y − y0 )2 = R2 for
circles, define curves in the Oxy plane. However, inequalities are necessary to define regions. For
example, the inequality
x2 + y 2 < 1
is satisfied by all points inside the unit circle - for example (0, 0), (0, 21 ), ( 14 , 0), ( 12 , 21 ).
Similarly x2 + y 2 > 1 is satisfied by all points outside that circle such as (1, 1).

y
x2 + y 2 > 1
1
x2 + y 2 = 1

x
1
x2 + y 2 < 1

Figure 31

HELM (2006): 57
Section 2.6: The Circle
Example 16
Sketch the regions in the Oxy plane defined by
(a) (x − 1)2 + y 2 < 1 (b) (x − 1)2 + y 2 > 1

Solution
The equality (x − 1)2 + y 2 = 1 is satisfied by any point on the circumference of the circle centre
(1,0) radius 1. Then, remembering that (x − 1)2 + y 2 is the square of the distance between any
point (x, y) and (1,0), it follows that

(a) (x − 1)2 + y 2 < 1 is satisfied by any point inside this circle (region (A) in the diagram.)
(b) (x − 1)2 + y 2 > 1 defines the region exterior to the circle since this inequality is satisfied
by every point outside. (Region (B) on the diagram.)

(B) (A) (B)


x
0 1 2

The region between two circles with the same centre (i.e. concentric circles) is called an annulus
or annular region. An annulus is defined by two inequalities. For example the inequality
x2 + y 2 > 1 (7)
defines, as we saw, the region outside the unit circle.
The inequality
x2 + y 2 < 4 (8)
defines the region inside the circle centre origin radius 2.
Hence points (x, y) which satisfy both the inequalities (7) and (8) lie in the annulus between the
two circles. The inequalities (7) and (8) are combined by writing
1 < x2 + y 2 < 4

y
1 < x2 + y 2 < 4

x
0 1 2

Figure 32

58 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
Sketch the annulus defined by the inequalities
1 < (x − 1)2 + y 2 < 9

Your solution

Answer
The quantity (x − 1)2 + y 2 is the square of the distance of a point (x, y) from the point (1,0).
Hence, as we saw earlier, the left-hand inequality
1 < (x − 1)2 + y 2 which is the same as (x − 1)2 + y 2 > 1
is the region exterior to the circle C1 centre (1, 0) radius 1.
Similarly the right-hand inequality
(x − 1)2 + y 2 < 9
defines the interior of the circle C2 centre (1, 0) radius 3. Hence the double inequality holds for any
point in the annulus between C1 and C2 .

C2

C1
x
−2 0 1 22 4

HELM (2006): 59
Section 2.6: The Circle
Exercises
1. Write down the radius and the coordinates of the centre of the circle for each of the following
equations

(a) x2 + y 2 = 16
(b) (x − 4)2 + (y − 3)2 = 12
(c) (x + 3)2 + (y − 1)2 = 25
(d) x2 + (y + 1)2 − 4 = 0
(e) (x + 6)2 + y 2 − 36 = 0

2. Obtain in each case the equation of the given circle

(a) centre C (0, 0) radius 7


(b) centre C (0, 2) radius 2
(c) centre C (4, −4) radius 4
(d) centre C (−2, −2) radius 4
(e) centre C (−6, 0) radius 5

3. Obtain the radius and the coordinates of the centre for each of the following circles

(a) x2 + y 2 − 10x + 12y = 0


(b) x2 + y 2 + 2x − 4y = 11
(c) x2 + y 2 − 6x − 16 = 0

4. Describe the regions defined by each of these inequalities

(a) x2 + y 2 > 4
(b) x2 + y 2 < 16
(c) the inequalities in (i) and (ii) together

5. State an inequality that describes the points that lie outside the circle of radius 4 with centre
(−4, 2).

6. State an inequality that describes the points that lie inside the circle of radius 6 with centre
(−2, −1).

7. Obtain the equation of the circle which has centre (3, 4) and which passes through the point
(0, 5).

8. Show that if A(x1 , y1 ) and B(x2 , y2 ) are at opposite ends of a diameter of a circle then the
equation of the circle is (x − x1 )(x − x2 ) + (y − y1 )(y − y2 ) = 0.

(Hint: if P is any point on the circle obtain the slopes of the lines AP and BP and recall that
the angle in a semicircle must be a right-angle.)

9. State the equation of the unique circle which touches the x−axis at the point (2,0) and which
passes through the point (−1, 9).

60 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Answers

1. (a) radius 4 centre (0, 0)



(b) radius 12 centre (4, 3)
(c) radius 5 centre (−3, 1)
(d) radius 2 centre (0, −1)
(e) radius 6 centre (−6, 0)

2. (a) x2 + y 2 = 49
(b) x2 + (y − 2)2 = 4
(c) (x − 4)2 + (y + 4)2 = 16
(d) (x + 2)2 + (y + 2)2 = 16
(e) (x + 6)2 + y 2 = 25

3. (a) centre (5, −6) radius 61
(b) centre (−1, 2) radius 4
(c) centre (3,0) radius 5

4. (a) the region outside the circumference of the circle centre the origin radius 2.
(b) the region inside the circle centre the origin radius 4 (often referred to as a circular disc)
(c) the annular ring between these two circles.

5. (x + 4)2 + (y − 2)2 > 16

6. (x + 2)2 + (y + 1)2 < 6

7. (x − 3)2 + (y − 4)2 = 10

8. (x − x1 )(x − x2 ) + (y − y1 )(y − y2 ) = 0.

9. (x − 2)2 + (y − 5)2 = 25 (Note: since we are told the circle touches the x−axis at (2,0) the
centre of the circle must be at the point (2, y0 ) where y0 = R).

HELM (2006): 61
Section 2.6: The Circle
Some Common  

Functions 2.7 

Introduction
This Section provides a catalogue of some common functions often used in Science and Engineering.
These include polynomials, rational functions, the modulus function and the unit step function.
Important properties and definitions are stated. This Section can be used as a reference when the
need arises. There are, of course, other types of function which arise in engineering applications,
such as trigonometric, exponential and logarithm functions. These others are dealt with in 4
to 6.

 
• understand what is meant by a function and
Prerequisites use functional notation
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be able to plot graphs of functions

' 
$
• state what is meant by a polynomial
function, and a rational function
Learning Outcomes
• use and graph the modulus function
On completion you should be able to . . .
• use and graph the unit step function
& %

62 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
1. Polynomial functions
A very important type of function is the polynomial. Polynomial functions are made up of multiples
of non-negative whole number powers of a variable, such as 3x2 , −7x3 and so on. You are already
familiar with many such functions. Other examples include:

P0 (t) = 6
P1 (t) = 3t + 9 (The linear function you have already met).
2
P2 (x) = 3x − x + 2
P4 (z) = 7z 4 + z 2 − 1

where t, x and z are independent variables.


Note that fractional and negative powers of the independent variable are not allowed so that f (x) =
x−1 and g(x) = x3/2 are not polynomials. The function P0 (t) = 6 is a polynomial - we can regard
it as 6t0 .
By convention a polynomial is written with the powers either increasing or decreasing. For example
the polynomial
3x + 9x2 − x3 + 2
would be written as
−x3 + 9x2 + 3x + 2 or 2 + 3x + 9x2 − x3
In general we have the following definition:

Key Point 11
A polynomial expression has the form
an xn + an−1 xn−1 + an−2 xn−2 + . . . + a2 x2 + a1 x + a0
where n is a non-negative integer, an , an−1 , . . . , a1 , a0 are constants and x is a variable.
A polynomial function P (x) has the form
P (x) = an xn + an−1 xn−1 + an−2 xn−2 + . . . + a2 x2 + a1 x + a0

The degree of a polynomial or polynomial function is the value of the highest power. Referring to
the examples listed above, polynomial P2 has degree 2, because the term with the highest power
is 3x2 , P4 has degree 4, P1 has degree 1 and P0 has degree 0. Polynomials with low degrees have
special names given in Table 5.

HELM (2006): 63
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
Table 5
degree name
a 0 constant
ax + b 1 linear
ax2 + bx + c 2 quadratic
3 2
ax + bx + cx + d 3 cubic
4 3 2
ax + bx + cx + dx + e 4 quartic

Typical graphs of some polynomial functions are shown in Figure 30. In particular, observe that the
graphs of the linear polynomials, P1 and Q2 are straight lines.

P2 (x) = x2 + 3
10
P1 (x) = 2x + 3 10 10 P3 (x) = x3
Q1 (x) = −x + 4 5

−5 5
x x −5
−5 5 5
−5
−10
−15
Q2 (x) = −x2 + 2x
Q3 (x) = −x3 + 7x − 6

Figure 30: Graphs of some typical linear, quadratic and cubic polynomials

Task
Which of the polynomial graphs in Figure 30 are odd and which are even? Are
any periodic ?

Your solution

Answer
P2 is even. P3 is odd. None are periodic.

64 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
State which of the following are polynomial functions. For those that are, state
the degree and name.
(a) f (x) = 6x2 + 7x3 − 2x4 (b) f (t) = t3 − 3t2 + 7
1 3 1
(c) g(x) = 2
+ (d) f (x) = 16 (e) g(x) = 6
x x

Your solution

Answer
(a) polynomial of degree 4 (quartic), (b) polynomial of degree 3 (cubic), (c) not a polynomial,
(d) polynomial of degree 0 (constant), (e) polynomial of degree 0 (constant)

Exercises
1. Write down a polynomial of degree 3 with independent variable t.
2. Write down a function which is not a polynomial.
3. Explain why y = 1 + x + x1/2 is not a polynomial.
4. State the degree of the following polynomials: (a) P (t) = t4 + 7, (b) P (t) = −t3 + 3,
(c) P (t) = 11, (d) P (t) = t
5. Write down a polynomial of degree 0 with independent variable z.
6. Referring to Figure 27, state which functions are one-to-one and which are many-to-one.

Answers
1. For example f (t) = 1 + t + 3t2 − t3 .
1
2. For example y = .
x
3. A term such as x1/2 , with a fractional index, is not allowed in a polynomial.
4. (a) 4, (b) 3, (c) 0, (d) 1.
5. P (z) = 13, for example.
6. P1 , Q1 and P3 are one-to-one. The rest are many-to-one.

HELM (2006): 65
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
2. Rational functions
A rational function is formed by dividing one polynomial by another. Examples include
x+6 t3 − 1 2z 2 + z − 1
R1 (x) = , R 2 (t) = , R 3 (z) =
x2 + 1 2t + 3 z2 + z − 2
For convenience we have labelled these rational functions R1 , R2 and R3 .

Key Point 12
A rational function has the form
P (x)
R(x) =
Q(x)
where P and Q are polynomial functions.
P is called the numerator and Q is called the denominator.

The graphs of rational functions can take a variety of different forms and can be difficult to plot by
hand. Use of a graphics calculator or computer software can help. If you have access to a plotting
package or calculator it would be useful to obtain graphs of these functions for yourself. The next
Example and two Tasks allow you to explore some of the features of the graphs.

66 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Example 17
x+2
Given the rational function R1 (x) = and its graph shown in Figure 31
x2 + 1
answer the following questions.

x
−2

x+2
Figure 31: Graph of R1 (x) =
x2 + 1
(a) For what values of x, if any, is the denominator zero?
(b) For what values of x, if any, is the denominator negative?
(c) For what values of x is the function negative?
(d) What is the value of the function when x is zero?
(e) What happens to the function as x gets larger and larger?

Solution
(a) x2 + 1 is never zero
(b) x2 + 1 is never negative, it is always positive
(c) only when the numerator x + 2 is negative which is when x is less than −2
(d) 2, because that is when the numerator x + 2 = 0
(e) R1 approaches zero because the x2 term in the denominator becomes very large. (This is seen
by substituting larger and larger values e.g. 10, 100, 1000 . . . )

Note that for large x values the graph gets closer and closer to the x axis. We say that the x axis is
a horizontal asymptote of this graph.
Answering questions such as (a) to (c) above will help you to sketch graphs of rational functions.

HELM (2006): 67
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
Task
t3 − 1
Study the graph and the algebraic form of the function R2 (t) = carefully
2t + 3
and answer the following questions. The following figure shows its graph (the solid
curve). The dotted line is an asymptote.

10

−10 −5 5 10 t

−10

t3 − 1
Graph of R2 (t) =
2t + 3

(a) What is the function value when t = 1?


(b) What is the value of the denominator when t = −3/2?
(c) What do you think happens to the graph of the function when t = −3/2?

Your solution

(a)

(b)

(c)

Answer
(a) 0,
(b) 0,
(c) The function value tends to infinity, the graph becomes infinite.

Note from the answers to parts (b) and (c) that we must exclude the value t = −3/2 from the
domain of this function because division by zero is not defined. At this point as you can see the
graph shoots off towards very large positive values (we say it tends to positive infinity) if the point is
approached from the left, and towards very large negative values (we say it tend to negative infinity)
if the point is approached from the right. The dotted line in the graph of R2 (x) has equation t = − 23 .
It is approached by the curve as t approaches − 32 and is known as a vertical asymptote.

68 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Task
2z 2 + z − 1
Study the graph and the algebraic form of the function R3 (z) =
(z − 1)(z + 2)
carefully and try to answer the following questions. The graph of R3 (z) is shown
in the following figure.

10

−5 5 z

−10

2z 2 + z − 1
Graph of R3 (z) =
(z − 1)(z + 2)

(a) What is happening to the graph when z = −2 and when z = 1?


(b) Which values should be excluded from the domain of this function?
(c) Substitute some values for z (e.g. 10, 100 . . .). What happens to R3 as z gets large?
(d) Is there a horizontal asymptote?
(e) What is the name given to the vertical lines z = 1 and z = −2?
Your solution

Answer
(a) denominator is zero, R3 tends to infinity,
(b) z = −2 and z = 1,
(c) R3 approaches the value 2,
(d) y = 2 is a horizontal asymptote,
(e) vertical asymptotes

HELM (2006): 69
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
The previous Examples are intended to give you some guidance so that you will be able to sketch
rational functions yourself. Each function must be looked at individually but some general guidelines
are given in Key Point 13.

Key Point 13
Sketching rational functions

• Find the value of the function when the independent variable is zero. This is generally easy
to evaluate and gives you a point on the graph.

• Find values of the independent variable which make the denominator zero. These values must
be excluded from the domain of the function and give rise to vertical asymptotes.

• Find values of the independent variable which make the dependent variable zero. This gives
you points where the graph cuts the horizontal axis (if at all).

• Study the behaviour of the function when x is large and positive and when it is large and
negative.

• Are there any vertical or horizontal asymptotes? (Oblique asymptotes may also occur but
these are beyond the scope of this Workbook.)

It is particularly important for engineers to find values of the independent variable for which the
denominator is zero. These values are are known as the poles of the rational function.

Task
State the poles of the following rational functions:
t−3 s+7 2x + 5
(a) f (t) = (b) F (s) = (c) r(x) =
t+7 (s + 3)(s − 3) (x + 1)(x + 2)
x−1
(d) f (x) = 2 .
x −1

In each case locate the poles by finding values of the independent variable which make the denominator
zero:
Your solution

Answer
(a) −7, (b) 3 or −3, (c) −1 or −2, (d) x = −1

If you have access to a plotting package, plot these functions now.

70 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Exercises
1. Explain what is meant by a rational function.

2. State the degree of the numerator and the degree of the denominator of the rational function
3x2 + x + 1
R(x) = .
x−1
3. Explain the term ‘pole’ of a rational function.

4. Referring to the graphs of R1 (x), R2 (t) and R3 (z) (on pages 66 - 68), state which functions,
if any, are one-to-one and which are many-to-one.
1 1
5. Without using a graphical calculator plot graphs of y = and y = 2 . Comment upon
x x
whether these graphs are odd, even or neither, whether they are continuous or discontinuous,
and state the position of any poles.

Answers
1. R(x) = P (x)/Q(x) where P and Q are polynomials.
2. numerator: 2, denominator: 1
3. The pole is a value of the independent variable which makes the denominator zero.
4. All are many-to-one.
1 1
5. is odd, and discontinuous. Pole at x = 0. 2 is even and discontinuous. Pole at x = 0.
x x

3. The modulus function


The modulus of a number is the size of that number with no regard paid to its sign. For example the
modulus of −7 is 7. The modulus of +7 is also 7. We can write this concisely using the modulus
sign | |. So we can write | − 7| = 7 and | + 7| = 7. The modulus function is defined as follows:

Key Point 14
Modulus Function
The modulus function is defined as

x x≥0
f (x) = |x| =
−x x < 0

HELM (2006): 71
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
The output from the function in Key Point 14 is simply the modulus of the input.
A graph of this function is shown in Figure 32.

f (x) = |x|

Figure 32: Graph of the modulus function |x|

Task
Draw up a table of values of the function f (x) = |x − 2| for values of x between
−3 and 5. Sketch a graph of this function.

Your solution
The table has been started. Complete it for yourself.

x −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3 4 5
f (x) 5 3 2 0

Some points on the graph are shown in the figure. Plot your calculated points on the graph.

f (x) = |x − 2|
5

−3 2 x
5

72 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Exercises
1. Sketch a graph of the following functions:
(a) f (x) = 3|x|, (b) f (x) = |x + 1|, (c) f (x) = 7|x − 3|.
2. Is the modulus function one-to-one or many-to-one?

Answers 2. Many-to-one

4. The unit step function


The unit step function is defined as follows:

Key Point 15
The unit step function u(t) is defined as:

1 t≥0
u(t) =
0 t<0

Study this definition carefully. You will see that it is defined in two parts, with one expression to be
used when t is greater than or equal to 0, and another expression to be used when t is less than 0.
The graph of this function is shown in Figure 33. Note that the part of u(t) for which t < 0 lies on
the t-axis but, for clarity, is shown as a distinct dashed line.

u(t)

Figure 33: Graph of the unit step function


There is a jump, or discontinuity in the graph when t = 0. That is why we need to define the function
in two parts; one part for when t is negative, and one part for when t is non-negative. The point
with coordinates (0,1) is part of the function defined on t ≥ 0.

HELM (2006): 73
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
The position of the discontinuity may be shifted to the left or right. The graph of u(t − d) is shown
in Figure 34.

u(t − d)

t
d

Figure 34: Graph of u(t − d).


In the previous two figures the function takes the value 0 or 1. We can adjust the value 1 by
multiplying the function by any other number we choose. The graph of 2u(t − 3) is shown in Figure
35.

2 u(t − )

t
3

Figure 35: Graph of 2u(t − 3)

Exercises
Sketch graphs of the following functions:

1. u(t),

2. −u(t),

3. u(t − 1),

4. u(t + 1),

5. u(t − 3) − u(t − 2),

6. 3u(t),

7. −2u(t − 3).

74 HELM (2006):
Workbook 2: Basic Functions
Answers

(1) (2)
u(t)
1

--------------------- ---------------------
t t
− u(t)
-1

(3) (4)
u(t − 1) u(t + 1)
1 1

------------------------------- ------------ t
1 t -1

(5) 3u(t)
(6)
3

------------------------------------------- -------- ---------------------


1 2 3 t t

-1
u(t − 3) − u(t − 2)

(7)

------------------------------------------------------
1 2 3 t

-2
− 2u(t − 3)

HELM (2006): 75
Section 2.7: Some Common Functions
Contents 3
Equations, Inequalities
& Partial Fractions
3.1 Solving Linear Equations 2

3.2 Solving Quadratic Equations 13

3.3 Solving Polynomial Equations 31

3.4 Solving Simultaneous Linear Equations 42

3.5 Solving Inequalities 50

3.6 Partial Fractions 60

Learning outcomes
In this Workbook you will learn about solving single equations, mainly linear and quadratic,
but also cubic and higher degree, and also simultaneous linear equations. Such equations
often arise as part of a more complicated problem. In order to gain confidence in
mathematics you will need to be thoroughly familiar with these basis topics.
You will also study how to manipulate inequalities. You will also be introduced to partial
fractions which will enable you to re-express an algebraic fraction in terms of simpler
fractions. This will prove to be extremely useful in later studies on integration.
Solving Linear  

Equations 3.1 

Introduction
Many problems in engineering reduce to the solution of an equation or a set of equations. An equation
is a type of mathematical expression which contains one or more unknown quantities which you will
be required to find. In this Section we consider a particular type of equation which contains a single
unknown quantity, and is known as a linear equation. Later Sections will describe techniques for
solving other types of equations.

 
• be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide
Prerequisites fractions
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be able to transpose formulae

 


Learning Outcomes • recognise and solve a linear equation


On completion you should be able to . . .
 

2 HELM (2006):
Workbook 3: Equations, Inequalities & Partial Fractions
®

1. Linear equations

Key Point 1
A linear equation is an equation of the form
ax + b = 0 a 6= 0
where a and b are known numbers and x represents an unknown quantity to be found.

In the equation ax + b = 0, the number a is called the coefficient of x, and the number b is called
the constant term.
The following are examples of linear equations
1
3x + 4 = 0, −2x + 3 = 0, − x−3=0
2

Note that the unknown, x, appears only to the first power, that is as x, and not as x2 , x, x1/2 etc.
Linear equations often appear in a non-standard form, and also different letters are sometimes used
for the unknown quantity. For example
1
2x = x + 1 3t − 7 = 17, 13 = 3z + 1, 1− y =3 2α − 1.5 = 0
2
are all examples of linear equations. Where necessary the equations can be rearranged and written
in the form ax + b = 0. We will explain how to do this later in this Section.

Task
Which of the following are linear equations and which are not linear?
(a) 3x + 7 = 0, (b) −3t + 17 = 0, (c) 3x2 + 7 = 0, (d) 5p = 0

The equations which can be written in the form ax + b = 0 are linear.


Your solution
(a) (b) (c) (d)

Answer
(a) linear in x (b) linear in t (c) non-linear - quadratic in x (d) linear in p, constant is zero

To solve a linear equation means to find the value of x that can be substituted into the equation so
that the left-hand side equals the right-hand side. Any such value obtained is known as a solution
or root of the equation and the value of x is said to satisfy the equation.

HELM (2006): 3
Section 3.1: Solving Linear Equations
Example 1
Consider the linear equation 3x − 2 = 10.

(a) Check that x = 4 is a solution.


(b) Check that x = 2 is not a solution.

Solution

(a) To check that x = 4 is a solution we substitute the value for x and see if both sides of the
equation are equal. Evaluating the left-hand side we find 3(4) − 2 which equals 10, the same
as the right-hand side. So, x = 4 is a solution. We say that x = 4 satisfies the equation.
(b) Substituting x = 2 into the left-hand side we find 3(2) − 2 which equals 4. Clearly the
left-hand side is not equal to 10 and so x = 2 is not a solution. The number x = 2 does not
satisfy the equation.

Task
Test which of the given values are solutions of the equation
18 − 4x = 26
(a) x = 2, (b) x = −2, (c) x = 8

(a) Substituting x = 2, the left-hand side equals


Your solution

Answer
18 − 4 × 2 = 10. But 10 6= 26 so x = 2 is not a solution.

(b) Substituting x = −2, the left-hand side equals:


Your solution

Answer
18 − 4(−2) = 26. This is the same as the right-hand side, so x = −2 is a solution.

(c) Substituting x = 8, the left-hand side equals:


Your solution

Answer
18 − 4(8) = −14. But −14 6= 26 and so x = 8 is not a solution.

4 HELM (2006):
Workbook 3: Equations, Inequalities & Partial Fractions
®

Exercises
1. (a) Write down the general form of a linear equation.
(b) Explain what is meant by the root or solution of a linear equation.

In questions 2-8 verify that the given value is a solution of the given equation.

2. 3z − 7 = −28, z = −7

3. 8x − 3 = −11, x = −1
1
4. 2s + 3 = 4, s = 2
1 4
5. 3
x + 3
= 2, x = 2

6. 7t + 7 = 7, t = 0

7. 11x − 1 = 10, x = 1

8. 0.01t − 1 = 0, t = 100.
Answers

1. (a) The general form is ax + b = 0 where a and b are known numbers and x represents the
unknown quantity.
(b) A root is a value for the unknown which satisfies the equation.

2. Solving a linear equation


To solve a linear equation we make the unknown quantity the subject of the equation. We obtain
the unknown quantity on its own on the left-hand side. To do this we may apply the same rules used
for transposing formulae given in Workbook 1 Section 1.7. These are given again here.

Key Point 2
Operations which can be used in the process of solving a linear equation
• add the same quantity to both sides
• subtract the same quantity from both sides
• multiply both sides by the same quantity
• divide both sides by the same quantity
• take the reciprocal of both sides (invert)
• take functions of both sides; for example cube both sides.

HELM (2006): 5
Section 3.1: Solving Linear Equations
A useful summary of the rules in Key Point 2 is ‘whatever we do to one side of an equation we must
also do to the other’.

Example 2
Solve the equation x + 14 = 5.

Solution
Note that by subtracting 14 from both sides, we leave x on its own on the left. Thus

x + 14 − 14 = 5 − 14
x = −9

Hence the solution of the equation is x = −9. It is easy to check that this solution is correct by
substituting x = −9 into the original equation and checking that both sides are indeed the same.
You should get into the habit of doing this.

Example 3
Solve the equation 19y = 38.

Solution
In order to make y the subject of the equation we can divide both sides by 19:

19y = 38
19y 38
=
19 19
38
cancelling 19’s gives y =
19
so y = 2

Hence the solution of the equation is y = 2.

6 HELM (2006):
Workbook 3: Equations, Inequalities & Partial Fractions
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Example 4
Solve the equation 4x + 12 = 0.

Solution
Starting from 4x + 12 = 0 we can subtract 12 from both sides to obtain

4x + 12 − 12 = 0 − 12
so that 4x = −12

If we now divide both sides by 4 we find


4x −12
=
4 4
cancelling 4’s gives x = −3

So the solution is x = −3.

Task
Solve the linear equation 14t − 56 = 0.

Your solution

Answer
t=4

Example 5 √ √
Solve the following equations: (a) x + 3 = 7, (b) x + 3 = − 7.

Solution


(a) Subtracting 3 from both sides gives x = 7 − 3.

(b) Subtracting 3 from both sides gives x = − 7 − 3.
√ √
Note that when asked to solve x + 3 = ± 7 we can write the two solutions
√ as x = −3 ± 7. It is
usually acceptable to leave the solutions in this form (i.e. with the 7 term) rather than calculate
decimal approximations. This form is known as the surd form.

HELM (2006): 7
Section 3.1: Solving Linear Equations
Example 6
Solve the equation 23 (t + 7) = 5.

Solution
There are a number of ways in which the solution can be obtained. The idea is to gradually remove
unwanted terms on the left-hand side to leave t on its own. By multiplying both sides by 32 we find
3
2
× 23 (t + 7) = 3
2
×5= 3
2
× 5
1
and after simplifying and cancelling, t+7= 15
2

Finally, subtracting 7 from both sides gives


15 15 14 1
t= −7= − =
2 2 2 2
So the solution is t = 12 .

Example 7
Solve the equation 3(p − 2) + 2(p + 4) = 5.

Solution
At first sight this may not appear to be in the form of a linear equation. Some preliminary work is
necessary. Removing the brackets and collecting like terms we find the left-hand side yields 5p + 2
so the equation is 5p + 2 = 5 so that p = 35 .

Task
Solve the equation 2(x − 5) = 3 − (x + 6).

(a) First remove the brackets on both sides:

Your solution

Answer
2x − 10 = 3 − x − 6. We may write this as 2x − 10 = −x − 3.

8 HELM (2006):
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(b) Rearrange the equation found in (a) so that terms involving x appear only on the left-hand side,
and constants on the right. Start by adding 10 to both sides:
Your solution

Answer
2x = −x + 7

(c) Now add x to both sides:


Your solution

Answer
3x = 7
(d) Finally solve this to find x:
Your solution
x=

Answer
7
3

Example 8
Solve the equation
6 7
=
1 − 2x x−2

Solution
This equation appears in an unfamiliar form but it can be rearranged into the standard form of a
linear equation. By multiplying both sides by (1 − 2x) and (x − 2) we find
6 7
(1 − 2x)(x − 2) × = (1 − 2x)(x − 2) ×
1 − 2x x−2
Considering each side in turn and cancelling common factors:
6(x − 2) = 7(1 − 2x)
Removing the brackets and rearranging to find x we have

6x − 12 = 7 − 14x
Further rearrangement gives: 20x = 19
19
The solution is therefore x = .
20

HELM (2006): 9
Section 3.1: Solving Linear Equations
Example 9
Figure 1 shows three branches of an electrical circuit which meet together at
x. Point x is known as a node. As shown in Figure 1 the current in each of the
branches is denoted by I, I1 and I2 . Kirchhoff’s current law states that the current
entering any node must equal the current leaving that node. Thus we have the
equation I = I1 + I2

I x I2

I1

Figure 1

(a) Given I2 = 10 A and I = 18 A calculate I1 .


(b) Suppose I = 36 A and it is known that current I2 is five times as great as
I1 . Find the branch currents.

Solution

(a) Substituting the given values into the equation we find 18 = I1 + 10.

Solving for I1 we find

I1 = 18 − 10 = 8

Thus I1 equals 8 A.
(b) From Kirchhoff’s law, I = I1 + I2 .

We are told that I2 is five times as great as I1 , and so we can write I2 = 5I1 .

Since I = 36 we have

36 = I1 + 5I1

Solving this linear equation 36 = 6I1 gives I1 = 6 A.

Finally, since I2 is five times as great as I1 , we have I2 = 5I1 = 30 A.

10 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
In questions 1-24 solve each equation:
1. 7x = 14 2. −3x = 6 3. 12 x = 7 4. 3x = 12
5. 4t = −2 6. 2t = 4 7. 4t = 2 8. 2t = −4
x x
9. =3 10. = −3 11. 7x + 2 = 9 12. 7x + 2 = 23
6 6
17
13. −7x + 1 = −6 14. −7x + 1 = −13 15. t = −2 16. 3 − x = 2x + 8
3
x x 13
17. x − 3 = 8 + 3x 18. = 16 19. = −2 20. − x = 14
4 9 2
21. −2y = −6 22. −7y = 11 23. −69y = −690 24. −8 = −4γ.
In questions 25-47 solve each equation:
1
25. 3y − 8 = y 26. 7t − 5 = 4t + 7 27. 3x + 4 = 4x + 3
2
28. 4 − 3x = 4x + 3 29. 3x + 7 = 7x + 2 30. 3(x + 7) = 7(x + 2)
31. 2x − 1 = x − 3 32. 2(x + 4) = 8 33. −2(x − 3) = 6
34. −2(x − 3) = −6 35. −3(3x − 1) = 2
36. 2 − (2t + 1) = 4(t + 2) 37. 5(m − 3) = 8
38. 5m − 3 = 5(m − 3) + 2m 39. 2(y + 1) = −8
1 3
40. 17(x − 2) + 3(x − 1) = x 41. (x + 3) = −9 42. =4
3 m
5 2
43. = 44. −3x + 3 = 18 45. 3x + 10 = 31
m m+√1 √
46. x + 4 = 8 47. x − 4 = 23
48. If y = 2 find x if 4x + 3y = 9 49. If y = −2 find x if 4x + 5y = 3
50. If y = 0 find x if −4x + 10y = −8 51. If x = −3 find y if 2x + y = 8
52. If y = 10 find x when 10x + 55y = 530 53. If γ = 2 find β if 54 = γ − 4β
In questions 54-63 solve each equation:
x − 5 2x − 1 x 3x x x 4x
54. − =6 55. + − =1 56. + = 2x − 7
2 3 4 2 6 2 3
5 2 2 5 x−3
57. = 58. = 59. =4
3m + 2 m+1 3x − 2 x−1 x+1
x+1 y−3 2 4x + 5 2x − 1
60. =4 61. = 62. − =x
x−3 y+3 3 6 3
3 1
63. + =0
2s − 1 s + 1
64. Solve the linear equation ax + b = 0 to find x
1 1
65. Solve the linear equation = (a 6= c) to find x
ax + b cx + d

HELM (2006): 11
Section 3.1: Solving Linear Equations
Answers
1. 2 2. −2 3. 14 4. 1/6 5. −1/2 6. 2
7. 1/2 8. −2 9. 18 10. −18 11. 1 12. 3
13. 1 14. 2 15. −6/17 16. −5/3 17. −11/2 18. 64
19. −18 20. −28/13 21. y = 3 22. −11/7 23. y = 10 24. 2
25. 16/5 26. 4 27. 1 28. 1/7 29. 5/4 30. 7/4
31. −2 32. 0 33. 0 34. 6 35. 1/9 36. −7/6
37. 23/5 38. 6 39. −5 40. √
37/19 41. −30
√ 42. 3/4
43. −5/3 44. −5 45. 7 46. 8 − 4 47. 23 + 4 48. 3/4
49. 13/4 50. 2 51. 14 52. −2 53. −13 54. −49
55. 12/19 56. 42 57. 1 58. 8/13 59. −7/3 60. 13/3
(d − b)
61. 15 62. 7/6 63. −2/5 64. −b/a 65.
(a − c)

12 HELM (2006):
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Solving Quadratic  

Equations  3.2 

Introduction
A quadratic equation is one which can be written in the form ax2 + bx + c = 0 where a, b and
c are numbers, a 6= 0, and x is the unknown whose value(s) we wish to find. In this Section we
describe several ways in which quadratic equations can be solved.

 

Prerequisites • be able to solve linear equations


Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• recognise a quadratic equation

• solve a quadratic equation by factorisation

• solve a quadratic equation using the standard


Learning Outcomes formula

On completion you should be able to . . . • solve a quadratic equation by completing the


square

• interpret the solution of a quadratic equation


graphically
& %

HELM (2006): 13
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
1. Quadratic equations

Key Point 3
A quadratic equation is one which can be written in the form
ax2 + bx + c = 0 a 6= 0
where a, b and c are given numbers and x is the unknown whose value(s) must be found.

For example
2x2 + 7x − 3 = 0, x2 + x + 1 = 0, 0.5x2 + 3x + 9 = 0
are all quadratic equations. To ensure the presence of the x2 term, the number a, in the general
expression ax2 + bx + c cannot be zero. However b or c may be zero, so that
4x2 + 3x = 0, 2x2 − 3 = 0 and 6x2 = 0
are also quadratic equations. Frequently, quadratic equations occur in non-standard form but where
necessary they can be rearranged into standard form. For example
3x2 + 5x = 8, can be re-written as 3x2 + 5x − 8 = 0

2x2 = 8x − 9, can be re-written as 2x2 − 8x + 9 = 0

1
1+x= , can be re-written as x2 + x − 1 = 0
x
To solve a quadratic equation we must find values of the unknown x which make the left-hand and
right-hand sides equal. Such values are known as solutions or roots of the quadratic equation.
Note the difference between solving quadratic equations in comparison to solving linear equations. A
quadratic equation will generally have two values of x (solutions) which satisfy it whereas a linear
equation only has one solution.
We shall now describe three techniques for solving quadratic equations:

• factorisation

• completing the square

• using the quadratic formula

14 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
1. Verify that x = 2 and x = 3 are both solutions of x2 − 5x + 6 = 0.

2. Verify that x = −2 and x = −3 are both solutions of x2 + 5x + 6 = 0.

2. Solution by factorisation
It may be possible to solve a quadratic equation by factorisation using the method described for
factorising quadratic expressions in 1.5, although you should be aware that not all quadratic
equations can be easily factorised.

Example 10
Solve the equation x2 + 5x = 0.

Solution
Factorising and equating each factor to zero we find
x2 + 5x = 0 is equivalent to x(x + 5) = 0
so that x = 0 and x = −5 are the two solutions.

Example 11
Solve the quadratic equation x2 + x − 6 = 0.

Solution
Factorising the left hand side we find x2 + x − 6 = (x + 3)(x − 2) so that
x2 + x − 6 = 0 is equivalent to (x + 3)(x − 2) = 0
When the product of two quantities equals zero, at least one of the two must equal zero. In this
case either (x + 3) is zero or (x − 2) is zero. It follows that
x + 3 = 0, giving x = −3 or x − 2 = 0, giving x=2
Here there are two solutions, x = −3 and x = 2.
These solutions can be checked quite easily by substitution back into the given equation.

HELM (2006): 15
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
Example 12
Solve the quadratic equation 2x2 − 7x − 4 = 0 by factorising the left-hand side.

Solution
Factorising the left hand side: 2x2 −7x−4 = (2x+1)(x−4) so 2x2 −7x−4 = 0 is equivalent to (2x+
1)(x − 4) = 0. In this case either (2x + 1) is zero or (x − 4) is zero. It follows that 2x + 1 =
0, giving x = − 12 or x − 4 = 0, giving x = 4
There are two solutions, x = − 12 and x = 4.

Example 13
Solve the equation 4x2 + 12x + 9 = 0.

Solution
Factorising we find 4x2 + 12x + 9 = (2x + 3)(2x + 3) = (2x + 3)2
This time the factor (2x + 3) occurs twice. The original equation 4x2 + 12x + 9 = 0 becomes
(2x + 3)2 = 0 so that 2x + 3 = 0
and we obtain the solution x = − 32 . Because the factor 2x + 3 appears twice in the equation
(2x + 3)2 = 0 we say that this root is a repeated solution or double root.

Task
Solve the quadratic equation 7x2 − 20x − 3 = 0.

First factorise the left-hand side:


Your solution
7x2 − 20x − 3 =

Answer
(7x + 1)(x − 3)

Equate each factor is then equated to zero to obtain the two solutions:
Your solution
Solution 1: x = Solution 2: x =

Answer
− 71 and 3

16 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
Solve the following equations by factorisation:
1. x2 − 3x + 2 = 0 2. x2 − x − 2 = 0 3. x2 + x − 2 = 0
4. x2 + 3x + 2 = 0 5. x2 + 8x + 7 = 0 6. x2 − 7x + 12 = 0
2
7. x − x − 20 = 0 8. 4x2 − 4 = 0 9. −x2 + 2x − 1 = 0
10. 3x2 + 6x + 3 = 0 11. x2 + 11x = 0 12. 2x2 + 2x = 0

Answers The factors are found to be:


1. 1, 2 2. −1, 2 3. −2, 1 4. −1, −2 5. −7, −1
6. 4, 3 7. −4, 5 8. 1, −1 9. 1 twice 10. −1 twice
11. −11, 0 12. 0, −1

3. Completing the square


The technique known as completing the square can be used to solve quadratic equations although it
is applicable in many other circumstances too so it is well worth studying.

Example 14
(a) Show that (x + 3)2 = x2 + 6x + 9
(b) Hence show that x2 + 6x can be written as (x + 3)2 − 9.

Solution

(a) Removing the brackets we find

(x + 3)2 = (x + 3)(x + 3) = x2 + 3x + 3x + 9 = x2 + 6x + 9

(b) By subtracting 9 from both sides of the previous equation it follows that

(x + 3)2 − 9 = x2 + 6x

HELM (2006): 17
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
Example 15
(a) Show that (x − 4)2 = x2 − 8x + 16
(b) Hence show that x2 − 8x can be written as (x − 4)2 − 16.

Solution

(a) Removing the brackets we find

(x − 4)2 = (x − 4)(x − 4) = x2 − 4x − 4x + 16 = x2 − 8x + 16

(b) Subtracting 16 from both sides we can write

(x − 4)2 − 16 = x2 − 8x

We shall now generalise the results of Examples 14 and 15. Noting that
(x + k)2 = x2 + 2kx + k 2 we can write x2 + 2kx = (x + k)2 − k 2
Note that the constant term in the brackets on the right-hand side is always half the coefficient of x
on the left. This process is called completing the square.

Key Point 4

Completing the Square


The expression x2 + 2kx is equivalent to (x + k)2 − k 2

Example 16
Complete the square for the expression x2 + 16x.

Solution
Comparing x2 + 16x with the general form x2 + 2kx we see that k = 8. Hence
x2 + 16x = (x + 8)2 − 82 = (x + 8)2 − 64
Note that the constant term in the brackets on the right, that is 8, is half the coefficient of x on
the left, which is 16.

18 HELM (2006):
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Example 17
Complete the square for the expression 5x2 + 4x.

Solution
Consider 5x2 + 4x. First of all the coefficient 5 is removed outside a bracket as follows
4
5x2 + 4x = 5(x2 + x)
5
We can now complete the square for the quadratic expression in the brackets:
 2
2 4 2 2 2 2 4
x + x = (x + ) − = (x + )2 −
5 5 5 5 25
Finally, multiplying both sides by 5 we find
 
2 2 2 4
5x + 4x = 5 (x + ) −
5 25

Completing the square can be used to solve quadratic equations as shown in the following Examples.

Example 18
Solve the equation x2 + 6x + 2 = 0 by completing the square.

Solution
First of all just consider x2 + 6x, and note that we can write this as
x2 + 6x = (x + 3)2 − 9
Then the quadratic equation can be written as
x2 + 6x + 2 = (x + 3)2 − 9 + 2 = 0 that is (x + 3)2 = 7
Taking the square root of both sides gives
√ √
x + 3 = ± 7 so x = −3 ± 7
√ √
The two solutions are x = −3 + 7 = −0.3542 and x = −3 − 7 = −5.6458, to 4 d.p.

HELM (2006): 19
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
Example 19
Solve the equation x2 − 8x + 5 = 0

Solution
First consider x2 − 8x which we can write as x2 − 8x = (x − 4)2 − 16 so that the equation
becomes
x2 − 8x + 5 = (x − 4)2 − 16 + 5 = 0

i.e. (x − 4)2 = 11

x − 4 = ± 11

x = 4 ± 11

So x = 7.3166 or x = 0.6834 (to 4 d.p.)

Task
Solve the equation x2 − 4x + 1 = 0 by completing the square.

First examine the two left-most terms in the equation: x2 − 4x. Complete the square for these terms:
Your solution
x2 − 4x =

Answer
(x − 2)2 − 4

Use the above result to rewrite the equation x2 − 4x + 1 = 0 in the form (x− ?)2 + ? = 0:
Your solution
x2 − 4x + 1 =

Answer
(x − 2)2 − 4 + 1 = (x − 2)2 − 3 = 0

From this now obtain the roots:


Your solution

Answer
√ √
(x − 2)2 = 3, so x − 2 = ± 3. Therefore x = 2 ± 3 so x = 3.7321 or 0.2679 to 4 d.p.

