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**SOLVING CUBIC EQUATIONS
**

A cubic expression is an expression of the form ax

3

+ bx

2

+cx + d. The following

are all examples of expressions we will be working with:

2x

3

– 16, x

3

– 2x

2

– 3x, x

3

+ 4x

2

– 16, 2x

3

+ x – 3.

Remember that some quadratic expressions can be factorised into two linear

factors:

e.g. 2x

2

– 3x + 1 = (2x – 1)(x – 1)

Now, a cubic expression may be factorised into

(i) a linear factor and a quadratic factor or (ii) three linear factors.

For example, you can easily verify, by multiplying out the right hand side that:

(i) x

3

– 8 = (x – 2)(x

2

+ 2x + 4)

(ii) 4x

3

– 4x

2

– x + 1 = (x – 1)(2x – 1)(2x + 1)

There are three types of factorisation methods we will consider:

• Common factor

• Grouping terms

• Factor theorem

Type 1 - Common factor

In this type there would be no constant term.

Example 1

Solve for x: x

3

+ 5x

2

– 14x = 0

Solution

x(x

2

+ 5x – 14) = 0

\ x(x + 7)(x – 2) = 0

\ x = 0, x = 2, x = –7

Type 2 - Grouping terms

With this type, we must have all four terms of the cubic expression. We then

pair terms with a common factor and see if a common bracket emerges.

Example 2

Solve for x: x

3

+ 2x

2

– 9x – 18 = 0

Solution:

(x

3

+ 2x

2

) – (9x + 18) = 0

\ x

2

(x + 2) – 9(x + 2) = 0

5

LESSON

5

LESSON

Linear Linear Linear Linear Quadratic Quadratic

Quadratic Quadratic Linear Linear

Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear Linear

Example

Example

Solution

Solution

Example

Example

Solution

Solution

Lesson 1 | Algebra

Page 1

2009

Page 81

\ (x + 2)(x

2

– 9) = 0

\ (x + 2)(x – 3)(x + 3) = 0

\ x = –2, x = 3, x = –3

Type 3 - Using the factor theorem

N.B. If (x – a) is a factor of the cubic expression, then f(a) = 0.

So, we substitute in values of x = ±1, ±2 … etc until we find a value which makes

the expression equal to 0.

Example 3

Solve for x: x

3

– 5x + 2 = 0

Solution

Try x = 1: 1

3

– 5(1) + 2 = –2

Try x = –1: (–1)

3

– 5(–1) + 2 = 6

Try x = 2: 2

3

– 5(2) + 2 = 0 \ (x – 2) is a factor

\ (x – 2)(quadratic) = x

3

– 5x + 2

(x – 2)(x

2

+ kx – 1) = x

3

– 5x + 2 by inspection.

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS: –5x = –x – 2kx

\ –5 = –1 – 2k

\ k = 2

\ x

3

– 5x + 2 = (x – 2)(x

2

+ 2x – 1) = 0

x = 2 or x = –1 ±

√

_

2 (using the quadratic formula)

Example 4

Solve for x: 2x

3

– 3x

2

– 8x – 3 = 0

Solution

Try x = 1: 2(1)

3

– 3(1)

2

– 8(1) – 3 = –12

Try x = –1: 2(–1)

3

– 3(1)

2

– 8(–1) – 3 = 0 \ (x + 1) is a factor

\ (x + 1)(2x

2

+ kx – 3) = 2x

3

– 3x

2

– 8x – 3

Compare x

2

terms on both sides:

(N.B. It does not matter whether you compare x

2

or x terms)

–3x

2

= 2x

2

+ kx

2

\ –3 = 2 + k

\ k = –5

\ (x + 1)(2x

2

– 5x – 3) = 2x

3

– 3x

2

– 8x – 3 = 0

∴ (x + 1)(2x + 1)(x – 3) = 0

\ x = –1, x = –

1

_

2

, x = 3

Example

Example

Solution

Solution

Alternatively, you can

use long division to get

the factors of x

3

– 5x + 2

Alternatively, you can

use long division to get

the factors of x

3

– 5x + 2

Example

Example

Solution

Solution

Page 82 Page 82

Activity 1

Solve for x:

1. 2x

3

– x

2

– x = 0

2. x

3

– x = 0

3.

2

_

3

x

3

– 18 = 0

4. x

3

+ 3x

2

– 4x – 12 = 0

5. x

3

– 3x – 2 = 0

6. 2x

3

+ 5x

2

– 14x – 8 = 0

7. x

3

+ 7x

2

– 36 = 0

Activity

Activity

Lesson 1 | Algebra

Page 1

2009

Page 83

8. 4x

3

+ 12x

2

+ 9x + 2 = 0

9. x

3

− 2x

2

− 4x + 3 = 0

Activity 2

1. Given that: f(x) = 6x

3

– 37x

2

+ 5x + 6 and f(6) = 0, solve for x, if f(x) = 0

2. Solve for x and y if:

y = x

3

+ 9x

2

+ 26x + 16 and y – 3x = 1

3. In the diagram: f(x) = x

3

and g(x) = –3x

2

+ x + 3

x

y

A

B

g

ƒ

Activity

Activity

Page 84 Page 84

Determine the coordinates of A and B, the points of intersection of f and g.

