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Rational Expressions

A rational expression is the quotient of two polynomials. Some examples of rational expressions are:

x3 , 2 x 2x

5 x , x2 7

Excluding Values from Rational Expressions If a variable in a rational expression is replaced by a number that causes the denominator to 0, that number is excluded as a replacement for the variable. The rational expression is undefined at any value that produces a denominator of 0.

Danger: Beware of 0s in Denominators

RememberA rational expression is undefined for all values that make the denominator 0.

x 3 Find all numbers for which is undefined. 2x 5 2x 5 0 2x 5 x 5 2. 5 2

Set the denominator equal to 0. Add 5 to both sides. Divide both sides by 2.

EXAMPLE

x3 Find all numbers for which 2 is undefined. x 2x x2 2x 0 x ( x 2) 0 x 0 or x 2 0 x 0, x 2 The expression is undefined for x 0 and x - 2.

Set the denominator equal to 0. Factor.

EXAMPLE

f x

SOLUTION

3x . 2 x 13x 36

The domain of f is the set of all real numbers except those for which the denominator is zero. We can identify such numbers by setting the denominator equal to zero and solving for x.

x 2 13x 36 0

Factor.

x 4x 9 0

CONTINUED

x4 0 x4

or

x 9 0 x9

Because 4 and 9 make the denominator zero, these are the values to exclude. Thus,

Rational Expressions

Asymptotes

Vertical Asymptotes Horizontal Asymptotes A vertical line that the graph of a function approaches, but does not touch. A horizontal line that the graph of a function approaches as x gets very large or very small. The graph of a function may touch/cross its horizontal asymptote.

1) Factor the numerator and the denominator completely. 2) Divide both the numerator and the denominator by any common factors.

1. Factor the numerator and denominator. 2. Divide both the numerator and denominator by any common factors.

EXAMPLE

x 2x - 24 Simplify : 2x - 8 ( x 4)(x 6) Factor the numerator and denominator. 2( x 4) ( x 4)(x 6) Divide both the numerator and denominator by the common factor, x-4. 2( x 4) x6 2

2

Simplifying Rational Expressions with Opposite Factors in the Numerator and Denominator The quotient of two polynomials that have opposite signs and are additive inverses is -1.

a b 1 ba

You may cancel factors that are negatives of each other, but remember that you get a quotient of -1 when you do this.

EXAMPLE

x-2 The numerator and denominator are Simplify : opposites, or additive inverses. They differ only in their signs. 2-x 1(2 x) Factor the numerator and denominator. (2 x) 1(2 x) Divide both the numerator and denominator by the common factor, 2-x. (2 x) 1

EXAMPLE

Simplify:

SOLUTION

x 1 . 2 x 2x 3

x 1 1 x 1 x 2 2 x 3 x 3x 1 1 x 1 x 3x 1

Factor the numerator and denominator. Divide out the common factor, x + 1. Simplify.

1 x 3

EXAMPLE

2 x 7 x 12 Simplify: . 2 9 x

SOLUTION

x 2 7 x 12 x 3 x 4 2 3 x 3 x 9 x

x 3 x 4 3 x 1 3 x

x 3x 4 3 x 1x 3

CONTINUED

x 3x 4 3 x 1x 3

x 4 3 x 1

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