20 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
1. Solve the following quadratic equations by completing the square.

(a) x2 − 3x = 0

(b) x2 + 9x = 0.

(c) 2x2 − 5x + 2 = 0

(d) 6x2 − x − 1 = 0

(e) −5x2 + 6x − 1 = 0

(f) −x2 + 4x − 3 = 0

2. A chemical manufacturer found that the sales figures for a certain chemical X2 O depended on
its selling price. At present, the company can sell all of its weekly production of 300 t at a
price of £600 / t. The company’s market research department advised that the amount sold
would decrease by only 1 t per week for every £2 / t increase in the price of X2 O. If the total
production costs are made up of a fixed cost of £30000 per week, plus £400 per t of product,
show that the weekly profit is given by

x2
P =− + 800x − 270000
2
where x is the new price per t of X2 O. Complete the square for the above expression and hence
find

(a) the price which maximises the weekly profit on sales of X2 O


(b) the maximum weekly profit
(c) the weekly production rate

Answers
1. (a) 0, 3 (b) 0, −9 (c) 2, 21 (d) 1
2
, − 13 (e) 1
5
,1 (f) 1, 3
2. (a) £800 / t, (b) £50000 /wk, (c) 200 t / wk

4. Solution by formula
When it is difficult to factorise a quadratic equation, it may be possible to solve it using a formula
which is used to calculate the roots. The formula is obtained by completing the square in the general
quadratic ax2 + bx + c. We proceed by removing the coefficient of a:
b c b c b2
ax2 + bx + c = a{x2 + x + } = a{(x + )2 + − 2 }
a a 2a a 4a
Thus the solution of ax2 + bx + c = 0 is the same as the solution to
b 2 c b2
(x + ) + − 2 = 0
2a a 4a

HELM (2006): 21
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
r
b c b2 b c b2
So, solving: (x + )2 = − + 2 which leads to x=− ± − + 2
2a a 4a 2a a 4a
Simplifying this expression further we obtain the important result:

Key Point 5
Quadratic Formula
If ax2 + bx + c = 0, a 6= 0 then the two solutions (roots) are
√ √
−b − b2 − 4ac −b + b2 − 4ac
x= and x=
2a 2a

To apply the formula to a specific quadratic equation it is necessary to identify carefully the values
of a, b and c, paying particular attention to the signs of these numbers. Substitution of these values
into the formula then gives the desired solutions.
Note that if the quantity b2 − 4ac (called the discriminant) is a positive number we can take its
square root and the formula will produce two values known as distinct real roots. If b2 − 4ac = 0
there will be one value only known as a repeated root or double root. The value of this root
b
is x = − . Finally if b2 − 4ac is negative we say the equation possesses complex roots. These
2a
require special treatment and are described in 10.

Key Point 6
When finding roots of the quadratic equation ax2 + bx + c = 0 first calculate the discrinimant
b2 − 4ac
• If b2 − 4ac > 0 the quadratic has two real distinct roots
• If b2 − 4ac = 0 the quadratic has two real and equal roots
• If b2 − 4ac < 0 the quadratic has no real roots: there are two complex roots

22 HELM (2006):
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Example 20
Compare each given equation with the standard form ax2 +bx +c = 0 and identify
a, b and c. Calculate b2 − 4ac in each case and use this information to state the
nature of the roots.

(a) 3x2 + 2x − 7 = 0 (b) 3x2 + 2x + 7 = 0

(c) 3x2 − 2x + 7 = 0 (d) x2 + x + 2 = 0

1
(e) −x2 + 3x − 2
=0 (f) 5x2 − 3 = 0

(g) x2 − 2x + 1 = 0 (h) 2p2 − 4p = 0

(i) −p2 + 4p − 4 = 0

Solution

(a) a = 3, b = 2, c = −7. So b2 − 4ac = (2)2 − 4(3)(−7) = 88.


The roots are real and distinct.
(b) a = 3, b = 2,c = 7. So b2 − 4ac = (2)2 − 4(3)(7) = −80.
The roots are complex.
(c) a = 3, b = −2, c = 7. So b2 − 4ac = (−2)2 − 4(3)(7) = −80.
The roots are complex.
(d) a = 1, b = 1, c = 2. So b2 − 4ac = 12 − 4(1)(2) = −7.
The roots are complex.
(e) a = −1, b = 3, c = − 12 . So b2 − 4ac = 32 − 4(−1)(− 12 ) = 7.
The roots are real and distinct.
(f) a = 5, b = 0, c = −3. So b2 − 4ac = 0 − 4(5)(−3) = 60.
The roots are real and distinct.
(g) a = 1, b = −2, c = 1. So b2 − 4ac = (−2)2 − 4(1)(1) = 0.
The roots are real and equal.
(h) a = 2, b = −4, c = 0. So b2 − 4ac = (−4)2 − 4(2)(0) = 16
The roots are real and distinct.
(i) a = −1, b = 4, c = −4. So b2 − 4ac = (−4)2 − 4(−1)(−4) = 0
The roots are real and equal.

HELM (2006): 23
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
Example 21
Solve the quadratic equation 2x2 + 3x − 6 = 0 using the formula.

Solution
We compare the given equation with the standard form ax2 + bx + c = 0 in order to identify a, b
and c. We see that here a = 2, b = 3 and c = −6. Note particularly the sign of c. Substituting
these values into the formula we find
√ p √
−b ± b2 − 4ac −3 ± 32 − 4(2)(−6) −3 ± 9 + 48 −3 ± 7.5498
x= = = =
2a (2)(2) 4 4
Hence, to 4 d.p., the two roots are x = 1.1375, if the positive sign is taken and x = −2.6375 if
the negative sign√is taken. However, it is often sufficient to leave the solution in the so-called surd
−3 ± 57
form x = , which is exact.
4

Task
Solve the equation 3x2 − x − 6 = 0 using the quadratic formula.

First identify a, b and c:


Your solution
a= b= c=

Answer
a = 3, b = −1, c = −6
Substitute these values into the formula and simplify:
Your solution √
−b ± b2 − 4ac
x= so x =
2a

Answer p √
−(−1) ± (−1)2 − (4)(3)(−6) 1 ± 73
=
(2)(3) 6

Finally, calculate the values of x to 4 d.p.:


Your solution
x= or x=

Answer
1.5907, −1.2573

24 HELM (2006):
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Engineering Example 1

Undersea cable fault location


Introduction
The voltage (V ), current (I) and resistance (R) in an electrical circuit are related by Ohm’s law i.e.
V = IR. If there are two resistances (R1 and R2 ) in an electrical circuit, they may be in series, in
which case the total resistance (R) is given by R = R1 + R2 . Or they may be in parallel in which
case the total resistance is given by
1 1 1
= +
R R1 R2
In 1871 the telephone cable between England (A) and Denmark (B) developed a fault, due to a short
circuit under the sea (see Figure 2). Oliver Heaviside, an electrical engineer, came up with a very
simple method to find the location of the fault. He assumed that the cable had a uniform resistance
per unit length. Heaviside performed two tests:
(1) connecting a battery (voltage E) at A, with the circuit open at B, he measured the resulting
current I1 ,
(2) connecting the same battery at A, with the cable earthed at B, he measured the current I2 .

x r−x
A B

England Denmark

short-circuit

Figure 2: Schematic of the undersea cable


In the first measurement the resistances up to the cable fault and between the fault and the short
circuit are in series and in the second experiment the resistances beyond the fault and between the
fault and the short circuit are in parallel.
Problem in words
Use the information from the measurements to deduce the location of the fault.
Mathematical statement of problem

(a) Denote the resistances of the various branches by the symbols shown in Figure 2.
(b) Use Ohm’s law to write down expressions that apply to each of the two measurements.
(c) Eliminate y from these expressions to obtain an expression for x.

HELM (2006): 25
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
Mathematical analysis
(a) In the first experiment the total circuit resistance is x + y. In the second experiment, the total
circuit resistance is given by:
 −1
1 1
x+ +
r−x y
So application of Ohm’s law to each experimental situation gives:
E = I1 (x + y) (1)
 −1
1 1
E = I2 (x + + ) (2)
r−x y
E
Rearrange Equation (1) to give −x=y
I1
E E
Substitute for y in Equation (2), divide both sides by I2 and introduce = r1 and = r2 :
I1 I2
 −1
1 1
r2 = (x + + )
r−x y
Use a common denominator for the fractions on the right-hand side:
 
(r − x)(r1 − x) x(r1 + r − 2x) + (r − x)(r1 − x)
r2 = (x + )=
r1 − x + r − x (r1 + r − 2x)
Multiply through by (r1 + r − 2x):
r2 (r1 + r − 2x) = x(r1 + r − 2x) + (r − x)(r1 − x)
Rearrange as a quadratic for x:
x2 − 2r2 x − rr1 + r2 r1 + rr2 = 0
Use the standard formula for solving quadratic equations
with a = 1, b = −2r2 and c = −rr1 + r2 r1 + rr2 :
p
2r2 ± 4r22 − 4(−rr1 + r2 r1 + rr2 ) p
x= = r2 ± (r − r2 )(r1 − r2 )
2
Only positive solutions would be of interest.

26 HELM (2006):
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Engineering Example 2

Estimating the mass of a pipe

Introduction
Sometimes engineers have to estimate component weights from dimensions and material properties.
On some occasions, engineers prefer use of approximate formulae to exact ones as long as they are
sufficiently accurate for the purpose. This Example introduces both of these aspects.
Problem in words

(a) Find the mass of a given length of pipe in terms of its inner and outer diameters and the
density of the pipe material.
(b) Find the wall thickness of the pipe if the inner diameter is 0.15 m, the density is 7900 kg
m−3 and the mass per unit length of pipe is 40 kg m−1 .
(c) Find an approximate method for calculating the mass of a given length of a thin-walled
pipe and calculate the maximum ratio of inner and outer diameters that give an error of
less than 10% when using the approximate method.

Mathematical statement of problem

(a) Denote the length of the pipe by L m and inside and outside diameters by di m and do
m, respectively and the density by ρ kg m−3 . Assume that the pipe is cylindrical so its
cross section corresponds to the gap between concentric circles (this is called an annulus
or annular region - see 2.6). Calculate the difference in cross sectional areas by
using the formula for the area of a circle (A = πr2 where r is the radius) and multiply
by the density and length to obtain mass (m).
(b) Rearrange the equation in terms of wall thickness (d m) and inner diameter. Substitute
the given values to determine the wall thickness.
(c) Approximate the resulting expression for small values of (do − di ). Calculate the percent-
age difference in predictions between the original and approximate formulae for various
numerical values of di /do .

Mathematical analysis

(a) The cross section of a cylindrical pipe is a circular annulus. The area of a circle is given
π π
by πr2 = d2 , since r = d/2 if d is the diameter. So the area of the outer circle is d2o
4 4
π 2
and that of the inner circle is di . This means that the mass m kg of length L m of the
4
pipe is given by
π 2
m= (d − d2i )Lρ
4 0

HELM (2006): 27
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
(b) Denote the pipe wall thickness by δ so do = di + 25.

Use (d2o − d2i ) = (do − di )(do + di ) = 2δ(2di + 2δ). So m = πδ(di + δ)Lρ

Given that m/L = 40, di = 0.15 and r = 7900,

40 = pd(0.15 + d)7900.

Rearrange this equation as a quadratic in δ,

δ 2 + 0.15δ − 4π/790 = 0

Solve this quadratic using the standard formula with a = 1, b = 0.15 and c = 4π/790.
Retain only the positive solution to give δ = 0.072, i.e. the pipe wall thickness is 72 mm.
(c) If δ is small then (do − di ) is small and di + δ ≈ di . So the expression for m in terms of
δ may be written

m ≈ πδdi Lρ

The graph in Figure 3 shows that the percentage error from using the approximate formula
for the mass of the pipe exceeds 10% only if the inner diameter is less than 82% of the
outer diameter.

The percentage error from using the approximate formula can be calculated from
(exact result − approximate result)/(exact result) × 100% for various values of the ratio of inner to
outer diameters. In the graph the error is plotted for diameter ratios between 0.75 and 1.

15

10
% error

0
0.75 0.8 0.85 0.9 0.95 1
Inner diameter / Outer diameter

Figure 3
Comment
The graph shows also that the error is 1% or less for diameter ratios > 0.98.

28 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
Solve the following quadratic equations by using the formula. Give answers exactly (where possible)
or to 4 d.p.:
1. x2 + 8x + 1 = 0 2. x2 + 7x − 2 = 0 3. x2 + 6x − 2 = 0
2 2
4. −x + 3x + 1 = 0 5. −2x − 3x + 1 = 0 6. 2x2 + 5x − 3 = 0

Answers
1. −0.1270, −7.8730 2. −7.2749, 0.2749 3. 0.3166, −6.3166
4. 3.3028, −0.3028 5. −1.7808, 0.2808 6. 21 , −3

5. Geometrical representation of quadratics


We can plot a graph of the function y = ax2 + bx + c (given the values of a, b and c). If the graph
crosses the horizontal axis it will do so when y = 0, and so the x coordinates at such points are
solutions of ax2 + bx + c = 0. Depending on the sign of a and of the nature of the solutions there
are essentially six different types of graph that can occur. These are displayed in Figure 4.

real, distinct roots real, equal roots complex roots

y y y

a>0
x x x

y y y

a<0
x x x

Figure 4: The possible graphs of a quadratic y = ax2 + bx + c

Sometimes a graph of the quadratic is used to locate the solutions; however, this approach is generally
inaccurate. This is illustrated in the following example.

HELM (2006): 29
Section 3.2: Solving Quadratic Equations
Example 22
Solve the equation x2 − 4x + 1 = 0 by plotting a graph of the function:
y = x2 − 4x + 1

Solution
By constructing a table of function values we can plot the graph as shown in Figure 5.

y
x 0 1 2 3 4
y 1 −2 −3 −2 1

1
C D
−1 0 1 2 3 4 5 x
−1
−2
−3

Figure 5: The graph of y = x2 − 4x + 1 cuts the x axis at C and D


The solutions of the equation x2 − 4x + 1 = 0 are found by looking for points where the graph
crosses the horizontal axis. The two points are approximately x = 0.3 and x = 3.7 marked C and
D on the Figure.

Exercises
1. Solve the following quadratic equations giving exact numeric solutions. Use whichever method
you prefer

(a) x2 − 9 = 0 (b) s2 − 25 = 0
2
(c) 3x − 12 = 0 (d) x2 − 5x + 6 = 0
(e) 6s2 + s − 15 = 0 (f) p2 + 7p = 0

2. Solve the equation 2x2 − 3x − 7 = 0 giving solutions rounded to 4 d.p.

3. Solve the equation 2t2 + 3t − 4 giving the solutions in surd form.


Answers
1(a) x = 3, −3, (b) s = 5, −5, (c) x = 2, −2, (d) x = 3, 2, (e) s = 3/2, −5/3,

−3 ± 43
(f) p = 0, −7. 2. −2.7656, 1.2656. 3.
4

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Solving Polynomial  

Equations 3.3 

Introduction
Linear and quadratic equations, dealt within Sections 3.1 and 3.2, are members of a class of equations,
called polynomial equations. These have the general form:
an xn + an−1 xn−1 + . . . + a2 x2 + a1 x + a0 = 0
in which x is a variable and an , an−1 , . . . , a2 , a1 , a0 are given constants. Also n must be a positive
integer and an 6= 0. Examples include x3 +7x2 +3x−2 = 0, 5x4 −7x2 = 0 and −x6 +x5 −x4 = 0.
In this Section you will learn how to factorise some polynomial expressions and solve some polynomial
equations.

 

Prerequisites • be able to solve linear and quadratic


equations
Before starting this Section you should . . .

 


Learning Outcomes • recognise and solve some polynomial


equations
On completion you should be able to . . .
 

HELM (2006): 31
Section 3.3: Solving Polynomial Equations
1. Multiplying polynomials together

Key Point 7
A polynomial expression is one of the form

an xn + an−1 xn−1 + . . . + a2 x2 + a1 x + a0

where a0 , a1 , . . ., an are known coefficients (numbers), an 6= 0, and x is a variable.


n must be a positive integer.

For example x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 is a polynomial expression in x. The polynomial may be expressed
in terms of a variable other than x. So, the following are also polynomial expressions:
t3 − t2 + t − 3 z5 − 1 w4 + 10w2 − 12 s+1
Note that only non-negative whole number powers of the variable (usually x) are allowed in a poly-
nomial expression. In this Section you will learn how to factorise simple polynomial expressions and
how to solve some polynomial equations. You will also learn the technique of equating coefficients.
This process is very important when we need to perform calculations involving partial fractions which
will be considered in Section 6.
The degree of a polynomial is the highest power to which the variable is raised. Thus x3 + 6x + 2
has degree 3, t6 − 6t4 + 2t has degree 6, and 5x + 2 has degree 1.
Let us consider what happens when two polynomials are multiplied together. For example
(x + 1)(3x − 2)
is the product of two first degree polynomials. Expanding the brackets we obtain
(x + 1)(3x − 2) = 3x2 + x − 2
which is a second degree polynomial.
In general we can regard a second degree polynomial, or quadratic, as the product of two first degree
polynomials, provided that the quadratic can be factorised. Similarly
(x − 1)(x2 + 3x − 7) = x3 + 2x2 − 10x + 7
is a third degree, or cubic, polynomial which is thus the product of a linear polynomial and a quadratic
polynomial.
In general we can regard a cubic polynomial as the product of a linear polynomial and a quadratic
polynomial or the product of three linear polynomials. This fact will be important in the following
Section when we come to factorise cubics.

32 HELM (2006):
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Key Point 8

A cubic expression can always be formulated as a linear expression times a quadratic expression.

Task
If x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = (x − 4) × (a polynomial), state the degree of the
undefined polynomial.

Your solution

Answer
second.

Task
(a) If 3x2 + 13x + 4 = (x + 4) × (a polynomial), state the degree of the
undefined polynomial.
(b) What is the coefficient of x in this unknown polynomial ?

Your solution
(a) (b)

Answer
(a) First. (b) It must be 3 in order to generate the term 3x2 when the brackets are removed.

Task
If 2x2 + 5x + 2 = (x + 2)× (a polynomial), what must be the coefficient of x in
this unknown polynomial ?

Your solution

Answer
It must be 2 in order to generate the term 2x2 when the brackets are removed.

HELM (2006): 33
Section 3.3: Solving Polynomial Equations
Task
Two quadratic polynomials are multiplied together. What is the degree of the
resulting polynomial?

Your solution

Answer
Fourth degree.

2. Factorising polynomials and equating coefficients


We will consider how we might find the solution to some simple polynomial equations. An important
part of this process is being able to express a complicated polynomial into a product of simpler
polynomials. This involves factorisation.
Factorisation of polynomial expressions can be achieved more easily if one or more of the factors
is already known. This requires a knowledge of the technique of ‘equating coefficients’ which is
illustrated in the following example.

Example 23
Factorise the expression x3 −17x2 +54x−8 given that one of the factors is (x−4).

Solution
Given that x − 4 is a factor we can write
x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = (x − 4) × (a quadratic polynomial)
The polynomial must be quadratic because the expression on the left is cubic and x − 4 is linear.
Suppose we write this quadratic as ax2 + bx + c where a, b and c are unknown numbers which we
need to find. Then
x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = (x − 4)(ax2 + bx + c)
Removing the brackets on the right and collecting like terms together we have
x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = ax3 + (b − 4a)x2 + (c − 4b)x − 4c

34 HELM (2006):
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Solution (contd.)
Like terms are those which involve the same power of the variable (x).
Equating coefficients means that we compare the coefficients of each term on the left with the
corresponding term on the right. Thus if we look at the x3 terms on each side we see that x3 = ax3
which implies a must equal 1. Similarly by equating coefficients of x2 we find −17 = b − 4a With
a = 1 we have −17 = b − 4 so b must equal −13. Finally, equating constant terms we find
−8 = −4c so that c = 2.
As a check we look at the coefficient of x to ensure it is the same on both sides. Now that we know
a = 1, b = −13, c = 2 we can write the polynomial expression as
x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = (x − 4)(x2 − 13x + 2)

Exercises
Factorise into a quadratic and linear product the given polynomial expressions

1. x3 − 6x2 + 11x − 6, given that x − 1 is a factor

2. x3 − 7x − 6, given that x + 2 is a factor

3. 2x3 + 7x2 + 7x + 2, given that x + 1 is a factor

4. 3x3 + 7x2 − 22x − 8, given that x + 4 is a factor

Answers
1. (x − 1)(x2 − 5x + 6), 2. (x + 2)(x2 − 2x − 3), 3. (x + 1)(2x2 + 5x + 2),
4. (x + 4)(3x2 − 5x − 2).

3. Polynomial equations
When a polynomial expression is equated to zero, a polynomial equation is obtained. Linear and
quadratic equations, which you have already met, are particular types of polynomial equation.

Key Point 9
A polynomial equation has the form

an xn + an−1 xn−1 + . . . a2 x2 + a1 x + a0 = 0

where a0 , a1 , . . . , an are known coefficients, an 6= 0, and x represents an unknown whose value(s)


are to be found.

HELM (2006): 35
Section 3.3: Solving Polynomial Equations
Polynomial equations of low degree have special names. A polynomial equation of degree 1 is a
linear equation and such equations have been solved in Section 3.1. Degree 2 polynomials are called
quadratics; degree 3 polynomials are called cubics; degree 4 equations are called quartics and so on.
The following are examples of polynomial equations:
5x6 − 3x4 + x2 + 7 = 0, −7x4 + x2 + 9 = 0, t3 − t + 5 = 0, w7 − 3w − 1 = 0
Recall that the degree of the equation is the highest power of x occurring. The solutions or roots
of the equation are those values of x which satisfy the equation.

Key Point 10
A polynomial equation of degree n has n roots.
Some (possibly all) of the roots may be repeated.
Some (possibly all) of the roots may be complex.

Example 24
Verify that x = −1, x = 1 and x = 0 are solutions (roots) of the equation
x3 − x = 0

Solution
We substitute each value in turn into x3 − x.
(−1)3 − (−1) = −1 + 1 = 0
so x = −1 is clearly a root.
It is easy to verify similarly that x = 1 and x = 0 are also solutions.

In the next subsection we will consider ways in which polynomial equations of higher degree than
quadratic can be solved.

Exercises
Verify that the given values are solutions of the given equations.

1. x2 − 5x + 6 = 0, x = 3, x = 2

2. 2t3 + t2 − t = 0, t = 0, t = −1, t = 21 .

36 HELM (2006):
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4. Solving polynomial equations when one solution is known


In Section 3.2 we gave a formula which can be used to solve quadratic equations. Unfortunately
when dealing with equations of higher degree no simple formulae exist. If one of the roots can be
spotted or is known we can sometimes find the others by the method shown in the next Example.

Example 25
Let the polynomial expression x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 18 be denoted by P (x). Verify
that x = 4 is a solution of the equation P (x) = 0. Hence find the other solutions.

Solution
We substitute x = 4 into the polynomial expression P (x):
P (4) = 43 − 17(42 ) + 54(4) − 8 = 64 − 272 + 216 − 8 = 0
So, when x = 4 the left-hand side equals zero. Hence x = 4 is indeed a solution. Knowing that
x = 4 is a root we can state that (x−4) must be a factor of P (x). Therefore P (x) can be re-written
as a product of a linear and a quadratic term:
P (x) = x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = (x − 4) × (quadratic polynomial)
The quadratic polynomial has already been found in a previous task so we deduce that the given
equation can be written
P (x) = x3 − 17x2 + 54x − 8 = (x − 4)(x2 − 13x + 2) = 0
In this form we see that x − 4 = 0 or x2 − 13x + 2 = 0
The first equation gives x = 4 which we already knew.
The second equation must be solved using one of the methods for solving quadratic equations given
in Section 3.2. For example, using the formula we find

−b ± b2 − 4ac
x = with a = 1, b = −13, c = 2
p 2a
13 ± (−13)2 − 4.1.2
=
√ 2
13 ± 161 13 ± 12.6886
= =
2 2
So x = 12.8443 and x = 0.1557 are roots of x2 − 13x + 2.
Hence the three solutions of P (x) = 0 are x = 4, x = 12.8443 and x = 0.1557, to 4 d.p.

HELM (2006): 37
Section 3.3: Solving Polynomial Equations
Task
Solve the equation x3 + 8x2 + 16x + 3 = 0 given that x = −3 is a root.
Consider the equation x3 + 8x2 + 16x + 3 = 0.

Given that x = −3 is a root state a linear factor of the cubic:

Your solution

Answer
x+3
The cubic can therefore be expressed as
x3 + 8x2 + 16x + 3 = (x + 3)(ax2 + bx + c)
where a, b, and c are constants. These can be found by expanding the right-hand side.
Expand the right-hand side:

Your solution

Answer

x3 + 8x2 + 16x + 3 = ax3 + (3a + b)x2 + (3b + c)x + 3c

Equate coefficients of x3 to find a:

Your solution

Answer
1

Equate constant terms to find c:


Answer
3 = 3c so that c = 1

Your solution

Equate coefficients of x2 to find b:

Your solution

38 HELM (2006):
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Answer
8 = 3a + b so b = 5

This enables us to write the equation as (x + 3)(x2 + 5x + 1) = 0 so x + 3 = 0 or x2 + 5x + 1 = 0.


Now solve the quadratic and state all three roots:

Your solution

Answer
The quadratic equation can be solved using the formula to obtain x = −4.7913 and x = −0.2087.
Thus the three roots of x3 + 8x2 + 16x + 3 are x = −3, x = −4.7913 and x = −0.2087.

Exercises
1. Verify that the given value is a solution of the equation and hence find all solutions:
(a) x3 + 7x2 + 11x + 2 = 0, x = −2 (b) 2x3 + 11x2 − 2x − 35 = 0, x = −5
2. Verify that x = 1 and x = 2 are solutions of x4 + 4x3 − 17x2 + 8x + 4 and hence find all solutions.
Answers
1(a) −2, −0.2087, −4.7913 1(b) −5, −2.1375, 1.6375
2. 1,2, −0.2984, −6.7016

5. Solving polynomial equations graphically


Polynomial equations, particularly of high degree, are difficult to solve unless they take a particularly
simple form. A useful guide to the approximate values of the solutions can be obtained by sketching
the polynomial, and discovering where the curve crosses the x-axis. The real roots of the polynomial
equation P (x) = 0 are given by the values of the intercepts of the function y = P (x) with the x-axis
because on the x-axis y = P (x), is zero. Computer software packages and graphics calculators exist
which can be used for plotting graphs and hence for solving polynomial equations approximately.
Suppose the graph of y = P (x) is plotted and takes a form similar to that shown in Figure 6.

x1 x2 x3
x

Figure 6: A polynomial function which cuts the x axis at points x1 , x2 and x3 .

HELM (2006): 39
Section 3.3: Solving Polynomial Equations
The graph intersects the x axis at x = x1 , x = x2 and x = x3 and so the equation P (x) = 0 has
three roots x1 , x2 and x3 , because P (x1 ) = 0, P (x2 ) = 0 and P (x3 ) = 0.

Example 26
Plot a graph of the function y = 4x4 − 15x2 + 5x + 6 and hence approximately
solve the equation 4x4 − 15x2 + 5x + 6 = 0.

Solution
The graph has been plotted here with the aid of a computer graph plotting package and is shown
in Figure 7. By hand, a less accurate result would be produced, of course.

x
−5 5

Figure 7: Graph of y = 4x4 − 15x2 + 5x + 6

The solutions of the equation are found by looking for where the graph crosses the horizontal axis.
Careful examination shows the solutions are at or close to x = 1, x = 1.5, x = −0.5, x = −2.

An important feature of the graph of a polynomial is that it is continuous. There are never any gaps
or jumps in the curve. Polynomial curves never turn back on themselves in the horizontal direction,
(unlike a circle). By studying the graph in Figure 6 you will see that if we choose any two values
of x, say a and b, such that y(a) and y(b) have opposite signs, then at least one root lies between
x = a and x = b.

40 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
1. Factorise x3 − x2 − 65x − 63 given that (x + 7) is a factor.

2. Show that x = −1 is a root of x3 +11x2 +31x+21 = 0 and locate the other roots algebraically.

3. Show that x = 2 is a root of x3 − 3x − 2 = 0 and locate the other roots.

4. Solve the equation x4 − 2x2 + 1 = 0.

5. Factorise x4 − 7x3 + 3x2 + 31x + 20 given that (x + 1) is a factor.

6. Given that two of the roots of x4 + 3x3 − 7x2 − 27x − 18 = 0 have the same modulus but
different sign, solve the equation.
(Hint - let two of the roots be α and −α and use the technique of equating coefficients).

7. Consider the polynomial P (x) = 5x3 − 47x2 + 84x. By evaluating P (2) and P (3) show that
at least one root of P (x) = 0 lies between x = 2 and x = 3.

8. Without solving the equation or using a graphical calculator, show that x4 + 4x − 1 = 0 has a
root between x = 0 and x = 1.

Answers
1. (x + 7)(x + 1)(x − 9)
2. x = −1, −3, −7
3. x = 2, −1 (repeated)
4. x = −1, 1 (each root repeated)
5. (x + 1)2 (x − 4)(x − 5)
6. (x + 3)(x − 3)(x + 1)(x + 2)

HELM (2006): 41
Section 3.3: Solving Polynomial Equations
Solving Simultaneous  

Linear Equations 3.4 

Introduction
Equations often arise in which there is more than one unknown quantity. When this is the case there
will usually be more than one equation involved. For example in the two linear equations
7x + y = 9, −3x + 2y = 1
there are two unknowns: x and y. In order to solve the equations we must find values for x and
y that satisfy both of the equations simultaneously. The two equations are called simultaneous
equations. You should verify that the solution of these equations is x = 1, y = 2 because by
substituting these values into both equations, the left-hand and right-hand sides are equal.
In this Section we shall show how two simultaneous equations can be solved either by a method
known as elimination or by drawing graphs. In realistic problems which arise in mathematics and
in engineering there may be many equations with many unknowns. Such problems cannot be solved
using a graphical approach (we run out of dimensions in our 3-dimensional world!). Solving these
more general problems requires the use of more general elimination procedures or the use of matrix
algebra. Both of these topics are discussed in later Workbooks.

 

Prerequisites • be able to solve linear equations


Before starting this Section you should . . .

 


Learning Outcomes • solve pairs of simultaneous linear


equations
On completion you should be able to . . .
 

42 HELM (2006):
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1. Solving simultaneous equations by elimination


One way of solving simultaneous equations is by elimination. As the name implies, elimination,
involves removing one or more of the unknowns. Note that if both sides of an equation are multiplied
or divided by a non-zero number an exactly equivalent equation results. For example, if we are given
the equation
x + 4y = 5
then by multiplying both sides by 7 we find
7x + 28y = 35
and this modified equation is equivalent to the original one.
Given two simultaneous equations, elimination of one unknown can be achieved by modifying the
equations so that the coefficients of that unknown in each equation are the same and then subtracting
one modified equation from the other. Consider the following example.

Example 27
Solve the simultaneous equations
3x + 5y = 31 (1)
2x + 3y = 20 (2)

Solution
We first try to modify each equation so that the coefficient of x is the same in both equations. This
can be achieved if Equation (1) is multiplied by 2 and Equation (2) is multiplied by 3. This gives
6x + 10y = 62
6x + 9y = 60
Now the unknown x can be eliminated if the second equation is subtracted from the first:
6x + 10y = 62
subtract 6x + 9y = 60
0x + 1y = 2
The result implies that 1y = 2 and we see immediately that y must equal 2. To find x we substitute
the value found for y into either of the given Equations (1) or (2). For example, using Equation (1),

3x + 5(2) = 31
3x = 21
x = 7

Thus the solution of the simultaneous equations is x = 7, y = 2.


N.B. You should always check your solution by substituting back into both of the given equations.

HELM (2006): 43
Section 3.4: Solving Simultaneous Linear Equations
Example 28
Solve the equations
−3x + y = 18 (3)
7x − 3y = −44 (4)

Solution
We modify the equations so that x can be eliminated. For example, by multiplying Equation (3) by
7 and Equation (4) by 3 we find
−21x + 7y = 126
21x − 9y = −132
If these equations are now added we can eliminate x. Therefore
−21x + 7y = 126
add 21x − 9y = −132
0x − 2y = −6
from which −2y = −6, so that y = 3. Substituting this value of y into Equation (3) we obtain:
−3x + 3 = 18 so that − 3x = 15 so x = −5.
The solution is x = −5, y = 3.

Example 29
Solve the equations
5x + 3y = −74 (5)
−2x − 3y = 26 (6)

Solution
Note that the coefficients of y differ here only in sign.
By adding Equation (5) and Equation (6) we find 3x = −48 so that x = −16.
It then follows that y = 2, and the solution is x = −16, y = 2.

44 HELM (2006):
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Task
Solve the equations
5x − 7y = −80
2x + 11y = 106

The first step is to modify the equations so that the coefficient of x is the same in both.
If the first is multiplied by 2 then the second equation must be multiplied by what?
Your solution

Answer
5
Write down the resulting equations:
Your solution

Answer
10x − 14y = −160, 10x + 55y = 530

Subtract one equation from the other to eliminate x and hence find y:
Your solution

Answer
55y − (−14y) = 530 − (−160) so 69y = 690 so y = 10.

Now substitute back to find x:


Your solution

Answer
x = −2

HELM (2006): 45
Section 3.4: Solving Simultaneous Linear Equations
2. Equations with no solution
On occasions we may encounter a pair of simultaneous equations which have no solution. Consider
the following example.

Example 30
Show that the following pair of simultaneous equations have no solution.
10x − 2y = −3 (7)
−5x + y = 1 (8)

Solution
Leaving Equation (7) unaltered and multiplying Equation (8) by 2 we find
10x − 2y = −3
−10x + 2y = 2
Adding these equations to eliminate x we find that y is eliminated as well:
10x − 2y = −3
add −10x + 2y = 2
0x + 0y = −1
The last line ‘0 = −1’ is clearly nonsense.
We say that Equations (7) and (8) are inconsistent and they have no solution.

46 HELM (2006):
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3. Equations with an infinite number of solutions


Some pairs of simultaneous equations can possess an infinite number of solutions. Consider the
following example.

Example 31
Solve the equations
2x + y = 8 (9)
4x + 2y = 16 (10)

Solution
If Equation (9) is multiplied by 2 we find both equations are identical: 4x + 2y = 16. This means
that one of them is redundant and we need only consider the single equation
2x + y = 8
There are infinitely many pairs of values of x and y which satisfy this equation. For example, if
x = 0 then y = 8, if x = 1 then y = 6, and if x = −3 then y = 14. We could continue like this
producing more and more solutions. Suppose we choose a value, say λ, for x. We can then write
2λ + y = 8 so that y = 8 − 2λ
The solution is therefore x = λ, y = 8 − 2λ for any value of λ whatsoever. There are an infinite
number of such solutions.

Exercises
Solve the given simultaneous equations by elimination:

1. (a) 5x + y = 8, −3x + 2y = −10, (b) 2x + 3y = −2, 5x − 5y = 20,

(c) 7x + 11y = −24, −9x + y = 46

2. A straight line has equation of the form y = ax + b. The line passes through the points with
coordinates (2, 4) and (−1, 3). Write down the simultaneous equations which must be satisfied
by a and b. Solve the equations and hence find the equation of the line.

3. A quadratic function y = ax2 + bx + c is used in signal processing to approximate a more


complicated signal. If this function must pass through the points with coordinates (0, 0), (1, 3)
and (5, −11) write down the simultaneous equations satisfied by a, b and c. Solve these to
find the quadratic function.

Answers
1.(a) x = 2, y = −2 (b) x = 2, y = −2 (c) x = −5, y = 1
1 10
2. y = 3 x + 3 3. y = − 13
10
x2 + 43
10
x

HELM (2006): 47
Section 3.4: Solving Simultaneous Linear Equations
4. The graphs of simultaneous linear equations
Each equation in a pair of simultaneous linear equations is, of course, a linear equation and plotting
its graph will produce a straight line. The coordinates (x, y) of the point of intersection of the two
lines represent the solution of the simultaneous equations because this pair of values satisfies both
equations simultaneously. If the two lines do not intersect then the equations have no solution
(this can only happen if they are distinct and parallel). If the two lines are identical, there are an
infinite number of solutions (all points on the line) because the two lines are one on top of the
other. Although not the most convenient (or accurate) approach it is possible to solve simultaneous
equations using this graphical approach. Consider the following examples.

Example 32
Solve the simultaneous equations
4x + y = 9 (11)
−x + y − 1 (12)
by plotting two straight line graphs.

Solution
Equation (11) is rearranged into the standard form for the equation of a straight line: y = −4x + 9.
By selecting two points on the line a graph can be drawn as shown in Figure 8. Similarly, Equation
(12) can be rearranged as y = x − 1 and its graph drawn. This is also shown in Figure 8.

y
4 II: y = x − 1
3
2
1

−5 −4 −3 −2 −1 1 2 3 4 x

I: y = 9 − 4 x

Figure 8: The coordinates of the point of intersection give the required solution

The coordinates of any point on line I satisfy 4x + y = 9. The coordinates of any point on line
II satisfy −x + y = −1. At the point where the two lines intersect the x and y coordinates must
satisfy both equations simultaneously and so the point of intersection represents the solution. We
see from the graph that the point of intersection is (2, 1). The solution of the given equations is
therefore x = 2, y = 1.

48 HELM (2006):
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Task
Find any solutions of the simultaneous equations: 10x − 2y = 4, 5x − y = −1 by
graphical method.

Your solution

Answer
Re-writing the equations in standard form we find
y = 5x − 2, and y = 5x + 1
Graphs of these lines are shown below. Note that these distinct lines are parallel and so do not
intersect. This means that the given simultaneous equations do not have a solution; they are
inconsistent.
y y = 5x + 1

3
2
1
−2 −1 1 2 x

y = 5x − 2

Exercises
Solve the given equations graphically:

1. 5x − y = 7, 2x + y = 7,

2. 2x − 2y = −2, 5x + y = −9,

3. 7x + 3y = 25, −2x + y = 4,

4. 4x + 4y = −4, x + 7y = −19.

Answers
1. x = 2, y = 3 2. x = −5/3, y = −2/3 3. x = 1, y = 6 4. x = 2, y = −3

HELM (2006): 49
Section 3.4: Solving Simultaneous Linear Equations
 

Solving Inequalities 3.5 

Introduction
An inequality is an expression involving one of the symbols ≥, ≤, > or <. This Section will first
show how to manipulate inequalities correctly. Then algebraical and graphical methods of solving
inequalities will be described.

 

Prerequisites • be able to solve linear and quadratic


equations
Before starting this Section you should . . .

 

• re-arrange expressions involving
Learning Outcomes inequalities
On completion you should be able to . . . • solve linear and quadratic inequalities
 

50 HELM (2006):
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1. The inequality symbols


Recall the definitions of the inequality symbols in Key Point 11:

Key Point 11
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 for example,
8>7 9≥2 −2<3 7≤7
A number line is often a helpful way of picturing inequalities. Given two numbers a and b, if b > a
then b will be to the right of a on the number line as shown in Figure 9.

a b

Figure 9: When b > a, b is to the right of a on the number line.

Note from Figure 10 that −3 > −5, 4 > −2 and 8 > 5.

−5 −4 −3 −2 −1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Figure 10
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 > 7 or 7 < 8. In general if
b > a then a < b. If a < b then a will be to the left of b on the number line.

Example 33
Rewrite the inequality − 25 < x using only the ‘greater than’ sign, >.

Solution
− 25 < x can be written as x > − 52

HELM (2006): 51
Section 3.5: Solving Inequalities
Example 34
Rewrite the inequality 5 > x using only the ‘less than’ sign, <.

Solution
5 > x can 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 < x and x < 6’. Now 3 < x is 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 12

1. Adding or subtracting the same quantity from both sides of an inequality leaves the inequality
symbol unchanged.

2. Multiplying or dividing both sides by a positive number leaves the inequality 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 > 5 by k 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 symbol. For example if 8 > 5, multiplying
both sides by −1 gives −8 < −5.

52 HELM (2006):
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Task
Find the result of multiplying both sides of the inequality −18 < 9 by −3.

Your solution

Answer
54 > −27

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 means − 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
|x| > 4 means x > 4 or x < −4
In general, if k is a positive number:

Key Point 13

|x| < k means −k < x < k


|x| > k means x > k or x < −k

Exercises
1. State which of the following statements are true and which are false.
(a) 4 > 9, (b) 4 > 4, (c) 4 ≥ 4, (d) 0.001 < 10−5 , (e) | − 19| < 100,
(f) | − 19| > −20, (g) 0.001 ≤ 10−3
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| ≥ 0.

HELM (2006): 53
Section 3.5: Solving Inequalities
Answers
1. (a) F (b) F (c) T (d) F (e) T (f) T (g) T
2. −2 < x < 2 3. −5 < x < 5 4. −7.5 ≤ x ≤ 7.5
5. −2 < x − 3 < 2 6. −1 < x − a < 1 7. x > 2 or x < −2
8. x > 7.5 or x < −7.5 9. x ≥ 0 or x ≤ 0, in fact any x.

2. 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 x2 , x3 , x1/2 and so on.
Consider the following examples.

Example 35
Solve the inequality 4x + 3 > 0.

Solution

4x + 3 > 0
4x > −3, by subtracting 3 from both sides
3
x > − by dividing both sides by 4.
4
Hence all values of x greater than − 34 satisfy 4x + 3 > 0.

Example 36
Solve the inequality −3x − 7 ≤ 0.

Solution

−3x − 7 ≤ 0
−3x ≤ 7 by adding 7 to both sides
7
x ≥ − dividing both sides by − 3 and reversing the inequality
3

Hence all values of x greater than or equal to − 37 satisfy −3x − 7 ≤ 0.

54 HELM (2006):
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Task
Solve the inequality 17x + 2 < 4x + 1.
This is done by making x the subject and obtain it on its own on the left-hand
side.

