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Functions versus Relations (page 1 of 2

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Sections: Functions versus relations, Domain and range There are different ways of looking at functions. We will consider a few. But first, we need to discuss some terminology. A "relation" is just a relationship between sets of information. Think of all the people in one of your classes, and think of their heights. The pairing of names and heights is a relation. In relations and functions, the pairs of names and heights are "ordered", which means one comes first and the other comes second. To put it another way, we could set up this pairing so that either you give me a name, and then I give you that person's height, or else you give me a height, and I give you the names of all the people who are that tall. The set of all the starting points is called "the domain" and the set of all the ending points is called "the range." The domain is what you start with; the range is what you end up with. The domain is the x's; the range is the y's. (I'll explain more on the subject of determining domains and ranges later.) A function is a "well-behaved" relation. Just as with members of your own family, some members of the family of pairing relationships are better behaved than other. (Warning: This means that, while all functions are relations, since they pair information, not all relations are functions. Functions are a subclassification of relations.) When we say that a function is "a well-behaved relation", we mean that, given a starting point, we know exactly where to go; given an x, we get only and exactly one y. Let's return to our relation of your classmates and their heights, and let's suppose that the domain is the set of everybody's heights. Let's suppose that there's a pizza-delivery guy waiting in the hallway. And all the delivery guy knows is that the pizza is for the student in your classroom who is five-footfive. Now let the guy in. Who does he go to? What if nobody is five-foot-five? What if there are six people in the room that are five-five? Do they all have to pay? What if you are five-foot-five? And what if you're out of cash? And allergic to anchovies? Are you still on the hook? Ack! What a mess! The relation "height indicates name" is not well-behaved. It is not a function. Given the relationship ( x, y) = (five-foot-five person, name), there might be six different possibilities for y = "name". For a relation to be a function, there must be only and exactly one y that corresponds to a given x. Here are some pictures of this: Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 1999-2011 All Rights Reserved

This is a function. You can tell by tracing from each x to each y. There is only one y for each x; there is only one arrow coming from each x.

Ha! Bet I fooled some of you on this one! This is a function! There is only one arrow coming from each x; there is only one y for each x. It just so happens that it's always the same y for each x, but it is only that one y. So this is a function; it's just an extremely boring function!

This one is not a function: there are two arrows coming from the number 1; the number 1 is associated with two different range elements. So this is a relation, but it is not a function.

Okay, this one's a trick question. Each element of the domain that has a pair in the range is nicely well-behaved. But what about that 16? It is in the domain, but it has no range element that corresponds to it! This won't work! So then this is not a function. Heck, it ain't even a relation!

Now YOU try!

The "Vertical Line Test"
Looking at this function stuff graphically, what if we had the relation that consists of a set containing just two points: {(2, 3), (2, –2)}? We already know that this is not a function, since x = 2 goes to each of y = 3 and y = –2.

If we graph this relation, it looks like:

Notice that you can draw a vertical line through the two points, like this:

This characteristic of non-functions was noticed by I-don't-know-who, and was codified in "The Vertical Line Test": Given the graph of a relation, if you can draw a vertical line that crosses the graph in more than one place, then the relation is not a function. Here are a couple examples:

This graph shows a function, because there is no vertical line that will cross this graph twice.

This graph does not show a function, because any number of vertical lines will intersect this oval twice. For instance, the y-axis intersects (crosses) the line twice. Now YOU try!

"Is it a function?" - Quick answer without the graph
Think of all the graphing that you've done so far. The simplest method is to solve for "y =", make a Tchart, pick some values for x, solve for the corresponding values of y, plot your points, and connect the dots, yadda, yadda, yadda. Not only is this useful for graphing, but this methodology gives yet another way of identifying functions: If you can solve for "y =", then it's a function. In other words, if you can enter it into your graphing calculator, then it's a function. The calculator can only handle functions. For example, 2y + 3x = 6 is a function, because you can solve for y:

2y + 3x = 6 2y = –3x + 6 y = (–3/2)x + 3
On the other hand, y
2

+ 3x = 6 is not a function, because you can not solve for a unique y:

I mean, yes, this is solved for "y =", but it's not unique. Do you take the positive square root, or the negative? Besides, where's the "±" key on your graphing calculator? So, in this case, the relation is not a function. (You can also check this by using our first definition from above. Think of " x = –1". 2 2 Then we get y – 3 = 6, so y = 9, and then y can be either –3 or +3. That is, if we did an arrow chart, there would be two arrows coming from x = –1.)

Functions: Domain and Range (page 2 of 2)
Sections: Functions versus relations, Domain and range

Let's return to the subject of domains and ranges. When functions are first introduced, you will probably have some simplistic "functions" and relations to deal with, being just sets of points. These won't be terribly useful or interesting functions and relations, but your text wants you to get the idea of what the domain and range of a function are. For instance:  State the domain and range of the following relation. Is the relation a function?

{(2, –3), (4, 6), (3, –1), (6, 6), (2, 3)}

There is one other case for finding the domain and range of functions. They will give you a function and ask you to find the domain (and maybe the range. –1. So the only values that x can not take on are those which would cause division by zero. Note that all I had to do to check whether the relation was a function was to look for duplicate x-values.) While the given set does represent a relation (because x's and y's are being related to each other). so you can list the numbers in any order you feel like. To give the domain and the range. Since x = 2 gives me two possible destinations. 3. too). then this relation is not a function. 5). (0. 5). 1. 2} Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 1999-2011 All Rights Reserved {5} This is another example of a "boring" function. 6} {–3. (2. 6} (It is customary to list these values in numerical order. they gave me two points with the same x-value: (2. Sets are called "unordered lists". repetitions are okay in sets. I just list the values without duplication: domain: range: {2. (1. x2 – x – 2 = 0 (x – 2)(x + 1) = 0 x = 2 or x = –1 Then the domain is "all x not equal to –1 or 2". In point of fact. –1. this relation is indeed a function.  Determine the domain and range of the given function: The domain is all the values that x is allowed to take on.The above list of points. while boring. then the different y-values mean that you do not have a function. –3) and (2. 5). But each x-value is different. 3. 3). 4. these points lie on the horizontal line y = 5. (–2. So I'll set the denominator equal to zero and solve. (–1. so. If you find a duplicate x-value. I have only ever seen (or can even think of) two things at this stage in your mathematical career that you'll have to check in order to determine the domain of the function they'll give you. The domain is all the x-values. 0. is a relation. but it is not required. 5). –2. but most instructors would count off for this. Just don't duplicate: technically. 5)} I'll just list the x-values for the domain and the y-values for the range: domain: range: {–3. 5). and the range is all the y-values. The only problem I have with this function is that I need to be careful not to divide by zero. my domain will be everything else. being a relationship between certain x's and certain y's.  State the domain and range of the following relation. just like the example on the previous page: every last x-value goes to the exact same y-value. . and those two things are denominators and square roots. Is the relation a function? {(–3.

Then the range is "y < 0". The result will be my domain: –2x + 3 > 0 –2x > –3 2x < 3 x < 3/2 = 1.The range is a bit trickier.  Determine the domain and range of the given function: y = –x4 + 4 . from my experience with graphing. So I'll set the insides greater-than-or-equal-to zero. I can go as low as I like (by picking an x that is sufficiently big). The only problem I have with this function is that I cannot have a negative inside the square root. Also. the graph "covers" all y-values (that is. While the graph goes down very slowly.5 Then the domain is "all x < 3/2". the graph will go as low as I like. and will also go as high as I like). In general. which is why they may not ask for it. though. they'll want you to graph the function and find the range from the picture. I know that. I need to be careful when graphing radicals: The graph starts at y = 0 and goes down from there. and solve. eventually. then the range is "all real numbers". I know that the graph will never start coming back up. In this case: As I can see from my picture.  Determine the domain and range of the given function: The domain is all values that x can take on. Since the graph will eventually cover all possible values of y. The range requires a graph.

Then: The range is "all y < 4". The range will vary from polynomial to polynomial. and they probably won't even ask.This is just a garden-variety polynomial. I look at the picture: The graph goes only as high as y = 4. the answer is always that the domain is "all x". but when they do. When I have a polynomial. but it will go as low as I like. . There are no denominators (so no division-by-zero problems) and no radicals (so no square-root-of-a-negative problems). There are no problems with a polynomial. There are no values that I can't plug in for x.

my solution looks like this: Then. not just the square root. How would my solution look in the Quadratic Formula? Using a = 1. or I can guarantee that you will 2 forget to "put them back" on your test.The Quadratic Formula Explained (page 1 of 3) Often. Trust me on this! Here are some examples of how the Quadratic Formula works:  Solve x2 + 3x – 4 = 0 This quadratic happens to factor: x2 + 3x – 4 = (x + 4)(x – 1) = 0 . the value of x is given by: For the Quadratic Formula to work. Make sure that you are careful not to drop the square root or the "plus/minus" in the middle of your calculations. as expected. The Quadratic Formula uses the "a". and you'll mess yourself up. "b". don't be sloppy and don't try to take shortcuts. The Formula is derived from the process of completing the square. the Quadratic Formula can always find the solution.. or it doesn't factor at all. the "2a" in the denominator of the Formula is underneath everything above. Also. the solution is x = –4. because the square of a negative is a positive.. But sometimes the quadratic is too messy. and c = –4. In other words. While factoring may not always be successful. "b".so I already know that the solutions are x = –4 and x = 1. . x = 1. Remember that "b " means "the 2 square of ALL of b. including its sign". you must have your equation arranged in the form "(quadratic) = 0". and is formally stated as: 2 2 2 For ax + bx + c = 0. the simplest way to solve "ax + bx + c = 0" for the value of x is to factor the quadratic. b = 3. they are the "numerical coefficients". or you just don't feel like factoring. and "c" from "ax + bx + c". And it's a "2a" under there. set each factor equal to zero. because it will only hurt you in the long run. so don't leave b being negative. and "c" are just numbers. not just a plain "2". where "a". even if b is negative. and then solve each factor.

