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Quadratic Equations, Cubic and Higher Order Equations

Quadratic Equations

 Quadratic equations are those equations which can be written in the form
f(x)=0 where f(x) is a second degree polynomial
 General form of a Quadratic equation is:
ax2+bx+c=0 (a is not equal to 0); and solving for x gives

 The term b2-4ac is called the Discriminant, and is denoted usually by the symbol ∆ or the letter
 If D>0, the equation has real and unequal roots,
if D=0, the equation has real and equal roots (also called real repeated roots),
and if D<0, the equation has unreal roots, occurring as conjugate pairs. That is if one root is of
the form u+iv, the other root would be u-iv.
 If α and β are roots of a Quadratic equation, then
o The equation can be written as : a(x-α)(x-β)=0
o The equation could also be written as x-(α+β)+αβ=0
 A Quadratic equation could be solved by factorization, or by using the direct formula written
 A pictorial representation of the equation is as follows :
 When D=0, the graph just touches the x axis, and when D<0, the graph does not intersect the x
axis at all.
 When a>0, the graph opens upwards, and when a<0, the graph opens downwards.
 Here are a few more figures.
 Certain equations are not quadratic, but can be reduced to a quadratic form by certain
substitutions. In such cases, applying the right form of substitution yields the required solutions.
Example :

o ax4+bx2+c=0; substitute x2=y, to form a quadratic equation in y.

o 3x+√x-2=0; substitute √x=y to form a quadratic equation in y.
o x+√(x-4)=4; transport x to RHS and then square both sides to get a quadratic equation.
 Remember, when using substitutions, be sure that you solve for the original variable, and that
the solution does not violate any constraints. For instance, if you have √(x-1) in the original
equation, then x has to be greater than 1, as square root cannot be negative.
 Also, if you have a step like:
then, instead of just dividing both sides by (x-z), you write x=z as one of the solutions.

Cubic Equations

 A cubic equation is of the form f(x)=0, where f(x) is a degree 3 polynomial.

 The general form of a cubic equation is ax3+bx2+cx+d=0, where a is not equal to 0
 If α, β, γ are roots of the equation, then equation could be written as
a(x-α)(x-β)(x-γ)=0, or also as
 Thus, we have
 A quadratic equation may have all repeated real roots, two repeated and one distinct real root,
one distinct real and two conjugate unreal roots, all distinct real roots.

Higher Order Equations

 Equations of the type f(x)=0 where degree of f(x) is greater than 3 are generally termed as
Higher Order equations. (Right now, we are talking about degree being an integer)
 The number of roots of an equation with real coefficients is equal to the degree of f(x)
 The way to solve a higher order equation is by factorization, or by using the factor theorem, or
by reducing it to one of the lower order equations.
 The factor theorem is:
(x-a) is a factor of f(x) if f(a)=0.
 The relationship between the coefficients and the roots can be explained by an example.
Consider a fifth degree equation:
ax5+bx4+cx3+dx2+ex+f=0. Then
Sum of roots = -b/a
Sum of pairwise products of roots=c/a
Sum of products of roots taken three at a time = -d/a
Sum of products of roots taken four at a time = e/a
Product of roots=-f/a
 In general, for a n degree polynomial equation in variable x, sum of products of roots taken m at
a time is
(-1)m.Coefficient of xn-m/Coefficient of xn
Question 1) Solve x2-5x+6=0
Solution) By Quadratic Formula,

Or, x=2,3.
(Note, this question could be easily solved by middle term splitting. In the method of middle
term splitting, we split “b” and “c” into m and n such that m+n = b and mn=ac. Then we write b
and c in terms of m and n and factorize.
Example, here, 1X6=6 and -5 could be written as -2X-3 and -2-3 respectively.)

Question 2) Solve 27x2-10x+1=0

Solution) Use the quadratic formula to get

Question 3) Solve x2+4ix-4=0

Solution) Going by quadratic formula,

2i,-2i (repeated root)

Question 4) Solve x2-(7-i)x+(18-i)=0.

Solution) Use the quadratic formula,

Question 5) Write an equation whose roots are 13,89.
Solution) Sum of roots = 13+89=102
Product of roots=13X89=267
So, the equation is

Question 6) If α,β are roots of ax2+bx+c=0, find the value of 1/α+1/β; α2+β2
Solution) α+β=-b/a

Now, 1/α+1/β=( α+β)/ αβ=-b/c

Again, α2+β2=( α+β)2-2αβ=(b2-2ac)/a2

(NOTE: the trick in such questions is to reduce everything in terms of sum and product of roots
using algebraic identities)

Question 7) If α,β are roots of x2-a(x+1)-c=0, find the value of (1+α)(1+β)

Solution) Writing the equation in standard form, we get:
Comparing with the standard form Ax2+Bx+C=0, A=1,B=-a,C=-a-c
Now, (1+α)(1+β)=1+α+β+αβ.