Start by subtracting 4x from both sides to remove quantities involving x from the right:

Your solution

Answer
13x + 2 < 1

Now subtract 2 from both sides to remove the 2 on the left:


Your solution

Answer
13x < −1. Finally, the range of values of x are x < −1/13

Example 37
Solve the inequality |5x − 2| < 4 and depict the solution graphically.

Solution

|5x − 2| < 4 is equivalent to − 4 < 5x − 2 < 4


We treat each part of the inequality separately:

−4 < 5x − 2
−2 < 5x by adding 2 to both sides
2
− < x by dividing both sides by 5
5
So x > − 25 . Now consider the second part: 5x − 2 < 4.

5x − 2 < 4
5x < 6 by adding 2 to both sides
6
x < by dividing both sides by 5
5
6
So x < .
5

HELM (2006): 55
Section 3.5: Solving Inequalities
Solution (contd.)
Putting both parts of the solution together we see that the inequality is satisfied when
− 25 < x < 56 . This range of values is shown in Figure 11.

−2/5 0 6/5

2 6
Figure 11: |5x − 2| < 4 which is equivalent to 5
<x< 5

Task
Solve the inequality |1 − 2x| < 5.

First of all rewrite the inequality without using the modulus sign:

Your solution
|1 − 2x| < 5 is equivalent to:

Answer
−5 < 1 − 2x < 5
Then treat each part separately. First of all consider −5 < 1 − 2x. Solve this:
Your solution

Answer
x<3
The second part is 1 − 2x < 5. Solve this.
Your solution

Answer
x > −2
Finally, give the solution as one statement:

Your solution

Answer
−2 < x < 3.

56 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
In the following questions solve the given inequality algebraically.
1. 4x > 8 2. 5x > 8 3. 8x > 5 4. 8x ≤ 5
5. 2x > 1 6. 3x < −1 7. 5x > 2 8. 2x > 0
9. 8x < 0 10. 3x ≥ 0 11. 3x > 4 12. 43 x > 1
13. 4x ≤ −3 14. 3x ≤ −4 15. 5x ≥ 0 16. 4x ≤ 0
17. 5x + 1 < 8 18. 5x + 1 ≤ 8 19. 7x + 3 ≥ 0
20. 18x + 2 > 9 21. 14x + 11 > 22 22. 1 − 5x ≤ 0
23. 2 + 5x ≥ 1 24. 11 − 7x < 2 25. 5 + 4x > 2x + 1
26. |7x − 3| > 1 27. |2x + 1| ≥ 3 28. |5x| < 1
29. |5x| ≤ 0 30. |1 − 5x| > 2 31. |2 − 5x| ≥ 3
Answers
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 < 0 10. x ≥ 0 11. x > 4/3 12. x > 4/3
13. x ≤ −3/4 14. x ≤ −4/3 15. x ≥ 0 16. x ≤ 0
17. x < 7/5 18. x ≤ 7/5 19. x ≥ −3/7 20. x > 7/18
21. x > 11/14 22. x ≥ 1/5 23. x ≥ −1/5 24. x > 9/7
25. x > −2 26. x > 4/7 or x < 2/7 27. x ≥ 1 or x ≤ −2 28. −1/5 < x < 1/5
29. x = 0 30. x < −1/5, x > 3/5 31. x ≤ −1/5, x ≥ 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 save a lot of time and effort here.

Example 38
Solve graphically the inequality 5x + 2 < 0.

Solution
y
10
y = 5x + 2

5
x = −2/5
x
−1 0 1 2

Figure 12: Graph of y = 5x + 2.


We consider the function y = 5x + 2 whose graph is shown in Figure 12. 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 < − 25 .

HELM (2006): 57
Section 3.5: Solving Inequalities
Example 39
Find the range of values of x for which x2 − x − 6 < 0.

Solution
We consider the graph of y = x2 − x − 6 which is shown in Figure 13.

y
5
y = x2 − x − 6

x
−2 −1 0 1 2

−5

Figure 13: Graph of y = x2 − x − 6


Note that the graph crosses the x axis when x = −2 and when x = 3, and x2 − x − 6 will be
negative when y is negative. Directly from the graph we see that y is negative when −2 < x < 3.

Task
Find the range of values of x for which x2 − x − 6 > 0.
The graph of y = x2 − x − 6 has been drawn in Figure 13. We require
y = x2 − x − 6 to be positive.

Use the graph to solve the problem:

Your solution

Answer
x < −2 or x > 3

58 HELM (2006):
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Example 40
By plotting a graph of y = 20x4 − 4x3 − 143x2 + 46x + 165 find the range of
values of x for which
20x4 − 4x3 − 143x2 + 46x + 165 < 0

Solution
A software package has been used to plot the graph which is shown in Figure 14. We see that y is
negative when −2.5 < x < −1 and is also negative when 1.5 < x < 2.2.
y

−5 −4 −3 −2 −1 1 3 4 5
x

Figure 14: Graph of y = 20x4 − 4x3 − 143x2 + 46x + 165

Exercises
In questions 1-5 solve the given inequality graphically:
1. 3x + 1 < 0 2. 2x − 7 < 0 3. 6x + 9 > 0, 4. 5x − 3 > 0 5. x2 − x − 6 < 0

Answers
1. x < −1/3 2. x < 7/2, 3. x > −3/2 4. x > 3/5 5. −2 < x < 3

HELM (2006): 59
Section 3.5: Solving Inequalities
 

Partial Fractions 3.6 

Introduction
It is often helpful to break down a complicated algebraic fraction into a sum of simpler fractions. For
4x + 7 1 3
example it can be shown that 2 has the same value as + for any value of x.
x + 3x + 2 x+2 x+1
We say that
4x + 7 1 3
is identically equal to +
x2 + 3x + 2 x+2 x+1
4x + 7 1 3
and that the partial fractions of 2 are and .
x + 3x + 2 x+2 x+1
The ability to express a fraction as its partial fractions is particularly useful in the study of Laplace
transforms, Z-transforms, Control Theory and Integration. In this Section we explain how partial
fractions are found.

 
• be familiar with addition, subtraction,
Prerequisites multiplication and division of algebraic
Before starting this Section you should . . . fractions

# 
• distinguish between proper and improper
fractions
Learning Outcomes
• express an algebraic fraction as the sum of its
On completion you should be able to . . .
partial fractions
" !

60 HELM (2006):
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1. Proper and improper fractions


Frequently we find that an algebraic fraction appears in the form
numerator
algebraic fraction =
denominator
where both numerator and denominator are polynomials. For example
x3 + x2 + 3x + 7 3x2 − 2x + 5 x
2
, 2
, and 4
,
x +1 x − 7x + 2 x +1
The degree of the numerator, n say, is the highest power occurring in the numerator. The degree
of the denominator, d say, is the highest power occurring in the denominator. If d > n the fraction
is said to be proper; the third expression above is such an example. If d ≤ n the fraction is said to
be improper; the first and second expressions above are examples of this type. Before calculating
the partial fractions of an algebraic fraction it is important to decide whether the fraction is proper
or improper.

Task
For each of the following fractions state the degree of the numerator (= n) and
the degree of the denominator (= d). Hence classify the fractions as proper or
improper.
x3 + x2 + 3x + 7 3x2 − 2x + 5 x s2 + 4s + 5
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
x2 + 1 x2 − 7x + 2 x4 + 1 (s2 + 2s + 4)(s + 3)

(a) Find the degree of denominator and numerator and hence classify (a):
Your solution

Answer
The degree of the numerator, n, is 3. The degree of the denominator, d, is 2.
Because d ≤ n the fraction is improper.

(b) Here n = 2 and d = 2. State whether (b) is proper or improper:


Your solution

Answer
d ≤ n; the fraction is improper.

(c) Noting that x = x1 , state whether (c) is proper or improper:


Your solution

Answer
d > n; the fraction is proper.

HELM (2006): 61
Section 3.6: Partial Fractions
(d) Find the degree of the numerator and denominator of (d):
Your solution

Answer
Removing the brackets in the denominator we see that d = 3. As n = 2 this fraction is proper.

Exercise
For each fraction state the degrees of the numerator and denominator, and hence determine which
are proper and which are improper.
x+1 x2 (x − 1)(x − 2)(x − 3)
(a) , (b) 3 , (c)
x x −x x−5
Answers (a) n = 1, d = 1, improper, (b) n = 2, d = 3, proper, (c) n = 3, d = 1, improper.

The denominator of an algebraic fraction can often be factorised into a product of linear and/or
quadratic factors. Before we can separate algebraic fractions into simpler (partial) fractions we need
to completely factorise the denominators into linear and quadratic factors. Linear factors are those
of the form ax + b; for example 2x + 7, 3x − 2 and 4 − x. Irreducible quadratic factors are those
of the form ax2 + bx + c such as x2 + x + 1, and 4x2 − 2x + 3, which cannot be factorised into linear
factors (these are quadratics with complex roots).

2. Proper fractions with linear factors


Firstly we describe how to calculate partial fractions for proper fractions where the denominator may
be written as a product of linear factors. The steps are as follows:

• Factorise the denominator.


• Each factor will produce a partial fraction. A factor such as 3x + 2 will produce a partial
A
fraction of the form where A is an unknown constant. In general a linear factor
3x + 2
A
ax + b will produce a partial fraction . The unknown constants for each partial
ax + b
fraction may be different and so we will call them A, B, C and so on.
• Evaluate the unknown constants by equating coefficients or using specific values of x.

The sum of the partial fractions is identical to the original algebraic fraction for all values of x.

Key Point 14
A
A linear factor ax + b in the denominator gives rise to a single partial fraction of the form
ax + b

62 HELM (2006):
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The steps involved in expressing a proper fraction as partial fractions are illustrated in the following
Example.

Example 41
7x + 10
Express in terms of partial fractions.
2x2 + 5x + 3

Solution
Note that this fraction is proper. The denominator is factorised to give (2x + 3)(x + 1). Each of
the linear factors produces a partial fraction. The factor 2x + 3 produces a partial fraction of the
A B
form and the factor x + 1 produces a partial fraction , where A and B are constants
2x + 3 x+1
which we need to find. We write
7x + 10 A B
= +
(2x + 3)(x + 1) 2x + 3 x + 1
By multiplying both sides by (2x + 3)(x + 1) we obtain
7x + 10 = A(x + 1) + B(2x + 3) . . . (*)
We may now let x take any value we choose. By an appropriate choice we can simplify the
right-hand side. Let x = −1 because this choice eliminates A. We find

7(−1) + 10 = A(0) + B(−2 + 3)


3 = B

so that the constant B must equal 3. The constant A can be found either by substituting some
other value for x or alternatively by ‘equating coefficients’.
Observe that, by rearranging the right-hand side, Equation (*) can be written as
7x + 10 = (A + 2B)x + (A + 3B)
Comparing the coefficients of x on both sides we see that 7 = A + 2B. We already know B = 3
and so

7 = A + 2(3)
= A+6

from which A = 1. We can therefore write


7x + 10 1 3
2
= +
2x + 5x + 3 2x + 3 x + 1
We have succeeded in expressing the given fraction as the sum of its partial fractions. The result
can always be checked by adding the fractions on the right.

HELM (2006): 63
Section 3.6: Partial Fractions
Task
9 − 4x
Express in partial fractions.
3x2−x−2

First factorise the denominator:


Your solution
3x2 − x − 2 =

Answer
(3x + 2)(x − 1)

Because there are two linear factors we write


9 − 4x A B
2
= +
3x − x − 2 3x + 2 x − 1
Multiply both sides by (3x + 2)(x − 1) to obtain the equation from which to find A and B:
Your solution
9 − 4x =

Answer
9 − 4x = A(x − 1) + B(3x + 2)

Substitute an appropriate value for x to obtain B:


Your solution

Answer
Substitute x = 1 and get B = 1

Equating coefficients of x to obtain the value of A:


Your solution

Answer
−4 = A + 3B, A = −7 since B = 1

Finally, write down the partial fractions:


Your solution
9 − 4x
=
3x2 − x − 2

Answer
−7 1
+
3x + 2 x − 1

64 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
5x − 1 7x + 25 11x + 1
1. Find the partial fractions of (a) , (b) , (c) .
(x + 1)(x − 2) (x + 4)(x + 3) (x − 1)(2x + 1)

Check by adding the partial fractions together again.

2. Express each of the following as the sum of partial fractions:


3 5 −3
(a) , (b) 2 , (c) ,
(x + 1)(x + 2) x + 7x + 12 (2x + 1)(x − 3)
Answers
2 3 3 4 4 3
1(a) + , 1(b) + 1(c) + ,
x+1 x−2 x+4 x+3 x − 1 2x + 1
3 3 5 5 6 3
2(a) − , 2(b) − , 2(c) − .
x+1 x+2 x+3 x+4 7(2x + 1) 7(x − 3)

3. Proper fractions with repeated linear factors


Sometimes a linear factor appears more than once. For example in
1 1 1
= which equals
x2 + 2x + 1 (x + 1)(x + 1) (x + 1)2
the factor (x + 1) occurs twice. We call it a repeated linear factor. The repeated linear factor
A B
(x + 1)2 produces two partial fractions of the form + . In general, a repeated linear
x + 1 (x + 1)2
factor of the form (ax + b)2 generates two partial fractions of the form
A B
+
ax + b (ax + b)2
This is reasonable since the sum of two such fractions always gives rise to a proper fraction:
A B A(ax + b) B x(Aa) + Ab + B
+ = + =
ax + b (ax + b)2 (ax + b)2 (ax + b)2 (ax + b)2

Key Point 15
A repeated linear factor (ax + b)2 in the denominator produces two partial fractions:
A B
+
ax + b (ax + b)2

Once again the unknown constants are found by either equating coefficients and/or substituting
specific values for x.

HELM (2006): 65
Section 3.6: Partial Fractions
Task
10x + 18
Express in partial fractions.
4x2+ 12x + 9

First factorise the denominator:

Your solution
4x2 + 12x + 9 =

Answer
(2x + 3)(2x + 3) = (2x + 3)2

There is a repeated linear factor (2x + 3) which gives rise to two partial fractions of the form
10x + 18 A B
2
= +
(2x + 3) 2x + 3 (2x + 3)2
Multiply both sides through by (2x + 3)2 to obtain the equation to be solved to find A and B:

Your solution

Answer
10x + 18 = A(2x + 3) + B

Now evaluate the constants A and B by equating coefficients:


Your solution

Answer
Equating the x coefficients gives 10 = 2A so A = 5. Equating constant terms gives 18 = 3A + B
from which B = 3.

Finally express the answer in partial fractions:

Your solution

Answer
10x + 18 5 3
2
= +
(2x + 3) 2x + 3 (2x + 3)2

66 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
Express the following in partial fractions.
3−x 7x − 15 3x + 14
(a) , (b) − (c)
x2 − 2x + 1 (x − 1)2 x2 + 8x + 16

5x + 18 2x2 − x + 1 5x2 + 23x + 24


(d) (e) (f)
(x + 4)2 (x + 1)(x − 1)2 (2x + 3)(x + 2)2

6x2 − 30x + 25 s+2 2s + 3


(g) (h) (i) .
(3x − 2)2 (x + 7) (s + 1)2 s2

Answers
1 2 7 8 3 2
(a) − + (b) − + (c) +
x − 1 (x − 1)2 x − 1 (x − 1)2 x + 4 (x + 4)2

5 2 1 1 1 3 1 2
(d) − (e) + + (f) + +
x + 4 (x + 4)2 x + 1 x − 1 (x − 1)2 2x + 3 x + 2 (x + 2)2

1 1 1 1 1 2 3
(g) − + + (h) + (i) + 2.
3x − 2 (3x − 2)2 x + 7 s + 1 (s + 1)2 s s

4. Proper fractions with quadratic factors


Sometimes when a denominator is factorised it produces a quadratic term which cannot be factorised
into linear factors. One such quadratic factor is x2 + x + 1. This factor produces a partial fraction
Ax + B
of the form 2 . In general a quadratic factor of the form ax2 + bx + c produces a single
x +x+1
Ax + B
partial fraction of the form 2 .
ax + bx + c

Key Point 16

A quadratic factor ax2 + bx + c in the denominator produces a partial fraction of the form
Ax + B
ax2 + bx + c

HELM (2006): 67
Section 3.6: Partial Fractions
Task
3x + 1
Express as partial fractions
(x2 + x + 10)(x − 1)

Note that the quadratic factor cannot be factorised further. We have


3x + 1 Ax + B C
= 2 +
(x2 + x + 10)(x − 1) x + x + 10 x − 1
First multiply both sides by (x2 + x + 10)(x − 1):
Your solution
3x + 1 =

Answer
(Ax + B)(x − 1) + C(x2 + x + 10)

Evaluate C by letting x = 1:

Your solution

Answer
1
4 = 12C so that C =
3

Equate coefficients of x2 and hence find A, and then substitute any other value for x (or equate
coefficients of x) to find B:
Your solution
A= B=

Answer
7
− 13 , .
3
Finally express in partial fractions:

Your solution

Answer
3x + 1 − 13 x + 37 1
3 7−x 1
= + = +
(x2 + x + 10)(x − 1) x2 + x + 10 x − 1 3(x2 + x + 10) 3(x − 1)

68 HELM (2006):
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Engineering Example 3

Admittance

Admittance, Y , is a quantity which is used in analysing electronic circuits. A typical expression for
admittance is
s2 + 4s + 5
Y (s) =
(s2 + 2s + 4)(s + 3)
where s can be thought of as representing frequency. To predict the behaviour of the circuit it is
often necessary to express the admittance as the sum of its partial fractions and find the effect of
each part separately. Express Y (s) in partial fractions.
The fraction is proper. The denominator contains an irreducible quadratic factor, which cannot be
factorised further, and also a linear factor. Thus
s2 + 4s + 5 As + B C
2
= 2 + (1)
(s + 2s + 4)(s + 3) s + 2s + 4 s + 3
Multiplying both sides of Equation (1) by (s2 + 2s + 4)(s + 3) we obtain
s2 + 4s + 5 = (As + B)(s + 3) + C(s2 + 2s + 4) (2)
To find the constant C we let s = −3 in Equation (2) to eliminate A and B.
Thus
(−3)2 + 4(−3) + 5 = C((−3)2 + 2(−3) + 4)
so that
2
2 = 7C and so C=
7
Equating coefficients of s2 in Equation (2) we find
1=A+C
2
so that A = 1 − C = 1 − 7
= 57 .
Equating constant terms in Equation (2) gives 5 = 3B + 4C
 
2 27
so that 3B = 5 − 4C = 5 − 4 =
7 7
9
so B=
7
5
s2 + 4s + 5 7
s + 79 2
7
Finally Y (s) = 2 = 2 +
(s + 2s + 4)(s + 3) s + 2s + 4 s + 3
5s + 9 2
which can be written as Y (s) = +
7(s2+ 2s + 4) 7(s + 3)

HELM (2006): 69
Section 3.6: Partial Fractions
Exercise
Express each of the following as the sum of its partial fractions.
3 27x2 − 4x + 5 2x + 4 6x2 + 13x + 2
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
(x2 + x + 1)(x − 2) (6x2 + x + 2)(x − 3) 4x2 + 12x + 9 (x2 + 5x + 1)(x − 1)

Answers
3 3(x + 3) 3x + 1 4 1 1
(a) − (b) + (c) +
7(x − 2) 7(x2 + x + 1) 6x2+x+2 x−3 2x + 3 (2x + 3)2
3x + 1 3
(d) + .
x2 + 5x + 1 x − 1

5. Improper fractions
When calculating the partial fractions of improper fractions an extra polynomial is added to any
partial fractions that would normally arise. The added polynomial has degree n − d where n is the
degree of the numerator and d is the degree of the denominator. Recall that
a polynomial of degree 0 is a constant, A say,
a polynomial of degree 1 has the form Ax + B,
a polynomial of degree 2 has the form Ax2 + Bx + C,
and so on.
If, for example, the improper fraction is such that the numerator has degree 5 and the denominator
has degree 3, then n − d = 2, and we need to add a polynomial of the form Ax2 + Bx + C.

Key Point 17

If a fraction is improper an additional term is included taking the form of a polynomial of degree
n − d, where n is the degree of the numerator and d is the degree of the denominator.

70 HELM (2006):
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Example 42
Express as partial fractions
2x2 − x − 2
x+1

Solution
The fraction is improper because n = 2, d = 1 and so d ≤ n. Here n − d = 1, so we need to include
as an extra term a polynomial of the form Bx + C, in addition to the usual partial fractions. The
A
linear term in the denominator gives rise to a partial fraction . So altogther we have
x+1
2x2 − x − 2 A
= + (Bx + C)
x+1 x+1
Multiplying both sides by x + 1 we find
2x2 − x − 2 = A + (Bx + C)(x + 1) = Bx2 + (C + B)x + (C + A)
Equating coefficients of x2 gives B = 2.
Equating coefficients of x gives −1 = C + B and so C = −1 − B = −3.
Equating the constant terms gives −2 = C + A and so A = −2 − C = −2 − (−3) = 1.
Finally, we have
2x2 − x − 2 1
= + 2x − 3
x+1 x+1

Exercise
Express each of the following improper fractions in terms of partial fractions.
x+3 3x − 7 x2 + 2x + 2 2x2 + 7x + 7
(a) , (b) , (c) , (d)
x+2 x−3 x+1 x+2
3x5 + 4x4 − 21x3 − 40x2 − 24x − 29 4x5 + 8x4 + 23x3 + 27x2 + 25x + 9
(e) , (f)
(x + 2)2 (x − 3) (x2 + x + 1)(2x + 1)

Answers
1 2 1 1
(a) 1 + ’ (b) 3 + , (c) 1 + x + (d) 2x + 3 + ,
x+2 x−3 x+1 x+2
1 1 1 1 1
(e) 2
+ + + 3x2 + x + 2, (f) 2x2 + x + 7 + + 2
(x + 2) x+2 x−3 2x + 1 x + x + 1

HELM (2006): 71
Section 3.6: Partial Fractions
Contents 4
Trigonometry
4.1 Right-angled Triangles 2

4.2 Trigonometric Functions 19

4.3 Trigonometric Identities 36

4.4 Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles 53

4.5 Applications of Trigonometry to Waves 65

Learning outcomes
In this Workbook you will learn about the basic building blocks of trigonometry. You will
learn about the sine, cosine, tangent, cosecant, secant, cotangent functions and their
many important relationships. You will learn about their graphs and their periodic nature.
You will learn how to apply Pythagoras' theorem and the Sine and Cosine rules to find
lengths and angles of triangles.
Right-angled  

Triangles 4.1 

Introduction
Right-angled triangles (that is triangles where one of the angles is 90◦ ) are the easiest topic for
introducing trigonometry. Since the sum of the three angles in a triangle is 180◦ it follows that in
a right-angled triangle there are no obtuse angles (i.e. angles greater than 90◦ ). In this Section we
study many of the properties associated with right-angled triangles.

 

Prerequisites • have a basic knowledge of the geometry of


triangles
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• define trigonometric functions both in
right-angled triangles and more generally
Learning Outcomes • express angles in degrees
On completion you should be able to . . . • calculate all the angles and sides in any
right-angled triangle given certain information
& %

2 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
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1. Right-angled triangles
Look at Figure 1 which could, for example, be a profile of a hill with a constant gradient.
B2
B1

A A C1 C2

Figure 1
The two right-angled triangles AB1 C1 and AB2 C2 are similar (because the three angles of triangle
AB1 C1 are equal to the equivalent 3 angles of triangle AB2 C2 ). From the basic properties of similar
triangles corresponding sides have the same ratio. Thus, for example,
B1 C1 B2 C2 AC1 AC2
= and = (1)
AB1 AB2 AB1 AB2
The values of the two ratios (1) will clearly depend on the angle A of inclination. These ratios are
called the sine and cosine of the angle A, these being abbreviated to sin A and cos A.

Key Point 1
B
B
BC AC
sin A = cos A =
AB AB
A A C

Figure 2
AC is the side adjacent to angle A.
BC is the side opposite to angle A.
AB is the hypotenuse of the triangle (the longest side).

Task
Referring again to Figure 2 in Key Point 1, write down the ratios which give sin B
and cos B.

Your solution

Answer
AC BC
sin B = cos B = .
AB AB
Note that sin B = cos A = cos(90◦ − B) and cos B = sin A = sin(90◦ − B)

HELM (2006): 3
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
A third result of importance from Figure 1 is
B1 C1 B2 C2
= (2)
AC1 AC2
These ratios is referred to as the tangent of the angle at A, written tan A.

Key Point 2
B
B
BC AC
sin A = cos A =
AB AB
A A C

Figure 3
BC length of opposite side
tan A = =
AC length of adjacent side

For any right-angled triangle the values of sine, cosine and tangent are given in Key Point 3.

Key Point 3
B
B
BC AC
sin A = cos A =
AB AB
A A C

Figure 4
We can write, therefore, for any right-angled triangle containing an angle θ (not the right-angle)

length of side opposite angle θ Opp


sin θ = =
length of hypotenuse Hyp
length of side adjacent to angle θ Adj
cos θ = =
length of hypotenuse Hyp
length of side opposite angle θ Opp
tan θ = =
length of side adjacent to angle θ Adj
These are sometimes memorised as SOH, CAH and T OA respectively.
These three ratios are called trigonometric ratios.

4 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
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Task
Write tan θ in terms of sin θ and cos θ.

Your solution

Answer
Opp Opp Hyp Opp Hyp Opp . Adj sin θ
tan θ = = . = . = i.e. tan θ =
Adj Adj Hyp Hyp Adj Hyp Hyp cos θ

Key Point 4
Pythagoras’ Theorem

a2 + b 2 = c 2 c b
a
Figure 5

Example 1
Use the isosceles triangle in Figure 6 to obtain the sine, cosine and tangent of 45◦ .

B
45

45
A x C

Figure 6

Solution

By Pythagoras’ theorem (AB)2 = x2 + x2 = 2x2 so AB = x 2
BC x 1 AC 1 BC x
Hence sin 45◦ = = √ =√ cos 45◦ = =√ tan 45◦ = = =1
AB x 2 2 AB 2 AC x

HELM (2006): 5
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Engineering Example 1

Noise reduction by sound barriers

Introduction
Audible sound has much longer wavelengths than light. Consequently, sound travelling in the atmo-
sphere is able to bend around obstacles even when these obstacles cause sharp shadows for light.
This is the result of the wave phenomenon known as diffraction. It can be observed also with water
waves at the ends of breakwaters. The extent to which waves bend around obstacles depends upon
the wavelength and the source-receiver geometry. So the efficacy of purpose built noise barriers, such
as to be found alongside motorways in urban and suburban areas, depends on the frequencies in the
sound and the locations of the source and receiver (nearest noise-affected person or dwelling) relative
to the barrier. Specifically, the barrier performance depends on the difference in the lengths of the
hypothetical ray paths passing from source to receiver either directly or via the top of the barrier (see
Figure 7).

T
R
receiver
W
r
H
source
S
U V hr
s
hs
barrier

Figure 7
Problem in words
Find the difference in the path lengths from source to receiver either directly or via the top of the
barrier in terms of
(i) the source and receiver heights,
(ii) the horizontal distances from source and receiver to the barrier and
(iii) the height of the barrier.
Calculate the path length difference for a 1 m high source, 3 m from a 3 m high barrier when the
receiver is 30 m on the other side of the barrier and at a height of 1 m.
Mathematical statement of the problem
Find ST + T R − SR in terms of hs, hr, s, r and H.
Calculate this quantity for hs = 1, s = 3, H = 3, r = 30 and hr = 1.

6 HELM (2006):
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Mathematical analysis
Note the labels V, U, W on points that are useful for the analysis. Note that the length of RV =
hr − hs and that the horizontal separation between S and R is r + s. In the right-angled triangle
SRV, Pythagoras’ theorem gives
(SR)2 = (r + s)2 + (hr − hs)2
So
p
SR = (r + s)2 + (hr − hs)2 (3)
Note that the length of T U = H − hs and the length of T W = H − hr. In the right-angled triangle
ST U,
(ST )2 = s2 + (H − hs)2
In the right-angled triangle TWR,
(T R)2 = r2 + (H − hr)2
So
p p
ST + T R = s2 + (H − hs)2 + r2 + (H − hr)2 (4)
So using (3) and (4)
p p p
ST + T R − SR = s2 + (H − hs)2 + r2 + (H − hr)2 − (r + s)2 + (hr − hs)2 .
For hs = 1, s = 3, H = 3, r = 30 and hr = 1,
p p p
ST + T R − SR = 32 + (3 − 1)2 + 302 + (3 − 1)2 − (30 + 3)2 + (1 − 1)2

√ √
= 13 + 904 − 33

= 0.672

So the path length difference is 0.672 m.


Interpretation
Note that, for equal source and receiver heights, the further either receiver or source is from the
barrier, the smaller the path length difference. Moreover if source and receiver are at the same height
as the barrier, the path length difference is zero. In fact diffraction by the barrier still gives some
sound reduction for this case. The smaller the path length difference, the more accurately it has to
be calculated as part of predicting the barriers noise reduction.

HELM (2006): 7
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Engineering Example 2

Horizon distance
Problem in words
Looking from a height of 2 m above sea level, how far away is the horizon? State any assumptions
made.
Mathematical statement of the problem
Assume that the Earth is a sphere. Find the length D of the tangent to the Earth’s sphere from the
observation point O.
D
O
h R
R

Figure 8: The Earth’s sphere and the tangent from the observation point O
Mathematical analysis
Using Pythagoras’ theorem in the triangle shown in Figure 8,
(R + h)2 = D2 + R2
Hence
p
R2 + 2Rh + h2 = D2 + R2 → h(2R + h) = D2 → D= h(2R + h)
If R = 6.373 × 106 m, then the variation of D with h is shown in Figure 9.

15000

Horizon D (m) 10000

5000

0 2 4 6 8 10
Height h (m)

Figure 9

8 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
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At an observation height of 2 m, the formula predicts that the horizon is just over 5 km away. In
fact the variation of optical refractive index with height in the atmosphere means that the horizon is
approximately 9% greater than this.

Task
Using the triangle ABC in Figure 10 which can be regarded as one half of the
equilateral triangle ABD, calculate sin, cos, tan for the angles 30◦ and 60◦ .
B

30◦
x

60◦
A x C D
2

Figure 10

Your solution

Answer √
2 2 x2 3x2 2 2 3
By Pythagoras’ theorem: (BC) = (AB) − (AC) = x − = so BC = x
4 4 2

3
√ x
BC x 2 3 AC 1 AC 1
Hence sin 60◦ = = = sin 30◦ = = 2= cos 60◦ = =
AB x 2 AB x 2 AB 2

3
√ √
3 1
BC x 3 √ 1
cos 30◦ = = 2 = tan 60◦ = 21 = 3 tan 30◦ = √2 = √
AB x 2 2
3 3
2

Values of sin θ, cos θ and tan θ can of course be obtained by calculator. When entering the angle
in degrees ( e.g. 30◦ ) the calculator must be in degree mode. (Typically this is ensured by pressing
the DRG button until ‘DEG’ is shown on the display). The keystrokes for sin 30◦ are usually simply
sin 30 or, on some calculators, 30 sin perhaps followed by = .

Task
(a) Use your calculator to check the values of sin 45◦ , cos 30◦ and tan 60◦ obtained
in the previous Task.
1◦
(b) Also obtain sin 3.2◦ , cos 86.8◦ , tan 28◦ 150 . (0 denotes a minute = )
60

HELM (2006): 9
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Your solution
(a)
(b)

Answer
(a) 0.7071, 0.8660, 1.7321 to 4 d.p.
(b) sin 3.2◦ = cos 86.8◦ = 0.0558 to 4 d.p., tan 28◦ 150 = tan 28.25◦ = 0.5373 to 4 d.p.

Inverse trigonometric functions (a first look)


Consider, by way of example, a right-angled triangle with sides 3, 4 and 5, see Figure 11.

B
B
5
3

C 4 A A

Figure 11
3 4 3
Suppose we wish to find the angles at A and B. Clearly sin A = , cos A = , tan A = so we
5 5 4
need to solve one of the above three equations
  to find A.
3 3 3
Using sin A = we write A = sin−1 (read as ‘A is the inverse sine of ’)
5 5 5
The value of A can be obtained by calculator using the ‘sin−1 ’ button (often a second function to
the sin function and accessed
  using a SHIFT or INV or SECOND FUNCTION key).
3
Thus to obtain sin−1 we might use the following keystrokes:
5
INV SIN 0.6 = or 3 ÷ 5 INV SIN =
3
We find sin−1 = 36.87◦ (to 4 significant figures).
5

Key Point 5
Inverse Trigonometric Functions
sin θ = x implies θ = sin−1 x
cos θ = y implies θ = cos−1 y
tan θ = z implies θ = tan−1 z
(The alternative notations arcsin, arccos, arctan are sometimes used for these inverse functions.)

10 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
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Task
Check the values of the angles at A and B in Figure 11 above using the cos−1
functions on your calculator. Give your answers in degrees to 2 d.p.

Your solution

Answer
4 3
A = cos−1 = 36.87◦ B = cos−1 = 53.13◦
5 5

Task
Check the values of the angles at A and B in Figure 11 above using the tan−1
functions on your calculator. Give your answers in degrees to 2 d.p.

Your solution

Answer
3 4
A = tan−1 = 36.87◦ B = tan−1 = 53.13◦
4 3
1
You should note carefully that sin−1 x does not mean .
sin x
1
Indeed the function has a special name – the cosecant of x, written cosec x. So
sin x
1
cosec x ≡ (the cosecant function).
sin x
Similarly
1
sec x ≡ (the secant function)
cos x
1
cot x ≡ (the cotangent function).
tan x

HELM (2006): 11
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Task
Use your calculator to obtain to 3 d.p. cosec 38.5◦ , sec 22.6◦ , cot 88.32◦ (Use
the sin, cos or tan buttons unless your calculator has specific buttons.)

Your solution

Answer
1 1
cosec 38.5◦ = = 1.606 sec 22.6◦ = = 1.083
sin 38.5◦ cos 22.6◦
1
cot 88.32◦ = = 0.029
tan 88.32◦

2. Solving right-angled triangles


Solving right-angled triangles means obtaining the values of all the angles and all the sides of a given
right-angled triangle using the trigonometric functions (and, if necessary, the inverse trigonometric
functions) and perhaps Pythagoras’ theorem.
There are three cases to be considered:

Case 1 Given the hypotenuse and an angle


We use sin or cos as appropriate:
B

h
y

A θ
x C

(a)

Figure 12
Assuming h and θ in Figure 12 are given then
x
cos θ = which gives x = h cos θ
h
from which x can be calculated.
Also
y
sin θ = so y = h sin θ which enables us to calculate y.
h
Clearly the third angle of this triangle (at B) is 90◦ − θ.

12 HELM (2006):
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Case 2 Given a side other than the hypotenuse and an angle.


We use tan:
y
(a) If x and θ are known then, in Figure 12, tan θ = so y = x tan θ
x
which enables us to calculate y.
y y
(b) If y and θ are known then tan θ = gives x = from which x can be calculated.
x tan θ
p
Then the hypotenuse can be calculated using Pythagoras’ theorem: h= x2 + y 2

Case 3 Given two of the sides


We use tan−1 or sin−1 or cos−1 :
(a)

y y
y −1
tan θ = so θ = tan
x x
θ
x

Figure 13
(b)

h y y
y sin θ = so θ = sin−1
h h
θ

Figure 14

(c)

h x x
−1
cos θ = so θ = cos
h h
θ
x

Figure 15
Note: since two sides are given we can use Pythagoras’ theorem to obtain the length of the third
side at the outset.

HELM (2006): 13
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Engineering Example 3

Vintage car brake pedal mechanism

Introduction
Figure 16 shows the structure and some dimensions of a vintage car brake pedal arrangement as
far as the brake cable. The moment of a force about a point is the product of the force and the
perpendicular distance from the point to the line of action of the force. The pedal is pivoted about
the point A. The moments about A must be equal as the pedal is stationary.
Problem in words
If the driver supplies a force of 900 N , to act at point B, calculate the force (F ) in the cable.

Mathematical statement of problem


The perpendicular distance from the line of action of the force provided by the driver to the pivot
point A is denoted by x1 and the perpendicular distance from the line of action of force in the cable
to the pivot point A is denoted by x2 . Use trigonometry to relate x1 and x2 to the given dimensions.
Calculate clockwise and anticlockwise moments about the pivot and set them equal.

15◦
900 N
cable ◦
40 B
F
75 mm
x2

A 40◦
x1
210 mm

Figure 16: Structure and dimensions of vintage car brake pedal arrangement
Mathematical Analysis
The distance x1 is found by considering the right-angled triangle shown in Figure 17 and using the
definition of cosine.

210 mm
40◦ x1
cos(40◦ ) = hence x1 = 161 mm.
x1 0.210

Figure 17

14 HELM (2006):
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The distance x2 is found by considering the right-angled triangle shown in Figure 18.

x2
15◦ cos(15◦ ) = hence x2 = 72 mm.
75 mm 0.075
x2

Figure 18
Equating moments about A:
900x1 = F x2 so F = 2013 N.
Interpretation
This means that the force exerted by the cable is 2013 N in the direction of the cable. This force is
more than twice that applied by the driver. In fact, whatever the force applied at the pedal the force
in the cable will be more than twice that force. The pedal structure is an example of a lever system
that offers a mechanical gain.

Task
Obtain all the angles and the remaining side for the triangle shown:

c 4
B 5 C

Your solution

Answer
4
This is Case 3. To obtain the angle at B we use tan B = so B = tan−1 (0.8) = 38.66◦ .
5
Then the angle at A is 180◦ − (90◦ − 38.66◦ ) = 51.34◦ .
√ √
By Pythagoras’ theorem c = 42 + 52 = 41 ≈ 6.40.

HELM (2006): 15
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Task
Obtain the remaining sides and angles for the triangle shown.

A
15
b
31◦ 40 B
C a

Your solution

Answer
a
This is Case 1. Since 31◦ 400 = 31.67◦ then cos 31.67◦ = so a = 15 cos 31.67◦ = 12.77.
15
◦ ◦ ◦
The angle at A is 180 − (90 + 31.67 ) = 58.33 .
b
Finally sin 31.67◦ = . .. b = 15 sin 31.67◦ = 7.85.
15
(Alternatively, of course, Pythagoras’ theorem could be used to calculate the length b.)

Task
Obtain the remaining sides and angles of the following triangle.

A
c
8

34◦ 20" B
C a

Your solution

Answer
This is Case 2.
8 8
Here tan 34.33◦ = so a = = 11.7
a tan 34.33◦

Also c = 82 + 11.72 = 14.18 and the angle at A is 180◦ − (90◦ + 34.33◦ ) = 55.67◦ .

16 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Exercises
1. Obtain cosec θ, sec θ, cot θ, θ in the following right-angled triangle.
A

C 15 θ B

2. Write down sin θ, cos θ, tan θ, cosec θ for each of the following triangles:
A A
(a) 2 5 (b) y

C θ B C x θ B

3. If θ is an acute angle such that sin θ = 2/7 obtain, without use of a calculator, cos θ and tan θ.

4. Use your calculator to obtain the acute angles θ satisfying

(a) sin θ = 0.5260, (b) tan θ = 2.4, (c) cos θ = 0.2

5. Solve the right-angled triangle shown:


A α
α = 57.5◦
b c

C 10 β B

6. A surveyor measures the angle of elevation between the top of a mountain and ground level at
two different points. The results are shown in the following figure. Use trigonometry to obtain
the distance z (which cannot be measured) and then obtain the height h of the mountain.

h
◦ ◦
37 41
0.5 km z

7. As shown below two tracking stations S1 and S2 sight a weather balloon (W B) between them
at elevation angles α and β respectively.
WB
h
S1 α P β S2
c
c
Show that the height h of the balloon is given by h =
cot α + cot β
8. A vehicle entered in a ‘soap box derby’ rolls down a hill as shown in the figure. Find the total
distance (d1 + d2 ) that the soap box travels.
START

d1 200 metres
15◦ 28◦
FINISH
d2
HELM (2006): 17
Section 4.1: Right-angled Triangles
Answers
√ 1 17 1 17 1 15
1. h = 152 + 82 = 17, cosec θ = = sec θ = = cot θ = =
sin θ 8 cos θ 15 tan θ 8
8
θ = sin−1 (for example) . .. θ = 28.07◦
17
√ √
2 21 2 21 5
2. (a) sin θ = cos θ = tan θ = cosec θ =
5 5 21 2
p
y x y x2 + y 2
(b) sin θ = p cos θ = p tan θ = cosec θ =
x2 + y 2 x2 + y 2 x y

3. Referring to the following diagram


C

7 2 √ √ √
!= 72 − 22 = 45 = 3 5
θ B
A
!
√ √
3 5 2 2 5
Hence cos θ = tan θ = √ =
7 3 5 15
4. (a) θ = sin−1 0.5260 = 31.73◦ (b) θ = tan−1 2.4 = 67.38◦ (c) θ = cos−1 0.2 = 78.46◦
10 10
5. β = 90 − α = 32.5◦ , b= ' 6.37 c= ' 11.86
tan 57.5◦ sin 57.5◦
h h
6. tan 37◦ = tan 41◦ = from which
z + 0.5 z
h = (z + 0.5) tan 37◦ = z tan 41◦ , so z tan 37◦ − z tan 41◦ = −0.5 tan 37◦

−0.5 tan 37◦


. .. z = ' 3.2556 km, so h = z tan 41◦ = 3.2556 tan 41◦ ' 2.83 km
tan 37◦ − tan 41◦
7. Since the required answer is in terms of cot α and cot β we proceed as follows:
1 x 1 c−x
Using x to denote the distance S1 P cot α = = cot β = =
tan α h tan β h
x c−x c c
Adding: cot α + cot β = + = . .. h= as required.
h h h cot α + cot β
200
8. From the smaller right-angled triangle d1 = = 426.0 m. The base of this triangle

sin 28◦
then has length ` = 426 cos 28 = 376.1 m

From the larger right-angled triangle the straight-line distance from START to FINISH is
200 √
= 772.7 m. Then, using Pythagoras’ theorem (d2 + `) = 772.72 − 2002 = 746.4 m
sin 15◦
from which d2 = 370.3 m . .. d1 + d2 = 796.3 m

18 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Trigonometric  

Functions 4.2 

Introduction
Our discussion so far has been limited to right-angled triangles where, apart from the right-angle
itself, all angles are necessarily less than 90◦ . We now extend the definitions of the trigonometric
functions to any size of angle, which greatly broadens the range of applications of trigonometry.