and you are told to plug zero in for y. Note. There are no factors of (2)(–3) = –6 that add up to –4.58. so I know that this quadratic cannot be factored. rounded to two decimal places. The corresponding x2 values are the x-intercepts of the graph. and c = –3: Then the answer is x = –0. that the calculator's display of the graph will probably have some pixel-related roundoff error. Graphing.58. x = 2. b = –4. crossing the x-axis at x = –4 and x = 1. 2 that you are trying to find x-intercepts. I will apply the Quadratic Formula. Since there were two solutions for x + 3x – 4 = 0. among other things.Suppose you have ax + bx + c = y. In this case. so you'd be checking to see that the computed and graphed values were reasonably close. This shows the connection between graphing and solving: When you are solving "(quadratic) = 0". . however. a = 2. if necessary. So solving ax + bx + c = 0 for x means. you are finding the x-intercepts of the graph. and then use your graphing calculator to make sure that the displayed x-intercepts have the same decimal values as do the solutions provided by the Quadratic Formula. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2000-2011 All Rights Reserved  Solve 2x 2 – 4x – 3 = 0. This can be useful if you have a graphing calculator. the x-intercepts match the solutions. because you can use the Quadratic Formula (when necessary) to solve a quadratic. we get the curve below: 2 As you can see. Round your answer to two decimal places. there must then be two x-intercepts on the graph. don't expect an exact match.

and keeping the sign). Simplify the right-hand side. Take half of the coefficient on the x-term (that is. Add this squares value to both sides of the equation. Square-root both sides.. then you have to stop at this step. Compare the solutions of 2x intercepts of the graph: 2 – 4x – 3 = 0 with the x- Remember: The "solutions" of an equation are also the xintercepts of the corresponding graph. In the example above. the exact form is the one with the square roots of ten in it. Note: If you don't know about complex numbers yet. always go with the exact form. Convert the left-hand side to squared form. Move the loose number over to the other side. x2 + 6x + 10 = 0 x2 + 6x = – 10 (x + 3)2 = –1 Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2000-2011 All Rights Reserved "±" x = –3 ± i . You'll need to get a calculator approximation in order to graph the x-intercepts or to simplify the final answer in a word problem. because a square can't equal a negative number! Otherwise. divide it by two.Warning: The "solution" or "roots" or "zeroes" of a quadratic are usually required to be in the "exact" form of the answer. Apply the same procedure as on the previous page: This is the original equation. and square it. proceed. But unless you have a good reason to think that the answer is supposed to be a rounded answer.. Completing the Square: Quadratic Examples & Deriving the Quadratic Formula (page 2 of 2)  Solve x 2 + 6x + 10 = 0. Solve for "x =". Remember to put the on the right-hand side. and simplify as necessary.

As you can see below. If you come up with a real value on the right-hand side of the equation (a zero value is real. If you do know about complexes. if you get plus/minus of zero on the right side). so this question is really asking you to "Solve 4x – 2x – 5 = 0". it stands to reason that this quadratic should not intersect the x-axis (since xintercepts are "real" numbers). the graph does not in fact cross the x-axis. then you would say that the above quadratic has "no solution". An example would be: (x – 4)2 = 5 x – 4 = ± sqrt(5) x = 4 ± sqrt(5) x = 4 – sqrt(5) and x = 4 + sqrt(5) Unfortunately. remember that finding the x-intercepts means setting y equal to zero and solving for 2 the x-values. For your average everyday quadratic. Since solving "(quadratic) = 0" for x is the same as finding the x-intercepts (assuming the solutions are real numbers).If you don't yet know about complex numbers (the numbers with "i" in them). This relationship is always true. then the quadratic will not cross the x-axis. by the way. Completing the Square: Solving Quadratic Equations (page 1 of 2) Some quadratics are fairly simple to solve because they are of the form "something-with-x squared equals some number". First off. most quadratics don't come neatly squared like this. then you would say that this quadratic has "no real solution" or that is has a "complex solution". . you first have to use the technique of "completing the square" to rearrange the quadratic into the neat "(squared part) equals (a number)" format demonstrated above. and then you take the square root of both sides. if you get a negative on the right-hand side. For example:  Find the x-intercepts of y = 4x2 – 2x – 5. then the quadratic will have two x-intercepts (or only one. the square root of zero is just zero).

remembering the "±" on the right-hand side. Remember that the "±" means that you have two values for x. Add this square to both sides of the equation. you won't have the answers in the back. don't be sloppy and wait to do the plus/minus sign until the very end. But (warning!) in most other cases.) Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 1999-2009 All Rights Reserved . On the same note. (This is where you use that sign that you kept track of earlier. make sure that you are careful with the sign on the x-term when you multiply by one-half. Besides. Do the same procedure as above. Don't wait until the answer in the back of the book "reminds" you that you "meant" to put the square root symbol in there. (Study tip: Always working these problems in exactly the same way will help you remember the steps when you're taking your tests. complete with all the square roots. as necessary. and simplify the right-hand side. If you lose that sign.This is the original problem. Solve for "x =". Move the loose number over to the other side. When you complete the square. because you'll forget what goes inside the parentheses. The answer can also be written in rounded form as 4x2 – 2x – 5 = 0 4x2 – 2x = 5 You will need rounded form for "real life" answers to word problems. and square it. you should assume that the answer should be in "exact" form. when you square root both sides. Simplify as necessary. and for graphing. On your tests. Also. you'll only hurt yourself!  Solve x 2 + 6x – 7 = 0 by completing the square. in exactly the same order. You plug it into the middle of the parenthetical part. you can get the wrong answer in the end. Convert the left-hand side to squared form. Take half of the coefficient (don't forget the sign!) of the x-term. there's no reason to go ticking off your instructor by doing something wrong when it's so simple to do it right. Divide through by whatever is multiplied on the squared term.) Square-root both sides. and you will likely forget to put the plus/minus into the answer. make sure you draw in the square root sign. If you get in the habit of being sloppy.

Add this square to both sides of the equation. It has become somewhat fashionable to have students derive the Quadratic 2 Formula themselves. +1 If you are not consistent with remembering to put your plus/minus in as soon as you square-root both sides. –3 + 4 = –7. if you're sloppy. That is. Add the squared term to both sides. Remember to do "±" on the right-hand side. Simplify the right-hand side. and square it. This is the original equation. Move the loose number over to the other side. in this case. this is done by completing the square for the generic quadratic equation ax + bx + c = 0. Take half of the x-term (that is. divide it by two) (and don't forget the sign!). and have no idea how they got "x = –7". these easier problems will embarrass you! I'll do one last "example". Divide through by whatever is multiplied on the squared term. and square it. Simplify as necessary. and thereby giving an example of the usefulness of symbolic manipulation). x2 + 6x – 7 = 0 x2 + 6x =7 (x + 3)2 = 16 x+3=±4 x=–3±4 = – 3 – 4. Solve for "x =". Here is what the instructor is looking for:  Derive the Quadratic Formula by solving ax 2 + bx + c = 0. Take half of the x-term. You'll write your answer as "x = –3 + 4 = 1". the computations involved are often a bit beyond the average student at this point.This is the original equation. because you won't have a square root symbol "reminding" you that you "meant" to put the plus/minus in. Remember that the "±" gives you two solutions. then this is an example of the type of exercise where you'll get yourself in trouble. Square-root both sides. Convert the left-hand side to squared form. ax2 + bx + c = 0 ax2 + bx = –c . simplify by converting to a common denominator. Simplify on the right-hand side. While I can understand the impulse (showing students how the Formula was invented. Move the loose number to the other side.

practice. practice. Solve for "x =". and simplify as necessary. Square-root both sides. Whether you're working symbolically (as in the last example) or numerically (which is the norm). . By so doing.Convert the left-hand side to square form (and do a bit more simplifying on the right). and you'll remember the steps when you're taking the test. the key to solving by completing the square is to practice. the process will become a bit more "automatic". remembering to put the "±" on the right.

Gaussian elimination. Substitition. 2) was not a solution. like this: . because. we can graph them together on the same axis system. you picked x-values and then calculated the corresponding y-values.. y-point that "worked" in the equation. and checking to see if they "work" in the equation. plugging in 1 for x: 3x – 5 = 3(1) – 5 = 3 – 5 = –2 . you did not find solutions to an equation by picking random points.which did not equal y (which was 2. plugging them in. we deal with them together at the same time.. Solving by graphing. For instance. Now consider the following two-variable system of linear equations: y = 3x – 2 y = –x – 6 Since the two equations above are in a system. Think back to linear equations. and the simplest linear system is one with two equations and two variables. And you used this same procedure to graph the equation. 1) was a solution because. A "solution" to this equation was any x. This points out an important fact: Every point on the graph was a solution to the equation. in practical terms. Elimination/addition. and any solution to the equation was a point on the graph. plugging in 2 for x: 3x – 5 = 3(2) – 5 = 6 – 5 = 1 = y On the other hand. A "system" of equations is a set or collection of equations that you deal with all together at once. So (2. In particular.Systems of Linear Equations: Definitions (page 1 of 7) Sections: Definitions. for this point). Instead. Of course. (1. consider the linear equation y = 3x – 5. Linear equations (ones that graph as straight lines) are simpler than non-linear equations.

because it is not on either line: The blue point at right is not a solution to the system. because it lies on only one of the lines. the red point at right is not a solution to the system. because it lies on both of the lines: . A solution for a system of equations is any point that lies on each line in the system. For example.A solution for a single equation is any point that lies on the line for that equation. not on both of them: The purple point at right is a solution to the system.

so it solves the entire system of equation.In particular. from looking at the graph. –5) and (0. it is a solution to the system. You can confirm the solution by plugging it into the system of equations.and y-coordinates into the equations. "solutions" are "intersections". Now I'll check the other point (which we already know. so this "solution" does not check. this purple point marks the intersection of the two lines. and check to see if they work. –2): (–2) ?=? 3(0) – 2 –2 ?=? 0 – 2 –2 = –2 (solution checks) So the solution works in one of the equations. Continuing the check: (–2) ?=? –(0) – 6 –2 ?=? 0 – 6 –2 ?=? –6 But –2 does not equal –6. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved checking (–1. Then the answer is: only the point (–1. system of equations. I just plug the x. And this relationship is always true: For systems of equations. is not a solution): checking (0. –5) is a solution to the system . –2) is a solution to the given y = 3x – 2 y = –x – 6 To check the given possible solutions. But to solve the system.  Determine whether either of the points (–1. it thus solves both equations. and confirming that the solution works in each equation. it has to work in both equations. –5): (–5) ?=? 3(–1) – 2 –5 ?=? –3 – 2 –5 = –5 (solution checks) (–5) ?=? –(–1) – 6 –5 ?=? 1 – 6 –5 = –5 (solution checks) Since the given point works in each equation. Since this point is on both lines.

finding intersections of lines. there can be no solution. shows two distinct non-parallel lines that cross at exactly one point. Elimination/addition. Gaussian elimination.Systems of Linear Equations: Graphing (page 2 of 7) Sections: Definitions. This is called an "inconsistent" system of equations. This is called an "independent" system of equations. and the solution is always some x. graphically. Solving by graphing.y-point. there are then three possible types of solutions: Case 1 Case 2 Case 3 The first graph above. For two-variable systems. Since parallel lines never cross. Independent system: one solution and one intersection point Inconsistent system: no solution and no intersection point Case 3 . and it has no solution. for a system of equations that graphs as parallel lines. then there can be no intersection. that is. shows two distinct lines that are parallel. "Case 2". Independent system: one solution point Case 2 Case 3 The second graph above. When you are solving systems. "Case 1". Substitition. you are.