4. In the diagram: f(x) = x

2

– 7 and g(x) =

6

_

x

y

x

f

g

Make use of the diagram, and a cubic equation, to solve the inequality:

6

_

x

³ x

2

– 7

Solutions to Activities

Activity 1

1. 2x

3

− x

2

− x = 0

\ x(2x

2

− x − 1) = 0

\ x(2x +1)(x − 1) = 0

\ x = 0 or x = –

1

_

2

or x = 1

2. x

3

− x = 0

\ x(x

2

−1) = 0

\ x(x − 1)(x +1) = 0

\ x = 0 or x = ±1

Lesson 1 | Algebra

Page 1

2009

Page 85

3.

2

_

3

x

3

− 18 = 0

\ 2x

3

− 54 = 0

\ 2x

3

= 54

\ x

3

= 27

\ x = 7

4. x = 2 is a solution since 2

3

+ 3(2)

2

− 4(2) − 12 = 0

\ (x − 2)(x

2

+ kx + 6) = x

3

+3x

2

− 4x − 12

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS:

−2kx + 6x = −4x

\ -2k + 6 = −4

\ -2k = −10

\ k = 5

\ x3 + 3x2 − 4x − 12 = (x − 2)(x

2

+ 5x + 6)

\ (x − 2)(x + 3)(x + 2) = 0

\ x = –3 or x = ±2

5. x = −1 is a solution since (−1)

3

− 3(−1) − 2 = 0

\ (x + 1)(x

2

+ kx − 2) = x

3

− 3x − 2

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS:

−2x + kx = −3x

\ −2 + k = −3

\ k = −1

\ (x + 1)(x

2

+ x − 2) = x

3

− 3x − 2

\ (x + 1)(x − 2)(x + 1) = 0

\ x = –1 or x = 2

6. x = 2 is a solution since 2(2)

3

+ 5(2)

2

− 14(2) − 8 = 0

\ (x − 2)(2x

2

+ kx + 4) = 2x

3

+ 5x

2

− 14x − 8

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS:

−2kx + 4x = −14x

\ −2k + 4 = −14

\ −2k = −18

\ k = 9

\ (x − 2)(2x

2

+ 9x + 4) = 2x

3

+ 5x

2

− 14x − 8

\ (x − 2)(2x + 1)(x + 4) = 0

\ x = 2 or x = –

1

_

2

or x = –4

Page 86 Page 86

7. x = 2 is a solution since (2)

3

+ 7(2)

2

− 36 = 0

\ (x − 2)(x

2

+ kx + 18) = x

3

+ 7x

2

− 36

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS:

−2kx + 18x = 0x

\ −2k + 18 = 0

\ −2k = −18

\ k = 9

\ (x − 2)(x

2

+ 9x + 18) = x

3

+ 7x

2

− 36

\ (x − 2)(x + 3)(x + 6) = 0

\x = –2 or x = –3 or x = –6

8. x = –2 is a solution since 4(–2)

3

+ 12(–2)

2

+ 9(–2) + 2 = 0

\ (x + 2)(4x

2

+ kx + 1) = 4x

3

+ 12x

2

+ 9x + 2

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS:

x + 2kx = 9x

\ 1 + 2k = 9

\ 2k = 8

\ k = 4

\ (x + 2)(4x

2

+ 4x + 1) = 4x

3

+ 12x

2

+ 9x + 2

\ (x + 2)(2x + 1)(2x + 1) = 0

\ x = –

1

_

2

or x = –2

9. x = 3 is a solution since (3)

3

+ 2(3)

2

− 4(3) + 3 = 0

\ (x − 3)(x

2

+ kx − 1) = x

3

+ 2x

2

− 4x + 3

Compare x terms on LHS and RHS:

−3kx − x = −4x

\ −3k − 1 = −4

\ −3k = −3

\ k = 1

\ (x − 3)(x

2

+ x − 1) = x

3

+ 2x

2

− 4x + 3

\ x − 3 = 0 or x2 + x − 1 = 0

\ x = 3 x =

−1 ± √

________

1 − 4(1)(−1)

__

2(1)

x =

−1 ±

√

_

5

_

2

Activity 2

1. f(6) = 0

\ (x − 6) is a factor of f(x)

\ f(x) = (x − 6)(6x

2

− x − 1)

\ f(x) = (x − 6)(3x + 1)(2x − 1)

\ If f(x) = 0, then

\ x = 6 or x = –

1

_

3

or x =

1

_

2

Lesson 1 | Algebra

Page 1

2009

Page 87

2. x

3

+ 9x

2

+ 26x + 16 = 3x + 1

\ x

3

+ 9x

2

+ 23x + 15 = 0

x = −1 is a solution since (−1)3 + 9(−1)2 + 23(−1) + 15 = 0

\ (x + 1)(x2 + 8x + 15) = 0

\ (x + 1)(x + 5)(x + 3) = 0

\ x = −1 or x = −5 or x = −3

3. For co-ordinates of A and B, we have

\ x

3

= -3x

2

+ x + 3

\ x

3

+ 3x

2

– x – 3 = 0

\ x

2

(x + 3) – (x + 3) = 0

\ (x + 3)(x

2

– 1) = 0

\ x = ±1 or x = –3

4. First, we must find the points of intersection. Therefore:

x

2

– 7 =

6

_

x

\ x

3

– 7x = 6

\ x

3

– 7x – 6 = 0

Now, x = –1 is a solution since (–1)

3

–7(–1) – 6 = 0

\ (x + 1)(x

2

– x – 6) = 0

\ (x + 1)(x + 2)(x – 3) = 0

\ x = –1 or x = –2 or x = 3

\ Reading solution to

6

_

x

³ x

2

– 7 from graph, we get

0 < x £ 3 or –2 £ x £ –1

y

x

f

g

y

x

f

g

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