 

Prerequisites • have a basic knowledge of the geometry of


triangles
Before starting this Section you should . . .

' 
$
• express angles in radians

Learning Outcomes • define trigonometric functions generally

On completion you should be able to . . . • sketch the graphs of the three main
trigonometric functions: sin, cos, tan
& %

HELM (2006): 19
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
1. Trigonometric functions for any size angle
The radian
First we introduce an alternative to measuring angles in degrees. Look at the circle shown in Figure
19(a). It has radius r and we have shown an arc AB of length ` (measured in the same units as r.)
As you can see the arc subtends an angle θ at the centre O of the circle.
A 


r ◦
B 180
θ
A B
O O

(a) (b)

Figure 19
The angle θ in radians is defined as
length of arc AB `
θ= =
radius r
20
So, for example, if r = 10 cm, ` = 20 cm, the angle θ would be = 2 radians.
10
The relation between the value of an angle in radians and its value in degrees is readily obtained
as follows. Referring to Figure 19(b) imagine that the arc AB extends to cover half the complete
perimeter of the circle. The arc length is now πr (half the circumference of the circle) so the angle
θ subtended by AB is now
πr
θ= = π radians
r
But clearly this angle is 180◦ . Thus π radians is the same as 180◦ .
180
Note conversely that since π radians = 180◦ then 1 radian = degrees (about 57.3◦ ).
π

Key Point 6
180◦ = π radians
180
360◦ = 2π radians 1 radian = degrees (≈ 57.3◦ )
π
π
1◦ = radians
180
πx 180y
x◦ = radians y radians = degrees
180 π

20 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Task
Write down the values in radians of 30◦ , 45◦ , 90◦ , 135◦ . (Leave your answers as
multiples of π.)

Your solution

Answer
30 π π π 3π
30◦ = π × = radians 45◦ = radians 90◦ = radians 135◦ = radians
180 6 4 2 4

Task
Write in degrees the following angles given in radians
π π 7π 23π
, , ,
10 5 10 12

Your solution

Answer
π 180 π π 180 π 7π 180 7π
rad = × = 18◦ rad = × = 36◦ rad = × = 126◦
10 π 10 5 π 5 10 π 10
23π 180 23π
rad = × = 345◦
12 π 12

Task
Put your calculator into radian mode (using the DRG button if necessary) for
this Task: Verify these facts by first converting the angles to radians:
1 1 √
sin 30◦ = cos 45◦ = √ tan 60◦ = 3 (Use the π button to obtain π.)
2 2

Your solution

Answer
π  π  1
◦ ◦
sin 30 = sin = 0.5, cos 45 = cos = 0.7071 = √ ,
6 4 2
π  √
tan 60◦ = tan = 1.7320 = 3
3

HELM (2006): 21
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
2. General definitions of trigonometric functions
We now define the trigonometric functions in a more general way than in terms of ratios of sides of
a right-angled triangle. To do this we consider a circle of unit radius whose centre is at the origin
of a Cartesian coordinate system and an arrow (or radius vector) OP from the centre to a point P
on the circumference of this circle. We are interested in the angle θ that the arrow makes with the
positive x-axis. See Figure 20.

P
r
θ
O

Figure 20
Imagine that the vector OP rotates in anti-clockwise direction. With this sense of rotation the
angle θ is taken as positive whereas a clockwise rotation is taken as negative. See examples in
Figure 21.

θ
θ
O O O θ

P
P

◦ π ◦ 7π ◦ π
θ = 90 = rad θ = 315 = rad θ = −45 = − rad
2 4 4

Figure 21

22 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

The sine and cosine of an angle


π
For 0 ≤ θ ≤ (called the first quadrant) we have the following situation with our unit radius circle.
2
See Figure 22.

R P

x
O Q

Figure 22

The projection of OP along the positive x−axis is OQ. But, in the right-angled triangle OP Q
OQ
cos θ = or OQ = OP cos θ
OP
and since OP has unit length cos θ = OQ (3)
Similarly in this right-angled triangle
PQ
sin θ = or P Q = OP sin θ
OP
but P Q = OR and OP has unit length
so sin θ = OR (4)
Equation (3) tells us that we can interpret cos θ as the projection of OP along the positive x -axis
and sin θ as the projection of OP along the positive y -axis.
We shall use these interpretations as the definitions of sin θ and cos θ for any values of θ.

Key Point 7
For a radius vector OP of a circle of unit radius making an angle θ with the positive x−axis
cos θ = projection of OP along the positive x−axis
sin θ = projection of OP along the positive y−axis

HELM (2006): 23
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
Sine and cosine in the four quadrants
First quadrant (0 ≤ θ ≤ 90◦ )
y y y
P
R P

P θ
O x O Q x O x

θ = 0◦ 0 < θ < 90◦ θ = 90◦


OQ = OP = 1 cos θ = OQ OQ = 0
∴ cos 0◦ = 1 ∴ 0 < cos θ < 1 ∴ cos 90◦ = 0
OR = 0 sin θ = OR OR = OP = 1
∴ sin 0◦ = 0 ∴ 0 < sin θ < 1 ∴ sin 90◦ = 1

Figure 23
It follows from Figure 23 that cos θ decreases from 1 to 0 as OP rotates from the horizontal position
to the vertical, i.e. as θ increases from 0◦ to 90◦ .
sin θ = OR increases from 0 (when θ = 0) to 1 (when θ = 90◦ ).
Second quadrant (90◦ ≤ θ ≤ 180◦ )
Referring to Figure 24, remember that it is the projections along the positive x and y axes that
are used to define cos θ and sin θ respectively. It follows that as θ increases from 90◦ to 180◦ , cos θ
decreases from 0 to −1 and sin θ decreases from 1 to 0.
y y y
P
P
R
θ
O x Q O x P O x

θ = 90◦ 90◦ < θ < 180◦ θ = 180◦


cos 90◦ = 0 cos θ = OQ (negative) cos θ = OQ = OP = −1
sin 90◦ = 1 sin θ = OR (positive) sin θ = OR = 0

Figure 24
Considering for example an angle of 135◦ , referring to Figure 25, by symmetry we have:
1 1
sin 135◦ = OR = sin 45◦ = √ cos 135◦ = OQ2 = −OQ1 = − cos 45◦ = − √
2 2
y

P2 R P1

45◦
Q2 O Q1 x

Figure 25

24 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Key Point 8
sin(180 − x) ≡ sin x and cos(180 − x) ≡ − cos x

Task
Without using a calculator write down the values of
sin 120◦ , sin 150◦ , cos 120◦ , cos 150◦ , tan 120◦ , tan 150◦ .
sin θ
(Note that tan θ ≡ for any value of θ.)
cos θ

Your solution

Answer

3
sin 120◦ = sin(180 − 60) = sin 60◦ =
2
1
sin 150◦ = sin(180 − 30) = sin 30◦ =
2
1
cos 120◦ = − cos 60 = −
2

3
cos 150◦ = − cos 30◦ = −
2

3 √
tan 120◦ = 2
=− 3
− 21
1
◦ 2 1
tan 150 = √ = −√
3 3
− 2

HELM (2006): 25
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
Third quadrant (180◦ ≤ θ ≤ 270◦ ).

θ ◦
270
P Q
O O O
R
P P

cos 180◦ = −1 180◦ < θ < 270◦ θ = 270◦


sin 180◦ = 0 cos θ = OQ (negative) cos θ =?
sin θ = OR (negative) sin θ =?

Figure 26

Task
Using the projection definition write down the values of cos 270◦ and sin 270◦ .

Your solution

Answer
cos 270◦ = 0 (OP has zero projection along the positive x−axis)
sin 270◦ = −1 (OP is directed along the negative axis)
Thus in the third quadrant, as θ increases from 180◦ to 270◦ so cos θ increases from −1 to 0 whereas
sin θ decreases from 0 to −1.

From the results of the last Task, with θ = 180◦ + x (see Figure 27) we obtain for all x the relations:
sin θ = sin(180 + x) = OR = −OR0 = − sin x cos θ = cos(180 + x) = OQ = −OQ0 = − cos x
sin(180◦ + x) sin x
Hence tan(180 + x) = ◦
= = + tan x for all x.
cos(180 + x) cos x
R!
Q x
x O Q!

P R

Figure 27: θ = 180◦ + x

Key Point 9
sin(180 + x) ≡ − sin x cos(180 + x) ≡ − cos x tan(180 + x) ≡ + tan x

26 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Fourth quadrant (270◦ ≤ θ ≤ 360◦ )

θ
θ Q θ
O
R
P
P
θ = 270◦ 270◦ < θ < 360◦ 360◦

cos θ = 0 (alternatively −90◦ < θ < 0◦) (results as for 0 )
sin θ = −1 cos θ = OQ < 0
sin θ = OR < 0
Figure 28
From Figure 28 the results in Key Point 10 should be clear.

Key Point 10
cos(−x) ≡ cos x sin(−x) ≡ − sin x tan(−x) ≡ − tan x.

Task
Write down (without using a calculator) the values of
sin 300◦ , sin(−60◦ ), cos 330◦ , cos(−30◦ ).
Describe the behaviour of cos θ and sin θ as θ increases from 270◦ to 360◦ .

Your solution

Answer
√ √
sin 300◦ = − sin 60◦ = − 3/2 cos 330◦ = cos 30◦ = 3/2
√ √
sin(−60◦ ) = − sin 60◦ = − 3/2 cos(−30◦ ) = cos 30◦ = 3/2
cos θ increases from 0 to 1 and sin θ increases from −1 to 0 as θ increases from 270◦ to 360◦ .

HELM (2006): 27
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
Rotation beyond the fourth quadrant (360◦ < θ)
If the vector OP continues to rotate around the circle of unit radius then in the next complete
rotation θ increases from 360◦ to 720◦ . However, a θ value of, say, 405◦ is indistinguishable from
one of 45◦ (just one extra complete revolution is involved).
1 1
So sin(405◦ ) = sin 45◦ = √ and cos(405◦ ) = cos 45◦ = √
2 2
In general sin(360◦ + x◦ ) = sin x◦ , cos(360◦ + x◦ ) = cos x◦

Key Point 11
If n is any integer sin(x◦ + 360n◦ ) ≡ sin x◦ cos(x◦ + 360n◦ ) ≡ cos x◦
or, since 360◦ ≡ 2π radians, sin(x + 2nπ) ≡ sin x cos(x + 2nπ) = cos x
We say that the functions sin x and cos x are periodic with period (in radian measure) of 2π.

3. Graphs of trigonometric functions


Graphs of sin θ and cos θ
Since we have defined both sin θ and cos θ in terms of the projections of the radius vector OP of a
circle of unit radius it follows immediately that
−1 ≤ sin θ ≤ +1 and − 1 ≤ cos θ ≤ +1 for any value of θ.
We have discussed the behaviour of sin θ and cos θ in each of the four quadrants in the previous
subsection.
Using all the above results we can draw the graphs of these two trigonometric functions. See Figure
29. We have labelled the horizontal axis using radians and have shown two periods in each case.

sin θ cos θ
1 1

π
2
−2π −π 0 π 2π θ −2π −π 0 π 2π θ

−1 −1

Figure 29
We have extended the graphs to negative values of θ using the relations sin(−θ) = sin θ, cos(−θ) =
cos θ. Both graphs could be extended indefinitely to the left (θ → −∞) and right (θ → +∞).

28 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Task
(a) Using the graphs in Figure 29 and the fact that tan θ ≡ sin θ/ cos θ calculate
the values of tan 0, tan π, tan 2π.
(b) For what values of θ is tan θ undefined?
(c) State whether tan θ is positive or negative in each of the four quadrants.

Your solution
(a)

(b)

(c)

Answer

(a)
sin 0 0
tan 0 = = =0
cos 0 1
sin π 0
tan π = = =0
cos π −1
sin 2π 0
tan 2π = = =0
cos 2π 1
(b)
π 3π 5π
tan θ is not be defined when cos θ = 0 i.e. when θ = ± , ± ,± ,...
2 2 2
(c)
sin θ +ve
1st quadrant: tan θ = = = +ve
cos θ +ve
sin θ +ve
2nd quadrant: tan θ = = = −ve
cos θ −ve
sin θ −ve
3rd quadrant: tan θ = = = +ve
cos θ −ve
sin θ −ve
4th quadrant: tan θ = = = −ve
cos θ +ve

HELM (2006): 29
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
The graph of tan θ
The graph of tan θ against θ, for −2π ≤ θ ≤ 2π is then as in Figure 30. Note that whereas sin θ
and cos θ have period 2π, tan θ has period π.

tan θ

− 3π − π π 3π
2 2 2 2
−2π −π 0 2π θ

Figure 30

Task
On the following diagram showing the four quadrants mark which trigonometric
quantities cos, sin, tan, are positive in the four quadrants. One entry has been
made already.

Your solution

cos

Answer
sin all

tan cos

30 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Engineering Example 4

Optical interference fringes due to a glass plate

Monochromatic light of intensity I0 propagates in air before impinging on a glass plate (see Figure
31). If a screen is placed beyond the plate then a pattern is observed including alternate light and
dark regions. These are interference fringes.

I0 Air
α

ψ
Glass plate

Air α

Figure 31: Geometry of a light ray transmitted and reflected through a glass plate

The intensity I of the light wave transmitted through the plate is given by
I0 |t|4
I=
1 + |r|4 − 2|r|2 cos θ
where t and r are the complex transmission and reflection coefficients. The phase angle θ is the sum
of
(i) a phase proportional to the incidence angle α and
(ii) a fixed phase lag due to multiple reflections.

The problem is to establish the form of the intensity pattern (i.e. the minima and maxima charac-
teristics of interference fringes due to the plate), and deduce the shape and position θ of the fringes
captured by a screen beyond the plate.

Solution
The intensity of the optical wave outgoing from the glass plate is given by
I0 |t|4
I= (1)
1 + |r|4 − 2|r|2 cos θ
The light intensity depends solely on the variable θ as shown in equation (1), and the objective is
to find the values θ that will minimize and maximize I. The angle θ is introduced in equation (1)
through the function cos θ in the denominator. We consider first the maxima of I.

HELM (2006): 31
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
Solution (contd.)
Light intensity maxima
I is maximum when the denominator is minimum. This condition is obtained when the factor
2|r| cos θ is maximum due to the minus sign in the denominator. As stated in Section 4.2, the
maxima of 2|r| cos θ occur when cos θ = +1. Values of cos θ = +1 correspond to θ = 2nπ where
n = . . . − 2, −1, 0, 1, 2, . . . (see Section 4.5) and θ is measured in radians. Setting cos θ = +1 in
equation (1) gives the intensity maxima
I0 |t|4
Imax = .
1 + |r|4 − 2|r|2
Since the denominator can be identified as the square of (1 + |r|2 ), the final result for maximum
intensity can be written as
I0 |t|4
Imax = . (2)
(1 − |r|2 )2
Light intensity minima
I is minimum when the denominator in (1) is maximum. As a result of the minus sign in the
denominator, this condition is obtained when the factor 2|r| cos θ is minimum. The minima of
2|r| cos θ occur when cos θ = −1. Values of cos θ = −1 correspond to θ = π(2n + 1) where
n = . . . − 2, −1, 0, 1, 2, . . . (see Section 4.5). Setting cos θ = −1 in equation (1) gives an expression
for the intensity minima
I0 |t|4
Imin = .
1 + |r|4 + 2|r|2
Since the denominator can be recognised as the square of (1 + |r|2 ), the final result for minimum
intensity can be written as
I0 |t|4
Imin = (3)
(1 + |r|2 )2
Interpretation
The interference fringes for intensity maxima or minima occur at constant angle θ and therefore
describe concentric rings of alternating light and shadow as sketched in the figure below. From the
centre to the periphery of the concentric ring system, the fringes occur in the following order

(a) a fringe of maximum light at the centre (bright dot for θ = 0),
(b) a circular fringe of minimum light at angle θ = π,
(c) a circular fringe of maximum light at 2π etc.

θ=π

θ = 2π

θ = 3π

Figure 32: Sketch of interference fringes due to a glass plate

32 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Exercises
1. Express the following angles in radians (as multiples of π)
(a) 120◦ (b) 20◦ (c) 135◦ (d) 300◦ (e) −90◦ (f) 720◦

2. Express in degrees the following quantities which are in radians


π 3π 5π 11π π 1
(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) − (f)
2 2 6 9 8 π
3. Obtain the precise values of all 6 trigonometric functions of the angle θ for the situation shown
in the figure:

P (−3, 1)
θ

4. Obtain all the values of x between 0 and 2π such that



1 1 3 1
(a) sin x = √ (b) cos x = (c) sin x = − (d) cos x = − √ (e) tan x = 2
2 2 2 2
1 1
(f) tan x = − (g) cos(2x + 60◦ ) = 2 (h) cos(2x + 60◦ ) =
2 2
5. Obtain all the values of θ in the given domain satisfying the following quadratic equations

(a) 2 sin2 θ − sin θ = 0 0 ≤ θ ≤ 360◦


(b) 2 cos2 θ + 7 cos θ + 3 = 0 0 ≤ θ ≤ 360◦
(c) 4 sin2 θ − 1 = 0

6. (a) Show that the area A of a sector formed by a central angle θ radians in a circle of radius
r is given by
1
A = r2 θ.
2
(Hint: By proportionality the ratio of the area of the sector to the total area of the circle
equals the ratio of θ to the total angle at the centre of the circle.)
(b) What is the value of the shaded area shown in the figure if θ is measured (i) in radians,
(ii) in degrees?

r
θ
R
1 1
7. Sketch, over 0 < θ < 2π, the graph of (a) sin 2θ (b) sin θ (c) cos 2θ (d) cos θ.
2 2
Mark the horizontal axis in radians in each case. Write down the period of sin 2θ and the
1
period of cos θ.
2

HELM (2006): 33
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
Answers
2π π 3π 5π π
1. (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) − (f) 4π
3 9 4 3 2
180◦
2. (a) 15◦ (b) 270◦ (c) 150◦ (d) 220◦ (e) −22.5◦ (f)
π2
p √
3. The distance of the point P from the origin is r = (−3)2 + 12 = 10. Then, since P lies

on a circle radius 10 rather than a circle of unit radius:
1 √
sin θ = √ cosec θ = 10
10

3 10
cos θ = − √ sec θ = −
10 3

1 1
tan θ = =− cot θ = −3
−3 3
π  


◦ 3π
4. (a) x = 45 radians
x = 135 (recall sin(180 − x) = sin x)
4 4
 
◦ π 5π
 

(b) x = 60 x = 300
3 3
   
◦ 4π ◦ 5π
(c) x = 240 x = 300
3 3
   
3π 5π
(d) x = 135◦ x = 225◦
4 4
(e) x = 63.43◦ x = 243.43◦ (remember tan x has period 180◦ or π radians)
(f) x = 153.43◦ x = 333.43◦
(g) No solution !
(h) x = 0◦ , 120◦ , 180◦ , 300◦ , 360◦

5. (a) 2 sin2 θ − sin θ = 0 so sin θ(2 sin θ − 1) = 0 so sin θ = 0


1
giving θ = 0◦ , 180◦ , 360◦ or sin θ = giving θ = 30◦ , 150◦
2
(b) 2 cos2 θ+7 cos θ+3 = 0. With x = cos θ we have 2x2 +7x+3 = 0 (2x+1)(x+3) = 0
1
(factorising) so 2x = −1 or x = − . The solution x = −3 is impossible since x = cos θ.
2
1
The equation x = cos θ = − has solutions θ = 120◦ , 240◦
2
1 1
(c) 4 sin2 θ = 1 so sin2 θ = i.e. sin θ = ± giving θ = 30◦ , 150◦ , 210◦ , 330◦
4 2

34 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Answers continued

6. (a) Using the hint,


θ A
= 2
2π πr
πr2 θ r2 θ
from where we obtain A = =
2π 2
(b) With θ in radians the shaded area is
R2 θ r 2 θ θ
S= − = (R2 − r2 )
2 2 2
180x◦ πx
If θ is in degrees, then since x radians = or x◦ = radians, we have
π 180
πθ◦ 2
S= (R − r2 )
360◦
7. The graphs of sin 2θ and cos 2θ are identical in form with those of sin θ and cos θ respectively
but oscillate twice as rapidly.
1 1
The graphs of sin θ and cos θ oscillate half as rapidly as those of sin θ and cos θ.
2 2
sin 2θ cos 2θ
1 1

π π 2π π 2π
2
−1 −1

1 1
sin θ cos θ
2 1 2
1

π 2π π 2π

−1

From the graphs sin 2θ has period 2π and cos 21 θ has period 4π. In general sin nθ has period
2π/n.

HELM (2006): 35
Section 4.2: Trigonometric Functions
Trigonometric  

Identities 4.3
 

Introduction
A trigonometric identity is a relation between trigonometric expressions which is true for all values
of the variables (usually angles). There are a very large number of such identities. In this Section we
discuss only the most important and widely used. Any engineer using trigonometry in an application
is likely to encounter some of these identities.

 

Prerequisites • have a basic knowledge of the geometry of


triangles
Before starting this Section you should . . .

 

• use the main trigonometric identities
Learning Outcomes
• use trigonometric identities to combine
On completion you should be able to . . . trigonometric functions
 

36 HELM (2006):
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1. Trigonometric identities
An identity is a relation which is always true. To emphasise this the symbol ‘≡’ is often used rather
than ‘=’. For example, (x + 1)2 ≡ x2 + 2x + 1 (always true) but (x + 1)2 = 0 (only true for x = −1).

Task
(a) Using the exact values, evaluate sin2 θ + cos2 θ for (i) θ = 30◦ (ii) θ = 45◦
[Note that sin2 θ means (sin θ)2 , cos2 θ means (cos θ)2 ]
(b) Choose a non-integer value for θ and use a calculator to evaluate sin2 θ+cos2 θ.

Your solution

Answer
 2 √ !2
1 3 1 3
(a) (i) sin2 30◦ + cos2 30◦ = + = + =1
2 2 4 4
 2  2
2 ◦ 2 ◦ 1 1 1 1
(ii) sin 45 + cos 45 = √ + √ = + =1
2 2 2 2
(b) The answer should be 1 whatever value you choose.

Key Point 12
For any value of θ
sin2 θ + cos2 θ ≡ 1 (5)

One way of proving the result in Key Point 12 is to use the definitions of sin θ and cos θ obtained
from the circle of unit radius. Refer back to Figure 22 on page 23.
Recall that cos θ = OQ, sin θ = OR = QP . By Pythagoras’ theorem
(OQ)2 + (QP )2 = (OP )2 = 1
hence cos2 θ + sin2 θ = 1.
We have demonstrated the result (5) using an angle θ in the first quadrant but the result is true for
any θ i.e. it is indeed an identity.

HELM (2006): 37
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Task
By dividing the identity sin2 θ + cos2 θ ≡ 1 by (a) sin2 θ (b) cos2 θ obtain two
further identities.
[Hint: Recall the definitions of cosec θ, sec θ, cot θ.]

Your solution

Answer
sin2 θ cos2 θ 1 sin2 θ cos2 θ 1
(a) 2 + 2 = (b) + =
sin θ sin θ sin2 θ cos2 θ cos2 θ cos2 θ
1 + cot2 θ ≡ cosec2 θ tan2 θ + 1 ≡ sec2 θ

Key Point 13 introduces two further important identities.

Key Point 13
sin(A + B) ≡ sin A cos B + cos A sin B (6)
cos(A + B) ≡ cos A cos B − sin A sin B (7)

Note carefully the addition sign in (6) but the subtraction sign in (7).
Further identities can readily be obtained from (6) and (7).
Dividing (6) by (7) we obtain
sin(A + B) sin A cos B + cos A sin B
tan(A + B) ≡ ≡
cos(A + B) cos A cos B − sin A sin B
Dividing every term by cos A cos B we obtain
tan A + tan B
tan(A + B) ≡
1 − tan A tan B
Replacing B by −B in (6) and (7) and remembering that cos(−B) ≡ cos B, sin(−B) ≡ − sin B
we find
sin(A − B) ≡ sin A cos B − cos A sin B

cos(A − B) ≡ cos A cos B + sin A sin B

38 HELM (2006):
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Task
Using the identities sin(A − B) ≡ sin A cos B − cos A sin B and
cos(A − B) ≡ cos A cos B + sin A sin B obtain an expansion for tan(A − B):

Your solution

Answer
sin A cos B − cos A sin B
tan(A − B) ≡ .
cos A cos B + sin A sin B
Dividing every term by cos A cos B gives
tan A − tan B
tan(A − B) ≡
1 + tan A tan B

The following identities are derived from those in Key Point 13.

Key Point 14

tan A + tan B
tan(A + B) ≡ (8)
1 − tan A tan B

sin(A − B) ≡ sin A cos B − cos A sin B (9)

cos(A − B) ≡ cos A cos B + sin A sin B (10)

tan A − tan B
tan(A − B) ≡ (11)
1 + tan A tan B

HELM (2006): 39
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Engineering Example 5

Amplitude modulation

Introduction
Amplitude Modulation (the AM in AM radio) is a method of sending electromagnetic signals of a
certain frequency (signal frequency) at another frequency (carrier frequency) which may be better
for transmission. Modulation can be represented by the multiplication of the carrier and modulating
signals. To demodulate the signal the carrier frequency must be removed from the modulated
signal.
Problem in words
(a) A single frequency of 200 Hz (message signal) is amplitude modulated with a carrier frequency
of 2 MHz. Show that the modulated signal can be represented by the sum of two frequencies at
2 × 106 ± 200 Hz
(b) Show that the modulated signal can be demodulated by using a locally generated carrier and
applying a low-pass filter.
Mathematical statement of problem
(a) Express the message signal as m = a cos(ωm t) and the carrier as c = b cos(uc t).
Assume that the modulation gives the product mc = ab cos(uc t) cos(ωm t).
Use trigonometric identities to show that
mc = ab cos(ωc t) cos(um t) = k1 cos((ωc − um )t) + k2 cos((ωc + um )t)
where k1 and k2 are constants.
Then substitute ωc = 2 × 106 × 2π and ωm = 200 × 2π to calculate the two resulting frequencies.
(b) Use trigonometric identities to show that multiplying the modulated signal by b cos(uc t) results
in the lowest frequency component of the output having a frequency equal to the original message
signal.
Mathematical analysis
(a) The message signal has a frequency of fm = 200 Hz so ωm = 2πfc = 2π × 200 = 400π radians
per second.
The carrier signal has a frequency of fc = 2 × 106 Hz.
Hence ωc = 2πfc = 2π × 2 × 106 = 4 × 106 π radians per second.
So mc = ab cos(4 × 106 πt) cos(400πt).
Key Point 13 includes the identity:
cos(A + B) + cos(A − B) ≡ 2 cos(A) cos(B)

40 HELM (2006):
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Rearranging gives the identity:


cos(A) cos(B) ≡ 12 (cos(A + B) + cos(A − B)) (1)
Using (1) with A = 4 × 106 πt and B = 400πt gives

mc = ab(cos(4 × 106 πt) cos(400πt)


= ab(cos(4 × 106 πt + 400πt) + cos(4 × 106 πt − 400πt))
= ab(cos(4000400πt) + cos(3999600πt))

So the modulated signal is the sum of two waves with angular frequency of 4000400π and 3999600π
radians per second corresponding to frequencies of 4000400π/(2π) and 39996000π/(2π), that is
2000200 Hz and 1999800 Hz i.e. 2 × 106 ± 200 Hz.
(b) Taking identity (1) and multiplying through by cos(A) gives
cos(A) cos(A) cos(B) ≡ 12 cos(A)(cos(A + B) + cos(A − B))
so
cos(A) cos(A) cos(B) ≡ 21 (cos(A) cos(A + B) + cos(A) cos(A − B)) (2)
Identity (1) can be applied to both expressions in the right-hand side of (2). In the first expression,
using A + B instead of ‘B’, gives
1 1
cos(A) cos(A + B) ≡ (cos(A + A + B) + cos(A − A − B)) ≡ (cos(2A + B) + cos(B))
2 2
where we have used cos(−B) ≡ cos(B).
Similarly, in the second expression, using A − B instead of ‘B’, gives
cos(A) cos(A − B) ≡ 21 (cos(2A − B) + cos(B))
Together these give:
1
cos(A) cos(A) cos(B) ≡ (cos(2A + B) + cos(B) + cos(2A − B) + cos(B))
2
1
≡ cos(B) + (cos(2A + B) + cos(2A − B))
2
With A = 4 × 106 πt and B = 400πt and substituting for the given frequencies, the modulated signal
multiplied by the original carrier signal gives
ab2 cos(4 × 106 πt) cos(4 × 106 πt) cos(400πt) =
ab2 cos(2π × 200t) + 12 ab2 (cos(2 × 4 × 106 πt + 400πt) + cos(2 × 4 × 106 πt − 400πt))
The last two terms have frequencies of 4 × 106 ± 200 Hz which are sufficiently high that a low-pass
filter would remove them and leave only the term
ab2 cos(2π × 200t)
which is the original message signal multiplied by a constant term.

HELM (2006): 41
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Interpretation
Amplitude modulation of a single frequency message signal (fm ) with a single frequency carrier signal
(fc ) can be shown to be equal to the sum of two cosines with frequencies fc ± fm . Multiplying the
modulated signal by a locally generated carrier signal and applying a low-pass filter can reproduce
the frequency, fm , of the message signal.
This is known as double side band amplitude modulation.

Example 2
Obtain expressions for cos θ in terms of the sine function and for sin θ in terms of
the cosine function.

Solution
π
Using (9) with A = θ, B = we obtain
2
 π π  π 
cos θ − ≡ cos θ cos + sin θ sin ≡ cos θ (0) + sin θ (1)
2 2 2
 π π 
i.e. sin θ ≡ cos θ − ≡ cos −θ
2 2
This result explains why the graph of sin θ has exactly the same shape as the graph of cos θ but it
π
is shifted to the right by . (See Figure 29 on page 28). A similar calculation using (6) yields the
2
result
 π
cos θ ≡ sin θ + .
2

Double angle formulae


If we put B = A in the identity given in (6) we obtain Key Point 15:

Key Point 15
sin 2A ≡ sin A cos A + cos A sin A so sin 2A ≡ 2 sin A cos A (12)

42 HELM (2006):
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Task
Substitute B = A in identity (7) in Key Point 13 on page 38 to obtain an identity
for cos 2A. Using sin2 A + cos2 A ≡ 1 obtain two alternative forms of the identity.

Your solution

Answer
Using (7) with B ≡ A

cos(2A) ≡ (cos A)(cos A) − (sin A)(sin A)


. .. cos(2A) ≡ cos2 A − sin2 A (13)

Substituting for sin2 A in (13) we obtain

cos 2A ≡ cos2 A − (1 − cos2 A)


≡ 2 cos2 A − 1 (14)
Alternatively substituting for cos2 A in (13)

cos 2A ≡ (1 − sin2 A) − sin2 A


cos 2A ≡ 1 − 2 sin2 A (15)

Task
Use (14) and (15) to obtain, respectively, cos2 A and sin2 A in terms of cos 2A.

Your solution

Answer
1 1
From (14) cos2 A ≡ (1 + cos 2A). From (15) sin2 A ≡ (1 − cos 2A).
2 2

HELM (2006): 43
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Task
Use (12) and (13) to obtain an identity for tan 2A in terms of tan A.

Your solution

Answer
sin 2A 2 sin A cos A
tan 2A ≡ ≡
cos 2A cos2 A − sin2 A
Dividing numerator and denominator by cos2 A we obtain
sin A
2
tan 2A ≡ cos A ≡ 2 tan A (16)
sin2 A 1 − tan2 A
1−
cos2 A

Half-angle formulae
A
If we replace A by and, consequently 2A by A, in (12) we obtain
2
   
A A
sin A ≡ 2 sin cos (17)
2 2
Similarly from (13)
 
2 A
cos A ≡ 2 cos − 1. (18)
2
These are examples of half-angle formulae. We can obtain a half-angle formula for tan A using
A
(16). Replacing A by and 2A by A in (16) we obtain
2
 
A
2 tan
2
tan A ≡   (19)
2 A
1 − tan
2
Other formulae, useful for integration when trigonometric functions are present, can be obtained
using (17), (18) and (19) shown in the Key Point 16.

44 HELM (2006):
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Key Point 16
 
A
If t = tan then
2
2t
sin A = (20)
1 + t2
1 − t2
cos A = (21)
1 + t2
2t
tan A = (22)
1 − t2

Sum of two sines and sum of two cosines


Finally, in this Section, we obtain results that are widely used in areas of science and engineering
such as vibration theory, wave theory and electric circuit theory.
We return to the identities (6) and (9)

sin(A + B) ≡ sin A cos B + cos A sin B


sin(A − B) ≡ sin A cos B − cos A sin B

Adding these identities gives


sin(A + B) + sin(A − B) ≡ 2 sin A cos B (23)
Subtracting the identities produces
sin(A + B) − sin(A − B) ≡ 2 cos A sin B (24)
It is now convenient to let C = A + B and D = A − B so that
C +D C −D
A= and B =
2 2
Hence (23) becomes
   
C +D C −D
sin C + sin D ≡ 2 sin cos (25)
2 2
Similarly (24) becomes
   
C +D C −D
sin C − sin D ≡ 2 cos sin (26)
2 2

HELM (2006): 45
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Task
Use (7) and (10) to obtain results for the sum and difference of two cosines.

Your solution

Answer

cos(A + B) ≡ cos A cos B − sin A sin B and cos(A − B) ≡ cos A cos B + sin A sin B
. .. cos(A + B) + cos(A − B) ≡ 2 cos A cos B
cos(A + B) − cos(A − B) ≡ −2 sin A sin B

Hence with C = A + B and D = A − B


   
C +D C −D
cos C + cos D ≡ 2 cos cos (27)
2 2
   
C +D C −D
cos C − cos D ≡ −2 sin sin (28)
2 2

Summary
In this Section we have covered a large number of trigonometric identities. The most important of
them and probably the ones most worth memorising are given in the following Key Point.

Key Point 17

cos2 θ + sin2 θ ≡ 1
sin 2θ ≡ 2 sin θ cos θ
cos 2θ ≡ cos2 θ − sin2 θ
≡ 2 cos2 θ − 1
≡ 1 − 2 sin2 θ
sin(A ± B) ≡ sin A cos B ± cos A sin B
cos(A ± B) ≡ cos A cos B ∓ sin A sin B

46 HELM (2006):
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Task
A projectile is fired from the ground with an initial speed u m s−1 at an angle of
elevation α◦ . If air resistance is neglected, the vertical height, y m, is related to
the horizontal distance, x m, by the equation
gx2 sec2 α
y = x tan α − where g m s−2 is the gravitational constant.
2u2
[This equation is derived in 34 Modelling Motion pages 16-17.]

(a) Confirm that y = 0 when x = 0:

Your solution

Answer
When y = 0, the left-hand side of the equation is zero. Since x appears in both of the terms on
the right-hand side, when x = 0, the right-hand side is zero.

(b) Find an expression for the value of x other than x = 0 at which y = 0 and state how this value
is related to the maximum range of the projectile:

Your solution

Answer
gx2 sec2 α
When y = 0, the equation can be written − x tan α = 0
2u2
If x = 0 is excluded from consideration, we can divide through by x and rearrange to give
gxsec2 α
= tan α
2u2
2u2
To make x the subject of the equation we need to multiply both sides by .
gsec2 α
Given that 1/sec2 α ≡ cos2 α, tan α ≡ sin α/ cos α and sin 2α ≡ 2 sin α cos α, this results in
2u2 sin α cos α u2 sin 2α
x= =
g g
This represents the maximum range.

HELM (2006): 47
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
(c) Find the value of x for which the value of y would be a maximum and thereby obtain an expression
for the maximum height:

Your solution

Answer
If air resistance is neglected, we can assume that the parabolic path of the projectile is symmetrical
about its highest point. So the highest point will occur at half the maximum range i.e. where
u2 sin 2α
x=
2g
Substituting this expression for x in the equation for y gives
 2  2 2
gsec2 α

u sin 2α u sin 2α
y= tan α −
2g 2g 2u2
Using the same trigonometric identities as before,
u2 sin2 α u2 sin2 α u2 sin2 α
y= − = This represents the maximum height.
g 2g 2g

(d) Assuming u = 20 m s−1 , α = 60◦ and g = 10 m s−2 , find the maximum value of the range and
the horizontal distances travelled when the height is 10 m:

Your solution

48 HELM (2006):
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Answer
Substitution of u = 20, α = 60, g = 10 and y = 10 in the original equation gives a quadratic for
x:
10 = 1.732x − 0.05x2 or 0.05x2 − 1.732x + 10 = 0
Solution of this quadratic yields x = 7.33 or x = 27.32 as the two horizontal ranges at which
y = 10. These values are illustrated in the diagram below which shows the complete trajectory of
the projectile.
x1 = 7.33 x2 = 27.32
15

10
Height

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
Horizontal Range

HELM (2006): 49
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Exercises
1. Show that sin tsect ≡ tan t.

2. Show that (1 + sin t)(1 + sin(−t)) ≡ cos2 t.


1 1
3. Show that ≡ sin 2θ.
tan θ + cot θ 2
4. Show that sin2 (A + B) − sin2 (A − B ≡ sin 2A sin 2B.

(Hint: the left-hand side is the difference of two squared quantities.)


sin 4θ + sin 2θ
5. Show that ≡ tan 3θ.
cos 4θ + cos 2θ
6. Show that cos4 A − sin4 A ≡ cos 2A

7. Express each of the following as the sum (or difference) of 2 sines (or cosines)
1 1 3
(a) sin 5x cos 2x (b) 8 cos 6x cos 4x (c) sin x cos x
3 2 2
8. Express (a) sin 3θ in terms of cos θ. (b) cos 3θ in terms of cos θ.

9. By writing cos 4x as cos 2(2x), or otherwise, express cos 4x in terms of cos x.


2 tan t
10. Show that tan 2t ≡ .
2 − sec2 t
cos 10t − cos 12t
11. Show that ≡ tan t.
sin 10t + sin 12t
x2
12. Show that the area of an isosceles triangle with equal sides of length x is sin θ
2
where θ is the angle between the two equal sides. Hint: use the following diagram:
A
θ
2
x x

B D C

50 HELM (2006):
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Answers
1 sin t
1. sin t.sect ≡ sin t. ≡ ≡ tan t.
cos t cos t
2. (1 + sin t)(1 + sin(−t)) ≡ (1 + sin t)(1 − sin t) ≡ 1 − sin2 t ≡ cos2 t
1 1 1 sin θ cos θ 1
3. ≡ ≡ 2 ≡ 2 ≡ sin θ cos θ ≡ sin 2θ
tan θ + cos θ sin θ cos θ sin θ + cos θ2
sin θ + cos θ2 2
+
cos θ sin θ sin θ cos θ
4. Using the hint and the identity x2 − y 2 ≡ (x − y)(x + y) we have

sin2 (A + B) − sin2 (A − B) ≡ (sin(A + B) − sin(A − B))(sin(A + B) + sin(A − B))

The first bracket gives

sin A cos B + cos A sin B − (sin A cos B − cos A sin B) ≡ 2 cos A sin B

Similarly the second bracket gives 2 sin A cos B.

Multiplying we obtain (2 cos A sin A)(2 cos B sin B) ≡ sin 2A. sin 2B
sin 4θ + sin 2θ 2 sin 3θ cos θ sin 3θ
5. ≡ ≡ ≡ tan 3θ
cos 4θ + cos 2θ 2 cos 3θ cos θ cos 3θ
6.

cos4 A − sin4 A ≡ (cos A)4 − (sin A)4 ≡ (cos2 A)2 − (sin2 A)2
≡ (cos2 A − sin2 A)(cos2 A + sin2 A)
≡ cos2 A − sin2 A ≡ cos 2A
   
A+B A−B
7. (a) Using sin A + sin B ≡ 2 sin cos
2 2

A+B A−B
Clearly here = 5x = 2x giving A = 7x B = 3x
2 2
1
. .. sin 5x cos 2x ≡ (sin 7x + sin 3x)
2
   
A+B A−B
(b) Using cos A + cos B ≡ 2 cos cos .
2 2

A+B A−B
With = 6x = 4x giving A = 10x B = 2x
2 2
. .. 8 cos 6x cos 4x ≡ 4(cos 6x + cos 2x)
   
1 1 3x 1
(c) sin x cos ≡ (sin 2x − sin x)
3 2 2 6

HELM (2006): 51
Section 4.3: Trigonometric Identities
Answers
8.

(a) sin 3θ ≡ sin(2θ + θ) = sin 2θ cos θ + cos 2θ sin θ


≡ 2 sin θ cos2 θ + (cos2 θ − sin2 θ) sin θ
≡ 3 sin θ cos2 θ − sin3 θ
≡ 3 sin θ(1 − sin2 θ) − sin3 θ ≡ 3 sin θ − 4 sin3 θ

(b) cos 3θ ≡ cos(2θ + θ) ≡ cos 2θ cos θ − sin 2θ sin θ


≡ (cos2 θ − sin2 θ) cos θ − 2 sin θ cos θ sin θ
≡ cos3 θ − 3 sin2 θ cos θ
≡ cos3 θ − 3(1 − cos2 θ) cos θ
≡ 4 cos3 θ − 3 cos θ

9.

cos 4x = cos 2(2x) ≡ 2 cos2 (2x) − 1


≡ 2(cos 2x)2 − 1
≡ 2(2 cos2 x − 1)2 − 1
≡ 2(4 cos4 x − 4 cos2 x + 1) − 1 ≡ 8 cos4 x − 8 cos2 x + 1.
2 tan t 2 tan t 2 tan t
10. tan 2t ≡ 2
≡ 2

1 − tan t 1 − (sec t − 1) 2 − sec2 t
11. cos 10t − cos 12t ≡ 2 sin 11t sin t sin 10t + sin 12t ≡ 2 sin 11t cos(−t)
cos 10t − cos 12t sin t sin t
. .. ≡ ≡ ≡ tan t
sin 10t + sin 12t cos(−t) cos t
1
12. The right-angled triangle ACD has area (CD)(AD)
2
   
θ CD θ
But sin = . .. CD = x sin
2 x 2
   
θ AD θ
cos = . .. AD = x cos
2 x 2

   
1 2 θ θ 1
. .. area of ∆ACD = x sin cos = x2 sin θ
2 2 2 4

1
. .. area of ∆ABC = 2 × area of ∆ACD = x2 sin θ
2

52 HELM (2006):
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Applications of
Trigonometry  

to Triangles 4.4 

Introduction
We originally introduced trigonometry using right-angled triangles. However, the subject has appli-
cations in dealing with any triangles such as those that might arise in surveying, navigation or the
study of mechanisms.
In this Section we show how, given certain information about a triangle, we can use appropriate rules,
called the Sine rule and the Cosine rule, to fully ‘solve the triangle’ i.e. obtain the lengths of all
the sides and the size of all the angles of that triangle.