The third graph above. it's the same line drawn twice. no solution at all. or an infinite solution (being all the solutions to the equation). Actually. really being the same line. and the "solution" is the whole line. it will always be one. These "two" lines. or infinitely-many. Warning: You have to take these problems with a grain of salt. Probably the first method you'll see for solving systems of equations will be "solving by graphing". You will never have a system with two or three solutions. IF you draw very neat lines. "intersect" at every point along their length. The only way you can find the solution from the graph is IF you draw a very neat axis system. appears to show only one line. IF the solution happens to be a point with nice neat whole-number coordinates.y-point). Independent system: one solution and one intersection point Inconsistent system: no solution and no intersection point Dependent system: the solution is the whole line This shows that a system of equations may have one solution (a specific x. and IF the lines are not close to being parallel. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved . "Case 3". none. This is called a "dependent" system.

2x – 3y = –2 4x + y = 24 I know I need a neat graph.3. you will be able to get all the right answers as long as you graph very neatly. so I can graph easily: 2x – 3y = –2 2x + 2 = 3y (2/3)x + (2/3) = y 4x + y = 24 y = –4x + 24 . so I'll grab my ruler and get started. –0.95)? No? Then you see my point. since they will be forced to give you nice neat solutions for "solving by graphing" problems. (Can you tell by looking that the displayed solution has coordinates of (–4. And if the intersection point isn't a neat pair of whole numbers. if the lines cross at a shallow angle it can be just about impossible to tell where the lines cross. First. I'll solve each equation for "y=". all bets are off.For instance. For instance:  Solve the following system by graphing.) On the plus side.

and look for the intersection: Even if I hadn't noticed the intersection point in the T-chart.The second line will be easy to graph using just the slope and intercept.) Now that I have some points. but I'll need a T-chart for the first line. y) = (5. Do you see the point that is in both equations above? Check the gray-shaded row above. I'll grab my ruler and graph neatly. x –4 –1 2 5 8 y = (2/3)x + (2/3) –8/3 + 2/3 = –6/3 = –2 –2/3 + 2/3 = 0 4/3 + 2/3 = 6/3 = 2 10/3 + 2/3 = 12/3 = 4 16/3 + 2/3 = 18/3 = 6 y = –4x + 24 16 + 24 = 40 4 + 24 = 28 –8 + 24 = 16 –20 + 24 = 4 –32 + 24 = –8 (Sometimes you'll notice the intersection right on the T-chart. 4 . I can certainly see it from the picture. solution: (x.

then (Warning!) that is the format that your teacher will want on the test. but sometimes they'll give you an inconsistent system (that is. this is a "solving by graphing" problem. However.y-solution. in this case. This is what these cases will look like:  Solve the following system by graphing. x = x and y = 36 – 9x. The first equation. solution: y = 36 – 9x The solution to this system is the whole line. Most "solving by graphing" problems work nicely. I have no idea why they do this. so the solution "point" is of the form (x. so. 36 – 9a)". in my classes. I'll first solve the equations for "y =". y = 36 – 9x 3x + y/3 = 12 As usual. is already solved. But then the book does this weird thing with "a" (or "t" or "s" or some other variable). so I still have to do the graph. Make sure you memorize the variable that your particular book uses (which was "a" in this example). Substitition. Instead of using x. 36 – 9x). in this case. but I already know the answer. two parallel lines) or a dependent system (that is. Gaussian elimination. most books do something like this: You are looking for an x. so now I'll solve the second one: Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved 3x + y/3 = 12 9x + y = 36 y = 36 – 9x With both equations solved for "y =". . Elimination/addition. which is a perfectly good variable. they pull out this new variable from behind their left ear and give the solution as being "(a. and the solution is the whole line. but if your book does this. two forms of the same line equation). and. Solving by graphing.Systems of Linear Equations: Warnings (page 3 of 7) Sections: Definitions. I can see that these two equations are really both the same line! So the algebra tells me that this is a dependent system. Of course. you could give the answer as being "y = 36 – 9x".

for heaven's sake. Since parallel lines never cross. so they are parallel. so I still have to draw the picture. Solve the following system by graphing. 7x + 2y = 16 –21x – 6y = 24 As usual. the algebra tells me that this is an inconsistent system. that is. Any point off the line is not a solution. –7 solution: no solution (inconsistent system) Warning: When the algebra tells you that you have two parallel lines. there is no solution. I'll first solve each equation for "y =": 7x + 2y = 16 2y = –7x + 16 y = –( 7/2 )x + 8 –21x – 6y = 24 –21x – 24 = 6y –( 21/6 )x – 4 = y –( 7/2 )x – 4 = y These lines have the same slope (m = /2 ) but different y-intercepts. only the infinity of points actually on the line will solve the dependent system. being all the points along the line. contains infinitely-many points. draw the lines on your graph so they look parallel! Note: The solution to a dependent system. But don't make the mistake of thinking that "infinitely-many" means "all". . But this is a "solving by graphing" problem.

5). and should keep in mind that the algebraic techniques (rather than mere pictures) are the tools you need for solid answers.15. in the picture at right. is the solution point at (–3. For instance. But this was not at all apparent in the "standard" viewing window shown above. 2). but you should take "solving by graphing" with a grain of salt. at the point (450.Also note: The pictures on the first page of this lesson are very useful for explaining "what's going on" with linear systems. are the lines really parallel. 1. . zooming out shows that the lines in the previous picture do indeed cross. so there's no solution? Or are you just looking at an un-useful portion of the graph? You can't tell! In this case. but pictures are not terribly useful for finding actual solutions to systems. in the picture at right. So you can see that the pictures can be useful. or at (–3.97)? You can't tell! Or. 449. especially for the concepts.

Being lazy. but I'd get fractions. equations in systems of equation are generally written with the variables on the left-hand side of the "equals" sign and the numbers on the right-hand side. You could have four equations in four variables or twelve equations in twelve variables.The above discussion was specific to the two-equation. Solving by graphing. and then plugging this back into the other equation. two-variable case. regardless. and solving the second equation for x would also give me fractions. "substituting" for the chosen variable and solving for the other. Elimination/addition. But since I already have an expression for "y =". and solve for x: 2x – 3(–4x + 24) = –2 2x + 12x – 72 = –2 14x = 70 x = 5 Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved Now I can plug this x-value back into either equation.)  Solve the following system by substitution. Formatting note: For reasons which will become apparent when you start working with matrices. Gaussian elimination. because you can draw pictures of the two-variable case to illustrate what is going on. Here is how it works. The method of solving "by substitution" works by solving one of the equations (you choose which one) for one of the variables (you choose which one). and you would still be looking for where the "lines" "intersect" — you just couldn't draw a picture of it. but it would probably be more difficult. It wouldn't be "wrong" to make a different choice. Sometimes you'll find a question formatted differently. There is no right or wrong choice. Then you back-solve for the first variable. since there is already a y floating around loose in the middle there? I could solve the first equation for either variable. Systems of Linear Equations: Solving by Substitution (page 4 of 7) Sections: Definitions. it will be simplest to just plug into this: . but variables-on-the-left will be the norm. 2x – 3y = –2 4x + y = 24 The idea here is to solve one of the equations for one of the variables. the answer will be the same. Substitition. in this case. can you see that it would probably be simplest to solve the second equation for "y =". But — some choices may be better than others. It does not matter which equation or which variable you pick. For instance. I'll solve the second equation for y: 4x + y = 24 y = –4x + 24 Now I'll plug this in ("substitute it") for "y" in the first equation. and plug this into the other equation. no matter how many variables you have. (I'll use the same systems as were in a previous page. But the terminology and basic concepts are the same. and solve for y.

but now you know what the algebra looks like. yes. and that the solution is the whole line: solution: y = 36 – 9x This is always true.y = –4(5) + 24 = –20 + 24 = 4 Then the solution is (x. We know what this looks like graphically: we get two identical line equations.. but who cares? So when using substitution. um. twelve does equal twelve. the "second" equation is really just another copy of the first equation. this is a dependent system. Remember that. by the way. when you're trying to solve a system. that is. but useless. make sure you substitute into the other equation. that this system was dependent. I got an unhelpful result because the second line equation didn't tell me anything new. y) = (5. from the previous lesson. statement: 4x + (–4x + 24) = 24 4x – 4x + 24 = 24 24 = 24 Twenty-four does equal twenty-four. or you'll just be wasting your time. but unhelpful (I mean. This tells me that the system is actually dependent. You're trying to find the one single point that works in both equations. you're trying to use the second equation to narrow down the choices of points on the first equation. In other words.. Warning: If I had substituted my "–4x + 24" expression into the same equation as I'd used to solve for "y =". But what does this look like algebraically? The first equation is already solved for y. duh!. y = 36 – 9x 3x + y/3 = 12 We already know (from the previous lesson) that these equations are actually both the same line. of course twelve equals twelve!) — then you have a dependent system. We already knew. so I'll substitute that into the second equation: 3x + (36 – 9x)/3 = 12 3x + 12 – 3x = 12 12 = 12 Well. . so this unhelpful result is not because of some screw-up on my part. I would have gotten a true. It's just that this is what a dependent system looks like when you try to find a solution. But in a dependent system. and a graph with just one line displayed. but so what? I did substitute the first equation into the second equation.  Solve the following system by substitution. 4). When you try to solve a system and you get a statement like " 12 = 12" or "0 = 0" — something that's true. and all the points on the one line will work in the other line.

no matter which equation and which variable I choose. by the way. my attempt led to utter nonsense. When you get a nonsense result. 7x + 2y = 16 –21x – 6y = 24 Neither of these equations is particularly easier than the other for solving. using some variable. um. I got a nonsense result. some "parameter". because at least the 2 (from the "2y") will divide evenly into the 16. 7x + 2y = 16 2y = –7x + 16 y = –( 7/2 )x + 8 Now I'll plug this into the other equation: –21x – 6(–( 7/2 )x + 8) = 24 –21x + 21x – 48 = 24 –48 = 24 Um. I'll get fractions. to find the intersection point anyway. So what happened? Keep in mind that. from the previous lesson. or something similar.. All my math was right. other than "x". um.)  Solve the following system by substitution.. I don't think so. What if they don't intersect? Then you're going to get some kind of wrong answer when you assume that there is a solution (as I did when I tried to find that solution).. We knew. So. But I tried. And I got a "garbage" result. But this "parametrized" form of the solution means the exact same thing as "the solution is the line y = 36 – 9x". that this system represents two parallel lines. and I'll solve it for. but I got an obviously wrong answer. solution: no solution (inconsistent system) This is always true.. this is the algebraic indication that the system of equations is inconsistent. 36 – 9t)". Since there wasn't any intersection point.(Keep in mind that your text may format the answer to look something like "(t. you're trying to find where the lines intersect. Note that this is quite different from the previous example. by substitution. y.. a nonsense result means an inconsistent system which has no solution of any kind. .. just as two identical lines are quite different from two parallel lines. In this case. Don't confuse the two. Warning: A true-but-useless result (like "12 = 12") is quite different from a nonsense "garbage" result (like "–48 = 24"). A useless result means a dependent system which has a solution (the whole line). when solving.. I guess I'll take the first equation.