Question 8) If α,β are roots of ax2+bx+c=0, write the equation whose roots are 1/α4 and -1/β4.
Solution) Sum of the roots of required equation=

Now, α-β=

Product of roots=

We get two values of sum, and one value of product. So, correspondingly, there are two
equations with the required values as roots.
The equations are:

Question 9) If 3+√5 is a root of x2+bx+c=0, find the values of b and c, given that b and c are real.
Solution) Since co-efficients are real, the roots must occur in conjugate pairs. Hence, 3-√5 is the
other root.
Sum of roots = 6.
Product of roots = 4 (Use a2-b2)
So, b=-6 and c=4

Question 10) Solve

√ √ √ √

Solution) Identify that :

Since, √ is never negative, x=2 is the only solution.

Question 11) The equation x2-kx+k+2=0 will have equal roots for what value(s) of k?
Solution) Discriminant=0 for equal roots.

Question 12) Solve the equation | | | | . Also, what is the sum of roots.
2 2
Solution) Observe that |x | = |x| . Let |x| be y. Note that y can only be positive.
So, we get y2+y-6=0. Solving, we get (y+3)(y-2)=0. Or, y=2,-3.
But y cannot be negative.
Thus, y=2. Or |x|=2. This gives, x=2,-2. Thus the sum of roots is 0.

Question 13) Find the number of real roots of the equation (x2+2x)2-(x+1)2-55=0.
Solution) Observe that this is a biquadratic equation. So the maximum number of real roots can
be four. To figure this problem out, one way is to simply expand the terms and then proceed.
But that would prove to be cumbersome. Try reducing the equation to simpler form.
(x2+2x)2-(x+1)2-55=0 can be written as
Or, ((x+1)2-1)2-(x+1)2-55=0
Or, (x+1)2.2+1-2(x+1)2-(x+1)2-55=0
Let (x+1)2 be y. Then, the equation becomes
y2-3y-54=0 (Observe that y can only be positive, for Real solution of x)
y=9,-6. Discarding ‘-6’, we have
(x+1)2=9, giving
(x+1)=±3, so clearly there are 2 real roots of the given equation.

Question 14)Find the number of solutions of x2+|x-1|=1

Solution) Removing the mod sign, we get two equations:
x2+x-1=1 (x>=1) and x2-x+1=1(x<=1)
Or, x2+x-2=0 (x>=1) and x2-x=0(x<=1)
Or, x=1,-2 and x=0,1. (reject x=-2 because the constraint is x>=1)
Thus, we have three solutions, all real. Roots are 1,1,0. So, distinct roots are 2.

Question 15) Find the range of k for which x is real.

Solution) If x is real, then the equation must have D>=0.

Also, observe that the denominator is never 0 for real x, which should be the case,
thus k has well defined values.
Solving the discriminant, we get

( )
Question 16)Find the value of λ such that x2+2x+3λ=0 and 2x2+3x+5λ=0 have a non zero
common root.
Solution) Let the common root be α. Then we have:
α 2+2α +3λ=0 and 2α 2+3α +5λ=0. Solving, we get
α=- λ and α 2= λ
Thus, λ= λ2, giving λ=0 or 1. If λ is 0, then we have a common root with value 0, thus, for a non
zero common root λ is 1.

Question 17) The number of roots of equation

Solution) Clearly, x cannot be 3, -6 or -4. Thus, upon solving, we will reject these values of x as
solutions, if they occur as solution.
Cross multiply and simplify to get:

Question 18) If α,β are roots of x2+px+1=0 and γ,δ are the roots of x2+qx+1=0, evaluate:
Solution) Observe that:
Expand (α-γ)(α+δ)(β-γ)(β+δ) and use the above equations to solve.
= (α2+(δ-γ)α-γδ)( β2+(δ-γ)β-γδ)
=( α2±√(q2-4) α-1)(β2±√(q2-4)β-1)
=((-p±√(q2-4))α-2)( (-p±√(q2-4))β-2)
=4-2p2±2p√(q2-4)+p2+q2-4 2p√(q2-4)

Question 19) The real numbers x1, x2, x3 satisfying the equation x3 -x2 + bx + c =0 are in AP. Find
the intervals in which b and c lie.
Solution) Let x1=a-d, x2=a, x3=a+d.(As they are in AP)
x1+x2+x3=3a=1 (relation between co-efficients and roots)
thus, a=1/3.
Now, b=(a-d)a+a(a+d)+(a+d)(a-d)
So, b=1/3-d2
Or, d2=1/3-b. As d is real (since x1,x2, x3 are real), we have d2>=0
Thus, b<=1/3

Again, d2>=0
Thus, c>=1/27.

Question 20) Find the equation whose roots are cube of the roots of the equation
Solution)Trick:to get any equation with all roots in some relation to the original equation,
substitute exactly the relation. In this case, we want an equation such that roots are cube of
original equation’s roots’. Thus, y=x3 or x= √ . This is the relation, and the solution is obtained
by replacing x with √ .
√ √
Now, simplify to remove fractional powers.
( √ √ )

( √ √ )
( )