#
• have a knowledge of the basics of
trigonometry
Prerequisites
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be aware of the standard trigonometric
identities
"
# !
• use trigonometry in everyday situations
Learning Outcomes • fully determine all the sides and angles and
On completion you should be able to . . . the area of any triangle from partial
information
" !

HELM (2006): 53
Section 4.4: Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles
1. Applications of trigonometry to triangles
Area of a triangle
1
The area S of any triangle is given by S = × (base) × (perpendicular height) where ‘perpendicular
2
height’ means the perpendicular distance from the side called the ‘base’ to the opposite vertex. Thus
1
for the right-angled triangle shown in Figure 33(a) S = b a. For the obtuse-angled triangle
2
1
shown in Figure 33(b) the area is S = bh.
2
B B
c c
a a h

A θ A θ C D
C
b b C
(a) (b)

Figure 33
If we use C to denote the angle ACB in Figure 33(b) then
h
sin(180 − C) = (triangle BCD is right-angled)
. a
.. h = a sin(180 − C) = a sin C (see the graph of the sine wave or expand sin(180 − c))
1
. .. S= b a sin C 1(a)
2
By other similar constructions we could demonstrate that
1
S= a c sin B 1(b)
2
and
1
S= b c sin A 1(c)
2
Note the pattern here: in each formula for the area the angle involved is the one between the sides
whose lengths occur in that expression.
Clearly if C is a right-angle (so sin C = 1) then
1
S= b a as for Figure 33(a).
2
Note: from now on we will not generally write ‘≡’ but use the more usual ‘=’.

54 HELM (2006):
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The Sine rule


The Sine rule is a formula which, if we are given certain information about a triangle, enables us to
fully ‘solve the triangle’ i.e. obtain the lengths of all three sides and the value of all three angles.
To show the rule we note that from the formulae (1a) and (1b) for the area S of the triangle ABC
in Figure 33 we have
b c
ba sin C = ac sin B or =
sin B sin C
Similarly using (1b) and (1c)
a b
ac sin B = bc sin A or =
sin A sin B

Key Point 18
The Sine Rule
For any triangle ABC where a is the length of the side opposite angle A, b the side length opposite
angle B and c the side length opposite angle C states
a b c
= =
sin A sin B sin C

Use of the Sine rule


To be able to fully determine all the angles and sides of a triangle it follows from the Sine rule that
we must know
either two angles and one side : (knowing two angles of a triangle really means that all
three are known since the sum of the angles is 180◦ )
or two sides and an angle opposite one of those two sides.

Example 3
Solve the triangle ABC given that a = 32 cm, b = 46 cm and angle B = 63.25◦ .

Solution
Using the first pair of equations in the Sine rule (Key Point 18) we have
32 46 32
= . .. sin A = sin 63.25◦ = 0.6212
sin A sin 63.25◦ 46

so A = sin−1 (0.6212) = 38.4◦ (by calculator)

HELM (2006): 55
Section 4.4: Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles
Solution (contd.)
You should, however, note carefully that because of the form of the graph of the sine function there
are two angles between 0◦ and 180◦ which have the same value for their sine i.e. x and (180 − x).
See Figure 34.
sin θ

x 180◦ − x θ

Figure 34
In our example
A = sin−1 (0.6212) = 38.4◦
or
A = 180◦ − 38.4◦ = 141.6◦ .
However since we are given that angle B is 63.25◦ , the value of 141.6◦ for angle A is clearly
impossible.
To complete the problem we simply note that
C = 180◦ − (38.4◦ + 63.25◦ ) = 78.35◦
The remaining side c is calculated from the Sine rule, using either a and sin A or b and sin B.

Task
Find the length of side c in Example 3.

Your solution

Answer
a c
Using, for example, =
sin A sin C
sin C sin 78.35◦ 32 × 0.9794
we have c=a = 32 × = = 50.45 cm.
sin A 0.6212 0.6212

56 HELM (2006):
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The ambiguous case


When, as in Example 3, we are given two sides and the non-included angle of a triangle, particular
care is required.
Suppose that sides b and c and the angle B are given. Then the angle C is given by the Sine rule as
B
sin B c a
sin C = c
b C
A b
Figure 35
Various cases can arise:
(i) c sin B > b
c sin B
This implies that > 1 in which case no triangle exists since sin C cannot exceed 1.
b
(ii) c sin B = b
c sin B
In this case sin C = = 1 so C = 90◦ .
b
(iii) c sin B < b
c sin B
Hence sin C = < 1.
b
As mentioned earlier there are two possible values of angle C in the range 0 to 180◦ , one acute angle
(< 90◦ ) and one obtuse (between 90◦ and 180◦ .) These angles are C1 = x and C2 = 180 − x. See
Figure 36.
If the given angle B is greater than 90◦ then the obtuse angle C2 is not a possible solution because,
of course, a triangle cannot possess two obtuse angles.

c
b b

B C2 C1
B C2 C1
Figure 36
For B less than 90◦ there are still two possibilities.
If the given side b is greater than the given side c, the obtuse angle solution C2 is not possible because
then the larger angle would be opposite the smaller side. (This was the situation in Example 3.)
The final case
b < c, B < 90◦
does give rise to two possible values C1 , C2 of the angle C and is referred to as the ambiguous
case. In this case there will be two possible values a1 and a2 for the third side of the triangle
corresponding to the two angle values
A1 = 180◦ − (B + C1 )
A2 = 180◦ − (B + C2 )

HELM (2006): 57
Section 4.4: Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles
Task
Show that two triangles fit the following data for a triangle ABC:
a = 4.5 cm b = 7 cm A = 35◦
Obtain the sides and angle of both possible triangles.

Your solution

Answer
b sin A 7 sin 35◦
We have, by the Sine rule, sin B = = = 0.8922
a 4.5
So B = sin−1 0.8922 − 63.15◦ (by calculator) or 180 − 63.15◦ = 116.85◦ .
In this case, both values of B are indeed possible since both values are larger than angle A (side b
is longer than side a). This is the ambiguous case with two possible triangles.

B = B1 = 63.15◦ B = B2 = 116.85◦
C = C1 = 81.85◦ C = C2 = 28.15◦
c1 4.5 c2 4.5
c = c1 where = c = c2 where =
sin 81.85◦ sin 35◦ sin 28.15 sin 35◦
4.5 × 0.9899 4.5 × 0.4718
c1 = c2 =
0.5736 0.5736

= 7.766 cm = 3.701 cm
You can clearly see that we have one acute angled triangle AB1 C1 and one obtuse angled AB2 C2
corresponding to the given data.

58 HELM (2006):
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The Cosine rule


The Cosine rule is an alternative formula for ‘solving a triangle’ ABC. It is particularly useful for
the case where the Sine rule cannot be used, i.e. when two sides of the triangle are known together
with the angle between these two sides.

Consider the two triangles ABC shown in Figure 37.

B
B

a c a
c

A A
C A C
D A D
b b

(a) (b)

Figure 37
In Figure 37(a) using the right-angled triangle ABD, BD = c sin A.

In Figure 37(b) using the right-angled triangle ABD, BD = c sin(π − A) = c sin A.

In Figure 37(a) DA = c cos A . .. CD = b − c cos A

In Figure 37(b) DA = c cos(180 − A) = −c cos A . .. CD = b + AD = b − c cos A

In both cases, in the right-angled triangle BDC

(BC)2 = (CD)2 + (BD)2

So, using the above results,

a2 = (b − c cos A)2 + c2 (sin A)2 = b2 − 2bc cos A + c2 (cos2 A + sin2 A)

giving

a2 = b2 + c2 − 2bc cos A (3)

Equation (3) is one form of the Cosine rule. Clearly it can be used, as we stated above, to calculate
the side a if the sides b and c and the included angle A are known.

Note that if A = 90◦ , cos A = 0 and (3) reduces to Pythagoras’ theorem.

Two similar formulae to (3) for the Cosine rule can be similarly derived - see following Key Point:

HELM (2006): 59
Section 4.4: Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles
Key Point 19
Cosine Rule
For any triangle with sides a, b, c and corresponding angles A, B, C

b 2 + c 2 − a2
a2 = b2 + c2 − 2bc cos A cos A =
2bc
c 2 + a2 − b 2
b2 = c2 + a2 − 2ca cos B cos B =
2ca
a + b2 − c 2
2
c2 = a2 + b2 − 2bc cos C cos C =
2ab

Example 4
Solve the triangle where b = 7.00 cm, c = 3.59 cm, A = 47◦ .

Solution
Since two sides and the angle A between these sides is given we must first use the Cosine rule in
the form (3a):

a2 = (7.00)2 + (3.59)2 − 2(7.00)(3.59) cos 47◦ = 49 + 12.888 − 34.277 = 27.610



so a = 27.610 = 5.255 cm.

We can now most easily use the Sine rule to solve one of the remaining angles:
7.00 5.255 7.00 sin 47◦
= so sin B = = 0.9742
sin B sin 47◦ 5.255
from which B = B1 = 76.96◦ or B = B2 = 103.04◦ .
At this stage it is not obvious which value is correct or whether this is the ambiguous case and both
values of B are possible.
The two possible values for the remaining angle C are
C1 = 180◦ − (47◦ + 76.96◦ ) = 56.04◦

C2 = 180◦ − (47 + 103.04) = 29.96◦


Since for the sides of this triangle b > a > c then similarly for the angles we must have
B > A > C so the value C2 = 29.96◦ is the correct one for the third side.

The Cosine rule can also be applied to some triangles where the lengths a, b and c of the three sides
are known and the only calculations needed are finding the angles.

60 HELM (2006):
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Task
A triangle ABC has sides
a = 7cm b = 11 cm c = 12 cm.
Obtain the values of all the angles of the triangle. (Use Key Point 19.)

Your solution

Answer
Suppose we find angle A first using the following formula from Key Point 19
b 2 + c 2 − a2
cos A =
2bc
112 + 122 − 72
Here cos A = = 0.818 so A = cos−1 (0.818) = 35.1◦
2 × 11 × 12
(There is no other possibility between 0◦ and 180◦ for A. No ‘ambiguous case’ arises using the
Cosine rule!)
Another angle B or C could now be obtained using the Sine rule or the Cosine rule.
Using the following formula from Key Point 19:
c 2 + a2 − b 2 122 + 72 − 112
cos B = = = 0.429 so B = cos−1 (0.429) = 64.6◦
2ca 2 × 12 × 7
Since A + B + C = 180◦ we can deduce C = 80.3◦

HELM (2006): 61
Section 4.4: Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles
Exercises
1. Determine the remaining angles and sides for the following triangles:

(a) A
c 130◦ 6
20◦
B a C

(b) 3 4

80◦ C
B a C

(c) A
10 b

26
B C
12

(d) The triangles ABC with B = 50◦ , b = 5, c = 6. (Take special care here!)

2. Determine all the angles of the triangles ABC where the sides have lengths a = 7, b = 66
and c = 9

3. Two ships leave a port at 8.00 am, one travelling at 12 knots (nautical miles per hour) the
other at 10 knots. The faster ship maintains a bearing of N 47◦ W, the slower one a bearing
S20◦ W. Calculate the separation of the ships at midday. (Hint: Draw an appropriate diagram.)

4. The crank mechanism shown below has an arm OA of length 30 mm rotating anticlockwise
about 0 and a connecting rod AB of length 60 mm. B moves along the horizontal line
1
OB. What is the length OB when OA has rotated by of a complete revolution from the
8
horizontal?
A

O B

62 HELM (2006):
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Answers
1.
a 6 c
(a) Using the Sine rule ◦
= ◦
= . From the two left-hand equations

sin 130 sin 20 sin C
sin 130
a=6 ' 13.44.
sin 20◦
sin 30◦
Then, since C = 30◦ , the right hand pair of equations give c = 6 ' 8.77.
sin 20◦
a 4 3 3
(b) Again using the Sine rule = ◦
= so sin C = sin 80◦ = 0.7386
sin A sin 80 sin C 4
there are two possible angles satisfying sin C = 0.7386 or C = sin−1 (0.7386).

These are 47.61◦ and 180◦ − 47.614◦ = 132.39◦ . However the obtuse angle value is
impossible here because the angle B is 80◦ and the sum of the angles would then exceed
180◦ Hence c = 47.01◦ so A = 180◦ − (80◦ + 47.61◦ ) = 52.39◦ .
a 4 sin 52.39◦
Then, ◦
= so a=4 ' 3.22
sin 52.39 sin 80◦ sin 80◦
(c) In this case since two sides and the included angle are given we must use the Cosine rule.
The appropriate form is

b2 = c2 + a2 − 2ca cos B = 102 + 122 − (2)(10)(12) cos 26◦ = 28.2894



so b = 28.2894 = 5.32

Continuing we use the Cosine rule again to determine say angle C where

c2 = a2 + b2 − 2ab cos C that is 102 = 122 + (5.32)2 − 2(1.2)(5.32) cos C

from which cos C = 0.5663 and C = 55.51◦ (There is no other possibility for C between
0◦ and 180◦ . Recall that the cosine of an angle between 90◦ and 180◦ is negative.)
Finally, A = 180 − (26◦ + 55.51◦ ) = 98.49◦ .
(d) By the Sine rule
a 5 6 sin 50◦
= = . .. sin C = 6 = 0.9193
sin A sin 50◦ sin C 5
Then C = sin−1 (0.9193) = 66.82◦ (calculator) or 180◦ − 66.82◦ = 113.18◦ . In this case
both values of C say C1 = 66.82◦ and C2 = 113.18◦ are possible and there are two
possible triangles satisfying the given data. Continued use of the Sine rule produces
(i) with C1 = 66.82 (acute angle triangle) A = A1 = 180 − (66.82◦ + 50◦ ) = 63.18◦
a = a1 = 5.83
(ii) with C2 = 113.18◦ A = A2 = 16.82◦ a = a2 = 1.89

HELM (2006): 63
Section 4.4: Applications of Trigonometry to Triangles
Answers continued

2. We use the Cosine rule firstly to find the angle opposite the longest side. This will tell us
whether the triangle contains an obtuse angle. Hence we solve for c using

c2 = a2 + b2 − 2ab cos C 81 = 49 + 36 − 84 cos C

from which 84 cos C = 4 cos C = 4/84 giving C = 87.27◦ .

So there is no obtuse angle in this triangle and we can use the Sine rule knowing that there
is only one possible triangle fitting the data. (We could continue to use the Cosine rule if we
wished of course.) Choosing to find the angle B we have
6 9
=
sin B sin 87.27◦
from which sin B = 0.6659 giving B = 41.75◦ . (The obtuse case for B is not possible, as
explained above.) Finally A = 180◦ − (41.75◦ + 87.27◦ ) = 50.98◦ .

A N
47◦
48
c O
40
20◦

3. B S

At midday (4 hours travelling) ships A and B are respectively 48 and 40 nautical miles from
the port O. In triangle AOB we have

AOB = 180◦ − (47◦ + 20◦ ) = 113◦ .

We must use the Cosine rule to obtain the required distance apart of the ships. Denoting the
distance AB by c, as usual,

c2 = 482 + 402 − 2(48)(40) cos 113◦ from which c2 = 5404.41 and c = 73.5 nautical miles.
30 60 30
4. By the Sine rule = . .. sin B = sin 45◦ = 0.353 so B = 20.704◦ .
sin B sin 45 60
A
30mm 60mm (Position after 1
revolution)
8

45◦
O B

The obtuse value of sin−1 (0.353) is impossible. Hence,

A = 180◦ − (45◦ + 20.704◦ ) = 114.296◦ .

30 OB
Using the sine rule again = from which OB = 77.5 mm.
0.353 sin 114.296

64 HELM (2006):
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Applications of
Trigonometry  

to Waves 4.5 

Introduction
Waves and vibrations occur in many contexts. The water waves on the sea and the vibrations of
a stringed musical instrument are just two everyday examples. If the vibrations are simple ‘to and
fro’ oscillations they are referred to as ‘sinusoidal’ which implies that a knowledge of trigonometry,
particularly of the sine and cosine functions, is a necessary pre-requisite for dealing with their analysis.
In this Section we give a brief introduction to this topic.

#
• have a knowledge of the basics of
trigonometry
Prerequisites
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be aware of the standard trigonometric
identities
"
# !
• use simple trigonometric functions to
describe waves
Learning Outcomes
• combine two waves of the same frequency as
On completion you should be able to . . .
a single wave in amplitude-phase form
" !

HELM (2006): 65
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
1. Applications of trigonometry to waves
Two-dimensional motion
Suppose that a wheel of radius R is rotating anticlockwise as shown in Figure 38.

B
Q
R
ωt A
x
O P

Figure 38
Assume that the wheel is rotating with an angular velocity ω radians per second about O so that, in
a time t seconds, a point (x, y) initially at position A on the rim of the wheel moves to a position B
such that angle AOB = ωt radians.
Then the coordinates (x, y) of B are given by
x = OP = R cos ωt
y = OQ = P B = R sin ωt
We know that both the standard sine and cosine functions have period 2π. Since the angular velocity

is ω radians per second the wheel will make one complete revolution in seconds.
ω

The time (measured in seconds in this case) for one complete revolution is called the period of
ω
1
rotation of the wheel. The number of complete revolutions per second is thus = f say which is
T
1 ω
called the frequency of revolution. Clearly f = = relates the three quantities
T 2π
introduced here. The angular velocity ω = 2πf is sometimes called the angular frequency.

One-dimensional motion
The situation we have just outlined is two-dimensional motion. More simply we might consider
one-dimensional motion.
An example is the motion of the projection onto the x-axis of a point B which moves with uniform
angular velocity ω round a circle of radius R (see Figure 39). As B moves round, its projection P
moves to and fro across the diameter of the circle.

66 HELM (2006):
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B
R
ωt A
x
O x P

Figure 39
The position of P is given by
x = R cos ωt (1)
Clearly, from the known properties of the cosine function, we can deduce the following:

1. x varies periodically with t with period T = .
ω
2. x will have maximum value +R and minimum value −R.
(This quantity R is called the amplitude of the motion.)

Task
Using (1) write down the values of x at the following times:
π π 3π 2π
t = 0, t = ,t= ,t= ,t= .
2ω ω 2ω ω

Your solution

π π 3π 2π
t 0
2ω ω 2ω ω

Answer

π π 3π 2π
t 0
2ω ω 2ω ω

x R 0 −R 0 R

HELM (2006): 67
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
Using (1) this ’to and fro’ or ‘vibrational’ or ‘oscillatory’ motion between R and −R continues
indefinitely. The technical name for this motion is simple harmonic. To a good approximation it
is the motion exhibited (i) by the end of a pendulum pulled through a small angle and then released
(ii) by the end of a hanging spring pulled down and then released. See Figure 40 (in these cases
damping of the pendulum or spring is ignored).

Figure 40

Task
Using your knowledge of the cosine function and the results of the previous Task
sketch the graph of x against t where

x = R cos ωt for t = 0 to t =
ω

Your solution

Answer
x = R cos ωt
R period

2π 4π t
ω ω

−R

This graph shows part of a cosine wave, specifically two periods of oscillation. The shape of the
graph suggests that the term wave is indeed an appropriate description.

68 HELM (2006):
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π
We know that the shape of the cosine graph and the sine graph are identical but offset by
1.7
radians horizontally. Bearing this in mind, attempt the following Task.

Task
Write the equation of the wave x(t), part of which is shown in the following graph.
You will need to find the period T and angular frequency ω.
x
5

4 8 t (secs)

−5

Your solution

Answer
From the shape of the graph we have a sine wave rather than a cosine wave. Theamplitude is 5.
2π π πt
The period T = 4s so the angular frequency ω = = . Hence x = 5 sin .
4 2 2

The quantity x, a function of t, is referred to as the displacement of the wave.

Phase of a wave
 π
We recall that cos θ − = sin θ which means that the graph of x = sin θ is the same shape
2
π
as that of x = cos θ but is shifted to the right by .
2
Suppose now that we consider the waves
x1 = R cos 2t x2 = R sin 2t
Both have amplitude R, angular frequency ω = 2 rad s−1 . Also
 π h  π i
x2 = R cos 2t − = R cos 2 t −
2 4
π
The graphs of x1 against t and of x2 against t are said to have a phase difference of . Specifically
4
π
x1 is ahead of, or ‘leads’ x2 by radians.
4
More generally, consider the following two sine waves of the same amplitude and frequency:
x1 (t) = R sin ωt
x2 (t) = R sin(ωt − α)

HELM (2006): 69
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
 α h  α i
Now x1 t − = R sin ω t − = R sin(ωt − α) = x2 (t)
ω ω
α α
so it is clear that the waves x1 and x2 are out of phase by . Specifically x1 leads x2 by .
ω ω

Task
Calculate the phase difference between the waves

x1 = 3 cos(10πt)
 π
x2 = 3 cos 10πt +
4
where the time t is in seconds.

Your solution

Answer
Note firstly that the waves have the same amplitude 3 and angular frequency 10π (corresponding
2π 1
to a common period = s)
10π 5
  
 π  1
Now cos 10πt + = cos 10π t +
4 40
 
1
so x1 t + = x2 (t).
40
1
In other words the phase difference is s, the wave x2 leads the wave x1 by this amount.
40
1
Alternatively we could say that x1 lags x2 by s.
40

70 HELM (2006):
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Key Point 20
The equations
x = R cos ωt x = R sin ωt

both represent waves of amplitude R and period .
ω
π n  π o
The phase difference between these waves is because cos ω t − = sin ωt.
2ω 2ω

Combining two wave equations


A situation that arises in some applications is the need to combine two trigonometric terms such as
A cos θ + B sin θ where A and B are constants.
For example this sort of situation might arise if we wish to combine two waves of the same frequency
but not necessarily the same amplitude and with a phase difference. In particular we wish to be able
to deal with an expression of the form
R1 cos ωt + R2 sin ωt
π
where the individual waves have, as we have seen, a phase difference of .

Consider an expression A cos θ + B sin θ. We seek to transform this into the single form
C cos(θ − α) (or C sin(θ − α)), where C and α have to be determined. The problem is easily solved
with the aid of trigonometric identities.
We know that
C cos(θ − α) ≡ C(cos θ cos α + sin θ sin α)
Hence if A cos θ + B sin θ = C cos(θ − α) then
A cos θ + B sin θ = (C cos α) cos θ + (C sin α) sin θ
For this to be an identity (true for all values of θ) we must be able to equate the coefficients of cos θ
and sin θ on each side.
Hence
A = C cos α and B = C sin α (2)

HELM (2006): 71
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
Task
By squaring and adding the Equations (2), obtain C in terms of A and B.

Your solution

Answer

A = C cos α and B = C sin α gives


A + B = C 2 cos2 α + C 2 sin2 α = C 2 (cos2 α + sin2 α) = C 2
2 2


. .. C = A2 + B 2 (We take the positive square root.)

Task
By eliminating C from Equations (2) and using the result of the previous Task,
obtain α in terms of A and B.

Your solution

Answer
B C sin α B
By division, = = tan α so α is obtained by solving tan α = . However, care must be
A C cos α A
taken to obtain the correct quadrant for α.

Key Point 21
√ B
If A cos θ + B sin θ = C cos(θ − α) then C = A2 + B 2 and tan α = .
A
Note that the following cases arise for the location of α:
1. A > 0, B > 0 : 1st quadrant 3. A < 0, B < 0 : 3rd quadrant
2. A < 0, B > 0 : 2nd quadrant 4. A > 0, B < 0 : 4th quadrant

72 HELM (2006):
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In terms of waves, using Key Point 21 we have


R1 cos ωt + R2 sin ωt = R cos(ωt − α)
p R2
where R = R12 + R22 and tan α = .
R1
The form R cos(ωt − α) is said to be the amplitude/phase form of the wave.

Example 5
Express in the form C cos(θ − α) each of the following:

(a) 3 cos θ + 3 sin θ


(b) −3 cos θ + 3 sin θ
(c) −3 cos θ − 3 sin θ
(d) 3 cos θ − 3 sin θ

Solution
√ √ √
In each case C = A2 + B 2 = 9+9= 18
B 3
(a) tan α = = = 1 gives α = 45◦ (A and B are both positive so the first quadrant
A 3 √ √  π
is the correct one.) Hence 3 cos θ + 2 sin θ = 18 cos(θ − 45◦ ) = 18 cos θ −
4
(b) The angle α must be in the second quadrant as A = −3 < 0, B = +3 > 0. By
calculator : tan α = −1 gives α = −45◦ but this is in the 4th quadrant. Remembering
that tan α has period π or 180◦ we must therefore add 180◦ to the calculator value to
obtain the correct α value of 135◦ . Hence

−3 cos θ + 3 sin θ = 18 cos(θ − 135◦ )
−3
(c) Here A = −3, B = −3 so α must be in the 3rd quadrant. tan α = = 1 giving
◦ ◦
−3
α = 45 by calculator. Hence adding 180 to this tells us that

−3 cos θ − 3 sin θ = 18 cos(θ − 225◦ )

(d) Here A = 3 B = −3 so α is in the 4th quadrant. tan α = −1 gives us (correctly)


α = −45◦ so

3 cos θ − 3 sin θ = 18 cos(θ + 45◦ ).

Note that in the amplitude/phase form the angle may be expressed in degrees or radians.

HELM (2006): 73
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
Task
Write the wave form x = 3 cos ωt + 4 sin ωt in amplitude/phase form. Express
the phase in radians to 3 d.p..

Your solution

Answer
√ 4
We have x = R cos(ωt − α) where R= 32 + 42 = 5 and tan α = 3 from which, using the
π
calculator in radian mode, α = 0.927 radians. This is in the first quadrant 0 < α < which is
2
correct since A = 3 and B = 4 are both positive. Hence x = 5 cos(ωt − 0.927).

74 HELM (2006):
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Exercises
1. Write down the amplitude and the period of y = 52 sin 2πt.

2. Write down the amplitude, frequency and phase of


 
 π 3π
(a) y = 3 sin 2t − (b) y = 15 cos 5t −
3 2
3. The current in an a.c. circuit is i(t) = 30 sin 120πt amp where t is measured in seconds.
What is the maximum current and at what times does it occur?
 π
4. The depth y of water at the entrance to a small harbour at time t is y = a sin b t − +k
2
where k is the average depth. If the tidal period is 12 hours, the depths at high tide and low
tide are 18 metres and 6 metres respectively, obtain a, b, k and sketch two cycles of the graph
of y.

5. The Fahrenheit temperature at a certain location over 1 complete day is modelled by


π
F (t) = 60 + 10 sin (t − 8) 0 ≤ t ≤ 24
12
where t is in the time in hours after midnight.

(a) What are the temperatures at 8.00 am and 12.00 noon?


(b) At what time is the temperature 60◦ F?
(c) Obtain the maximum and minimum temperatures and the times at which they occur.

6. In each of the following write down expressions for shifted sine and shifted cosine functions
that satisfy the given conditions:
2π π
(a) Amplitude 3, Period , Phase shift
3 3
(b) Amplitude 0.7, Period 0.5, Phase shift 4.

7. Write the a.c. current i = 3 cos 5t + 4 sin 5t in the form i = C cos(5π − α).

8. Show that if A cos ωt + B sin ωt = C sin(ωt + α) then


√ B A
C = A2 + B 2 , cos α = , sin α = .
C C
9. Using Exercise 8 express the following in the amplitude/phase form C sin(ωt + α)
√ √
(a) y = − 3 sin 2t + cos 2t (b) y = cos 2t + 3 sin 2t
2 1
10. The motion of a weight on a spring is given by y= cos 8t − sin 8t.
3 6
Obtain C and α such that y = C sin(8t + α)

11. Show that for the two a.c. currents


 π  π  π
i1 = sin ωt + and i2 = 3 cos ωt − then i1 + i2 = 4 cos ωt − .
3 6 6
HELM (2006): 75
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
v2 π

12. Show that the power P = in an electrical circuit where v = V0 cos ωt + 4
is
R
V02
P = (1 − sin 2ωt)
2R
13. Show that the product of the two signals

f1 (t) = A1 sin ωt f2 (t) = A2 sin {ω(t + τ ) + φ} is given by


A1 A2
f1 (t)f2 (t) = {cos(ωτ + φ) − cos(2ωt + ωτ + φ)}.
2
Answers
5 5 2π
1. y = sin 2πt has amplitude . The period is = 1.
2 2 2π
5 5 5
Check: y(t + 1) = sin(2π(t + 1)) = sin(2πt + 2π) = sin 2πt = y(t)
2 2 2
2π  π
2. (a) Amplitude 3, Period = π. Writing y = 3 sin 2 t − we see that there is a
2 0
π
phase shift of radians in this wave compared with y = 3 sin 2t.
6
 
2π 3π
(b) Amplitude 15, Period . Clearly y = 15 cos 5 t − so there is a phase shift of
5 10

compared with y = 15 cos 5t.
10
π 1
3. Maximum current = 30 amps at a time t such that 120πt = . i.e. t = s.
2 240
 
1 n
This maximum will occur again at + s, n = 1, 2, 3, . . .
240 60
n  π o 2π π −1
4. y = a sin b t − + h. The period is = 12 hr . .. b = hr .
2 b 6
Also since ymax = a + k ynmin = −a + k we have a + k = 18 − a + k = 6 so k = 12
π π o
m, a = 6 m. i.e. y = 6 sin t− + 12.
6 2
π
5. F (t) = 60 + 10 sin (t − 8) 0 ≤ t < 24
12
π
(a) At t = 8 : temp = 60◦ F. At t = 12: temp = 60 + 10 sin = 68.7◦ F
3
π
(b) F (t) = 60 when (t − 8) = 0, π, 2π, . . . giving t − 8 = 0, 12, 24, . . . hours so
12
t = 8, 20, 32, . . . hours i.e. in 1 day at t = 8 (8.00 am) and t = 20 (8.00 pm)
π π
(c) Maximum temperature is 70◦ F when (t = 8) = i.e. at t = 14 (2.00 pm).
12 2
π 3π
Minimum temperature is 50◦ F when (t − 8) = i.e. at t = 26 (2.00 am).
12 2

76 HELM (2006):
Workbook 4: Trigonometry
®

Answers

6. (a) y = 3 sin(3t−π) y = 3 cos(3t−π) (b) y = 0.7 sin(4πt−16) y = 0.7 cos(4πt−16)


√ 4
7. C = 32 + 42 = 5 tan α = and α must be in the first quadrant (since A = 3, B = 4 are
3
4
both positive.) . .. α = tan−1 = 0.9273 rad . .. i = 5 cos(5t − 0.9273)
3
8. Since sin(ωt + α) = sin ωt cos α + cos ωt sin α then A = C sin α (coefficients of cos ωt)
A B
B = C cos α (coefficients of sin ωt) from which C 2 = A2 + B 2 , sin α = , cos α =
C C

√ 3 1
9. (a) C = 3 + 1 = 2; cos α = − sin α − so α is in the second quadrant,
  2 2
5π . 5π π
α= .. y = 2 sin 2t + (b) y = 2 sin 2t +
6 6 6

4 1 17 17 −1 1 2
4
2
10. C = + = so C = cos α = √ 6 = − √ sin α = √3 = √
9 36 36 6 17 17 17 17
6 6

so α is in the second quadrant. α = 1.8158 radians.


 π  π  π π  π
11. Since sin x = cos x − sin ωt + = cos ωt + − = cos ωt −
2 3 3 2 6
 π   π   π 
. .. i1 + i2 = cos ωt − + 3 cos ωt − = 4 cos ωt −
6 6 6
 π
= V0 cos ωt cos π4 − sin ωt sin π4 = √V02 (cos ωt − sin ωt)

12. v = V0 cos ωt +
4
V02 V2
. .. v2 = (cos2 ωt + sin2 ωt − 2 sin ωt cos ωt) = 0 (1 − sin 2ωt)
2 2
v2 V2
and hence P = = 0 (1 − sin 2ωt.)
R 2R
13. Since the required answer involves the difference of two cosine functions we use the identity
   
A+B B−A
cos A − cos B = 2 sin sin
2 2

A+B B−A
Hence with = ωt, − ωt + ωτ + φ.
2 2
We find, by adding these equations B = 2ωt+ωτ +φ and by subtracting A = −ωτ −φ.
1
Hence sin(ωt) sin(ωt + ωτ + φ) = {cos(ωτ + φ) − cos(2ωt + ωτ + φ)}.
2
(Recall that cos(−x) = cos x.) The required result then follows immediately.

HELM (2006): 77
Section 4.5: Applications of Trigonometry to Waves
Contents 5
Functions and Modelling
5.1 The Modelling Cycle and Functions 2

5.2 Quadratic Functions and Modelling 24

5.3 Oscillating Functions and Modelling 35

5.4 Inverse Square Law Modelling 45

Learning outcomes
After studying the Workbook and completing associated Tasks and Exercises you should
be able to: list and explain the stages of the modelling cycle; use linear, quadratic and
power law functions in modelling where appropriate.
The Modelling Cycle  

and Functions 5.1


 

Introduction
In this Section we look at the process of modelling with mathematics which is vitally important in
engineering. Knowledge of mathematics is not much use to an engineer unless it can be applied to
engineering problems. After discussing the mathematical modelling process we discuss the use of
linear models.

 

• be competent at algebraic manipulation


Prerequisites
Before starting this Section you should . . . • be familiar with linear functions
 
' $
• understand the basics of the modelling
process
Learning Outcomes • use linear functions to model motion
On completion you should be able to . . . under constant acceleration

• analyse motion under gravity


& %

2 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
1. Functions and modelling
Engineers use mathematics to a considerable extent. Mathematical techniques offer ways of handling
mathematical models of an engineering problem and coming up with a solution. Of course it is
possible to model a problem in ways that are not mathematical e.g. by physical or scale modelling,
but this Workbook is concerned exclusively with mathematical modelling, so we will drop the word
‘mathematical’ and refer just to modelling. This Section is intended to introduce some modelling
ideas as well as to show applications of the functions and techniques introduced in 2,
3 and 6. By modelling we mean the process by which we set up a mathematical model of
a situation or of an assumed situation, use the model to make some predictions and then interpret
the results in the original context. The mathematical techniques themselves contribute only to part
of the modelling procedure. The modelling procedure can be regarded as a cycle. If we do not like
the outcome for some reason we can try again. Five steps of a modelling cycle can be identified as
follows:
Step 1 Specify the purpose of the model.
Step 2 Create the mathematical model after making and stating relevant assumptions.
Step 3 Do the resulting mathematics.
Step 4 Interpret the results.
Step 5 Evaluate the outcome, usually by comparing with reality and/or purpose and, if
necessary, try again!.
Much of this first Section is concerned with steps 2 and 3 of the cycle: creating a mathematical
model and doing the maths. Engineering case studies found in many Workbooks will aim to
demonstrate the complete cycle. An important part of step 2 may include choosing an appropriate
function based on the assumptions made also as part of this step. This choice will influence the
kind of mathematical activity that is involved in step 3.
So far in your engineering mathematical studies you might have had little opportunity to think about
what is ‘appropriate’, since the type of function to be studied and used has been chosen for you.
Sometimes, however, you may be faced with making appropriate choices of function for yourself so it
is important to have some understanding of what might be appropriate in any given circumstance. A
well chosen function will be appropriate in two different ways. Firstly the function should be consistent
with the purpose of the model, with known data or theory or facts, and with known or assumed
behaviours. For example, the purpose might be to predict the future behaviour of a quantity which
is expected to increase with time. In this case time can be identified as the independent variable
since the quantity depends on time. The function chosen for mathematical activity should be one in
which the value of the dependent variable increases with time. Secondly, bearing in mind that the
modelling process is a cycle and so it is possible, and usual, to go round it more than once, the
first choice of function should be as simple as allowed by the modelling context. The main reason
for doing this is to avoid complication unless it is really necessary. Philosophically, an initial choice of
a simple function is consistent with the fundamental belief that most phenomena may be modelled
adequately by simple laws and theories. It is common engineering practice always to use the simplest
model possible in a given situation. So, for the first trip around the cycle, the appropriate function
should be the simplest that is consistent with known facts, behaviours, theory or data. If the quantity
of interest is known not to be constant, this might be a linear function. If the first choice turns out
to be inadequate at the stage of the cycle where the result is interpreted or the outcome is evaluated
(step 5) then it is reasonable to try something more complicated; a quadratic function might be the
second choice if the first choice was linear.

HELM (2006): 3
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
It is important to realise that sophistication is not necessarily a virtue in itself. The merits of
complication depend upon the purpose for which the model is being formulated. A model of the
weather that enables a decision on whether or not to take an umbrella to work on any particular day
will be rather less sophisticated than that required to give an accurate prediction of the amount of
rainfall in the vicinity of the workplace on that day.
In the next subsection we will look at various types of functions that have been introduced so far
but in a different way, concentrating more on their graphical behaviour and their parameters. As
mentioned earlier, appropriateness is determined by the extent to which the behaviour of the chosen
function reflects the behaviour to be modelled as the independent variable varies. The behaviour of
a function is determined by whether it is linear, non-linear, or periodic and its range of validity. An
important task of this Workbook is to get you to think more and more in modelling terms about the
forms and associated behaviours of functions. We shall also take the opportunity of deriving some
generalities from specific examples.

2. Constant functions
There are two physical interpretations of constancy that are of interest here. A very common form is
constancy with time. Motion under gravity may be modelled as motion with constant acceleration.
By definition, Fixed Rate Mortgages (increasingly popular in the late 1990s) offer a constant rate
of interest over a specified period. In these examples, the constancy will be limited to a certain
time interval. Motion under gravity will only involve the constant acceleration due to the Earth’s
gravitational pull as long as the motion is close to the Earth’s surface. In any case the acceleration
will only be from the time the object is released to the time it stops. Unfortunately, increases in base
interest rates eventually feed into mortgage rates. So mortgage lenders are only able to offer fixed
rates for a certain time. A mathematical statement of these limits is a statement of the range of
validity of the constant function model.
Another type of constancy is constancy in space. Long stretches of Roman roads were built in
a fixed direction. For at least part of their lengths, roads have constant width. In modelling the
formation and movement of seismic waves in the Earth’s crust it is convenient to assume that the
layers from which the Earth’s crust is formed have constant thickness with respect to the Earth’s
surface. In these cases the assumption of constancy will only be valid within certain limits in space.

4 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Example 1
The rate of flow of water from a tap is denoted as r (litres per minute). The time
for which it is turned on is denoted by t (minutes). Suppose that a tap is turned
on and that the rate of water running out of a tap is assumed to be constant at
3 litres per minute and that it is turned off after 10 minutes.

(a) Write down a mathematical statement of the model for the flow from the
tap, including its range of validity.

(b) Sketch a graph of the variation of r with t.

(c) Find an equation for the number of litres of water that have run out of the
tap after t minutes.

(d) Calculate the volume of water that has run out of the tap three minutes
before it is turned off.

Solution

(a) r = 3 (0 ≤ t ≤ 10)

(b)
3
r (litres per min)
2

0 5 10 15
t (minutes)

Figure 1: Flow from tap

(c) V = rt (0 ≤ t ≤ 10)

(d) The tap will have run for seven minutes; 3 litres per minute x 7 minutes = 21 litres

Note that a more sophisticated model would allow for the variation in flow rate as the tap is turned
on and turned off.

HELM (2006): 5
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
3. Linear functions
2 has introduced linear functions of the form y = ax + b. Such functions give rise to straight-
line graphs. The coefficient a is the slope. If a is positive the graph of y against x slopes upwards. If
a is negative the graph slopes downwards. The coefficient b gives the intercept on the y-axis. The
terms a and b may be called the parameters of the line. Note that this is a different use of the
term ‘parameter’ than in the parametrisation of functions discussed in 2.

Linear models for falling rocks


In modelling it is wise to use a notation which fits in with the application. When modelling velocity
under constant acceleration, we shall replace the dependent variable y by v (for velocity), and the
independent variable x by t (for time). The acceleration will be denoted by the symbol a. Consider
the motion of a rock dislodged from the top of a cliff (35 m high) by a villain during the filming of a
thriller. The film producer might be interested in how long the rock would take to fall to the ground
below the cliff and how fast it would be travelling at ground impact. The rock may be assumed
to have a constant downward acceleration of 9.8 m s−2 which the acceleration due to gravity. The
velocity (v m s−1 ) of a rock, falling from the top of a cliff 35 m high, can be modelled by the equation
v = 9.8t (0 ≤ t ≤ 2.7)
where t is the time in seconds after the rock starts to fall. This follows from the fact that acceleration
is the rate of change of velocity with time. If the acceleration is constant and the object starts from
rest, then the velocity is given simply by the product of acceleration and time. The upper limit for t
is the time at which the rock hits the ground measured with a stop-watch (about 2.7 s in this case).
Figure 2 shows v as a function of t. Velocity is a linearly increasing function of time and its graph is
a straight line passing through t = 0, v = 0. Note that various assumptions are needed to obtain the
quoted result of a linear variation in speed with time: it is assumed that there is no air resistance,
no spinning and no wind.