The addition method of solving systems of equations is also called the method of elimination. It doesn't matter which equation you use for the backsolving. to find the value of y. Elimination/addition. and add down: 2x + y = 9 3x – y = 16 5x = 25 Now I can divide through to solve for x = 5. and then back-solve. so I'll back-solve in that one: 2(5) + y = 9 10 + y = 9 y = –1 Then the solution is (x. This method is similar to the method you probably learned for solving simple equations. the y's will cancel out. So I'll draw an "equals" bar under the system. Substitition. I'd have gotten: 3(5) – y = 16 15 – y = 16 –y = 1 y = –1 . Solving by graphing. and then you'd "add down" to get "x = 5" as the solution. If you had the equation "x + 6 = 11". 2x + y = 9 3x – y = 16 Note that.  Solve the following system using addition.  Solve the following system using addition. if I add down. you'll get the same answer either way.which is the same result as before. using either of the original equations. ..Systems of Linear Equations: Solving by Addition / Elimination (page 5 of 7) Sections: Definitions. y) = (5.. If I'd used the second equation. The first equation has smaller numbers. you would write "–6" under either side of the equation. –1). x + 6 = 11 –6 –6 x = 5 You'll do something similar with the addition method. Gaussian elimination.

Solving this. I can create this cancellation by multiplying either one of the equations by –1. So just be careful to write the coordinates for your solutions correctly. . = 2. as long as I am careful to multiply the –1 through the entire equation. Sometimes. y) = (1. It doesn't matter which equation I choose. I get that x are smaller. I get: x – 2(5) = –9 x – 10 = –9 x=1 Then the solution is (x. you find the y-value first and then the x-value second. and this will set up the y-terms to cancel. Back-solving in the first equation. A very common temptation is to write the solution in the form "(first number I found. 5). and then adding down as usual. 2x – y = 9 3x + 4y = –14 Nothing cancels here. second number I found)". because the coefficients 2(2) – y = 9 4–y=9 –y = 5 y = –5 The solution is (x. I can multiply the first equation by 4. but I can multiply to create a cancellation. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved  Solve the following system using addition. y) = (2. The "–1R2" notation over the arrow indicates that I multiplied row 2 by –1. as in this case. though. Now I can solve the equation "–5y = –25" to get y = 5. (That means both sides of the "equals" sign!) I'll multiply the second equation. –5).x – 2y = –9 x + 3y = 16 Note that the x-terms would cancel out if only they'd had opposite signs. and of course in points the x-value comes first. I'll use the first equation for backsolving.

Oops! This result isn't true! So this is an inconsistent system (two parallel lines) with no solution (with no intersection point). this will at least get rid of the decimal place. But I can multiply to create a cancellation. 4x – 3(5) = 25 4x – 15 = 25 4x = 40 x = 10 Remembering to put the x-coordinate first in the solution. 5) Usually when you are solving "by addition". 12x – 13y = 2 –6x + 6.5y = –2 I think I'll multiply the second equation by 2. In this case. Solving. 4x – 3y = 25 –3x + 8y = 10 Hmm.. You could make a different choice. nothing cancels. I can multiply to convert the x-terms to 12x's or the y-terms to 24y's. it was just my choice.) I will multiply the first row by 3 and the second row by 4. It's not that how I'm doing it is "the right way". multiplying on both sides of the "equals" sign.  Solve the following using addition. Be careful of this. Neither equation looks particularly better than the other for backsolving. Since I'm lazy and 12 is smaller than 24. I get that y = 5. y) = (10. neither variable is the obvious choice for cancellation. you will need to create the cancellation. I'll multiply to cancel the xterms. (I would get the same answer in the end if I set up the y-terms to cancel. and that would be just as correct. I get: (x. so I'll flip a coin and use the first equation. Warning: The most common mistake is to forget to multiply all the way through the equation. Solve the following system using addition.. . then I'll add down and solve.

it would not be (b. assume (unless explicitly told otherwise) that those variables are written in alphabetical order. because the computations involved are more messy. 12x – 3y = 6 4x – y = 2 I think it'll be simplest to cancel off the y-terms. . Though the method of solution is based on addition/elimination. You will need to be very neat in your working. When you write the solution for an x. but.. but many use additional variables. or something like that. a). you know that the x-coordinate goes first and the y-coordinate goes second. the solution point would be (a. at least initially. three-equation linear systems is more difficult. Substitition. solving for "y =". a useless answer (like "0 = 0" above) means a dependent system where the whole line is the solution. if the variables in a given system are a and b. trying to do actual addition tends to get very messy. Solving three-variable. so I'll multiply the second row by –3. the solution is: y = 4x – 2 (Your text may format the answer as "(s. The method for solving these systems is an extension of the two-variable solving-by-addition method. When you are dealing with other variables.) Remember the difference: a nonsense answer (like "0 = –2" in the previous problem) means an inconsistent system with no solution.? I already knew that zero equals zero. so make sure you know this method well and can use it consistently correctly. 4s – 2)".. Elimination/addition. Unless otherwise specified.y-point. so there is a systematized method for solving the three-or-more-variables systems. and. Let's start simple.no solution  Solve the following using addition. Some books use only "x" and "y" for their variables. and you should plan to use lots of scratch paper. For instance. the variables are written in alphabetical order Systems of Linear Equations: Solving by Gaussian Elimination (page 6 of 7) Sections: Definitions. b). than solving the two-variable systems. Well. and work our way up to messier examples. Gaussian elimination. Solving by graphing. So this is a dependent system. yes. This method is called "Gaussian elimination" (with the equations ending up in what is called "rowechelon form").

solve the result for y. The point is that. I'll write down each step as I go. 3). 2. For now. 5x + 4y – z = 0 10y – 3z = 11 z=3 It's fairly easy to see how to proceed in this case. There is no rule that says I have to use the x-term from the first row. 10y – 3(3) = 11 10y – 9 = 11 10y = 20 y=2 5x + 4(2) – (3) = 0 5x + 8 – 3 = 0 5x + 5 = 0 5x = –5 x = –1 Then the solution is (x. in this case. I do the computations on scratch paper: . –3x + 2y – 6z = 6 5x + 7y – 5z = 6 x + 4y – 2z = 8 No equation is solved for a variable. I'll just back-substitute the z-value from the third equation into the second equation. the system is simple to solve. Here is how I did it: The first thing to do is to get rid of the leading x-terms in two of the rows. But I'll do my computations on scratch paper. using the row operations we learned when we did the addition method. and. So I'll multiply the third row by 3. I'll just look at which rows will be easy to clear out.  Solve the following system of equations using Gaussian elimination. The reason this system was easy to solve is that the system was "triangular". And Gaussian elimination is the method we'll use to convert systems to this upper triangular form. because of the lower equations containing only the later variables. in this format. I can switch rows later to get the system into "upper triangular" form. In order to keep track of my work. so I'll have to do the multiplication-and-addition thing to simplify this system. since its coefficient is simply "1". z) = (–1. y. and then plug z and y into the first equation and solve the result for x. Solve the following system of equations. this refers to the equations having the form of a triangle. I think it will be simpler to use the x-term from the third row. and add it to the first row.

To get smaller numbers for coefficients. I can work on the equation.. so I copied it down unchanged. I'll multiply the first row by one-half: Now I'll multiply the third row by –5 and add this to the second row.and then I write down the results: Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved I didn't do anything with the first row. I cannot use it on either of the other two equations any more (or I'll undo my progress). I do my work on scratch paper: . but not with it. now the x-column is cleared out except for the leading term in the third row. but I didn't actually change it. but I only worked on the second row.. I worked with the third row. unchanged. So next I have to work on the y-column.. Warning: Since the third equation has an x-term. which is why we need the scratch paper.) Warning: Since I didn't actually do anything to the third row. Okay. rewriting the system off to the side. . into the new matrix of equations. we could multiply a row.. I copied it down.. There is no space for this in a three-variable system. so the second row is updated and the third row is copied over unchanged. and then add down. I used the third row.and then I write down the results: (When we were solving two-variable systems. Don't confuse "using" with "changing".

If I add twice the first row to the second row..and then I write down the results: Now I can use the second row to clear out the y-term in the first row. just to be thorough. I'll divide the first row by rearrange the rows to put them in upper-triangular form: 43. but I will have converted it (without getting involved in fractions) to a form that is simpler to deal with. Then I'll Now I can start the process of back-solving: y – 7(1) = –4 y – 7 = –4 y=3 x + 4(3) – 2(1) = 8 x + 12 – 2 = 8 x + 10 = 8 x = –2 .. but.and then I write down the results: I can tell what z is now. I'll multiply the second row by –7 and add. I won't have gotten rid of the leading y-term in the second row. (You should keep an eye out for this sort of simplification.. this will give me a leading 1 in the second row.) First I do the scratch work: .. First I do the scratch work: .

this is okay.Then the solution is (x. . So don't stress over "how did she know to do that next?". These systems are sufficiently complicated that there is unlikely to be one right way of computing the answer. clearing out all the y-terms other than that in the second row and all the z-terms other than that in the first row. This is what the process would then have looked like: This way. As long as each step along the way is correct. Note that I did two row operations at once in that last step before switching the rows. and still come up with the correct answer. and z. there was nothing special about how I solved this system. As long as I'm not working with and working on the same row in the same step. I could have gone further in my computations and been more thorough-going in my row operations. I was working with the first row and working on the second and third rows. Many texts only go as far as Gaussian elimination. I just did whatever struck my fancy. In this case. y. you'll come up with the same answer. I did whatever seemed simplest or whatever came to mind first. 3. This more-complete method of solving is called "Gauss-Jordan elimination" (with the equations ending up in what is called "reduced-row-echelon form"). I can just read off the values of x. because there is no rule. You could work in a different order or simplify different rows. In the above example. z) = (–2. Don't worry if you would have used completely different steps. Note: There is nothing sacred about the steps I used in solving the above system. y. 1). but I've always found it easier to continue on and do Gauss-Jordan. and I don't have to bother with the backsubstitution.

Instead. I'll now divide the second row by 5 and the first row by 2: (You might want to check with your instructor regarding how particular he's going to be about proper form. Do you "have" to show all 1's for the leading coefficients. or it is acceptable to avoid fractions?) Back-solving. and I'd like to avoid that for as long as possible. but that will give me fractions. I'll move on to using the second row to clear out the y-term from the third row: I can divide the third row by 4: To be technically correct.Systems of Linear Equations: Examples (page 7 of 7)  Solve the following system of equations using Gaussian elimination: 2x + y + 3z = 1 2x + 6y + 8z = 3 6x + 8y + 18z = 5 I think I'll use the first row to clear out the x-terms from the second and third rows: Technically. I should now divide the first row by 2 to get a leading 1. I get: y + (0) = 2/5 y = 2 /5 .

That's just a personal preference. I did have to do the scratch work. but I'm sure you can see the advantage of avoiding fractions for as long as possible.) Now I'll use that nice leading x in the first row to clear out the leading term in the second row. The second and third rows are the same. I'll also divide the third row by 6. y. I'll be able to clear out the third row. 2/5. Warning: While I didn't show my scratch work on this last problem. z) = ( 3/10.x + ( 1/2 )( 2/5 ) + ( 3/2 )(0) = 1/2 x + 1/5 = 1/2 x = 3/10 Then the solution is (x. While I'm at it. It can really cut down on computational errors. don't try to do this stuff in your head. 0). but I would rather take an extra step or two and use addition to get a leading 1. (Ya wanna know how many mistakes I made while writing this lesson? Don't even get me started!) Here's another example:  Solve the following system: 3x + y – 6z = –10 2x + y – 5z = –8 6x – 3y + 3z = 0 I think I'll use the second row to work on the x-terms in the first and third rows. and I'll be able to produce a 1x as the leading term in the first row. there are just way too many opportunities for errors. getting a line like "0 = 0" (which is true. Please use scratch paper and write things out. and I'll be able to do it without having to deal with fractions: (Many instructors would teach you always to divide through on one of the rows to get a leading coefficient of 1. but unhelpful) means that this is a dependent system. This will let me finish the job of clearing out the x-column. I can use the second row to clear out the third row entirely: Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2003-2011 All Rights Reserved Thinking back to the two-variable case. and the solution is going to have variables in it... If you . to get smaller numbers: Hm.

Depending on the course. I have to solve the two remaining equations for x and y in terms of z: x – z = –2 x=z–2 y – 3z = –4 y = 3z – 4 (x. a nonsensical row (such as "0 = 1") means you have an inconsistent system with no solution whatsoever. Don't confuse these. so I'll just show the steps that I used: As soon as I get a nonsense row (like "0 I can quit. the techniques you'll be learning for matrices will likely be very similar to what you have seen in this lesson. = 1"). For now. you will learn that the answer above means that the solution is a line in three-dimensional space rather than a single point. t) Remember that your book may use some variable other than "t". If you do. This form of the solution just says that z is whatever value you chose. I know that this is an inconsistent system.  Solve the following system of equations: x +z=1 x+y+z=2 x–y+z=1 You should be getting the hang of things by now. and that t is just standing in for z. they are (Warning!) common trick questions on tests. To find the solution. . y. and then x is two less than that and y is four less than three times as much as z. z) = (t – 2. and inconsistent system: no solution Remember the difference between the two special cases: A trivial row (such as " 0 = 0") means you have a dependent system with a solution that contains variables. all you need to know is how to write the solution.get into linear algebra much. you might now move on to using matrices for solving systems of equations. 3t – 4.

It is in the form "y=". in this case. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2000-2011 All Rights Reserved Common exercises will give you some pieces of information about a line. this lesson will only cover the more-helpful forms. Also. and b. graph as straight lines.Straight-Line Equations: Slope-Intercept Form (page 1 of 3) Sections: Slope-intercept form. when mathematicians couldn't handle very complicated equations.) I like slope-intercept form the best.) The various "standard" forms are often holdovers from a few centuries ago. Just plug in your x-value. In the slope-intercept form of a straight line. like this:  Find the equation of the straight line that has slope and passes through the point (–1. they've given me the value of the slope. or "linear" equations. either for graphing or doing word problems. ironically. m = 4. which makes it easiest to plug into. –6). and solve for whatever you need. and you will have to come up with the equation of the line. Then all I need to do is plug in what they gave me for the slope and the x and y from this particular point. the particular "standard" format your book refers to may differ from that used in some other books. I think the most useful form of straight-line equations is the "slope-intercept" form: y = mx + b This is called the slope-intercept form because "m" is the slope and "b" gives the y-intercept. you have to have a "y=" format to use a graphing utility. and can be quite useful for word problems. x. I have y. so they tended to obsess about the simple cases. and then solve for b: . you likely needn't worry too much about the "standard" forms. this is the only format you can plug into your (nowadays obligatory) graphing calculator. 2 say x or sqrt(y) — then you're dealing with a straight-line equation. There are different types of "standard" formats for straight lines. This is great for graphing. in giving me a point on the line. m. If you see an equation with only x and y — as opposed to. Also. Nowadays. and have simple variable expressions with no exponents on them. So the only thing I don't have so far is a value for is b (which gives me the y-intercept). no standard definition of "standard form". (For a review of how this equation is used for graphing. Point-slope form. How do you do that? You plug in whatever they give you. they have given me an x-value and a y-value for this line: x = –1 and y = –6. look at slope and graphing. Parallel and perpendicular lines Straight-line equations. m=4 Okay. the equation is already solved for y. (There is. But the best part about the slope-intercept form is that you can read off the slope and the intercept right from the equation.

so y = ( – 2/3 ) x + 8/3. it doesn't matter which point you use in order to find the line equation. . Well.. the answer is the same: y = (– 2/3)x + 8/3 As you can see. 2). I get: On the other hand. once you have the slope. 4). that's what the slope formula is for. I know I can find the equation (by solving first for " b") if I have a point and the slope. So I need to pick one of the points (it doesn't matter which one). (–2. The answer will work out the same either way.. (1. and use it to solve for b. I can always find the slope. Either way. I get: y = mx + b 4 = (– 2/3)(–2) + b 4 = 4 /3 + b 4 – 4/3 = b 12/3 – 4/3 = b b = 8/3 . Using the point (–2. if I use the point y = mx + b 2 = (– 2/3)(1) + b 2 = – 2 /3 + b 2 + 2 /3 = b 6 /3 + 2/3 = b b = 8 /3 So it doesn't matter which point I choose. 4) and (1. if I have two points on a straight line. Now I have the slope and two points. 2).y = mx + b (–6) = (4)(–1) + b –6 = –4 + b –2 = b Then the line equation must be "y = What if they don't give you the slope?  Find the equation of the line that passes through the points 4x – 2".

so use whichever method works more comfortably for you. so I already know what the answer is (namely. y1) and a slope m. y = 4x – 2). and y1 = –6. I'll plug these values into the point-slope y – y1 = m(x – x1) y – (–6) = (4)(x – (–1)) y + 6 = 4(x + 1) y + 6 = 4x + 4 y = 4x + 4 – 6 y = 4x – 2 Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2000-2011 All Rights Reserved This matches the result I got when I plugged into the slope-intercept form. x1 form. m = 4 and passes through This is the same line that I found on the previous page. But let's see how the process works with the point-slope formula.Straight-Line Equations: Point-Slope Form (page 2 of 3) The other format for straight-line equations is called the "point-slope" form. Given two points. They are just intended to indicate the point they give you. 4) as the (x1. and then you have the specific x and y from the point they gave you. You can get the same answer either way. For this one. This shows that it really doesn't matter which method you use (unless the text or teacher specifies). they give you a point (x1. y1). I can always find the slope: Then I can use either point as my (x1. Here's how you use the point-slope formula:  Find the equation of the straight line that has slope the point (–1. y = ( – /3 ) x + /3 ). You can find the straight-line equation using the point-slope form if they just give you a couple points:  Find the equation of the line that passes through the points (–2. 4) and (1. They've given me m = 4. I get: . 2). but let's look at the process. I've already answered this one. and solve for "y=": = –1. y1). and plug in to the point-slope form. I should get the same result 2 8 (namely. –6). You have the generic "x" and generic "y" that are always in your equation. along with this slope Ive just calculated. and have you plug it into this formula: y – y1 = m(x – x1) Don't let the subscripts scare you. Using (–2. the specific x and y are what is subscripted in the formula.

Point-slope form. –1).y – y1 = m(x – x1) y – (4) = ( – 2/3 )(x – (–2)) y – 4 = ( – 2/3 )(x + 2) y – 4 = ( – 2/3 ) x – 4/3 y = ( – 2/3 ) x – 4/3 + 4 y = ( – 2/3 ) x – 4/3 + 12/3 y = ( – 2/3 ) x + 8/3 This is the same answer I got when I plugged into the slope-intercept form. they've given me a reference line — 2x – 3y = 9 — that I'll be comparing to. the first thing I need to do is solve "2x – 3y = 9" for "y=". Straight-Line Equations: Parallel and Perpendicular Lines (page 3 of 3) Sections: Slope-intercept form. now I have a point and a slope! So I'll use the point-slope form to find the line: y – (–1) = ( 2/3 )(x – 4) y + 1 = ( 2/3 ) x – 8/3 y = ( 2/3 ) x – 8/3 – 3/3 y = ( 2/3 ) x – 11/3 . so that I can find my reference slope: Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2000-2011 All Rights Reserved 2x – 3y = 9 –3y = –2x + 9 y = ( 2/3)x – 3 So the reference slope from the reference line is m = 2/3. Since a parallel line has an identical slope. because you'll get the same answer either way. Clearly. –1). (4. Parallel and perpendicular lines There is one other consideration for straight-line equations: finding parallel and perpendicular lines. and some point somewhere else on the plane — namely. Here is the usual format for the question:  Given the line 2x – 3y = 9 and the point (4. find lines through the point that are (a) parallel to the given line and (b) perpendicular to it. –1) that is parallel to (that has the same slope as) 2x – 3y = 9. On top of that. you should use whichever format suits your taste. So. unless your text or teacher specifies the method or format to use. Hey. In other words. –1) will have 2 slope m = /3. –1) that is perpendicular to (that has a slope that is the negative reciprocal of the slope of) 2x – 3y = 9. they then want me to find the line through (4. Then they want me to find the line through (4. then the parallel line through (4.