20
1
Velocity (m s )
10

0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Time (s)

Figure 2: Graph of v = 9.8t for the falling rock


In what way should the equation for v be altered if the villain were able to throw the rock downwards
at 5 m s−1 ? Provided we are measuring position or displacement downwards, a downwards velocity
is positive. Now we have that v = 5 when t = 0. So a new model for v is
v = 9.8t + 5 (0 ≤ t ≤ T1 )
Since they are both downwards, the initial velocity simply adds to the velocity at any time resulting
from falling under gravity. Note that T1 is being used now for the upper limit on t (instead of 2.7)
because 2.7 is (approximately) the time taken to fall 35 m from rest rather than with an initial
downwards velocity. (Using the symbol T1 saves us trying to work out its value for the moment!)
Note that a general form of the model for motion under constant acceleration of magnitude a m s−2
given an initial speed b m s−1 is v = at + b. In the model just considered a = 9.8 and b = 5.

6 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Task
For the above example modelling a falling rock:

(a) Determine whether T1 is more or less than 2.7.

(b) Sketch a graph of v for 0 ≤ t ≤ T1 .

Your solution

Answer
(a) T1 will be less than 2.7 since the rock will be moving faster throughout its descent.

(b) The graph is still a straight line but displaced upwards compared with Figure 2.

30

Velocity (m s 1 )
20

10

0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Time (s)

Graph of v = 9.8t + 5 for the falling rock

Consider now how the function for v will change if the villain is even mightier than we previously
thought and throws the rock upwards with an initial speed of 5 m s−1 instead of simply dislodging
it or throwing it downwards. In this circumstance, the initial velocity is directed upwards, and since
position is being measured downwards, the initial velocity is negative. We can use the equation
v = 9.8t + b again. This time v = −5 when t = 0, leading to b = −5 and
v = 9.8t − 5 (0 ≤ t ≤ T2 )

HELM (2006): 7
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
The new time at which the rock hits the ground is denoted by T2 . The rock will rise before falling
to the gound this time so T2 will be larger than T1 .
From the modelling point of view, there is one other significant time before the rock hits the ground.
Figure 3 shows the new graph of v against t. Notice that there is a time at which v (which starts at
−5) is zero. What does this mean?

20
Velocity (m s 1 )
10

0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3
Time (s)
5

Figure 3: Graph of v = 9.8t − 5 for the falling rock


As time goes by, the fact that gravity is causing the rock to accelerate downwards means that the
rock’s upward motion will slow. Its velocity will decrease in magnitude until it reaches zero. At
this particular instant the rock will be at its highest point and its velocity will change from upwards
(negative) to downwards (positive) passing instantaneously through zero in the process.
We can calculate this time by substituting zero for v and working out the corresponding t.
5
0 = 9.8t − 5, so t= = 0.51.
9.8
This means that the rock is stationary about a half second after being thrown upwards. Subsequently
the rock will fall until it hits the ground. But there is yet one more time that may be significant
in the modelling context chosen here. During its journey to the ground 35 m beneath the cliff-top,
the rock will pass the top of the cliff again. Note that we are modelling the motion of a particular
point, say the lowest point, on the rock. A real rock, with appreciable size, will only pass the top
of the cliff, without landing on it or hitting it, if it is thrown a little forward as well as up. Anyway,
in principle we could use the function that we started with, representing the velocity of an object
falling from rest under gravity, to work out how long the rock will take to pass the top of the cliff
having reached the highest point in its path. A simpler method is to argue that, as long as the rock
is thrown from the cliff top level (this requires the villain to be lying down!), the rock should take
exactly the same time (approximately 0.5 s) to return to the level of the cliff top as it took to rise
above the cliff top to the highest point in its path. So we simply double 0.5 s to deduce that the
rock passes the cliff top again about 1 s after being thrown.

8 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Task
This Task concerns the falling rock model just discussed.

(a) Add lines to a sketch version of Figure 3 to represent velocity as a function of time if the rock is
(i) dislodged (ii) thrown with velocity 3 m s−1 downwards (iii) thrown with velocity −2 m s−1 :
Your solution

Answer
30

20
1
Velocity (m s )
10

0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Time (s)
5

(b) What do you deduce about the effect of the initial velocity on the graph of velocity against time?
Your solution

Answer
The effect of changing the initial velocity (in size or in sign) is simply to displace the straight line
upwards or downwards without changing its slope.

(c) Imagine that the filming was on the Moon with roughly one-sixth the gravitational pull of Earth.
Find a linear function that would describe the velocity of a dislodged rock:
Your solution

Answer
9.8
v= t ≈ 1.6t
6
(d) What do you deduce about the effect of changing the acceleration due to gravity on the graph
of velocity against time?
Your solution

Answer
The graph of velocity agains time is still linear but the change in the acceleration due to gravity
changes the slope.

HELM (2006): 9
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
So, in the context of modelling motion under gravity, the initial velocity determines the vertical
displacement of the line, its intercept on the v-axis, and the acceleration determines the slope.
Again, given the modelling context, both of these influence the range of validity of the model since
they alter the time taken for the rock to reach the ground and this fixes the upper limit on time.
Like velocity, acceleration has direction as well as magnitude. As long as position is being measured
downwards, and only gravity is considered to act, falling objects do not provide any examples of
negative accelerations - but rocket motion does. Where downwards accelerations are represented as
positive, an upwards acceleration will be negative. So a model of the motion of a rocket accelerating
away from the Earth could include a constant negative acceleration. Horizontal acceleration, say
of a road vehicle, in the same direction as position as being measured, is represented as positive.
Deceleration, for example when this vehicle is being braked, implies that velocity is decreasing with
time, and is represented as negative. In mathematical modelling, it is usual to refer to acceleration,
whether it represents positive acceleration or deceleration.
Suppose that we are describing the motion of a rocket taking off vertically during its initial booster
stage of 10 s. We might model the acceleration as a constant −20 m s−2 . The negative sign arises
because downwards is being taken as the positive direction but the acceleration is upwards. Since
the rocket is starting from rest, an appropriate function is
v = −20t (0 ≤ t ≤ 10)
This should describe the variation of its velocity with time until the end of the initial booster stage
of its flight. Figure 4 shows the corresponding graph of velocity against time. Note the way in which
the graph slopes downwards to the right. This function describes an increasingly negative velocity as
time passes, consistent with an increasing upwards velocity. The corresponding graph for a positive
acceleration of the same magnitude would slope upwards towards the right.

t (s)
0
2 4 6 8 10

100
v (m s ) 1

200

Figure 4: Variation of velocity of rocket during the initial booster stage.

Task
Imagine that a satellite is falling towards Earth at 5 m s−1 when a booster rocket
is fired for 5 s accelerating it away from the Earth at 10 m s−2 .

(a) Write down a corresponding linear function that would describe its velocity during the booster
stage.

Your solution

10 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Answer
If position is measured downwards, acceleration away from the Earth may be written as −10 m s−2 .
The initial velocity towards the Earth may be denoted by (+)5 m s−1 so v = −10t+5 (0 ≤ t ≤ 5).
If position is measured upwards v = 10t − 5 (0 ≤ t ≤ 5).

(b) Sketch the corresponding graph of velocity against time if position is measured downwards
towards Earth:
Your solution

Answer
20
t (s)
0
2 4 6

20
1
v (m s )
40

Satellite velocity (position measured downwards towards Earth)

(c) Sketch the corresponding graph of velocity against time if position is measured upwards away
from the Earth:
Your solution

Answer
40

v (m s 1 )
20

0
2 4 6
t (s)
20

Satellite velocity (position measured upwards away from Earth)

HELM (2006): 11
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
(d) At what time would the velocity of the satellite be zero?
Your solution

Answer
When v is 0, 0 = −10t + 5, so t = 0.5. The satellite has zero velocity towards the Earth after 0.5 s.

(e) What is the value of the velocity at the end of the booster stage?
Your solution

Answer
When t = 5, either v = −10 × 1 + 5 = −5, so the velocity is 5 m s−1 away from the Earth, or,
using the second equation in (a), v = 10 − 5 = 5, leading to the same conclusion.

Other contexts for linear models


Linear functions may arise in other contexts. In each of these situations, the slope and intercept
values will have some modelling significance. Indeed the behaviour and hence the suitability of a
linear function, of the form y = ax + b, when modelling any given situation will be determined by
the values of a and b.

Task
During 20 minutes of rain, a cylindrical rain barrel that is initially empty is filled
to a depth of 1.5 cm.

(a) Choose variables to represent the level of water in the barrel and time. Sketch a graph representing
the level of water in the barrel if the intensity of rainfall remains constant over the 20 minute period.

Your solution

12 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Answer
In this answer h cm is used for the level of water measured from the bottom of the barrel and t
minutes for time.
1.5

h (cm )
1

0.5 h

h=0
0
0 5 10 15 20
t (minutes)

Height (depth) of rainwater in a barrel.

(b) Write down a linear function that represents the level of water in the vessel together with its
range of validity.

Your solution

Answer
The intensity of rainfall is stated to be constant, so the rate at which the barrel fills may be taken as
constant. The gradient of an appropriate linear function relating level of water (h cm) measured from
the bottom of the vessel and time (t, minutes) measured would be 1.5 20
= 0.075 and an appropriate
linear function would be h = 0.075t + c. Since the barrel is empty to start with, h = 0 when t =
0, implying that c = 0. So the appropriate linear function and its range of validity are expressed by
h = 0.075t, (0 ≤ t ≤ 20).

(c) State any assumptions that you have made:

Your solution

Answer
It is assumed that the barrel has a uniformly cylindrical cross section, that no water is removed
during the rainfall and there are no holes or leaks up to 1.5 cm depth.

(d) Write down the amended form of your answer to (b), if the vessel contains 2 cm of water initially.

Your solution

Answer
h = 0.075t + 2 (0 ≤ t ≤ 20)

HELM (2006): 13
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
Task
Suppose that you travel often from Nottingham to Milton Keynes which is a
distance of 87 miles almost all of which is along the M1 motorway. Usually it
takes 1.5 hours. Suppose also that, on one occasion, you have agreed to pick
someone up at the Leicester junction (21) of the M1. This is 25 miles from the
start of your journey in Nottingham. If you start your journey at 8 a.m., what time
should you advise for the pick-up?

Your solution

Answer
(Graphical method)
Assume a constant speed for the whole journey. This means that if 87 miles is covered in 1.5 hours,
then half the distance (43.5 miles) is covered in 0.75 hours and so on.

80 0.43
A distance of 25 miles will be
covered in 0.43 hours
60
distance
in miles 40
87
The average speed is = 58 mph.
25 1.5
20 This is also the gradient of the graph

0
0.5 1 1.5

time in hours

14 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Answer
(Symbolic method)
d
Let d miles be the distance travelled in time t hours. Then = 58t. This is valid only for the
t
duration of the journey (0 ≤ t ≤ 1.5). The equation can be used to find the time at which d = 25.
25
Now 25 = 58t and so t = = 0.43103448 = 0.43 (to two decimal places). Either way, given that
58
0.43 h is about 26 minutes, a possible suggestion is that the passenger should be advised 8.26 a.m.
for the pick-up. But the assumption of constant speed has its limitations. It would be safer to say
“be there by 8.20 a.m. but be prepared to wait perhaps until 8.30 a.m.”

Task
A local authority has flood control plans in which the emergency and rescue services
are alerted when the river level rises to critical values. A linear model is used to
estimate the variation of height with time. After a period of continuous heavy rain
the level one day was 1.5 m at 8 a.m. and 1.8 m at 2 p.m.

(a) Use a linear model to write down an equation for estimating the level of the river at different
times of the day:

Your solution

HELM (2006): 15
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
Answer
If the level of water is represented by L m and time by t hours after 8 a.m. then a linear model for
the level as a function of time may be written
L = at + b
where a and b are constants to be found from the other information in the problem. Specifically, it
is stated that L = 1.5 when t = 0 and L = 1.8 when t = 6. The first statement implies that
1.5 = 0 + b or b = 1.5
The second statement implies that
1.8 = 6a + b
or, after substituting for b,
1.8 = 6a + 1.5 or 0.3 = 6a or a = 0.05
So the equation for estimating the level of the river at different times is
L = 0.05t + 1.5

(b) Suggest a suitable range of values of time for which the model could be used:

Your solution

Answer
The model is valid between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. and, subsequently, only as long as the river level
rises steadily.

(c) What time does the model predict that the level of the river will reach 2 m?

Your solution

Answer
The model will predict a level of 2 m at time t given by
0.5
2 = 0.05t + 1.5 or t= = 10
0.05
i.e. 10 hours after 8 a.m. which is 6 p.m.

16 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Task
During one winter, the roads in a rural area were completely free from snow when
it started snowing at midnight. It snowed heavily all night and day. By 10 a.m. it
was 19 cm deep.
To save money the local authorities wait until the snow is 30 cm deep before
ploughing the snow away from the roads. Forecast when ploughing should start,
stating any assumptions you have made.

Your solution

Answer
If the depth of snow is represented by D cm and time by t hours after midnight then a linear model
for the depth as a function of time may be written:
D = at + b
where a and b are constants to be found from the other information in the problem or from assump-
tions. As there was no snow at midnight
0=0+b or b=0
It is stated that D = 19 when t = 10, i.e.
19 = 10a or a = 1.9
So the equation for estimating the depth of snow at different times is
D = 1.9t
The model will predict a level of 30 cm at a time t given by
30
30 = 1.9t or t= = 15.789
1.9
i.e. 15.789 hours after midnight which is a little after 3.47 p.m.
Assuming that the snow build up is steady e.g. no drifting or change in precipitation, this suggests
that ploughing should start about 3.45 p.m.

HELM (2006): 17
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
Exercises
1. A cross-channel ferry usually takes 2 hours to make the 40 km crossing from England and
France.

(a) What is the boat’s average speed?


(b) Derive a linear model connecting distance from England and time since leaving port. State
any limitations of the model.
(c) According to this model, when will the boat be 15 km and 35 km from England?

2. During one winter, the roads in the country district were completely free from snow when it
started snowing at 2:30 a.m. and it snowed steadily all day. At 7:30 a.m. it was 14 cm deep.
To save money, the local practice was to wait until the snow was 20 cm deep before ploughing
the roads. Forecast when ploughing would start, stating any assumptions.

3. In a drought, the population of a particular species of water beetle in a pond is observed to have
halved when the volume of water in the pond has fallen by half. Make a simple assumption
about the relationship between the beetle population and the volume of water in the pond and
express this in symbols as an equation. What would your model predict for the population
when the water volume is only one third of what it was originally.

4. A firm produces a specialised instrument and, although it has the facilities to produce 100
instruments per week, it rarely produces more than 50. It is finding it difficult to assess the
cost of producing the instruments and to set realistic prices. The firm’s accountant estimates
that the firm pays out £5000 per week on fixed costs (overheads, salaries etc.) and that the
additional cost of producing each instrument is £50.

(a) Derive and use a linear model for the variation in total costs with the quantity of instru-
ments produced. State any limitation of this model.
(b) What is the model’s prediction for the cost of producing 80 instruments per week?

18 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Answers

1. (a) A distance of 40 km is covered in 2 hours. So the average speed is 40/2 = 20 km h−1 .

(b) A linear model assumes that the boat is a point moving at constant speed and will only
be valid for 2 hours (or 40 km) while the boat is travelling from England to France. It does
not allow for variations in speed. If the distance from the English port at any time t hours is
denoted by d km, then d = 20t.

(c) When the boat is 15 km from England 15 = 20t, so t = 15/20 = 0.75, so the boat
is 0.75 hour (45 minutes) from port. When the boat is 35 km from England, 35 = 20t, so
t = 35/20 = 1.75, so the boat is 1.75 hour (1 hour 45 minutes) from port.

2. Assume that there is no snow at 2:30 a.m. and that the rate of accumulation of snow is
constant. Then, if the snow is 14 cm deep at 7:30 a.m., the rate of accumulation is 2.8 cm
per hour. A linear model for the depth (d cm) of snow t hours after 2:30 a.m. is d = 2.8t. d
will be 20 when 20 = 2.8t, i.e. t = 20/2.8 = 7.143. This corresponds to about 9:39 a.m. So
ploughing should start at about 9:40 a.m.

3. Denote population by P and volume of pond by V . Then P is proportional to V so P = kV


where k is a constant of proportionality. When V becomes V /3, then P becomes P/3.

4. (a) Denote the number of instruments made per week by N and the corresponding cost by
£C. Asume that C increases at a constant rate with N (i.e. C is proportional to N ). Then a
linear model for total costs (£T ) is T = 5000+50N . This will be valid only for 0 ≤ N ≤ 100.

If N = 80, then T = 5000 + 50 × 80 = 9000.

(b) The predicted total cost is £9000.

4. Methods for calculating gradient


Occasionally you may be faced with two different pairs of values or coordinates with which to de-
termine the parameters of a linear function. Put another way, two pairs of values are needed to
determine the two (unknown) parameters. Perhaps, unconsciously, you might have used this result
1.5
already when carrying out the rain barrel task. The gradient, written as in the answer, may be
20
1.5 − 0
expressed also as since the line connects the (time, level of water) coordinates (20, 1.5) with
20 − 0
(0, 0). In general the gradient is given by
the change in the dependent variable
the corresponding change in the independent variable
Once the gradient of the line has been calculated, it can be used with one of the known points to
determine the intercept. If one of the points is (0, 0) the intercept is zero.
Suppose that a new type of automatic car is being road tested. The measuring team wants to know
the maximum acceleration between 0 and 30 m s−1 . It plans to calculate this by assuming that it
is constant and measuring the time taken from rest to achieve a speed of 30 m s−1 at maximum

HELM (2006): 19
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
acceleration. In their first test the speedometer reading is 30 m s−1 after 12 s from start of timing
and motion. We can think of these values in terms of (time, velocity) coordinates. At the start
of timing the coordinates are (0, 0). When the speedometer reads 30 m s−1 the coordinates are
(12, 30). If the acceleration is constant then its magnitude will be given by the gradient of the line
30 − 0
joining these two points. Using the ‘change in variable idea’, the gradient is = 2.5, and so the
12 − 0
magnitude of the acceleration is 2.5 m s−2 . The ’change in variable’ route to calculating the gradient
is an abridged version of a more general method. The two pairs of coordinates may be used with
the general equation of a line to work out the parameters of the particular line that passes through
these two points. The assumption of constant acceleration leads to a linear relationship between
the velocity (v m s−1 ) and time (t s) of the form v = at + b where a and b are the parameters
corresponding to gradient and intercept respectively. The road test gives v = 0 when t = 12. These
may be substituted into the general form to give
0 = 0 + b and 30 = 12a + b.
You may recognise that these are simultaneous equations. The first gives b = 0 which may be
substituted into the second to give a = 2.5, corresponding to an acceleration of 2.5 m s−2 as before.
Suppose that the test team carry out a second test. In this test they note when speeds of 15 m
s−1 and 27 m s−1 are reached and assume constant acceleration between these times and speeds.
The speedometer reads 15 m s−1 , after 4 seconds from the start of motion and 27 m s−1 after 9
s from the start of motion. We apply the general method to the data from this test. The (time,
velocity) coordinates corresponding to the readings are (4, 15) and (9, 27). The equations resulting
from substitutions in the general form are
15 = 4a + b

27 = 9a + b
We use the elimination method of solving these simultaneous equations ( 3). The first of these
equations may be subtracted from the second to eliminate b.
27 − 15 = 9a + b − 4a − b
or
a = 2.4.
The resulting value of a may be substituted into either of the equations expressing the data to
calculate b. In the first, 15 = 4 × 2.5 + b, so b = 5. The resulting model is
v = 2.4t + 5 (4 ≤ t ≤ 9).
This model predicts an acceleration of 2.4 m s−2 , which is fairly close to the previous result of
2.5 m s−2 but if we try to use this model at t = 0, what do we predict? The model predicts that
v = 5 when t = 0. This is not consistent with t = 0 being the time at which the vehicle starts to
move! So, even if the acceleration is constant between 15 and 27 m s−1 , it does not have the same
values between 0 m s−1 and 15 m s−1 as either between 15 m s−1 and 27 m s−1 and 30 m s−1 . A
more general principle is illustrated by this example. It may be dangerous to use a model based on
certain data at points other than those given by these data! The business of using a model outside
the range of data for which is is known to be valid is called extrapolation. Use of the model between
the data points on which it is based is called interpolation. So the general principle may also be
stated as that it is very risky to extrapolate and it can be risky to interpolate. Nevertheless

20 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
extrapolation or interpolation may be part of the purpose for a mathematical model in the first place.
The method of finding gradient and intercept just exemplified may be generalised. Suppose that we
are specifying a linear function y = ax + b where the dependent variable is y and the independent
variable is x. We represent two known points by (p, q) and (r, s). The gradient, a, for the straight
p−r
line, may be calculated either from or by substituting y = q when x = r in y = ax + b to
q−s
obtain two simultaneous equations. Subtraction of these eliminates b and allows a to be calculated.
The intercept of the line on the y-axis, b, may be found by substitution in y = ax + b, of either p, q
and a or r, s and a.

Task
Use the general method to deduce the different accelerations (assuming that they
are constant) between the start of motion and 15 m s−1 and between velocities of
27 m s−1 and 30 m s−1 .

Your solution

Answer
For the (time, velocity) coordinates (0, 0) and (4, 15),
0 = 0a + b

15 = 4a + b
15
From the first of these b = 0 and hence, in the second, a = = 3.75. So the acceleration up to
4
15 m s−1 −2
is 3.756 m s . For the (time, velocity) coordinates (9, 27) and (12, 30),
27 = 9a + b

30 = 12a + b
Subtracting the first from the second gives
3 = 3a so a = 1,
so the acceleration between 27 m s−1 and 30 m s−1 is 1 m s−2

Linear functions may be useful in economics. A lot of attention is paid to the way in which demand
for a product varies with its price. A measure of demand is the number of items sold, if available, in

HELM (2006): 21
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
a given period. For example, the purpose might be to determine the best price for a product given
certain details about costs and with certain assumptions about the way the number of items sold per
month varies with price. The price affects the profit and hence, in turn, the number manufactured
in response to the demand. The number of items manufactured in a given period is known as the
supply. Information about the variation of demand or supply with price may be obtained from market
surveys. Constant functions are not appropriate in this context since both demand and supply vary
with price. In the absence of other information the simplest way to model the variation of either
demand or supply with price is to use a linear function.

Task
When the price of a luxury consumer item is £1000, a market survey reveals that
the demand is 100,000 items per year. However another survey has shown that
at a price of £600, the demand for the item is 200,000 items per year. Assuming
that both surveys are valid, find a linear function that relates demand Q to price
P . What demand would be predicted by the linear function at a price of £750?
Comment on the validity of both predictions.

Your solution

22 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Answer
The linear function will be of the form
Q = aP + b (600 ≤ P ≤ 1000)
The limits on P represent the given range of data on price. Substituting the first pair of values of
Q and P :
100000 = 100a + b
Substituting the second pair of values:
200000 = 600a + b
Subtracting the first expression from the second:
100000 = −400a so a = −250
Note that the negative gradient is consistent with the fact that demand falls as price increases.
Check that the ‘Change in variable’ definition for finding a works.

Change in dependent variable (Q) = 200000 − 100000 = 100000.


Corresponding change in independent variable (P ) = 600 − 1000 = −400. The ratio of these
100000
changes is = −250
−250
This value of a may be used with the first pair of values,
100000 = −250000 + b
so
b = 350000
and the linear function relating demand and price is
Q = 350000 − 250P.
[A precautionary check is to make sure that this result is consistent with the other pairs of values.
When P = 600, Q = 350000 − 250 × 600 = 350000 − 150000 = 200000, as required.] When P
= 750:
Q = 350000 − 250 × 750 = 350000 − 187500 = 162500.
So a linear relationship between demand and the price for this luxury suggests a demand of 162500
items per year when the price per item is £750. At a price of £500, P = 500, and the model
predicts that
Q = −250 × 500 + 350000 = 225000.
So the linear model suggests a demand of 225,000 items per year when the price per item is £500.
Such a price however is outside the range of given data. Consequently the corresponding demand
prediction represents an extrapolation and this might not be reliable. On the other hand, the
price of £750 lies within the given range of data and the corresponding demand prediction is an
interpolation. If the given data points are close to each other then interpolation between these
points is more reliable than extrapolation to points further away.

HELM (2006): 23
Section 5.1: The Modelling Cycle and Functions
Quadratic Functions  

and Modelling 5.2 

Introduction
This Section describes forms of equations for quadratic functions (also called parabolas), ways in
which quadratic functions can be used to model motion involving projectiles, and certain kinds of
problem involving a single maximum or minimum.

 

• be competent at algebraic manipulation


Prerequisites
• be familiar with quadratic functions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

# 
• use quadratic functions to model motion
under constant acceleration
Learning Outcomes
• express the equation of a parabola in a
On completion you should be able to . . .
general form
" !

24 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
1. Quadratic functions
Quadratic functions and parabolas
Graphs of y against x resulting from quadratic functions ( 2.8, Table 1) are called parabolas.
2
These take the general form: y = ax + bx + c. The coefficients a, b and c influence the shape, form
and position of the graph of the associated parabola. They are the parameters of the parabola.
In particular the magnitude of a determines how wide the parabola opens (large a implies a narrow
parabola, small a implies a wide parabola) and the sign of a determines whether the parabola has a
lowest point (minimum) or highest point (maximum). Negative a implies a parabola with a highest
point. The most useful form of equation for determing the graphical appearance of a parabola is
y − C = A(x − B)2 ). To see the relation between this form and the general form simply expand:
y = Ax2 − 2ABx + AB 2 + C
so, comparing with y = ax2 + bx + c we have:
a ≡ A, b ≡ −2AB c ≡ AB 2 + C
We deduce that the relation between the two sets of constants A, B, C and a, b, c is:
b b2
A=a B=− and C = c −
2a 4a
This new form for the parabola enables the coordinates of the highest or lowest point, known as
the vertex to be written down immediately. The coordinates of the vertex are given by (B, C).
Changing the value of B shifts the vertex, and hence the whole parabola, up or down. Changing the
value of C shifts the vertex, and hence the whole parabola, to left or right.

Task
Assume the variation of an object’s location with time is represented by a quadratic
function:-
t2
s= (0 ≤ t ≤ 30)
9
Compare this function with the general form y − C = A(x − B)2 .

(a) What variables correspond to y and x in this case?

(b) What are the values of C, A and B?

Your solution

Answer
1
(a) s corresponds to y, and t corresponds to x (b) C = 0, A = and B = 0
9

HELM (2006): 25
Section 5.2: Quadratic Functions and Modelling
2. Modelling with parabolas
The function
t2
s= (0 ≤ t ≤ 30)
9
is part of a parabola starting at the origin (s = 0 and t = 0) and rising to s = 100 at the end of its
range of validity. s represents the distance of the object from the origin - N.B. Do not confuse this
s with the symbol for seconds. ‘Negative’ time corresponds to time before the motion of the object
is being considered. What would this parabolic function have predicted if it were valid up to 30 s
before the ‘zero’ time? The answer to this can be deduced from the left-hand part of the graph of
the function shown as a dashed curve, for in Figure 4, i.e. the part corresponding to −30 ≤ t ≤ 0.

100 s (m)
80

60

40

20

30 20 10 0 10 20 30
t (s)

t2
Figure 4: Graph of s = 9
for −30 ≤ t ≤ 30
The parabolic form predicts that at t = −30, the object was 100 m away and for (−30 ≤ t ≤ 0) it
was moving towards the point at which the original timing started. The rate of change of position,
or instantaneous velocity, is given by the gradient of the position-time graph. Since the gradient of
the parabola for s is steeper near t = −30 than near t = 0, the chosen function for s and new range
of validity suggests that the object was moving quickly at the start of the motion, slows down on
approaching the initial starting point, and then moves away again accelerating as it does so. Note
that the velocity (i.e. the gradient) for (−30 ≤ t ≤ 0) is negative while for (0 ≤ t ≤ 30) it is
positive. This is consistent with the change in direction at t = 0.
We will consider falling objects again and return to the context of the thriller film and the villain on
a cliff-tip dislodging a rock. Suppose that, as film director, you are considering a variation of the
plot whereby, instead of the ground, the rock hits the roof of a vehicle carrying the hero and heroine.
This means that you might be interested in the position as well as the velocity of the rock at any
time. We can start from the linear function relating velocity and time for the dislodged rock,
v = 9.8t (0 ≤ t ≤ T )
where T represents the time at which the rock hits the roof of the vehicle. The precise value of T
will depend upon the height of the vehicle. If s is measured from the cliff-top and timing starts with
release of the rock, so that s = 0 when t = 0, the resulting function is
s = 4.9t2 (0 ≤ t ≤ T )
(Note that s = 4.9t2 is a particular case of a standard model for falling objects: s = 12 gt2 .)

26 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Task
This Task refers to the model discussed above.

(a) What kind of function is s = 4.9t2 ?


Your solution

Answer
Quadratic, or parabolic
(b) If the vehicle roof is 2 m above the ground and the cliff-top is 35 m above the ground, calculate
a value for T , the time when a rock falling from the cliff-top hits the car roof:
Your solution

Answer
t = T when s = 35 − 2 = 33
q
33
⇒ 33 = 4.9T 2 so T = 4.9
= 2.5951 ≈ 2.6 (only positive T makes sense)

(c) Given this value for T sketch the function:


Your solution

Answer
33
30
s (m)
20
2.595

10

0 t (s)
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3

HELM (2006): 27
Section 5.2: Quadratic Functions and Modelling
In this modelling context, negative time would correspond to time before the villain dislodges the
rock. It seems likely that the rock was stationary before this instant. The parabolic function would
not be appropriate for t ≤ 0 since it would predict that the rock was moving. An appropriate function
would have two parts to its domain:
For t ≤ 0, s would be constant (= 0) and for 0 ≤ t ≤ T, s = 4.9t2 .
The corresponding graph would also have two parts:
A flat line along the s = 0 axis for t ≤ 0 and part of a parabola for 0 < t ≤ T .
A different form of quadratic function for position is appropriate if position is measured upwards as
height (h) above the ground below the cliff-top. This is given as
h = 35 − 4.9t2 (0 ≤ t ≤ 2.6)
Note that once t = 2.6 then h = 0 and the rock cannot fall any further. When position is measured
upwards, velocities and accelerations, which are downwards for falling objects, will be negative.

Task
This Task refers to the model discussed above.

By comparing h = 35 − 4.9t2 with y = ax2 + bx + c, deduce values for a, b and c and determine
whether the parabola corresponding to this function has a highest or lowest point:
Your solution

Answer
Here h corresponds to y and t to x in the general form. The coefficient corresponding to a is
−4.9 × b = 0 and c = 35. The value of a is negative so the parabola opens downwards.
(b) Write down an appropriate function for the variation of h with t if height is measured upwards
from the top of a 2 m high vehicle:
Your solution

Answer
h = 33 − 4.9t2 (0 ≤ t ≤ 2.5951) = 2.60 to 2 d.p.
(c) Sketch this function:
Your solution

28 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Answer
30
s (m)
20

10

0 t (s)
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3

Consider the situation in which position is measured downwards from the cliff-top again but the
villain is lying down on the cliff-top and throws the rock upwards with speed 5 m s−1 . The distance
it would travel in time t seconds if gravity were not acting would be −5t metres (distance is speed
multiplied by time but in the negative s direction in this case). To obtain the resulting distance in
the presence of gravity we add this to the distance function s = 4.9t2 that applies when the rock is
simply dropped. The appropriate quadratic function for s is now
s = 4.9t2 − 5t (0 ≤ t ≤ T )
The nature of this quadratic function means that for any given value of s there are two possible
values of t. If we write the function in a slightly different way, taking out a common factor of t,
s = t(4.9t − 5) (0 ≤ t ≤ T )
it is possible to see that s = 0 at two different times. These are when t = 0 and when 4.9t − 5 = 0.
The first possibility is consistent with the initial position of the rock. The second possibility gives
5
t= which is a little more than 1. The rock will be at the cliff-top level at two different times.
4.9
It is there at the instant when it is thrown. It rises until its speed is zero and then descends, passing
cliff-top level again on its way to impact with the ground below or with the vehicle roof. Since the
initial motion of the rock is upwards and position is defined as positive downwards, the initial part
of the rock’s path corresponds to negative s. The parabola associated with the appropriate function
crosses the s = 0 axis twice and has a vertex at which s is negative. A sketch of s against t for this
case is shown in Figure 5.

30
s (m)
20

10

0 t (s)
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3

Figure 5: Graph of rock’s position (measured downwards) when rock is thrown upwards

HELM (2006): 29
Section 5.2: Quadratic Functions and Modelling
Task
For the above modelling of falling rocks, calculate how high the rock rises after
being thrown upwards at 5 m s−1 . (Hint: use the previously determined value of
the time when the rock reaches its highest point.)

Your solution

Answer
5
The value of t at which the rock’s velocity is zero was worked out as t = . This value can be
9.8
used in the function for s to give
5 5 2.5
s= (4.9 × − 5) = − = −1.2755
9.8 9.8 19.6
So the rock rises to a little less than 1.28 m above the cliff-top.

Note that the form of the parabola makes it inevitable that, as long as it is plotted over a sufficiently
wide range, and apart from its vertex, there will always be two values on the curve for each value
of one of the variables. Which of these values makes sense in a mathematical model will depend on
the modelling context. In each of the contexts mentioned so far in this Section each context has
determined the part of the parabola that is of interest.
Note also that there is a connection between the vertex on a parabola and the point where the
gradient of that parabola is zero. In fact these points are the same!

3. Parabolas and optimisation


Because the vertex may represent a highest or lowest point, a quadratic function may be the ap-
propriate type of function to choose in a modelling problem where a maximum or a minimum is
involved (optimisation problems for example). Consider the problem of working out the selling price
for the product of a cottage industry that would maximise the profit, given certain details of costs
and assumptions about market behaviour. A possible function relating profit (£M ) to selling price
(£P ), is
M = −10P 2 + 320P − 2420 (12 ≤ P ≤ 20).
Note that this is a quadratic function. By comparing this function with the form y = ax2 + bx + c it
is possible to decide whether the corresponding parabola that would result from graphing M against
P , would open upwards or downwards. Here M corresponds to y and P to x. The coefficient
corresponding to a in the general form is −10. This is negative, so the resulting parabola will open
downwards. In other words it will have a highest point or maximum for some value of P . This is
comforting in the context of an optimisation problem! We can go further in specifying the resulting
parabola by reference to the other general form: y − C = A(x − B)2 . If we multiply out the bracket
on the right hand side we get (as seen at the beginning of 5.2)
y − C = Ax2 − 2ABx + AB 2

30 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
or
y = Ax2 − 2ABx + AB 2 + C.
Comparing this general form with the function relating profit and price for the cottage industry:
y = Ax2 − 2ABx + AB 2 + C
↓ ↓ ↓
M = −10P 2 + 320P − 2420
Using the equivalances suggested by the arrows, we see that
A = −10,

2AB = −320

AB 2 + C = −2420.
These are three equations for three unknowns. Putting A = −10 in the second equation gives
B = 16. Putting A = −10 and B = 16 in the third equation gives
−2560 + C = −2420,
and so
C = 140.
This means that the equation for M may also be written in the form
M − 140 = −10(P − 16)2 ,
corresponding to the general form y − C = A(x − B)2 . In the general form, C corresponds to the
value of y at the vertex of the parabola. Since y in the general form corresponds to M in the current
modelling context, we deduce that M = 140 at the highest point on the parabola. B represents the
value of x at the lowest or highest point of the general parabola. Here x corresponds to P , so we
deduce thet P = 16 at the vertex of the parabola corresponding to the function relating profit and
price. These deductions mean that a maximum profit of £140 is obtained when the selling price is
£16.

HELM (2006): 31
Section 5.2: Quadratic Functions and Modelling
4. Finding the equation of a parabola
Consider a parabola that has its vertex at s = 50 when t = 0 and rises to s = 100 when t = 30. In
coordinate terms, we need the equation of a parabola that has its lowest point or vertex at (0, 50)
and passes through (30, 100). The general form
y − C = A(x − B)2
is useful here.
In this case y corresponds to s and x to t. So the equation relating s and t is
s − C = A(t − B)2
According to the general form, the coordinates of the vertex are (B, C). We know that the coordinates
of the vertex are (0, 50). So we can deduce that B = 0 and C = 50. It remains to find A. The fact
that the parabola must pass through (30, 100) may be used for this purpose. These values together
with those for B and C may be substituted in the general equation:
100 − 50 = A(30 − 0)2
1
so 50 = 900A or A = and the function we want is
18
1 2
s = 50 + t (0 ≤ t ≤ 30)
18

Task
Find the equation of a parabola with vertex at (0, 2) and passing through the point
(4, 4).

Your solution

Answer
Using the general form, with B = 0 and C = 2,
y − 2 = A(x − 0)2 or y − 2 = Ax2
Then using the point (4, 4)
2 1
4 − 2 = 16A so A= =
16 8
and the required equation is
1
y = 2 + x2
8

32 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Exercise
An open-topped carton is constructed from a 200 mm × 300 mm sheet of cardboard, using simple
folds as shown in the diagram.

300 mm

200 mm

Cardboard folds to make an open-topped carton

(a) Show that the volume of the carton (in cm3 ) is

x(300 − 2x)(200 − 2x)


V =
1000
x3
so V = − x2 + 60x . . . (*)
250
(b) Sketch Equation (1) as V vs x and hence estimate the maximum volume of carton that may
be obtained by folding the cardboard sheet.

(c) A carton with a volume of 1000 cm3 is to be made from the cardboard sheet.

(i) Show that one solution is to use a height x = 50 mm.


(ii) By factorisation of Equation (*) for V = 1000 cm3 , find a second solution for x which
would give the same carton volume.
(iii) Why does the third root have no physical meaning?

HELM (2006): 33
Section 5.2: Quadratic Functions and Modelling
Answer
x(300 − 2x)(200 − 2x) x3
(a) V = = − x2 + 60x (cm3 )
1000 250
(b)
V
1056

150 x
40 100

Vmax ≈ 1056 cm3 when x ≈ 39.2

(c) (i) x = 50 mm ⇒ V = 1000 cm3 as required.


x3 − 250x2 + 15000x
(ii) − 1000 = 0 factorises to
250
(x − 50)(x2 − 200x + 5000) = 0

so x = 50 or x = 100 ± 10 50 ≈ 29.3 or 170.7. The second root is 29.3.
(iii) The third root 170.7 is impossible as 200 − 2x must be a positive distance.

34 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Oscillating Functions  

and Modelling 5.3 

Introduction
This Section describes ways in which trigonometric functions can be used to model situations involving
periodic motion, which occur in a wide variety of scientific and engineering situations, and in nature.

 

• be competent at algebraic manipulation


Prerequisites
• be familiar with trigonometric functions
Before starting this Section you should . . .

# 
• use trigonometric functions to model
periodic motion
Learning Outcomes
• define terms associated with the
On completion you should be able to . . .
description of periodic motion
" !

HELM (2006): 35
Section 5.3: Oscillating Functions and Modelling
1. Oscillating functions: amplitude, period and frequency
Particular types of periodic functions ( 2.2) that are especially important in engineering are
the sine and cosine functions. These are possible choices when modelling behaviour that involves
oscillation or motion in a circle. The usefulness of these functions is rather limited if we confine our
attention only to sin(x) and cos(x). Use of functions such as 3sin(2x), 5cos(3x) and so on, and
other functions made up of sums of functions of this type, enables the modelling of a great variety
of situations where the quantity being modelled is known to change in a periodic way. Here we will
examine the behaviour of sine and cosine functions and consider a modelling context where choice
of a sine function is appropriate. Figure 6 shows how the terms amplitude, period and frequency
are defined with respect to a general sinusoid (the name for any general sine or cosine function).

1
frequency =
period
amplitude

period

Figure 6: Defining amplitude and period for a sinusoid


The amplitude represents the difference between the maximum (or minimum) value of a sinusoidal
function and its mean value (which is zero in Figure 6). The frequency represents the number of
complete cycles of the function in each unit change in x. The period is such that f (x + T ) = f (x)
for all x, e.g. for sin x, T = 2π.

36 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Example 2
Sketch the sinusoids:
x
(a) y = sin x (b) y = 2 sin x (c) y = cos x (d) y = cos
2

Solution

2
y = 2 sin x

1 y = sin x

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
x

Figure 7

1 y = cos x2

x
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
y = cos x

Figure 8

HELM (2006): 37
Section 5.3: Oscillating Functions and Modelling
Task
Using the graphs in Figures 7 and 8 on page 37, state the amplitude, frequency
and period of
x
(a) sin x (b) 2 sin x (c) cos x (d) cos
2
Give frequency and period in terms of π.

Your solution

Answer
(a) amplitude = 1, frequency = 1/2π, period = 2π.
(b) amplitude = 1, frequency = 1/2π, period = 2π.
(c) amplitude = 2, frequency = 1/2π, period = 2π.
(d) amplitude = 1, frequency = 1/4π, period = 4π.

See Figure 7 for the sine functions and Figure 8 for the cosine functions.
Note that (b) has twice the amplitude of (a) and (d) has half the frequency and twice the period
of (c).

Note that the cosine functions cos nx have the same shape as the sine functions sin nx but, at x = 0,
the cosine functions have a peak or maximum, whereas the sine functions have the value zero, which
is the mean value for both of these functions. Indeed the graph of y = cos x is exactly like that for
y = sin x with all the x values displaced by π/2.

More general forms of sine and cosine function are given by y = a sin(bx), and y = a cos(bx) where
b 2π
a and b are arbitary constants. These are functions with frequency , period and amplitude
2π b
π 5π 9π
a. The peak values of the sine functions occur at x values equal to , , etc. The minimum
2 2 2
3π 7π 11π
values occur at x values equal to , , etc.
2 2 2
When the period is measured in seconds, frequency is measured in cycles per second or Hz which has
units of 1/time.

38 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Exercises
1. Figure 7 on page 37 shows on the same axes the graphs of y = sin x and y = 2 sin x.

(a) State in words how the graph of y = 2 sin x relates to the graph of y = sin x
1 1 1
(b) Sketch the graphs of (i) y = sin x, (ii) y = sin x +
2 2 2
x
2. Figure 8 on page 37 shows on the same axes the graph y = cos x and y = cos
2
x
(a) State in words how the graph of y = cos x relates to the graph of y = cos
2
(b) Sketch graphs of (i) y = cos 2x, (ii) y = 2 cos x
Answers

1. y = sin 2x has the same form as y = sin x but all the y values are doubled. The graph is
‘stretched’ vertically.
x
2. y = cos has the same form as y = cos x but all the y values are halved. The graph is
2
‘shrunk’ vertically.