I'll flip this slope and change the sign.99. Find the slopes. perpendicular. Note that the only change from the calculations I just did is that the slope is different now. the lines are not parallel. and. The reference slope is m = 2 /3. . but you cannot tell "by looking" that lines with slopes of. But since 1.00 and m2 = 0. So now I can do the point-slope form. not by drawing a picture! Pictures can only give you a rough idea of what is going on. I have to find the perpendicular slope. say. or neither".This is the parallel line that they asked for. m1 = 1. Then the 3 perpendicular slope is m = – /2. you must answer that question by finding their slopes. don't just draw the pictures.99 are NOT parallel. For the perpendicular line. y – (–1) = ( – 3/2 )(x – 4) y + 1 = ( – 3 /2 ) x + 6 y = ( – 3 /2 ) x + 5 Then the full solution to this exercise is: parallel: y = ( /3 ) x – /3 3 perpendicular: y = ( – /2 ) x 2 11 +5 Warning: If a question asks you whether two given lines are "parallel. for the perpendicular slope.00 does not equal 0. because they'll sure look parallel on their graphs.

If something is multiplied on the x. Multi-step equations. I need to divide both sides by 2: . dividing each term on both sides) of the equation by whatever is multiplied on the x:  Solve 2x =5 Since the x is multiplied by 2. "No solution" and "all x" equations The "undo" of multiplication is division.Solving One-Step Linear Equations (page 2 of 4) Sections: One-step equations. you undo it by dividing both sides (that is.

and make sure that you end up with a true statement. this was a legitimate thing to do. so the solution "checks". The first equation above was x + 6 back in. it was useful to multiply by 5 in the form 5/1. Since 5 = 5/1. plug it = –9 as a solution for x + 6 = –3: x + 6 = –3 [–9] + 6 ?=? –3 –9 + 6 ?=? –3 6 – 9 ?=? –3 –3 = –3 Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved The last line above. is a true statement. To verify this solution. –3 = –3. rather than the decimal form. I was being "fair" and doing the same thing to both sides of the equation. All you have to do is plug them back into the original equation. and see if it works:  Check x = –3. Since I was needing to cancel a 1/5 on the left-hand side. so try to cultivate it now.5.Then the solution is x = 5/2 or x = 2. I'll want to multiply both sides by 5: Then the solution is x = –30. But why did I do it? Because it is often easier to keep track of what you're doing. and by 5/1 on the left-hand side. This fact allows you to check your solutions. and our solution was x = –9. If in doubt. if all the numbers involved are in fractional form. and the answer is verified as being correct. Warning: Usually the fractional form is the preferred form for your answers. In the above solution (displayed in the animation). The other solutions above can be checked in the same way: . when working with fractions. I multiplied by 5 on the right-hand side of the equation.5" answer. There is one very important point to make now: The solution to an equation is the value that makes the equation "true". Most students find this habit to be helpful. usually texts (and teachers) will prefer the "five-halves" answer over the "2. The "undo" of division is multiplication:  Solve x /5 = –6 Since the x is divided by 5. check with your instructor.

Usually. Check x = –2 for x – 3 = –5: x – 3 = –5 [–2] – 3 ?=? –5 –2 – 3 ?=? –5 –2 + (–3) ?=? –5 –5 = –5  Check x = 2. Solving Multi-Step Linear Equations (page 3 of 4) Most linear equations require more than one step for their solution. For example:  Solve 3 /5 x = 10 3 5 Since x is multiplied by /5. I'll want to multiply both sides by /3. Many students find it helpful to also turn the 10 into a fraction.5 for 2x = 5: 2x = 5 2[2. you'll have to solve more complicated equations. by putting it over 1. Then the solution is x = 50/3. To isolate a variable that is multiplied by a fraction. to cancel off the fraction on the x. just multiply both sides of the equation by the flip ("reciprocal") of that fraction. you flip-n-multiply. For instance: ... There is one "special case" related to the "undoing multiplication" case above: When x is multiplied by a fraction. you "undo" this multiplication by dividing both sides of the equation by that fraction. To divide by a fraction.5] ?=? 5 5 = 5  Check x = –30 for x / 5 = –6: x / 5 = –6 [–30] / 5 ?=? –6 –6 = –6 So all of the solutions "check".

I need to combine like terms on the left. However. so I almost always do any plus / minus before any times / divide: Then the solution is x = –8. Personally. Format your work so as to make your meaning clear!  Solve –5x – 7 = 108 Then the solution is  Solve 3x x = –23. I'm going to have fractions. Solve 7x + 2 = –54 I need to undo the "times seven" and the "plus two". as shown (in purple) above. – 9 = 33 Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved Then the solution is  Solve 5x x = 14. Formatting your homework and showing your work in the manner I have done above is. There is no rule about which "undo" I should do first. it is also a good idea to clearly rewrite your final answer at the end of each exercise. + 7x = 72 First. Don't expect your grader to take the time to dig through your work and try to figure out what you probably meant your answer to be. then I can solve: . However (warning!). in my experience. if I first divide through by 7. fairly universally acceptable. I prefer to avoid fractions if possible.

The variable is not "required" to be on the left. (No. . + 4x – 7 = 4x – 2 – x Before I can solve.Then the solution is  Solve 4x x = 6. I'll subtract the 4x over to the other side: Then the solution is x = –3.) If you have any doubts about your instructor's formatting preferences. in this case. ask now. I have heard of some instructors who insist that the variable be placed on the left-hand side in the final answer. – 6 = 6x I need to move all the x's over to one side or the other. I usually move the smaller x. In the above exercise. note that it is perfectly okay to have the " x=" be on the right. I'm not making that up.  Solve 8x – 1 = 23 – 4x Then the solution is  Solve 5 x = 2. It's alright if your solution works out with the variable on the right. However (warning!). we're just used to seeing it there. To avoid negative coefficients on my variables. I need to combine like terms: Then the solution is x = 0.

Solving "No Solution" Equations and "All Real Numbers" Equations (page 4 of 4) Sections: One-step equations. In this case.9 = 0.  Solve To simplify my computations for equations with fractions.1x) 2x + 9 = 3 – 1x Then I solve as usual: 2x + 1x + 9 – 9 = 3 – 9 – 1x + 1x 3x = –6 x = –2 If one of the decimals had had two decimal places.  Solve 0. It just looks worse because of the decimals. I'll multiply through by 10: 10(0. Multi-step equations. that solution being x = 0. it does indeed have a solution. For this equation.3) – 10(0. then I'd have multiplied through by 100.1x This equation solves just like all the other linear equations. I'd have multiplied through by 1000. "No solution" and "all x" equations  Solve 11 + 3x – 7 = 6x + 5 – 3x First. then solve: . for three. But that's easy to fix: however many decimal places I have.2x) + 10(0.2x + 0. Zero is a valid solution. the common denominator is 12: 3x + 12 = 2x + 6 3x – 2x + 12 – 12 = 2x – 2x + 6 – 12 Solving Linear Equations with Parentheses. combine like terms. I can multiply by " 1" followed by that number of zeroes.It is perfectly fine for x to have a value of zero.3 – 0.9) = 0(0. I can first multiply through by the common denominator. Do not say that this equation has "no solution".

Then I can proceed in the usual way: . you are starting from the (unstated) assumption that there actually is a solution. Don't confuse these two very different situations: "the solution exists and has the value of zero" is not in any manner the same as "no solution value exists at all". I would have ended up with nothing other than another trivially-true statement. there will be many ways of arriving at these answers. if I had solved the equation by subtracting a 5 from either side of 5 + 4x = 5 + 4x to get "4x = 4x". where there was a value of x that would work. you don't necessarily have the exact same steps as some of your fellow students. Since the statement "4 = 5" is utterly false. there is no solution.  Solve 9 = 3(5x – 2) First. When you try to solve an equation. expect some variation in lingo from one text to the next. but the solution would still be the same: "all x". then I'll solve: Is there any value of x that would make the above statement false? Isn't 5 always going to equal 5? In fact. When you end up with nonsense (like the nonsensical equation "4 = 5" above). Don't be surprised if. So the solution is "all x". since there is no "x" in the solution. Advisory: This answer is entirely unlike the answer to the previous exercise. I'll combine like terms. this says that your initial assumption (that there was a solution) was wrong. I could also have subtracted both 4x and 5 from both sides to get "0 = 0". Note that. Since there are infinitely-many always-true equations (like "0 = 0") and infinitelymany nonsensical equations (like "3 = 4"). I have to multiply through the parentheses on the right. for "all real numbers" or "no solution" equations. the value of x is irrelevant: x can be anything I want.Then the "solution" is "no solution". then this equation has no solution. This solution could also be stated as "all real numbers" or "all reals" or "the whole number line". And don't confuse the "no solution" type of equation above with the following type:  Solve 6x + 5 – 2x = 4 + 4x + 1 First. in fact. and since there is no value of x that ever could make it true.

Then the solution is  Solve 6x

x = 1.

– (3x + 8) = 16

Be careful with taking negatives through parentheses. If it helps you to put a "1" in front of the parentheses, then do so. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved I"ll simplify on the left-hand side first; then I'll solve in the usual way:

Then the solution is  Solve 7(5x

x = 8.

– 2) = 6(6x – 1)

I have to be sure to take the 7 and the 6 all the way through their respective parentheses.

Then the solution is

x = –8.

For this type of problem, take your time and write out all of your steps. Don't try to do everything in your head.

Solve 13

– (2x + 2) = 2(x + 2) + 3x

Multiply through the parentheses (a minus sign on the left, and a two on the right), combine like terms, simplify, and solve:

Then the solution is

x = 1.