2. Oscillating functions: modelling tides


We consider how the function
h = 3.2 sin(2.7t + 8.5)
might be used to model the rise and fall of the tide in a harbour.
Figure 9 shows a graph of this function for (0 ≥ t ≥ 5).

4
height
2

0 1 2 3 4 5 time
2

Figure 9
We consider some aspects of this graph and model. It seems reasonable to suppose that the tide
creates an oscillation of the water level in the harbour of hm about some mean value represented on
the graph by h = 0. There seems to be a low tide near t = 1 and another low tide just after t = 3.
Since we expect intervals of 12 to 14 hours between low tides around the U.K., this suggests that
time in this graph is specified in 6-hour intervals.

HELM (2006): 39
Section 5.3: Oscillating Functions and Modelling
Task
Write down the amplitude, period and frequency of h = 3.2 sin(2.7t + 8.5)

Your solution

Answer
The amplitude of the change in water level in the harbour is 3.2 m. The period of the function is
given by 2π/2.7 = 2.3271 between successive high tides or successive low tides. This corresponds to
2.3271×6 hours = 13.96 hours between high tides.The frequency of the function is 2.7/2π = 0.4297.

The peak levels of the graph correspond to times when the sine function has the value 1. The lowest
points correspond to times when the sine function is −1. At these times the arguments of the sine
function (i.e. 2.7t + 8.5) are an odd number of π/2 starting at 3π/2 for the first low tide.
So far all of this may be deduced from the general form y = asin(bx) and from the modelling context.
However there is an additional term in the function being considered here. This is a constant 8.5
within the sine function. When t = 0 the presence of this constant means that the intercept on the
height axis is 3.2sin(8.5) = 2.56, implying that the water level is 2.56 m above the mean value at
the start of timing. The constant 8.5 has displaced the sine curve sideways. This constant is known
as the phase of the function. Phase is measured in radians as it is an angle.
As remarked earlier, at t = 0, this function has the value 3.2 sin(8.5). Since sin(8.5) = sin(8.5 −
2π) ≈ sin(2.2168), we can replace the constant 8.5 by 2.2168 without altering the values on the
graph. This means that the function
h = 3.2 sin(2.74t + 2.2168)
does just as well as the original function in representing the tidal variation in the harbour. We now
rewrite this latest form of the function, representing the variation of water level in the harbour, so
that time is measured in hours rather than in six-hourly invervals. The effect of changing the units
of time to hours from 6 hours is to decrease the coefficient of t in the sine function by a factor of 6,
so that the new function is
h = 3.2 sin(0.45t + 2.168). See Figure 10.

height
(metres)
2

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 time (hours)

Figure 10

40 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
We can use the latest form of the function to calculate the time of the first low tide assuming that
t = 0 corresponds to midnight.
At the first low tide, h = −3.2 and sin(0.45t + 2.2168) = −1,

Using the fact that sin( ) = −1, we have
2
0.45t + 2.2168 = 3π/2, giving t = 5.5458 = 5.55 to 2 d.p.
so the first low tide is just before 6 a.m.

Task
For the above tide modelling situation, assume that t = 0 corresponds to midnight.
Calculate
(a) the time of the first high tide after midnight
(b) the times either side of midnight at which the water is at its mean level.

Your solution

Answer
(a) At the first high tide, h = 3.2 and sin(0.45t + 2.2168) = 1, so 0.45t + 2.2168 = 5π/2 giving
t = 12.5271 so the first high tide is a little before 1 p.m.

(b) When the water level is at the mean value,

sin(0.45t + 2.2168) = 0.

At the mean level before midnight, using the fact that sin(0) = 0 we have

0.45t = −2.2168 so t = −4.9262 = −4.93 to 2 d.p.

So this mean level occurs nearly 5 hours before midnight, i.e. about 7 p.m. the previous day.
The next mean level will occur one period, or 13.963 hours, later, at approximately 9 a.m.

HELM (2006): 41
Section 5.3: Oscillating Functions and Modelling
There are various rules connected with sine and cosine functions that can be summarised at this
point.
(1) Placing a multiplier before sin x or cos x (e.g. 2 sin x) changes the amplitude without changing
the period.
(2) Placing a multiplier before x in sin x or cos x, (e.g. sin 3x), changes the period or frequency
without changing the amplitude.
(3) As with any function, the addition of a constant (e.g. 4 + sin x) raises or lowers the whole
graph of the sine or cosine function. It alters the mean value without changing the amplitude.
(4) Changing the sign within a cosine function has no effect, (e.g. cos(−x) = cos x).
(5) Changing the sign within a sine function changes the sign of the function, (e.g. sin(−x) =
− sin x).
(6) Placing a constant or altering the constant b in sin(ax + b) or cos(ax + b) changes the phase
and shifts the sine or cosine function along the x-axis.

Task
(a) Write down the amplitude and period of y = sin(3x)

(b) Write down the amplitude and frequency of y = 3sin(2x)

(c) Write down the amplitude, period and frequency of y = a sin(bx)

(d) Write down the amplitude, period, frequency and phase of

y = 4 sin(2x + 7).

(e) Write down an equivalent expression to that in (d) but with the phase less
than 2π.

Your solution

Answer
(a) amplitude = 1 period = 2π/3
2 1
(b) amplitude = 3 frequency = =
2π π
(c) amplitude = a period = 2π/b frequency = b/2π
2π 1
(d) amplitude = 4 period = =π frequency = phase = 7
2 π
(e) y = 4sin(2x + 7 − 2π) = 4 sin(2x + 0.7168)

42 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Task
Write down a function relating water level (L m) in a harbour to time (T hours),
starting when the level is equal to the mean level of 5 m, that has an amplitude
of 2 m and has a period of twelve hours.

Your solution

Answer
2π π
In the general form y = a sin(bx + c) + d, the phase c = 0, the period = 12, so b = the
b 6
amplitude a = 2, the mean value d = 5.
π
L = 2 sin( T ) + 5 (T ≥ 0)
6

Task
The diagram shows a graph of a typical variation of the depth (d metres) of water
in a particular harbour with time (t hours) as the depth changes with the tide.

t
0 12.5 25

(a) Find a suitable equation for the curve in the diagram:

Your solution

HELM (2006): 43
Section 5.3: Oscillating Functions and Modelling
Answer
Equation is of the form
π
h = a + b cos(ωt) (or h = a + b sin(ωt + ))
2
By inspection, a = 5 and b = 3.
2π 4π
The period T = 12.5 = so ω = (= 0.502655)
ω 25

so the equation of the curve is h = 5 + 3 cos( t)
25

(b) A boat enters the harbour in late morning on a day when the high tide is at 2 p.m. The boat
needs a water depth of 4 m to sail safely. What advice would you give to its pilot about when to
leave the harbour if the boat is not to be forced to wait in the harbour through the evening low tide?

Your solution

Answer
Put h = 4 into the equation:
4π 1 4π
4 = 5 + 3 cos( t) implying − = cos( t)
25 3 25
Now, inverting the cosine:
4π 1
t = cos−1 (− ) = 1.91063 giving t = 3.80108 hours.
25 3
So the advice to the pilot should be that he needs to be clear of the harbour by 5:45 pm at the very
latest - and that he should allow a safety margin.

(c) State two modelling assumptions you have made:

Your solution

Answer
Assumptions likely are:
The tide on the day in question is typical.
No waves.
A sinusoidal function accurately models the effect of the tide on sea level.

44 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Inverse Square Law  

Modelling 5.4 

Introduction
This Section describes how functions involving a constant numerator and a squared variable denom-
inator can be used in adding sound energies of different sources.

' $
• be competent at algebraic manipulation

• be familiar with polynomial functions


Prerequisites
• be able to use Pythagoras’ theorem
Before starting this Section you should . . .
• be able to use the formula for solving
quadratics
&
 %

• model inverse square problems
Learning Outcomes
• use a graphical method to solve a quadratic
On completion you should be able to . . . equation
 

HELM (2006): 45
Section 5.4: Inverse Square Law Modelling
1. Introduction
Many aspects of physics and engineering involve inverse square law dependence. For example grav-
itational forces and electrostatic forces vary with the inverse square of distance from the mass or
charge. The following short case study illustrates this and concerns the dependence of sound intensity
on distance from a source.

Engineering Example 1

Sound intensity

Introduction
For a single source of sound power W (watts) the dependence of sound intensity magnitude I (W
m−2 ) on distance r (m) from a source is expressed as
W
I=
4πr2
The way in which sounds from different sources are added depends on whether or not there is
a phase relationship between them. There will be a phase relationship between two loudspeakers
connected to the same amplifier. A stereo system will sound best if the loudspeakers are in phase.
The loudspeaker sources are said to be coherent sources. Between such sources there can be
reinforcement or cancellation depending on position. Usually there is no phase relationship between
two separate items of industrial equipment. Such sources are called incoherent. For two such
incoherent sources A and B the combined sound intensity magnitude (IC W m−2 ) at a specific
point is given by the sum of the magnitudes of the intensities due to each source at that point. So
WA WB
IC = IA + IB = 2
+ 2
4πrA 4πrB
where WA and WB are the respective sound powers of the sources; rA and rB are the respective
distances from the point of interest. Note that sound intensity is directional. So if A and B are on
opposite sides of the receiver’s position their intensity contributions will have opposite directions.
Problem in words
With reference to the situation shown in Figure 11, given incoherent point sources A and B, with
sound powers 1.9 W and 4.1 W respectively, 6 m apart, find the sound intensity magnitude at points
C and D at distances p and q from the line joining A and B and find the locations of C, D and E
that correspond to sound intensity magnitudes of 0.02, 0.06 and 0.015 W m−2 respectively.
D
C

q
p

A B E
m/2
m n

Figure 11

46 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Mathematical statement of problem

(a) Write down an expression for the sound intensity magnitudes at point C due to the
independent sources A and B with powers WA and WB , taking advantage of the symmetry
of their locations about the line through C at right-angles to the line joining A and B.
(b) Find the expression for p in terms of IC , WA , WB and m.
(c) If WA = 1.9 W, WB = 4.1 W and m = 6m calculate the distance p at which the sound
intensity is 0.02 W m−2 ?
(d) Find an expression for the intensity magnitude at point D.
(e) Find the value for q such that the intensity magnitude at D is 0.06 W m−2 and the other
values are as in part (c).
(f) Find an equation in powers of n relating IE , (intensity magnitude at point E) WA , WB , n
and m.
(g) By plotting this function for IE = 0.015 W m−2 , m = 6 m, WA = 1.9 W, WB = 4.1
W, find the corresponding values for n.

Mathematical analysis

(a) The combined sound intensity magnitude IC W m−2 is given by the sum of the intensity
magnitudes due to each source at C. Because of symmetry of the position of C with
−→ −−→
respect to A and B, write |AC| = |BC| = r, then
WA WB WA + WB
IC = IA + IB = 2
+ 2
=
4πrA 4πrB 4πr2
Using Pythagoras’ theorem,
 m 2 WA + WB WA + WB
r2 = + p2 hence IC = 2 2
=
2 4π((m/2) + p ) π(m2 + 4p2 )
(b) Making p the subject of the last formula,
r
1 WA + WB
p=± ( ) − m2
2 πIC
The result that there are two possible values of p is a consequence of the symmetry of the
sound field about the line joining the two sources. The positive value gives the required
location of C above the line joining A and B in Figure 11. The negative value gives a
symmetrical location ‘below’ the line.
WA + WB (WA + WB )
Note also that if 0 = − m2 or IC = , then p = 0, i.e. C would
πIC πm2
be on the line joining A and B.
(c) Using the given values, p = 3.86 m.
p
(d) Using Pythagoras’ theorem again, the distance from A to D is given by q 2 + m2 . So
WA WB WA WB
ID = IA + IB = 2
+ 2
= +
4πrA 4πrB 4π(q + m ) 4πq 2
2 2

HELM (2006): 47
Section 5.4: Inverse Square Law Modelling
(e) Multiplying through by 4πq 2 (q 2 + m2 ) and collecting together like powers of q produces
a quartic equation,

4πID q 4 + [4πm2 ID − (WA + WB ])q 2 − WB m2 = 0.

Since the quartic equation contains only even powers of q, it can be regarded as a quadratic
equation in q 2 and this can be solved by the standard formula. Hence
2
p
−[4πm ID − (W A + W B )] ± [4πm2 ID − (WA + WB )]2 + 16πID WB m2
q2 =
8πID
−21.14 ± 29.87
Using the given values, q2 =
1.51
Since q must be real, the negative result can be ignored. Hence q ≈ 2.40 m.
(f) Using the same procedure as in (d) and (e),
WA WB WA WB
IE = IA + IB = 2
+ 2
= +
4πrA 4πrB 4π(m + n)2 4πn2

4πID n2 (m + n)2 IE = WA n2 + (m + n)2 WB = 0

A general expression for the distance n at which the intensity at point E is IE is given
by collecting like powers of n and is another quartic equation, i.e.

4πIE n4 + 8πIE mn3 + [4πIE m2 − (WA + WB )]n2 − 2mWB n − m2 WB = 0

Unfortunately this cannot be treated simply as a quadratic equation in n2 since there are
terms in odd powers of n. One way forward is to plot the curve corresponding to the
equation after substituting the given values, another is to use a numerical method such
as Newton-Raphson.
(g) Substitution of the given values produces the equation

0.1885n4 + 2.2619n2 + 0.7858n2 − 49.2n − 147.6 = 0.

The plot of the quartic equation in Figure 12 shows that there are two roots of interest.
Use of a numerical method for finding the roots of polynomials gives values of the roots
to any desired accuracy i.e. n ≈ 4.876 m and n ≈ −9.628 m.

f (n)

200

− 9.6 4.9
−15 − 10 −5 0 5 10 n

− 200

Figure 12

48 HELM (2006):
Workbook 5: Functions and Modelling
Interpretation
The result for part (g) implies that there are two locations for E along the line joining the two sources
where the intensity magnitude will have the given value. One position is about 3.6 m to the left of
source A and the other is about 4.9 m to the right of source B.

HELM (2006): 49
Section 5.4: Inverse Square Law Modelling
Contents 6
Exponential and
Logarithmic Functions
6.1 The Exponential Function 2

6.2 The Hyperbolic Functions 11

6.3 Logarithms 19

6.4 The Logarithmic Function 27

6.5 Modelling Exercises 38

6.6 Log-linear Graphs 58

Learning outcomes
In this Workbook you will learn about one of the most important functions in mathematics,
science and engineering - the exponential function. You will learn how to combine
exponential functions to produce other important functions, the hyperbolic functions,
which are related to the trigonometric functions.

You will also learn about logarithms and the logarithmic function which is the function
inverse to the exponential function. Finally you will learn what a log-linear graph is and
how it can be used to simplify the presentation of certain kinds of data.
The Exponential  

Function 6.1 

Introduction
In this Section we revisit the use of exponents. We consider how the expression ax is defined when a
is a positive number and x is irrational. Previously we have only considered examples in which x is a
rational number. We consider these exponential functions f (x) = ax in more depth and in particular
consider the special case when the base a is the exponential constant e where :
e = 2.7182818 . . .
We then examine the behaviour of ex as x → ∞, called exponential growth and of e−x as x → ∞
called exponential decay.

#
• have a good knowledge of indices and their
laws
Prerequisites
Before starting this Section you should . . . • have knowledge of rational and irrational
numbers
"
' !
$
x
• approximate a when x is irrational

• describe the behaviour of ax : in particular the


Learning Outcomes exponential function ex
On completion you should be able to . . . • understand the terms exponential growth
and exponential decay
& %

2 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

1. Exponents revisited
We have seen (in 1.2) the meaning to be assigned to the expression ap where a is a positive
number. We remind the reader that ‘a’ is called the base and ‘p’ is called the exponent (or power
or index). There are various cases to consider:
If m, n are positive integers
• an = a × a × · · · × a with n terms
• a1/n means the nth root of a. That is, a1/n is that positive number which satisfies
(a1/n ) × (a1/n ) × · · · × (a1/n ) = a
where there are n terms on the left hand side.
• am/n = (a1/n ) × (a1/n ) × · · · × (a1/n ) where there are m terms.
1
• a−n =
an
For convenience we again list the basic laws of exponents:

Key Point 1

am
am an = am+n n
= am−n (am )n = amn
a
a1 = a, and if a 6= 0 a0 = 1

Example 1
pn−2 pm
Simplify the expression 3 2m
pp

Solution
First we simplify the numerator:
pn−2 pm = pn−2+m
Next we simplify the denominator:
p3 p2m = p3+2m
Now we combine them and simplify:
pn−2 pm pn−2+m
= = pn−2+m p−3−2m = pn−2+m−3−2m = pn−m−5
p3 p2m p3+2m

HELM (2006): 3
Section 6.1: The Exponential Function
Task
bm−n b3
Simplify the expression
b2m

First simplify the numerator:


Your solution
bm−n b3 =

Answer
bm−n b3 = bm+3−n
Now include the denominator:
Your solution
bm−n b3 bm+3−n
= =
b2m b2m

Answer
bm+3−n
2m
= bm+3−n−2m = b3−m−n
b

Task
(5am )2 a2
Simplify the expression
(a3 )2

Simplify the numerator:


Your solution
(5am )2 a2 =

Answer
(5am )2 a2 = 25a2m a2 = 25a2m+2

Now include the denominator:


Your solution
(5am )2 a2 25a2m+2
= =
(a3 )2 a6

Answer
(5am )2 a2 25a2m+2
= = 25a2m+2−6 = 25a2m−4
(a3 )2 a6

4 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

ax when x is any real number

So far we have given the meaning of ap where p is an integer or a rational number, that is, one which
can be written as a quotient of integers. So, if p is rational, then
m
p= where m, n are integers
n
Now consider x as a real number which cannot√ be written as a rational number. Two common
examples of these irrational numbers are 2 and π. What we shall do is approximate x by a
rational number by working to a fixed number of decimal places. For example if
x = 3.14159265 . . .
then, if we are working to 3 d.p. we would write
x ≈ 3.142
and this number can certainly be expressed as a rational number:
3142
x ≈ 3.142 =
1000
so, in this case
3142
ax = a3.14159... ≈ a3.142 = a 1000
3142
and the final term: a 1000 can be determined in the usual way by calculator. Henceforth we shall
therefore assume that the expression ax is defined for all positive values of a and for all real values
of x.

Task
By working to 3 d.p. find, using your calculator, the value of 3π/2 .

π
First, approximate the value of :
2
Your solution
π
≈ to 3 d.p.
2

Answer
π 3.1415927 . . .
≈ = 1.5707963 · · · ≈ 1.571
2 2
Now determine 3π/2 :
Your solution
3π/2 ≈

Answer
3π/2 ≈ 31.571 = 5.618 to 3 d.p.

HELM (2006): 5
Section 6.1: The Exponential Function
2. Exponential functions
For a fixed value of the base a the expression ax clearly varies with the value of x: it is a function of
x. We show in Figure 1 the graphs of (0.5)x , (0.3)x , 1x , 2x and 3x .
The functions ax (as different values are chosen for a) are called exponential functions. From the
graphs we see (and these are true for all exponential functions):

If a > b > 0 then


ax > b x if x > 0 and ax < b x if x < 0

y
(0.3)x
(0.5)x 3x 2x

1x

x
Figure 1: y = ax for various values of a
The most important and widely used exponential function has the particular base e = 2.7182818 . . . .
It will not be clear to the reader why this particular value is so important. However, its importance
will become clear as your knowledge of mathematics increases. The number e is as important as the
number π and, like π, is also irrational. The approximate value of e is stored in most calculators.
There are numerous ways of calculating the value of e. For example, it can be shown that the value
of e is the end-point of the sequence of numbers:
 1  2  3  16  64
2 3 4 17 65
, , , ..., , ..., ,...
1 2 3 16 64
which, in decimal form (each to 6 d.p.) are
2.000000, 2.250000, 2.370370, ..., 2.637929, . . . , 2.697345, ...
This is a slowly converging sequence. However, it does lead to a precise definition for the value of e:
 n
n+1
e = lim
n→∞ n

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An quicker way of calculating e is to use the (infinite) series:


1 1 1 1 1
e=1+ + + + + ··· + + ...
1! 2! 3! 4! n!
where, we remember,
n! = n × (n − 1) × (n − 2) × . . . (3) × (2) × (1)
(This is discussed more fully in 16: Sequences and Series.)
Although all functions of the form ax are called exponential functions we usually refer to ex as the
exponential function.

Key Point 2
ex is the exponential function where e = 2.71828 . . .

y
ex

x
Figure 2: y = ex
Exponential functions (and variants) appear in various areas of mathematics and engineering. For
example, the shape of a hanging chain or rope, under the effect of gravity, is well described by a
2
combination of the exponential curves ekx , e−kx . The function e−x plays a major role in statistics;
it being fundamental in the important normal distribution which describes the variability in many
naturally occurring phenomena. The exponential function e−kx appears directly, again in the area of
statistics, in the Poisson distribution which (amongst other things) is used to predict the number of
events (which occur randomly) in a given time interval.
From now on, when we refer to an exponential function, it will be to the function ex (Figure 2) that
we mean, unless stated otherwise.

HELM (2006): 7
Section 6.1: The Exponential Function
Task
Use a calculator to determine the following values correct to 2 d.p.
(a) e1.5 , (b) e−2 , (c) e17 .

Your solution
(a) e1.5 = (b) e−2 = (c) e17 =

Answer
(a) e1.5 = 4.48, (b) e−2 = 0.14, (c) e17 = 2.4 × 107

Task
e2.7 e−3(1.2)
Simplify the expression and determine its numerical value to 3 d.p.
e2

First simplify the expression:


Your solution
e2.7 e−3(1.2)
=
e2

Answer
e2.7 e−3(1.2)
= e2.7 e−3.6 e−2 = e2.7−3.6−2 = e−2.9
e2
Now evaluate its value to 3 d.p.:
Your solution
e−2.9 =

Answer
0.055

3. Exponential growth
If a > 1 then it can be shown that, no matter how large K is:
ax
→ ∞ as x → ∞
xK
That is, if K is fixed (though chosen as large as desired) then eventually, as x increases, ax will become
larger than the value xK provided a > 1. The growth of ax as x increases is called exponential
growth.

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Task
A function f (x) grows exponentially and is such that f (0) = 1 and f (2) = 4.
Find the exponential curve that fits through these points. Assume the function
is f (x) = ekx where k is to be determined from the given information. Find the
value of k.

First, find f (0) and f (2) by substituting in f (x) = ekx :

Your solution
When x = 0 f (0) = e0 = 1
When x = 2, f (2) = 4 so e2k = 4

By trying values of k: 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, find the value such that e2k ≈ 4:
Your solution
e2(0.6) = e2(0.7) = e2(0.8) =

Answer
e2(0.6) = 3.32 (too low) e2(0.7) = 4.055 (too high)

Now try values of k: k = 0.67, 0.68, 0.69:


Your solution
e2(0.67) = e2(0.68) = e2(0.69) =

Answer
e2(0.67) = 3.819 (low) e2(0.68) = 3.896 (low) e2(0.69) = 3.975 (low)

Next try values of k = 0.691, 0.692:


Your solution
e2(0.691) = e2(0.692) = e2(0.693) =

Answer
e2(0.691) = 3.983, (low) e2(0.692) = 3.991 (low) e2(0.693) = 3.999 (low)

Finally, state the exponential function with k to 3 d.p. which most closely satisfies the conditions:

Your solution
y=

Answer
The exponential function is e0.693x .

We shall meet, in Section 6.4, a much more efficient way of finding the value of k.

HELM (2006): 9
Section 6.1: The Exponential Function
4. Exponential decay
As we have noted, the behaviour of ex as x → ∞ is called exponential growth. In a similar manner
we characterise the behaviour of the function e−x as x → ∞ as exponential decay. The graphs of
ex and e−x are shown in Figure 3.
y
e−x ex

Figure 3: y = ex and y = e−x


Exponential growth is very rapid and similarly exponential decay is also very rapid. In fact e−x tends
to zero so quickly as x → ∞ that, no matter how large the constant K is,
xK e−x → 0 as x → ∞
The next Task investigates this.

Task
Choose K = 10 in the expression xK e−x and calculate xK e−x using your calculator
for x = 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35.

Your solution
x 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
10 −x
x e

Answer
x 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
10 −x
x e 6.5 × 104 4.5 × 105 1.7 × 105 2.1 × 104 1324 55 1.7

The topics of exponential growth and decay are explored further in Section 6.5.

Exercises
1. Find, to 3 d.p., the values of
(a) 2−8 (b) (5.1)4 (c) (2/10)−3 (d) (0.111)6 (e) 21/2 (f) π π (g) eπ/4 (h) (1.71)−1.71
2. Plot y = x3 and y = ex for 0 < x < 7. For which integer values of x is ex > x3 ?

Answers
1. (a) 0.004 (b) 676.520 (c) 125 (d) 0.0 (e) 1.414 (f) 36.462 (g) 2.193 (h) 0.400
2. For integer values of x, ex > x3 if x ≥ 5

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The Hyperbolic  

Functions 6.2 

Introduction
The hyperbolic functions sinh x, cosh x, tanh x etc are certain combinations of the exponential
functions ex and e−x . The notation implies a close relationship between these functions and the
trigonometric functions sin x, cos x, tan x etc. The close relationship is algebraic rather than geo-
metrical. For example, the functions cosh x and sinh x satisfy the relation
cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡ 1
which is very similar to the trigonometric identity cos2 x + sin2 x ≡ 1. (In fact every trigonometric
identity has an equivalent hyperbolic function identity.)
The hyperbolic functions are not introduced because they are a mathematical nicety. They arise
naturally and sufficiently often to warrant sustained study. For example, the shape of a chain hanging
under gravity is well described by cosh and the deformation of uniform beams can be expressed in
terms of tanh.

' $
• have a good knowledge of the exponential
function

Prerequisites • have knowledge of odd and even functions

Before starting this Section you should . . . • have familiarity with the definitions of
tan, sec, cosec, cot and of trigonometric
identities
&
' %
$
• explain how hyperbolic functions are defined
in terms of exponential functions
Learning Outcomes • obtain and use hyperbolic function identities
On completion you should be able to . . .
• manipulate expressions involving hyperbolic
functions
& %

HELM (2006): 11
Section 6.2: The Hyperbolic Functions
1. Even and odd functions
Constructing even and odd functions
A given function f (x) can always be split into two parts, one of which is even and one of which is
1 1
odd. To do this write f (x) as [f (x) + f (x)] and then simply add and subtract f (−x) to this to
2 2
give
1 1
f (x) = [f (x) + f (−x)] + [f (x) − f (−x)]
2 2
1 1
The term [f (x) + f (−x)] is even because when x is replaced by −x we have [f (−x) + f (x)]
2 2
1
which is the same as the original. However, the term [f (x) − f (−x)] is odd since, on replacing x
2
1 1
by −x we have [f (−x) − f (x)] = − [f (x) − f (−x)] which is the negative of the original.
2 2

Example 2
Separate x3 + 2x into odd and even parts.

Solution
f (x) = x3 + 2x
f (−x) = (−x)3 + 2−x = −x3 + 2−x
Even part:
1 1 1
(f (x) + f (−x)) = (x3 + 2x − x3 + 2−x ) = (2x + 2−x )
2 2 2
Odd part:
1 1 1
(f (x) − f (−x)) = (x3 + 2x + x3 − 2−x ) = (2x3 + 2x − 2−x )
2 2 2

Task
Separate the function x2 − 3x into odd and even parts.

First, define f (x) and find f (−x):


Your solution
f (x) = f (−x) =

Answer
f (x) = x2 − 3x , f (−x) = x2 − 3−x

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1 1
Now construct [f (x) + f (−x)], [f (x) − f (−x)]:
2 2
Your solution
1 1
[f (x) + f (−x)] = [f (x) − f (−x)] =
2 2

Answer
1 1
[f (x) + f (−x)] = (x2 − 3x + x2 − 3−x )
2 2
1
= x2 − (3x + 3−x ). This is the even part of f (x).
2
1 1
[f (x) − f (−x)] = (x2 − 3x − x2 + 3−x )
2 2
1
= (3−x − 3x ). This is the odd part of f (x).
2

The odd and even parts of the exponential function


Using the approach outlined above we see that the even part of ex is
1 x
(e + e−x )
2
and the odd part of ex is
1 x
(e − e−x )
2
We give these new functions special names: cosh x (pronounced ‘cosh’ x) and sinh x (pronounced
‘shine’ x).

Key Point 3
Hyperbolic Functions
1
cosh x ≡ (ex + e−x )
2
1
sinh x ≡ (ex − e−x )
2

These two functions, when added and subtracted, give


cosh x + sinh x ≡ ex and cosh x − sinh x ≡ e−x
The graphs of cosh x and sinh x are shown in Figure 4.

HELM (2006): 13
Section 6.2: The Hyperbolic Functions
y
e−x ex
cosh x

sinh x

Figure 4: sinh x and cosh x


Note that cosh x > 0 for all values of x and that sinh x is zero only when x = 0.

2. Hyperbolic identities
The hyperbolic functions cosh x, sinh x satisfy similar (but not exactly equivalent) identities to
those satisfied by cos x, sin x. We note first some basic notation similar to that employed with
trigonometric functions:
coshn x means (cosh x)n sinhn x means (sinh x)n n 6= −1
1 1
In the special case that n = −1 we do not use cosh−1 x and sinh−1 x to mean and
cosh x sinh x
respectively. The notation cosh−1 x and sinh−1 x is reserved for the inverse functions of cosh x
and sinh x respectively.

Task
Show that cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡ 1 for all x.

(a) First, express cosh2 x in terms of the exponential functions ex , e−x :


Your solution
 2
2 1 x −x
cosh x ≡ (e + e ) ≡
2

Answer
1 x 1 1 1
(e + e−x )2 ≡ [(ex )2 + 2ex e−x + (e−x )2 ] ≡ [e2x + 2ex−x + e−2x ] ≡ [e2x + 2 + e−2x ]
4 4 4 4

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(b) Similarly, express sinh2 x in terms of ex and e−x :


Your solution
 2
2 1 x −x
sinh x ≡ (e − e ) ≡
2

Answer
1 x 1 1 1
(e − e−x )2 ≡ [(ex )2 − 2ex e−x + (e−x )2 ] ≡ [e2x − 2ex−x + e−2x ] ≡ [e2x − 2 + e−2x ]
4 4 4 4
(c) Finally determine cosh2 x − sinh2 x using the results from (a) and (b):
Your solution
cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡

Answer
1 1
cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡ [e2x + 2 + e−2x ] − [e2x − 2 + e−2x ] ≡ 1
4 4

As an alternative to the calculation in this Task we could, instead, use the relations
ex ≡ cosh x + sinh x e−x ≡ cosh x − sinh x
and remembering the algebraic identity (a + b)(a − b) ≡ a2 − b2 , we see that
(cosh x + sinh x)(cosh x − sinh x) ≡ ex e−x ≡ 1 that is cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡ 1

Key Point 4
The fundamental identity relating hyperbolic functions is:

cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡ 1

This is the hyperbolic function equivalent of the trigonometric identity: cos2 x + sin2 x ≡ 1

HELM (2006): 15
Section 6.2: The Hyperbolic Functions
Task
Show that cosh(x + y) ≡ cosh x cosh y + sinh x sinh y.

First, express cosh x cosh y in terms of exponentials:

Your solution
ex + e−x ey + e−y
  
cosh x cosh y ≡ ≡
2 2

Answer
e + e−x e + e−y
 x  y 
1 1
≡ [ex ey + e−x ey + ex e−y + e−x e−y ] ≡ (ex+y + e−x+y + ex−y + e−x−y )
2 2 4 4

Now express sinh x sinh y in terms of exponentials:


Yoursolution  
ex − e−x ey − e−y


2 2

Answer
e − e−x e − e−y
 x  y 
1
≡ (ex+y − e−x+y − ex−y + e−x−y )
2 2 4

Now express cosh x cosh y + sinh x sinh y in terms of a hyperbolic function:


Your solution
cosh x cosh y + sinh x sinh y =

Answer
1
cosh x cosh y + sinh x sinh y ≡ (ex+y + e−(x+y) ) which we recognise as cosh(x + y)
2

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Other hyperbolic function identities can be found in a similar way. The most commonly used are
listed in the following Key Point.

Key Point 5
Hyperbolic Identities
• cosh2 − sinh2 ≡ 1
• cosh(x + y) ≡ cosh x cosh y + sinh x sinh y
• sinh(x + y) ≡ sinh x cosh y + cosh x sinh y
• sinh 2x ≡ 2 sinh x cosh y
• cosh 2x ≡ cosh2 x + sinh2 x or cosh 2x ≡ 2 cosh2 −1 or cosh 2x ≡ 1 + 2 sinh2 x

3. Related hyperbolic functions


Given the trigonometric functions cos x, sin x related functions can be defined; tan x, sec x, cosec x
through the relations:
sin x 1 1 cos x
tan x ≡ sec x ≡ cosec x ≡ cot x ≡
cos x cos x sin x sin x
In an analogous way, given cosh x and sinh x we can introduce hyperbolic functions tanh x, sec h x,
cosech x and coth x. These functions are defined in the following Key Point:

Key Point 6
Further Hyperbolic Functions
sinh x
tanh x ≡
cosh x
1
sech x ≡
cosh x
1
cosech x ≡
sinh x
cosh x
coth x ≡
sinh x

HELM (2006): 17
Section 6.2: The Hyperbolic Functions
Task
Show that 1 − tanh2 x ≡ sech2 x

Use the identity cosh2 x − sinh2 x ≡ 1:


Your solution

Answer
Dividing both sides by cosh2 x gives
sinh2 x 1
1− 2 ≡ implying (see Key Point 6) 1 − tanh2 x ≡ sech2 x
cosh x cosh2 x

Exercises
1. Express
(a) 2 sinh x + 3 cosh x in terms of ex and e−x .
(b) 2 sinh 4x − 7 cosh 4x in terms of e4x and e−4x .
2. Express
(a) 2ex − e−x in terms of sinh x and cosh x.
7ex
(b) in terms of sinh x and cosh x, and then in terms of coth x.
(ex − e−x )
(c) 4e−3x − 3e3x in terms of sinh 3x and cosh 3x.
3. Using only the cosh and sinh keys on your calculator (or ex key) find the values of
(a) tanh 0.35, (b) cosech 2, (c) sech 0.6.

Answers
5 1 5 9
1. (a) ex − e−x (b) − e4x − e−4x
2 2 2 2
7(cosh x + sinh x) 7
2. (a) cosh x + 3 sinh x, (b) , (coth x + 1) (c) cosh 3x − 7 sinh 3x
2 sinh x 2
3. (a) 0.3364, (b) 0.2757 (c) 0.8436

18 HELM (2006):
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Logarithms 6.3 

Introduction
In this Section we introduce the logarithm: loga b. The operation of taking a logarithm essentially
reverses the operation of raising a number to a power. We will formulate the basic laws satisfied by
all logarithms and learn how to manipulate expressions involving logarithms. We shall see that to
every law of indices there is an equivalent law of logarithms. Although logarithms to any positive
base are defined it is common practice to employ only two kinds of logarithms: logs to base 10 and
logs to base e.

 

Prerequisites • have a knowledge of exponents and of the


laws of indices
Before starting this Section you should . . .

# 
n
• invert b = a using logarithms
Learning Outcomes • simplify expressions involving logarithms
On completion you should be able to . . .
• change bases in logarithms
" !

HELM (2006): 19
Section 6.3: Logarithms
1. Logarithms
Logarithms reverse the process of raising a base ‘a’ to a power ‘n’. As with all exponentials, the base
should be a positive number.
If b = an then we write loga b = n.
Of course, the reverse statement is equivalent
If loga b = n then b = an
The expression loga b = n is read
“The log to base a of the number b is equal to n”
The term “log” is short for the word logarithm.

Example 3
Determine the log equivalents of
(a) 16 = 24 , (b) 16 = 42 , (c) 1000 = 103 ,
(d) 134.896 = 102.13 , (e) 8.414867 = e2.13

Solution
(a) Since 16 = 24 then log2 16 = 4
(b) Since 16 = 42 then log4 16 = 2
(c) Since 1000 = 103 then log10 1000 = 3
(d) Since 134.896 = 102.13 then log10 134.896 = 2.13
(e) Since 8.41467 = e2.13 then loge 8.414867 = 2.13

Key Point 7

If b = an then loga b = n

If loga b = n then b = an

20 HELM (2006):
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Task
1
Find the log equivalent of (a) 100 = 102 (b) = 10−3
1000

Here, on the right-hand sides, the base is 10 in each case so:


Your solution
(a) 100 = 102 implies

1
(b) = 10−3 implies
1000

Answer
(a) log10 100 = 2
1
(b) log10 = −3
1000

Task
Find the log equivalent of (a) b = an , (b) c = am , (c) bc = an+m

(a) Here the base is a so:


Your solution
b = an implies n =

Answer
n = loga b

(b) Here the base is a so:


Your solution
c = am implies m =

Answer
m = loga c

(c) Here the base is a so:


Your solution
bc = an+m implies n + m =

Answer
n + m = loga (bc)

HELM (2006): 21
Section 6.3: Logarithms
From the last Task we have found, using the property of indices, that
loga (bc) = n + m = loga b + loga c.
We conclude that the index law an am = an+m has an equivalent logarithm law
loga (bc) = loga b + loga c
In words: “The log of a product is the sum of logs.”
Indeed this property is one of the major advantages of using logarithms. They transform a product
of numbers (a relatively difficult operation) to a sum of numbers (a relatively easy operation).
Each index law has an equivalent logarithm law, true for any base, listed in the following Key Point:

Key Point 8
The laws of logarithms The laws of indices
1. loga (AB) = loga A + loga B 1. aA aB = aA+B
A
2. loga ( ) = loga A − loga B 2. aA /aB = aA−B
B
3. loga (Ak ) = k loga A 3. (aA )k = akA
4. loga (aA ) = A 4. aloga A = A
5. loga a = 1 5. a1 = a
6. loga 1 = 0 6. a0 = 1

2. Simplifying expressions involving logarithms


To simplify an expression involving logarithms their laws, given in Key Point 8, need to be used.

Example 4
10
Simplify: log10 2 − log10 4 + log10 (42 ) + log10 ( )
4

Solution
The third term log10 (42 ) simplifies to 2 log10 4 and the last term
10
log10 ( ) = log10 10 − log10 4 = 1 − log10 4
4
10
So log10 2−log10 4+log10 (42 )+log10 ( ) = log10 2−log10 4+2 log10 4+1−log10 4 = log10 2+1
4

22 HELM (2006):
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Task
Simplify the expression:
1 10
log10 ( ) − log10 ( ) − log10 1000
10 27

1
(a) First simplify log10 ( ):
10
Your solution
1
log10 ( ) =
10

Answer
1
log10 ( ) = log10 1 − log10 10 = 0 − 1 = −1
10
10
(b) Now simplify log10 ( ):
27
Your solution
10
log10 ( ) =
27

Answer
10
log10 ( ) = log10 10 − log10 27 = 1 − log10 27
27
(c) Now simplify log10 1000:
Your solution

Answer
3
(d) Finally collect all the terms together from (a), (b), (c) and simplify:
Your solution

Answer
−1 − (1 − log10 27) + 3 = 1 + log10 27

3. Logs to base 10 and natural logs


In practice only two kinds of logarithms are commonly used, those to base 10, written log10 (or just
simply log) and those to base e, written loge or more usually ln (called natural logarithms). Most
scientific calculators will determine the logarithm to base 10 and to base e. For example,
log 13 = 1.11394 (implying 101.11394 = 13), ln 23 = 3.13549 (implying e3.13549 = 23)

HELM (2006): 23
Section 6.3: Logarithms
Task
Use your calculator to determine (a) log 10, (b) log 1000000, (c) log 0.1

Your solution
(a) log 10 = (b) log 1000000 = (c) log 0.1 =

Answer
(a) 1, (b) 6, (c) −1.

Each of the above results could be determined directly, without the use of a calculator. For example:
Since loga a = 1 then log 10 (≡ log10 10) = 1.
Since loga Ak = k loga A then log 1000000 = log 106 = 6 log 10 = 6.
A
Since loga ( ) = loga A − loga B and loga 1 = 0 and loga a = 0, then
B
1
log 0.1 = log( ) = log 1 − log(10) = −1
10

Task
Use your calculator to determine
(a) ln 29.42, (b) ln e, (c) ln 0.1

Your solution
(a) ln 29.42 = (b) ln e = (c) ln 0.1 =

Answer
(a) ln 29.42 = 3.38167, (b) ln e = 1, (c) ln 0.1 = −2.30258

4. Changing base in logarithms


It is sometimes required to express the logarithm with respect to one base in terms of a logarithm
with respect to another base.
Now
b = an implies loga b = n
where we have used logs to base a. What happens if, for some reason, we want to use another base,
p say? We take logs (to base p) of both sides of b = an :
logp (b) = logp (an ) = n logp a (using one of the logarithm laws)
So
logp (b) logp (b)
n= that is loga b =
logp (a) logp (a)
This is the rule to be used when converting logarithms from one base to another.

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Key Point 9
logp b
loga b =
logp a

For base 10 logs:


log(b)
loga b =
log(a)
For example,
log 7 0.8450980
log3 7 = = = 1.7712437
log 3 0.4771212
(Check, on your calculator, that 31.7712437 = 7).
For natural logs:
ln(b)
loga b =
ln(a)
For example,
ln 7 1.9459101
log3 7 = = = 1.7712437
ln 3 1.0986123
Of course, log3 7 cannot be determined directly on your calculator since logs to base 3 are not
available but it can be found using the above method.

Task
Use your calculator to determine the value of log21 7 using first base 10 then check
using base e.

Re-express log21 7 using base 10 then base e:


Your solution
log 7 ln 7
log21 7 = = log21 7 = =
log 21 ln 21

Answer
log 7 ln 7
log21 7 = = 0.6391511 log21 7 = = 0.6391511
log 21 ln 21

HELM (2006): 25
Section 6.3: Logarithms
Example 5
Simplify the expression 10log x .