Don't forget: There is never any reason to be unsure of your solution: you can always check your answer to any equation-solving exercise! The point of a solution is that it is the x-value that makes the equation true. To check your answer, plug your solution back into the original equation, and make sure that the equation "works". For instance, in the last exercise above, my solution was x = 1. Here's the check:

13 – (2x + 2) = 2(x + 2) + 3x 13 – (2[1] + 2) ?=? 2([1] + 2) + 3[1] 13 – (2 + 2) ?=? 2(1 + 2) + 3 13 – (4) ?=? 2(3) + 3 13 – 4 ?=? 6 + 3 9 = 9
So the solution "checks", and I know that my answer is correct. Advisory: This ability to check your answers can come in handy on tests. Once you've completed all the questions, go back and plug in your solutions. If the solution "checks", then you know you got that question right. If it doesn't check, then you have the chance to correct your mistake before you hand in the test!

x = –6

Solving Logarithmic Equations: Solving from the Definition (page 1 of 3)
Sections: Solving from the definition, Solving with exponentials, Calculator Considerations

The first type of logarithmic equation has two logs, each having the same base, set equal to each other, and you solve by setting the insides (the "arguments") equal to each other. For example:  Solve log2(x)

= log2(14).

Since the logarithms on either side of the equation have the same base ("2", in this case), then the only way these two logs can be equal is for their arguments to be equal. In other words, the log expressions being equal says that the arguments must be equal, so I have:

x = 14
And that's the solution: x  Solve logb(x
2

= 14

) = logb(2x – 1).

Since the bases of the logs are the same (the unknown value "b", in this case), then the insides must be equal. That is:

x2 = 2x – 1
Then I can solve the log equation by solving this quadratic equation:

x2 – 2x + 1 = 0 (x – 1)(x – 1) = 0
Then the solution is x

= 1.

Logarithms cannot have non-positive arguments, but quadratics and other equations can have negative solutions. So it is generally a good idea to check the solutions you get for log equations:

logb(x2) = logb(2x – 1) logb([1]2) ?=? logb(2[1] – 1) logb(1) ?=? logb(2 – 1) logb(1) = logb(1)
The value of the base of the log is irrelevant here. Each log has the same base, each log ends up with the same argument, and that argument is a positive value, so the solution "checks".  Solve logb(x
2

– 30) = logb(x).

Since the logs have the same base, I can set the arguments equal and solve:

x2 – 30 = x x2 – x – 30 = 0

gives you "a". 3 5 Similarly. In this case. All of these logs have the same base. the quadratic-equation solution "x = –5" can not be a valid solution to the original logarithmic equation (in particular. So the given equation simplifies quite nicely: ln( ex ) = ln( e3 ) + ln( e5 ) x=3+5 x=8 The solution is x = 8. Specifically. Note: This could also have been solved using log rules: ln( ex ) = ln( e3 ) + ln( e5 ) ln( ex ) = ln(( e3 )( e5 )) ln( ex ) = ln( e3 + 5 ) ln( ex ) = ln( e8 ) Comparing the arguments: . what power do you have to put on e to get e ? Why. ) = ln( e3 ) + ln( e5 ). = logb(4) + logb(x – 1). because I don't yet have "log equals log". when put on the base "b". The argument of "ln( ex )" is "ex". Remember the defintion of logarithms. when put on e. but I can't solve yet. That is. gives you ex. this negative value won't work in the right-hand side of the original equation).(x – 6)(x + 5) = 0 x = 6. – 5 Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved Since I cannot have a negative inside a logarithm. x x Well. ln( e ) = 3 and ln( e ) = 5. "logb(a)" is the power that. x. So first I'll have to apply log rules: 2logb(x) = logb(4) + logb(x – 1) logb(x2) = logb((4)(x – 1)) logb(x2) = logb(4x – 4) Then: x2 = 4x – 4 x2 – 4x + 4 = 0 (x – 2)(x – 2) = 0 The solution is x  Solve ln( e x = 2. The solution is x  Solve 2logb(x) = 6. of course! So ln( e ) = x. Logarithms are powers. the base of the log is e. "ln( ex )" is "the power that.

ex = e8 x=8 Solving Logarithmic Equations: Solving with Exponentials (page 2 of 3) Sections: Solving from the definition. would give you an 8? The power 3. of course! If you wanted to give yourself a lot of work. Since this is "log equals a number"........is equivalent to. using the change-of-base formula: .. (means the exact same thing as) logb(y) = x Note that the base in both the exponential form of the equation and the logarithmic form of the equation (above) is "b".....  Solve log2(x) = 4.. using The Relationship: log2(8) = x 2x=8 But 8 = 23.. so: 2 x = 23 x=3 Note that this could also have been solved by working directly from the definition of a logarithm: What power.... If you can remember this — that whatever had been the argument of the log becomes the "equals" and whatever had been the "equals" becomes the exponent in the exponential.. but that the x and y switch sides when you switch between the two equations.... I can solve by using The Relationship: log2(x) = 4 24 = x 16 = x  Solve log2(8) = x.. when put on "2".... rather than "log equals log". I can solve this by converting the logarithmic statement into its equivalent exponential form.. and vice versa — then you should not have too much trouble with solving log equations.. Calculator Considerations The second type of log equation requires the use of The Relationship: —The Relationship— y = bx . you could also do this one in your calculator. Solving with exponentials.

because I don't yet have "log equals a number". will have a negative number for its argument (as will the term "log2(x – 2)").) You will need this technique in later problems. Since logs cannot have zero or negative arguments.log2(8) = ln(8) / ln(2) Plug this into your calculator. The solution is x = 4. While this change-of-base technique is not particularly useful in this case. if you haven't already. then "log2(x)". so you're sure you know which keys to punch. and you'll get "3" as your answer. To solve this.  Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved Solve log2(log2(x)) = 1. from the original logarithmic equation. –2 But if x = –2. So I'll need to use log rules to combine the two terms on the left-hand side of the equation: log2(x) + log2(x – 2) = 3 log2((x)(x – 2)) = 3 log2(x2 – 2x) = 3 Then I'll use The Relationship to convert the log form to the corresponding exponential form. but it's just another log equation. (Try it on your calculator. I'll need to apply The Relationship twice: . you can see that it does work.  Solve log2(x) + log2(x – 2) = 3 I can't do anything yet. and in which order. then we have: log2(4) + log2(2) ?=? 3 log2(22) + log2(21) ?=? 3 2 + 1 ?=? 3 3=3 The solution checks. Keep in mind that you can check your answers to any "solving" exerice by plugging those answers back into the original equation and checking that the solution "works": log2(x) + log2(x – 2) = 3 log2(4) + log2(4 – 2) ?=? 3 log2(4) + log2(2) ?=? 3 Since the power that turns "2" into "4" is 2 and the power that turns "2" into "2" is "1". This may look overly-complicated. then the solution to the original equation cannot be x = –2. and then I'll solve the result: log2(x2 – 2x) = 3 23 = x2 – 2x 8 = x2 – 2x 0 = x2 – 2x – 8 0 = (x – 4)(x + 2) x = 4.

So I'll factor. First. ) = (log2(x))2.log2(log2(x)) = 1 21 = log2(x) 2 = log2(x) x = 22 x=4 Then the solution is x  Solve log2(x 2 = 4. Then I'll move that term to the right-hand side: 2log2(x) = [log2(x)] [log2(x)] 0 = [log2(x)] [log2(x)] – 2log2(x) This may look bad. from inside the log on the left-hand side of the equation. and then I'll solve the factors by using The Relationship: [log2(x) – 2] log2(x) = 0 or log2(x) – 2 = 0 20 = x or log2(x) = 2 1 = x or 22 = x 1 = x or 4 = x 0 = [log2(x)] The solution is x = 1. and I'll keep in mind that the base is " e": ln(x) = 3 e3 = x . out in front of that log as a multiplier. 4. Solving Logarithmic Equations: Calculator Considerations (page 3 of 3) Sections: Solving from the definition. but it's nothing more than a factoring exercise at this point. I'll use The Relationship. Calculator Considerations The next level of this type of log equation may require a calculator to solve.7). To solve this. I'll write out the square on the right-hand side: log2(x2) = (log2(x))2 log2(x2) = (log2(x)) (log2(x)) Then I'll apply the log rule to move the "squared". An example would be:  Solve ln(x) = 3. The base of the natural logarithm is the number "e" (with a value of about 2. Solving with exponentials.

and therefore the more 3 correct. when you plug the decimal into the original equation. the irrational 3 value of e can only be approximated in the calculator. First I'll convert the log equation to the corresponding exponential form. followed by some algebra: log2(3x) = 4. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved  Solve log2(x) 3 3 = 4.. or x = 7. Make sure you know how to operate your calculator for finding this type of solution.62) ÷ ln(2) ?=? 4. if you need to graph this value or if this is the answer to a word problem.62) ?=? 4. Instead. Round-off error can get really big really fast with logs. answer.5. at the end.086. you will get a result that is close to 4. This will be due to round-off error. to check the solution of the equation log2(3x) = 4. I'll use The Relationship.5) / 3. and then you may or may not need to use your calculator to find an approximation of the exact form of the answer. do the decimal approximation as one (possibly long) set of commands in the calculator. The answer is x = (24. ?=? 4. and may be all that your books wants for the answer.54. If you try to check your solution by plugging "7.  Solve log2(3x) = 4.63. However. Note that this decimal form is not "better" than "e ". "e " is the exact. rounded to two decimal places.. Keep this round-off-error difficulty in mind when checking your solutions.5.5 24.5 4.54247233266. The answer is x = 24.54)) ?=? 4.5 = 22. using The Relationship: log2(x) = 4.54 in for x: log2(3x) = 4.5 24.49952702422.. then a decimal approximation may be more useful. do all the solving and simplification algebraically. By the way. rounded to three decimal places.5 .5.5 = x This requires a calculator for finding the approximate decimal value.. But whereas something like 2 can be simplified to a straight-forward 8. actually. then.This is a valid solution. rounded to two decimal places. just make sure that the result is close enough to be reasonable. and you don't want to lose points because you rounded too early and thus too much.5 ln(22.5 = 3x (24. In that case. For instance.54" into the calculator for "x" in the original equation. the answer is x = 20.5. don't round as you go along.5 log2(22.5) ÷ 3 = x x = 7. Solving this sort of equation usually works this way: You use The Relationship to convert the log equation into the corresponding exponential equation. but not exact. when finding approximations with your calculator.5 log2(3(7. I'll plug 7.