Solution
Let y = 10log x then take logs (to base 10) of both sides:
log y = log(10log x ) = (log x) log 10
where we have used: log Ak = k log A. However, since we are using logs to base 10 then log 10 = 1
and so
log y = log x implying y=x
Therefore, finally we conclude that
10log x = x

This is an important result true for logarithms of any base. It follows from the basic definition of the
logarithm.

Key Point 10
aloga x = x
Raising to the power and taking logs are inverse operations.

Exercises
1. Find the values of (a) log 8 (b) log 50 (c) ln 28
2. Simplify

(a) log 1 − 3 log 2 + log 16.


(b) 10 log x − 2 log x2 .
(c) ln(8x − 4) − ln(4x − 2).
(d) ln 10 log 7 − ln 7.
Answers
1. (a) 3 (b) 1.41096 (c) 3.033
2. (a) log 2, (b) 6 log x or log x6 , (c) ln 2, (d) 0

26 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

The Logarithmic  

Function 6.4 

Introduction
In this Section we consider the logarithmic function y = loga x and examine its important charac-
teristics. We see that this function is only defined if x is a positive number. We also see that the
log function is the inverse of the exponential function and vice versa. We show, through numerous
examples, how equations involving logarithms and exponentials can be solved.

' $
• have knowledge of inverse functions

Prerequisites • have knowledge of the laws of logarithms and


of the laws of indices
Before starting this Section you should . . .
• be able to solve quadratic equations
&
# %
• explain the relation between the
logarithm and the exponential function
Learning Outcomes
• solve equations involving exponentials and
On completion you should be able to . . .
logarithms
" !

HELM (2006): 27
Section 6.4: The Logarithmic Function
1. The logarithmic function
In Section 6.3 we introduced the operation of taking logarithms which reverses the operation of
exponentiation.
If a > 0 and a 6= 1 then x = ay implies y = loga x
In this Section we consider the log function in more detail. We shall concentrate only on the functions
log x (i.e. to base 10) and ln x (i.e. to base e). The functions y = log x and y = ln x have similar
characteristics. We can never choose x as a negative number since 10y and ey are each always
positive. The graphs of y = log x and y = ln x are shown in Figure 5.

y 10 x
ex

ln x
log x

Figure 5: Logarithmic and exponential functions


From the graphs we see that both functions are one-to-one so each has an inverse function - the
inverse function of loga x is ax . Let us do this for logs to base 10.

2. Solving equations involving logarithms and exponentials


To solve equations which involve logarithms or exponentials we need to be aware of the basic laws
which govern both of these mathematical concepts. We illustrate by considering some examples.

Example 6
1
Solve for the variable x: (a) 3 = 10x , (b) 10x/4 = log 3, (c) =4
17 − ex

Solution

(a) Here we take logs (to base 10 because of the term 10x ) of both sides to get

log 3 = log 10x = x log 10 = x

where we have used the general property that loga Ak = k loga A and the specific property
that log 10 = 1. Hence x = log 3 or, in numerical form, x = 0.47712 to 5 d.p.

28 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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Solution (contd.)

(b) The approach used in (a) is used here. Take logs of both sides: log(10x/4 ) = log(log 3)

x
that is log 10 = log(log 3) = log(0.4771212) = −0.3213712
4
So, since log 10 = 1, we have x = 4(−0.3213712) = −1.28549 to 5 d.p.
(c) Here we simplify the expression before taking logs.
1
=4 implies 1 = 4(17 − ex )
17 − ex
or 4ex = 4(17) − 1 = 67 so ex = 16.75. Now taking natural logs of both sides
(because of the presence of the ex term) we have:

ln(ex ) = ln(16.75) = 2.8183983


1
But ln(ex ) = x ln e = x and so the solution to = 4 is x = 2.81840 to 5 d.p.
17 − ex

Task
Solve the equation (ex )2 = 50

First solve for ex by taking square roots of both sides:


Your solution
(ex )2 = 50 implies ex =

Answer √
(ex )2 = 50 implies ex = 50 = 7.071068. Here we have taken the positive value for the square
root since we know that exponential functions are always positive.

Now take logarithms to an appropriate base to find x:


Your solution
ex = 7.071068 implies x =

Answer
ex = 7.071068 implies x = ln(7.071068) = 1.95601 to 5 d.p.

HELM (2006): 29
Section 6.4: The Logarithmic Function
Task
Solve the equation e2x = 17ex

First simplify the expression as much as possible (divide both sides by ex ):


Your solution
e2x
e2x = 17ex implies = 17 so
ex

Answer
e2x
x
= 17 implies e2x−x = 17 so ex = 17
e
Now complete the solution for x:
Your solution
ex = 17 implies x =

Answer
x = ln(17) = 2.8332133

Example 7
Find x if 10x − 5 + 6(10−x ) = 0

Solution
We first simplify this expression by multiplying through by 10x (to eliminate the term 10−x ):
10x (10x ) − 10x (5) + 10x (6(10−x )) = 0
or
(10x )2 − 5(10x ) + 6 = 0 since 10x (10−x ) = 100 = 1
We realise that this expression is a quadratic equation. Let us put y = 10x to give
y 2 − 5y + 6 = 0
Now, we can factorise to give
(y − 3)(y − 2) = 0 so that y = 3 or y = 2
For each of these values of y we obtain a separate value for x since y = 10x .
Case 1 If y = 3 then 3 = 10x implying x = log 3 = 0.4771212
Case 2 If y = 2 then 2 = 10x implying x = log 2 = 0.3010300
We conclude that the equation 10x − 5 + 6(10−x ) = 0 has two possible solutions for x: either
x = 0.4771212 or x = 0.3010300, to 7 d.p.

30 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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Task
Solve 2e2x − 7ex + 3 = 0.

First write this equation as a quadratic in the variable y = ex remembering that e2x ≡ (ex )2 :
Your solution
If y = ex then 2e2x − 7ex + 3 = 0 becomes

Answer
2y 2 − 7y + 3 = 0

Now solve the quadratic for y:


Your solution
2y 2 − 7y + 3 = 0 implies (2y )(y )=0

Answer
1
(2y − 1)(y − 3) = 0 therefore y = or y = 3
2

Finally, for each of your values of y, find x:


Your solution
1 1
If y = then = ex implies x =
2 2
If y = 3 then 3 = ex implies x =

Answer
x = −0.693147 or x = 1.0986123

Task
The temperature T , in degrees C, of a chemical reaction is given by the formula
T = 80e0.03t × t ≥ 0, where t is the time, in seconds.
Calculate the time taken for the temperature to reach 150◦ C .

Answer
ln(1.875)
150 = 80e0.03t ⇒ 1.875 = e0.03t ⇒ ln(1.875) = 0.03t ⇒ t=
0.03
This gives t = 20.95 to 2 d.p.
So the time is 21 seconds.

HELM (2006): 31
Section 6.4: The Logarithmic Function
Engineering Example 1

Arrhenius’ law
Introduction
Chemical reactions are very sensitive to temperature; normally, the rate of reaction increases as
temperature increases. For example, the corrosion of iron and the spoiling of food are more rapid
at higher temperatures. Chemically, the probability of collision between two molecules increases
with temperature, and an increased collision rate results in higher kinetic energy, thus increasing
the proportion of molecules that have the activation energy for the reaction, i.e. the minimum
energy required for a reaction to occur. Based upon his observations, the Swedish chemist, Svante
Arrhenius, proposed that the rate of a chemical reaction increases exponentially with temperature.
This relationship, now known as Arrhenius’ law, is written as
 
−Ea
k = k0 exp (1)
RT
where k is the reaction rate constant, k0 is the frequency factor, Ea is the activation energy, R is
the universal gas constant and T is the absolute temperature. Thus, the reaction rate constant, k,
depends on the quantities k0 and Ea , which characterise a given reaction, and are generally assumed
to be temperature independent.
Problem in words
In a laboratory, ethyl acetate is reacted with sodium hydroxide to investigate the reaction kinetics.
Calculate the frequency factor and activation energy of the reaction from Arrhenius’ Law, using the
experimental measurements of temperature and reaction rate constant in the table:
T 310 350
k 7.757192 110.9601

Mathematical statement of problem


Given that k = 7.757192 s−1 at T = 310 K and k = 110.9601 s−1 at T = 350 K, use Equation (1)
to produce two linear equations in Ea and k0 . Solve these to find Ea and k0 . (Assume that the gas
constant R = 8.314 J K−1 mol−1 .)
Mathematical analysis
Taking the natural logarithm of both sides of (1)
  
−Ea Ea
ln k = ln k0 exp = ln k0 −
RT RT
Now inserting the experimental data gives the two linear equations in Ea and k0
Ea
ln k1 = ln k0 − (2)
R T1
Ea
ln k2 = ln k0 − (3)
R T2
where k1 = 7.757192, T1 = 310 and k2 = 110.9601, T2 = 350.

32 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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Firstly, to find Ea , subtract Equation (2) from Equation (3)


 
Ea Ea Ea 1 1
ln k2 − ln k1 = − = −
R T1 R T2 R T1 T2
so that
R (ln k2 − ln k1 )
Ea =  
1 1

T1 T2
and substituting the values gives
Ea = 60000 J mol−1 = 60 kJ mol−1
Secondly, to find k0 , from (2)
   
Ea Ea Ea
ln k0 = ln k1 + ⇒ k0 = exp ln k1 + = k1 exp
R T1 R T1 R T1
and substituting the values gives
k0 = 1.0 × 1011 s−1

Task
The reaction

2NO2 (g) −→ 2NO(g) + O2 (g)

has a reaction rate constant of 1.0 × 10−10 s−1 at 300 K and activation energy of
111 kJ mol−1 = 111 000 J mol−1 . Use Arrhenius’ law to find the reaction rate
constant at a temperature of 273 K.

Your solution

HELM (2006): 33
Section 6.4: The Logarithmic Function
Answer
Rearranging Arrhenius’ equation gives
 
Ea
k0 = k exp
RT
Substituting the values gives k0 = 2.126 × 109 s−1
Now we use this value of k0 with Ea in Arrhenius’ equation (1) to find k at T = 273 K
 
−Ea
k = k0 exp = 1.226 × 10−12 s−1
RT

Task
For a chemical reaction with frequency factor k0 = 0.5 s−1 and ratio Ea /R = 800
K, use Arrhenius’ law to find the temperature at which the reaction rate constant
would be equal to 0.1 s−1 .

Your solution

Answer
Rearranging Equation (1)
 
k −Ea
= exp
k0 RT
Taking the natural logarithm of both sides
 
k −Ea
ln =
k0 RT
so that
−Ea Ea
T = =
R ln (k/k0 ) R ln (k0 /k)
Substituting the values gives T = 497 K

As a final example we consider equations involving the hyperbolic functions.

34 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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Example 8
Solve the equations
(a) cosh 3x = 1 (b) cosh 3x = 2 (c) 2 cosh2 x = 3 cosh 2x − 3

Solution
(a) From its graph we know that cosh x = 0 only when x = 0, so we need 3x = 0 which implies
x = 0.
e3x + e−3x
(b) cosh 3x = 2 implies =2 or e3x + e−3x − 4 = 0
2
Now multiply through by e (to eliminate the term e−3x ) to give
3x

e3x e3x + e3x e−3x − 4e3x = 0 or (e3x )2 − 4e3x + 1 = 0


This is a quadratic equation in the variable e3x so substituting y = e3x gives

y 2 − 4y + 1 = 0 implying y = 2 ± 3 so y = 3.7321 or 0.26795

1
e3x = 3.7321 implies x= ln 3.7321 = 0.439 to 3 d.p.
3
1
e3x = 0.26795 implies x= ln 0.26795 = −0.439 to 3 d.p.
3
(c) We first simplify this expression by using the identity: cosh 2x = 2 cosh2 −1. Thus the original
equation 2 cosh2 x = 3 cosh 2x − 3 becomes cosh 2x + 1 = 3 cosh 2x − 3 or, when written in terms
of exponentials:
e2x + e−2x e2x + e−2x
= 3( )−4
2 2
Multiplying through by 2e2x gives e4x + 1 = 3(e4x + 1) − 8e2x or, after simplifying:
e4x − 4e2x + 1 = 0
Writing y = e2x we easily obtain y 2 − 4y + 1 = 0 with solution (using the quadratic formula):

4 ± 16 − 4 √
y= =2± 3
2
√ √
If y = 2 + 3 then 2 + 3 = e2x implying x = 0.65848 to 5 d.p.
√ √
If y = 2 − 3 then 2 − 3 = e2x implying x = −0.65848 to 5 d.p.

HELM (2006): 35
Section 6.4: The Logarithmic Function
Task
Find the solution for x if tanh x = 0.5.

First re-write tanh x in terms of exponentials:

Your solution
tanh x =

Answer
ex − e−x e2x − 1
tanh x = =
ex + e−x e2x + 1
Now substitute into tanh x = 0.5:
Your solution
e2x − 1
tanh x = 0.5 implies = 0.5 so, on simplifying, e2x =
e2x + 1

Answer
e2x − 1 2x 1 2x e2x 3
2x
= 0.5 implies (e − 1) = (e + 1) so = so, finally, e2x = 3
e +1 2 2 2
Now complete your solution by finding x:

Your solution
e2x = 3 so x =

Answer
1
x = ln 3 = 0.549306
2
Alternatively, many calculators can directly calculate the inverse function tanh−1 . If you have such
a calculator then you can use the fact that
tanh x = 0.5 implies x = tanh−1 0.5 to obtain directly x = 0.549306

36 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

Example 9
Solve for x if 3 ln x + 4 log x = 1.

Solution
This has logs to two different bases. So we must first express each logarithm in terms of logs to the
same base, e say. From Key Point 8
ln x
log x =
ln 10
So 3 ln x + 4 log x = 1 becomes
ln x 4
3 ln x + 4 =1 or (3 + ) ln x = 1
ln 10 ln 10
ln 10 2.302585
leading to ln x = = = 0.211096 and so
3 ln 10 + 4 10.907755
x = e0.211096 = 1.2350311

Exercises
1
1. Solve for the variable x: (a) π = 10x (b) 10−x/2 = 3 (c) =4
17 − π x
2. Solve the equations
(a) e2x = 17ex , (b) e2x − 2ex − 6 = 0, (c) cosh x = 3.

Answers
1. (a) x = log π = 0.497
(b) −x/2 = log 3 and so x = −2 log 3 = −0.954
log 16.75 1.224
(c) 17 − π x = 0.25 so π x = 16.75 therefore x = = = 2.462
log π 0.497
2. (a) Take logs of both sides: 2x = ln 17 + x ∴ x = ln 17 = 2.833

(b) Let y = ex then y 2 − 2y − 6 = 0 therefore y = 1 ± 7 √(we cannot take the negative sign
since exponentials can never be negative). Thus x = ln(1 + 7) = 1.2936.

x −x 2x x x 6 ± 36 − 4 √
(c) e + e = 6 therefore e − 6e + 1 = 0 so e = =3± 8
2
√ √
We have, finally x = ln(3 + 8) = 1.7627 or x = ln(3 − 8) = −1.7627

HELM (2006): 37
Section 6.4: The Logarithmic Function
 

Modelling Exercises 6.5 

Introduction
This Section provides examples and tasks employing exponential functions and logarithmic functions,
such as growth and decay models which are important throughout science and engineering.

' $
• be familiar with the laws of logarithms

Prerequisites • have knowledge of logarithms to base 10

Before starting this Section you should . . . • be able to solve equations involving
logarithms and exponentials
&
 %


Learning Outcomes • develop exponential growth and decay models


On completion you should be able to . . .
 

38 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

1. Exponential increase

Task
(a) Look back at Section 6.2 to review the definitions of an exponential function
and the exponential function.

(b) List examples in this Workbook of contexts in which exponential functions


are appropriate.

Your solution

Answer
(a) An exponential function has the form y = ax where a > 0. T he exponential function has
the form y = ex where e = 2.718282......

(b) It is stated that exponential functions are useful when modelling the shape of a hanging chain
or rope under the effect of gravity or for modelling exponential growth or decay.

We will look at a specific example of the exponential function used to model a population increase.

Task
Given that
P = 12e0.1t (0 ≤ t ≤ 25)
where P is the number in the population of a city in millions at time t in years
answer these questions.

(a) What does this model imply about P when t = 0?

(b) What is the stated upper limit of validity of the model?

(c) What does the model imply about values of P over time?

(d) What does the model predict for P when t = 10? Comment on this.

(d) What does the model predict for P when t = 25? Comment on this.

HELM (2006): 39
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
Your solution

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

Answer
(a) At t = 0, P = 12 which represents the initial population of 12 million. (Recall that e0 = 1.)

(b) The time interval during which the model is valid is stated as (0 ≤ t ≤ 25) so the model is
intended to apply for 25 years.

(c) This is exponential growth so P will increase from 12 million at an accelerating rate.

(d) P (10) = 12e1 ≈ 33 million. This is getting very large for a city but might be attainable in
10 years and just about sustainable.

(e) P (25) = 12e2.5 ≈ 146 million. This is unrealistic for a city.

Note that exponential population growth of the form P = P0 ekt means that as t becomes large and
positive, P becomes very large. Normally such a population model would be used to predict values
of P for t > 0, where t = 0 represents the present or some fixed time when the population is known.
In Figure 6, values of P are shown for t < 0. These correspond to extrapolation of the model into
the past. Note that as t becomes increasingly negative, P becomes very small but is never zero or
negative because ekt is positive for all values of t. The parameter k is called the instantaneous
fractional growth rate.

P
30
P = 12e0.1 t
25

20

15

10

10 5 0 5 10 t

Figure 6: The function P = 12e0.01t

40 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

For the model P = 12ekt we see that k = 0.1 is unrealistic, and more realistic values would be
k = 0.01 or k = 0.02. These would be similar but k=0.02 implies a faster growth for t > 0 than
k = 0.01. This is clear in the graphs for k = 0.01 and k = 0.02 in Figure 7. The functions are
plotted up to 200 years to emphasize the increasing difference as t increases.

P
500 P = 12e0.02 t

250

P = 12e0.01 t

t
0 50 100 150 200

Figure 7: Comparison of the functions P = 12e0.01t and P = 12e0.02t


The exponential function may be used in models for other types of growth as well as population
growth. A general form may be written
y = aebx a > 0, b > 0, c≤x≤d
where a represents the value of y at x = 0. The value a is the intercept on the y-axis of a graphical
representation of the function. The value b controls the rate of growth and c and d represent limits
on x.
In the general form, a and b represent the parameters of the exponential function which can be
selected to fit any given modelling situation where an exponential function is appropriate.

2. Linearisation of exponential functions


This subsection relates to the description of log-linear plots covered in Section 6.6.
Frequently in engineering, the question arises of how the parameters of an exponential function
might be found from given data. The method follows from the fact that it is possible to ‘undo’
the exponential function and obtain a linear function by means of the logarithmic function. Before
showing the implications of this method, it may be necessary to remind you of some rules for
manipulating logarithms and exponentials. These are summarised in Table 1 on the next page, which
exactly matches the general list provided in Key Point 8 in Section 6.3 (page 22.)

HELM (2006): 41
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
Table 1: Rules for manipulating base e logarithms and exponentials
Number Rule Number Rule
1a ln(xy) = ln(x) + ln(y) 1b e × ey = ex+y
x

2a ln(x/y) = ln(x) − ln(y) 2b ex /ey = ex−y


3a ln(xy ) = y ln(x) 3b (ex )y = exy
4a ln(ex ) = x 4b eln(x) = x
5a ln(e) = 1 5b e1 = e
6a ln(1) = 0 6b e0 = 1
We will try ‘undoing’ the exponential in the particular example
P = 12e0.1t
We take the natural logarithm (ln) of both sides, which means logarithm to the base e. So
ln(P ) = ln(12e0.1t )
The result of using Rule 1a in Table 1 is
ln(P ) = ln(12) + ln(e0.1t ).
The natural logarithmic functions ‘undoes’ the exponential function, so by Rule 4a,
ln(e0.1t ) = 0.1t
and the original equation for P becomes
ln(P ) = ln(12) + 0.1t.
Compare this with the general form of a linear function y = ax + b.
y = ax + b
↓ ↓ ↓
ln(P ) = 0.1t + ln(12)
If we regard ln(P ) as equivalent to y, 0.1 as equivalent to the constant a, t as equivalent to x, and
ln(12) as equivalent to the constant b, then we can identify a linear relationship between ln(P ) and
t. A plot of ln(P ) against t should result in a straight line, of slope 0.1, which crosses the ln(P )
axis at ln(12). (Such a plot is called a log-linear or log-lin plot.) This is not particularly interesting
here because we know the values 12 and 0.1 already.
Suppose, though, we want to try using the general form of the exponential function
P = aebt (c ≤ t ≤ d)
to create a continuous model for a population for which we have some discrete data. The first thing
to do is to take logarithms of both sides
ln(P ) = ln(aebt ) (c ≤ t ≤ d).
Rule 1 from Table 1 then gives
ln(P ) = ln(a) + ln(ebt ) (c ≤ t ≤ d).
But, by Rule 4a, ln(ebt ) = bt, so this means that
ln(P ) = ln(a) + bt (c ≤ t ≤ d).

42 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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So, given some ‘population versus time’ data, for which you believe can be modelled by some version
of the exponential function, plot the natural logarithm of population against time. If the exponential
function is appropriate, the resulting data points should lie on or near a straight line. The slope of
the straight line will give an estimate for b and the intercept with the ln(P ) axis will give an estimate
for ln(a). You will have carried out a logarithmic transformation of the original data for P . We
say the original variation has been linearised.
A similar procedure will work also if any exponential function rather than the base e exponential
function is used. For example, suppose that we try to use the function
P = A × 2Bt (C ≤ t ≤ D),
where A and B are constant parameters to be derived from the given data. We can take natural
logarithms again to give
ln(P ) = ln(A × 2Bt ) (C ≤ t ≤ D).
Rule 1a from Table 1 then gives
ln(P ) = ln(A) + ln(2Bt ) (C ≤ t ≤ D).
Rule 3a then gives
ln(2Bt ) = Bt ln(2) = B ln(2) t
and so
ln(P ) = ln(A) + B ln(2) t (C ≤ t ≤ D).
Again we have a straight line graph with the same intercept as before, ln A, but this time with slope
B ln(2).

Task
The amount of money £M to which £1 grows after earning interest of 5% p.a.
for N years is worked out as
M = 1.05N
Find a linearised form of this equation.

Your solution

Answer
Take natural logarithms of both sides.
ln(M ) = ln(1.05N ).
Rule 3b gives
ln(M ) = N ln(1.05).
So a plot of ln(M ) against N would be a straight line passing through (0, 0) with slope ln(1.05).

HELM (2006): 43
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
The linearisation procedure also works if logarithms other than natural logarithms are used. We start
again with
P = A × 2Bt (C ≤ t ≤ D).
and will take logarithms to base 10 instead of natural logarithms. Table 2 presents the laws of
logarithms and indices (based on Key Point 8 page 22) interpreted for log10 .
Table 2: Rules for manipulating base 10 logarithms and exponentials

Number Rule Number Rule


1a log10 (AB) = log10 A + log10 B 1b 10A 10B = 10A+B
2a log10 (A/B) = log10 A − log10 B 2b 10A /10B = 10A−B
3a log10 (Ak ) = k log10 A 3b (10A )k = 10kA
4a log10 (10A ) = A 4b 10log10 A = A
5a log10 10 = 1 5b 101 = 10
6a log10 1 = 0 6b 100 = 1
Taking logs of P = A × 2Bt gives:
log10 (P ) = log10 (A × 2Bt ) (C ≤ t ≤ D).
Rule 1a from Table 2 then gives
log10 (P ) = log10 (A) + log10 (2Bt ) (C ≤ t ≤ D).
Use of Rule 3a gives the result
log10 (P ) = log10 (A) + B log10 (2) t (C ≤ t ≤ D).

Task
(a) Write down the straight line function corresponding to taking logarithms of
the general exponential function
P = aebt (c ≤ t ≤ d)

by taking logarithms to base 10.

(b) Write down the slope of this line.

Your solution

Answer
(a) log10 (P ) = log10 (a) + (b log10 (e))t (c ≤ t ≤ d)

(b) b log10 (e)

It is not usually necessary to declare the subscript 10 when indicating logarithms to base 10. If you
meet the term ‘log’ it will probably imply “to the base 10”. In the remainder of this Section, the
subscript 10 is dropped where log10 is implied.

44 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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3. Exponential decrease
Consider the value, £D, of a car subject to depreciation, in terms of the age A years of the car. The
car was bought for £10500. The function
D = 10500e−0.25A (0 ≤ A ≤ 6)
could be considered appropriate on the ground that (a) D had a fixed value of £10500 when
A = 0, (b) D decreases as A increases and (c) D decreases faster when A is small than when A is
large. A plot of this function is shown in Figure 8.

12000

10000

8000
D pounds
6000

4000

2000 A years
0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Figure 8: Plot of car depreciation over 6 years

Task
Produce the linearised model of D = 10500e−0.25A .

Your solution

Answer
ln D = ln 10500 + ln(e−0.25A )
so ln D = ln 10500 − 0.25A

HELM (2006): 45
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
Engineering Example 2

Exponential decay of sound intensity

Introduction
The rate at which a quantity decays is important in many branches of engineering and science. A
particular example of this is exponential decay. Ideally the sound level in a room where there are
substantial contributions from reflections at the walls, floor and ceiling will decay exponentially once
the source of sound is stopped. The decay in the sound intensity is due to absorbtion of sound at the
room surfaces and air absorption although the latter is significant only when the room is very large.
The contributions from reflection are known as reverberation. A measurement of reverberation in
a room of known volume and surface area can be used to indicate the amount of absorption.
Problem in words
As part of an emergency test of the acoustics of a concert hall during an orchestral rehearsal,
consultants asked the principal trombone to play a single note at maximum volume. Once the sound
had reached its maximum intensity the player stopped and the sound intensity was measured for the
next 0.2 seconds at regular intervals of 0.02 seconds. The initial maximum intensity at time 0 was
1. The readings were as follows:
time 0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.20
intensity 1 0.63 0.35 0.22 0.13 0.08 0.05 0.03 0.02 0.01 0.005
Draw a graph of intensity against time and, assuming that the relationship is exponential, find a
function which expresses the relationship between intensity and time.
Mathematical statement of problem
If the relationship is exponential then it will be a function of the form
I = I0 10kt
and a log-linear graph of the values should lie on a straight line. Therefore we can plot the values
and find the gradient and the intercept of the resulting straight-line graph in order to find the values
for I0 and k.
k is the gradient of the log-linear graph i.e.
change in log10 (intensity)
k=
change in time
and I0 is found from where the graph crosses the vertical axis log10 (I0 ) = c
Mathematical analysis
Figure 9(a) shows the graph of intensity against time.

46 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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We calculate the log10 (intensity) to create the table below:


time 0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.20
log10 (intensity) 0 -0.22 -0.46 -0.66 -0.89 -1.1 -1.3 -1.5 -1.7 -2.0 -2.2
Figure 9(b) shows the graph of log (intensity) against time.

Intensity Log(Intensity)
0 (0, 0)

−1

(0.2, −2.2)
−2

0 0.1 0.2 Time 0 0.1 0.2 Time


(a) (b)

Figure 9: (a) Graph of sound intensity against time (b) Graph of log10 (intensity) against time
and a line fitted by eye to the data. The line goes through the points (0, 0) and (0.2, −2.2).

We can see that the second graph is approximately a straight line and therefore we can assume that
the relationship between the intensity and time is exponential and can be expressed as
I = I0 10kt .
The log10 of this gives
log10 (I) = log10 (I0 ) + kt.
From the graph (b) we can measure the gradient, k using
change in log10 (intensity)
k=
change in time
−2.2 − 0
giving k = = −11
0.2 − 0
The point at which it crosses the vertical axis gives
log10 (I0 ) = 0 ⇒ I0 = 100 = 1
Therefore the expression I = I0 10kt becomes
I = 10−11t
Interpretation
The data recorded for the sound intensity fit exponential decaying with time. We have used a
log-linear plot to obtain the approximate function:
I = 10−11t

HELM (2006): 47
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
4. Growth and decay to a limit
Consider a function intended to represent the speed of a parachutist after the opening of the parachute
where v m s−1 is the instantanous speed at time t s. An appropriate function is
v = 12 − 8e−1.25t (t ≥ 0),
We will look at some of the properties and modelling implications of this function. Consider first the
value of v when t = 0:
v = 12 − 8e0 = 12 − 8 = 4
This means the function predicts that the parachutist is moving at 4 m s−1 when the parachute
opens. Consider next the value of v when t is arbitrarily large. For such a value of t, 8e−1.25t would
be arbitrarily small, so v would be very close to the value 12. The modelling interpretation of this is
that eventually the speed becomes very close to a constant value, 12 m s−1 which will be maintained
until the parachutist lands.
The steady speed which is approached by the parachutist (or anything else falling against air resis-
tance) is called the terminal velocity. The parachute, of course, is designed to ensure that the
terminal velocity is sufficiently low (12 m s−1 in the specific case we have looked at here) to give a
reasonably gentle landing and avoid injury.
Now consider what happens as t increases from near zero. When t is near zero, the speed will be
near 4 m s−1 . The amount being subtracted from 12, through the term 8e−1.25t , is close to 8 because
e0 = 1. As t increases the value of 8e−1.25t decreases fairly rapidly at first and then more gradually
until v is very nearly 12. This is sketched in Figure 10. In fact v is never equal to 12 but gets
imperceptibly close as anyone would like as t increases. The value shown as a horizontal broken line
in Figure 10 is called an asymptotic limit for v.

15

10
1
v (m s )

0
3 5
t (s)
0 1 2 4

Figure 10: Graph of a parachutist’s speed against time


The model concerned the approach of a parachutist’s velocity to terminal velocity but the kind of
behaviour portrayed by the resulting function is useful generally in modelling any growth to a limit.
A general form of this type of growth-to-a-limit function is
y = a − be−kx (C ≤ x ≤ D)
where a, b and k are positive constants (parameters) and C and D represent values of the independent
variable between which the function is valid. We will now check on the properties of this general
function. When x = 0, y = a − be0 = a − b. As x increases the exponential factor e−kx gets smaller,
so y will increase from the value a − b but at an ever-decreasing rate. As be−kx becomes very small,

48 HELM (2006):
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y, approaches the value a. This value represents the limit, towards which y grows. If a function of
this general form was being used to create a model of population growth to a limit, then a would
represent the limiting population, and a − b would represent the starting population.
There are three parameters, a, b, and k in the general form. Knowledge of the initial and limiting
population only gives two pieces of information. A value for the population at some non-zero time is
needed also to evaluate the third parameter k.
As an example we will obtain a function to describe a food-limited bacterial culture that has 300
cells when first counted, has 600 cells after 30 minutes but seems to have approached a limit of 4000
cells after 18 hours.
We start by assuming the general form of growth-to-a-limit function for the bacteria population, with
time measured in hours
P = a − be−kt (0 ≤ t ≤ 18).
When t = 0 (the start of counting), P = 300. Since the general form gives P = a − b when t = 0,
this means that
a − b = 300.
The limit of P as t gets large, according to the general form P = a − b−kt , is a, so a = 4000. From
this and the value of a − b, we deduce that b = 3700. Finally, we use the information that P = 600
when t (measuring time in hours) = 0.5. Substitution in the general form gives
600 = 4000 − 3700e−0.5k

3400 = 3700e−0.5k
3400
= e−0.5k
3700
Taking natural logs of both sides:
 
3400 34
ln = −0.5k so k = −2 ln( ) = 0.1691
3700 37
Note, as a check, that k turns out to be positive as required for a growth-to-a-limit behaviour. Finally
the required function may be written
P = 4000 − 3700e−0.1691t (0 ≤ t ≤ 18).
As a check we should substitute t = 18 in this equation. The result is P = 3824 which is close to
the required value of 4000.

HELM (2006): 49
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
Task
Find a function that could be used to model the growth of a population that
has a value of 3000 when counts start, reaches a value of 6000 after 1 year but
approaches a limit of 12000 after a period of 10 years.

(a) First find the modelling equation:


Your solution

Answer
Start with
P = a − be−kt (0 ≤ t ≤ 10).
where P is the number of members of the population at time t years. The given data requires that
a is 12000 and that a − b = 3000, so b = 9000.
The corresponding curve must pass through (t = 1, P = 6000) so
6000 = 12000 − 9000e−k
 t
−k 12000 − 6000 2 −kt −k t 2
e = = so e = (e ) = (using Rule 3b, Table 1, page 42)
9000 3 3
So the population function is
 t
2
P = 12000 − 9000 (0 ≤ t ≤ 10).
3
Note that P (10) according to this formula is approximately 11840, which is reasonably close to the
required value of 12000.

(b) Now sketch this function:

50 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

Your solution

Answer
P

12000
10000

5000

0 t (s)
0 2 4 6 8 10

5. Inverse square law decay

Engineering Example 3

Inverse square law decay of electromagnetic power

Introduction
Engineers are concerned with using and intercepting many kinds of wave forms including electromag-
netic, elastic and acoustic waves. In many situations the intensity of these signals decreases with
the square of the distance. This is known as the inverse square law. The power received from a
beacon antenna is expected to conform to the inverse square law with distance.
Problem in words
Check whether the data in the table below confirms that the measured power obeys this behaviour
with distance.
Power received, W 0.393 0.092 0.042 0.021 0.013 0.008
Distance from antenna, m 1 2 3 4 5 6

HELM (2006): 51
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
Mathematical statement of problem
A
Represent power by P and distance by r. To show that the data fit the function P = where
r2
A is a constant, plot log(P ) against log(r) (or plot the ‘raw’ data on log-log axes) and check

(a) how close the resulting graph is to that of a straight line


(b) how close the slope is to 2.

Mathematical analysis
The values corresponding to log(P ) and log(r) are
log(P ) -0.428 -1.041 -1.399 -1.653 -1.851 -2.012
log(r) 0 0.301 0.499 0.602 0.694 0.778
These are plotted in Figure 11 and it is clear that they lie close to a straight line.

− 0.5

−1
log(P ) − 1.5

−2
−2.5 log(r)
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8

Figure 11
The slope of a line through the first and third points can be found from
−1.399 − (−0.428)
= −2.035
0.499 − 0
The negative value means that the line slopes downwards for increasing r. It would have been possible
to use any pair of points to obtain a suitable line but note that the last point is least ‘in line’ with
A
the others. Taking logarithms of the equation P = n gives log(P ) = log(A) − n log(r)
r
The inverse square law corresponds to n = 2. In this case the data yield n = 2.035 ≈ 2. Where
log(r) = 0, log(P ) = log(A). This means that the intercept of the line with the log(P ) axis gives
the value of log(A) = −0.428. So A = 10 − 0.428 = 0.393.
Interpretation
If the power decreases with distance according to the inverse square law, then the slope of the line
should be −2. The calculated value of n = 2.035 is sufficiently close to confirm the inverse square
law. The values of A and n calculated from the data imply that P varies with r according to
0.4
P =
r2
The slope of the line on a log-log plot is a little larger than −2. Moreover the points at 5 m and 6 m
range fall below the line so there may be additional attenuation of the power with distance compared
with predictions of the inverse square law.

52 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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Exercises
1. Sketch the graphs of (a) y = et (b) y = et + 3 (c) y = e−t (d) y = e−t − 1

2. The figure below shows the graphs of y = et , y = 2et and y = e2t .

16 y e2t
14 2et
12
10
8
et
6
4
2

2 1 0 1 2 t

State in words how the graphs of y = 2et and y = e2t relate to the graph of y = et .

3. The figures below show graphs of y = −e−t , y = 4 − e−t and y = 4 − 3e−t .

y
y y
1 2
−1 0 t 4
4
−1 y = −e−t y = 4 − e−t 2 y = 4 − 3e−t
3
2 −1 0 1 2 t
−2 −2
1
−4
−3
t
−1 0 1 2

Use the above graphs to help you to sketch graphs of (a) y = 5 − e−t (b) y = 5 − 2e−t

4. (a) The graph (a) in the figure below has an equation of the form

y = A + e−kt , where A and k are constants. What is the value of A?


(b) The graph (b) below has an equation of the form y = Aekt where A and k are constants.
What is the value of A?
(c) Write down a possible form of the equation of the exponential graph (c) giving numerical
values to as many constants as possible.
(d) Write down a possible form of the equation of the exponential graph (d) giving numerical
values to as many constants as possible.

HELM (2006): 53
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
y y

2 -------------------------- 5

t t
(a) (b)
y
y

6 --------------------------------
3
2
1 ------------------------------
t t
(c) (d)

Answers

1.
y
et + 3

e−t et
e−t − 1
4
1

1
t
2 1 0 2

2. (a) y = 2et is the same shape as y = et but with all y values doubled.
(b) y = e2t is much steeper than y = et for t > 0 and much flatter for t < 0. Both pass
through (0, 1). Note that y = e2t = (et )2 so each value of y = e2t is the square of the
corresponding value of y = et .
y 5 − et y
6
4
4 − 3 et
2 3
3. (a) t (b) t

4. (a) 2 (b) 5 (c) y = 6 − 4e−kt (d) y = 1 + 2e−kt

54 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
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6. Logarithmic relationships
Experimental psychology is concerned with observing and measuring human response to various
stimuli. In particular, sensations of light, colour, sound, taste, touch and muscular tension are
produced when an external stimulus acts on the associated sense. A nineteenth century German,
Ernst Weber, conducted experiments involving sensations of heat, light and sound and associated
stimuli. Weber measured the response of subjects, in a laboratory setting, to input stimuli measured
in terms of energy or some other physical attribute and discovered that:

(1) No sensation is felt until the stimulus reaches a certain value, known as the threshold value.

(2) After this threshold is reached an increase in stimulus produces an increase in sensation.

(3) This increase in sensation occurs at a diminishing rate as the stimulus is increased.

Task
(a) Do Weber’s results suggest a linear or non-linear relationship between sensa-
tion and stimulus? Sketch a graph of sensation against stimulus according
to Weber’s results.

(b) Consider whether an exponential function or a growth-to-a-limit function


might be an appropriate model.

Answer
(a) Non-linearity is required by observation (3).

10

S 5

0
0 2 4 6 8 10
P

(b) An exponential-type of growth is not appropriate for a model consistent with these experimen-
tal results, since we need a diminishing rate of growth in sensation as the stimulus increases.
A growth-to-a-limit type of function is not appropriate since the data, at least over the range
of Weber’s experiments, do not suggest that there is a limit to the sensation with continuing
increase in stimulus; only that the increase in sensation occurs more and more slowly.

A late nineteenth century German scientist, Gustav Fechner, studied Weber’s results. Fechner sug-
gested that an appropriate function modelling Weber’s findings would be logarithmic. He suggested
that the variation in sensation (S) with the stimulus input (P ) is modelled by

HELM (2006): 55
Section 6.5: Modelling Exercises
S = A log(P/T ) (0 < T ≤ 1)
where T represents the threshold of stimulus input below which there is no sensation and A is a
constant. Note that when P = T, log(P/T ) = log(1) = 0, so this function is consistent with item
(1) of Weber’s results. Recall also that log means logarithm to base 10, so when P = 10T, S =
A log(10) = A. When P = 100T, S = A log(100) = 2A. The logarithmic function predicts that
a tenfold increase in the stimulus input from T to 10T will result in the same change in sensation
as a further tenfold increase in stimulus input to 100T . Each tenfold change is stimulus results in
a doubling of sensation. So, although sensation is predicted to increase with stimulus, the stimulus
has to increase at a faster and faster rate (i.e. exponentially) to achieve a given change in sensation.
These points are consistent with items (2) and (3) of Weber’s findings. Fechner’s suggestion, that
the logarithmic function is an appropriate one for a model of the relationship between sensation and
stimulus, seems reasonable. Note that the logarithmic function suggested by Weber is not defined
for zero stimulus but we are only interested in the model at and above the threshold stimulus, i.e.
for values of the logarithm equal to and above zero. Note also that the logarithmic function is useful
for looking at changes in sensation relative to stimulus values other than the threshold stimulus.
According to Rule 2a in Table 2 on page 42, Fechner’s sensation function may be written
S = A log(P/T ) = A[log(P ) − log(T )] (P ≥ T > 0).
Suppose that the sensation has the value S1 at P1 and S2 at P2 , so that
S1 = A[log(P1 ) − log(T )] (P1 ≥ T > 0),
and
S2 = A[log(P2 ) − log(T )] (P2 ≥ T > 0).
If we subtract the first of these two equations from the second, we get
S2 − S1 = A[log(P2 ) − log(P1 )] = A log(P2 /P1 ),
where Rule 2a of Table 2 has been used again for the last step. According to this form of equation,
the change in sensation between two stimuli values depends on the ratio of the stimuli values.
We start with
S = A log(P/T ) (1 ≥ T > 0).
Divide both sides by A:
S P
= log (1 ≥ T > 0).
A T
‘Undo’ the logarithm on both sides by raising 10 to the power of each side:
P
10S/A = 10log(P/T ) = (1 ≥ T > 0), using Rule 4b of Table 2.
T
So P = T × 10S/A (1 ≥ T > 0) which is an exponential relationship between stimulus and
sensation.
A logarithmic relationship between sensation and stimulus therefore implies an exponential rela-
tionship between stimulus and sensation. The relationship may be written in two different forms with
the variables playing opposite roles in the two functions.
The logarithmic relationship between sensation and stimulus is known as the Weber-Fechner Law of
Sensation. The idea that a mathematical function could describe our sensations was startling when

56 HELM (2006):
Workbook 6: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
®

first propounded. Indeed it may seem quite amazing to you now. Moreover it doesn’t always work.
Nevertheless the idea has been quite fruitful. Out of it has come much quantitative experimental
psychology of interest to sound engineers. For example, it relates to the sensation of the loudness of
sound. Sound level is expressed on a logarithmic scale. At a frequency of 1 kHz an increase of 10
dB corresponds to a doubling of loudness.

Task
x
Given a relationship between y and x of the form y = 3 log( ) (x ≥ 4), find
4
the relationship between x and y.

Your solution

Answer
One way of answering is to compare with the example preceding this task. We have y in place of
S, x in place of P , 3 in place of A, 4 in place of T . So it is possible to wri