For example:  Solve 3 Since 9 x = 9. . I can equate the powers and solve: 1–x=4 1–4=x –3 = x Sometimes you'll first need to convert one side or the other (or both) to some other base before you can set the powers equal to each other. you have to have "(some base) to (some power) equals (the same base) to (some other power)". I can set the two powers equal to each other: 2 x=2  Solve 3 2x–1 = 27. In other words. you need to have equations with comparable exponential expressions on either side of the "equals" sign. Since the bases ("5" in each case) are the same. Calculators To solve exponential equations without logarithms. That is: x=3 This solution demonstrates how this entire class of equation is solved: if the bases are the same. then the powers must also be the same.  Solve 10 1–x = 104 Since the bases are the same. For example:  Solve 5 x = 53. Solving using logarithms. where you set the two powers equal to each other. in order for the two sides of the equation to be equal to each other. Since the powers must be the same. so you can compare the powers and solve. then the only way the two expressions could be equal is for the powers also to be the same. and solve the resulting equation. and solve the resulting equation. Since the bases are now the same. this is really asking me to solve: 3x = 32 By converting the 9 to a 3 . then you can set the two powers equal to each other.Solving Exponential Equations: Solving from the Definition (page 1 of 3) Sections: Solving from the definition. I've converted the right-hand side of the equation to having the same base as the left-hand side. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved = 32.

I have an exponential on one side of the "equals" and a number on the other. so familiarize yourself with the smaller powers now. so I can convert: 4 = 22 8 = 23 42x^2+2x = (22)2x^2+2x = 2(2)(2x^2+2x) = 24x^2+4x Now I can solve: 4 =8 4x^2+4x 2 = 23 2 4x + 4x = 3 4x2 + 4x – 3 = 0 (2x – 1)(2x + 3) = 0 x = 1/2 . You'll want to have a certain degree of facility. Formatting note: HTML doesn't generally "like" nested superscripts. This exercise works just like the previous one: 3x^2–3x = 81 3x^2–3x = 34 x2 – 3x = 4 x2 – 3x – 4 = 0 (x – 4)(x + 1) = 0 x = –1. because having to find every value in your calculator can waste a lot of time. of familiarity and speed. –3/2  Solve 4 x+1 2x^2+2x = 1/64. the powers of 4 up through 4 = 256. I 3 can solve the equation if I can express the "27" as a power of 3. 4 3 the powers of 5 up through 5 = 625. However.In this case. then I can convert and proceed with the solution: 32x–1 = 27 32x–1 = 33 2x – 1 = 3 2x = 4 x=2 As you can probably tell. Since 27 = 3 . such as the powers 6 5 4 of 2 up through 2 = 64. 8 is not a This equation is similar to the previous two but is not quite the same.  Solve 3 x^2–3x = 81. the powers of 6 up through 6 = 216. 4  Solve 4 2x^2+2x = 8. so the above uses the "carat" notation to denote the exponent. Warning: Don't plan to depend on your calculator for everything. and all the squares. by the time you reach the test. . you will need to get good with your powers of numbers. both 8 and 4 are powers of 2. because power of 4. the powers of 3 up through 3 = 243.

Negative exponents can be used to indicate that the base belongs on the other side of the 3 fraction line. And I'll have to use logarithms to get at it. and convert the radical to exponential form. I can never turn a positive two into a negative anything. and solved for "x = 5". to isolate the variable. For instance:  Solve 2 x = 30. x If this equation had asked me to "Solve 2 = 32". Then I can solve the equation: 8 x–2 = sqrt[8] 8 x–2 = 8 1/2 x – 2 = 1/2 x = 2 1/2 = 5/2 Warning: The following is an example of a common type of trick question:  Solve 2 x = –4 Think about it: What power on the positive number "2" could possibly yield a negative number? A number can never go from positive to negative by taking powers. I need some other method of getting at the x. I can solve the equation: 4x+1 = 1/64 4x+1 = 4–3 x + 1 = –3 x = –4  Solve 8 x–2 = sqrt[8] I need to recall that square roots are the same as one-half powers. you will need to use logarithms. then I can use negative exponents to convert the fraction to an 1 3 –1 –3 exponential expression: /64 = (4 ) = 4 . And. Solving using logarithms. But 30 is not a power of 2. to solve an equation. I have to "undo" whatever has been done to it. because I could 5 have converted the 32 to 2 . in solving these more-complicated equations. it would have been easy. regardless of the number of times I do the multiplication. because I can't solve with the equation with the variable floating up there above the 2. by multiplying two by itself. I can do whatever I like to the equation. so I can't set powers equal to each other. I have to get the variable by itself on one side of the "equals" sign. Calculators Most exponential equations do not solve neatly. So the answer here is: Solving Exponential Equations: Solving by Using Logarithms (page 2 of 3) Sections: Solving from the definition. four or otherwise. I need it back down on the ground where it belongs. Exponentiation simply doesn't work that way. . Using this. set the exponents equal. as long as I do the same thing to both sides. When dealing with equations. Since 64 = 4 .

base-2 log.In this case. and then apply the change-of-base formula. Since the base in the x equation "2 = 30" is "2". and since it is one of the two logs that calculators can evaluate. solve. I get the same answer. but I think I'd rather just use the natural log in the first place: 5x = 212 x ln(5 ) = ln(212) xln(5) = ln(212) x = ln(212)/ln(5) . I might try log-base-2: log2(2x) = log2(30) xlog2(2) = log2(30) x(1) = log2(30) x = log2(30) But I can't evaluate this in my calculator unless I apply the change-of-base formula: x = log2(30) = ln(30)/ln(2) What would happen if I just used the natural log in the first place? 2x = 30 ln(2x) = ln(30) xln(2) = ln(30) x = ln(30)/ln(2) Either way. I could take base-5 log of each side. This is not (generally) required.  Solve 5 x = 212. Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved Note: I could have used the common (base-10) log instead of the natural (base-e) log. Since 212 is not a power of 5. Since science uses the natural log so much. so I'll need to undo the exponent by taking the log of both sides of the equation. The backwards (technically. This is useful to me because of the log rule that says that exponents inside a log can be turned into multipliers in front of the log: logb(mn) = n · logb(m) When I take the log of both sides of an equation. etc). the variable x has been put in the exponent. and still come up with the same value (when evaluated in the calculator). then I will have to use logs to solve this equation. I can use any log I like (base-10 log. but taking natural log in the first place was simpler and shorter. the "inverse") of exponentials are logarithms. but is often more useful than other options. but some are sometimes more useful than others. natural log. I tend to take the natural log of both sides when solving exponential equations.

In this particular instance. Before I can start looking at the exponential.or about 3.  Solve 10 2x = 52.328.858.or about 2.. I first have to get rid of the 3..866.. I will use the natural log in this case: . I will have to use logs to solve this. since the base is 10 and since base-10 logs can be done on the calculator. rounded to three decimal places. rounded to three decimal places.. I will have to use logs. rounded to three decimal places.. so I'll divide that off to get: 2x+4 = 350/3 Since 350 /3 is not a power of 2... Since 52 is not a power of 10. Note: You could also solve the above by using exponent rules to break apart the power on the 2: 2x+4 = (2x)(24) = (2x)(16) .  Solve 3(2 x+4 ) = 350.or about 0. I will use the common log instead of the natural log to solve this equation: 102x = 52 log(102x) = log(52) 2xlog(10) = log(52) 2x(1) = log(52) 2x = log(52) x = log(52)/2 .

Also. and then only if the decimal approximation is needed. typeset the entire expression at once. I need to isolate the variable. and then simplify. and then divide this by the log of 2. be sure to "carry" as much as possible within the calculator's memory... because the calculator thought you meant "divide the natural log of 350 by 3. and then subtracting 4 from this".then you will get the wrong value. which (warning!) can get vary large when dealing with logarithms. Solving using logarithms. you'll get the same decimal equivalent. as shown at right: . in your calculator. Then take the log of each side. in the last exercise on the previous 350 page. you should not evaluate "ln( /3)" until the very end of the exercise. Don't be shy about being flexible! Solving Exponential Equations: Calculators and Other Considerations (page 3 of 3) Sections: Solving from the definition. and then subtract 4" What you need to enter is this: . divided by the natural log of 2. this will go a long way toward avoiding round-off error. get in the habit of doing as many steps as you can at all once within the calculator's memory. so first I have to subtract the Then I can solve by taking logs: . 2. being careful with your parentheses... You'll get an answer in the form ln(175/24)/ln(2). If you use a graphing calculator. For instance. Parentheses can make a big difference on graphing calculators!  Solve 2e x + 5 = 115. the roundoff error will very likely be too large for your answer to be counted "correct". write them down.which is "the natural log of the quotient of 350 and 3. If you typeset without parentheses. When you evaluate this. 5 and divide the 2 to the other side. Calculators You should not reduce expressions to decimal values until the very end of your computations. Instead. re-enter them into your calculator.Then divide through by the 16 and simplify to get 175/24. Don't find all the values of the individual logs. You should do as much of your work as possible symbolically and "exactly".866.

007. so I'll divide off the 250.000) 0...000) 0. I will use the common log to solve.36x = log(25) + log(103) 0.000) 0.217. rounded to three decimal places.000) 0. To solve.000) 0. You might recognize this as being the equation that stands for an initial investment of $250 at four percent interest. I'll have to get the x by itself. rounded to three decimal places.12x = 25. The natural log would have given the same answer (eventually. and asking how many years x the money should be invested in order to have $1000 in the account.000 log(10000.36x = log(25. but the base-10 log will be simpler in this case: 10000.. and then use logs: .. if you had come up with the first form of the answer.or about 12.36x = log(25) + log(1. one of the given choices. but equivalent in value to.000)/0.12x = 25. For instance.or about 4. after some manipulation). where your form of the answer might be different in form from.000) x = log(25. by using log properties and rules) before entering it into the calculator: Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved 0. I am pointing this out because you may need to be flexible with the form of your final answer. Since the base in this case is 1000. which is a power of 10.12xlog(103) = log(25.  Solve 250(1.36x = log(25.000) 0. Note that the expression could have been simplified differently.  Solve 1000 0. not a multiplier.36 .000.36x = log(25 × 1.2ex + 5 = 115 2ex = 110 ex = 55 ln(ex) = ln(55) xln(e) = ln(55) x(1) = ln(55) x = ln(55) .36x = log(25) + 3 x = [ log(25) + 3 ] / 0.12x(3) = log(25.12xlog(1000) = log(25. The same goes for multiple-choice tests.04) x = 1000. compounded annually. but the back of the book gave the second form of the answer. the 1000 is the base.000) 0.36 This is equivalent to the previous form of the answer.12x) = log(25. Don't try to divide both sides by 1000. then you would need to be able to recognize that the two forms are actually the same thing.

. As long as you do your steps clearly and completely. and keep your log rules in mind.04)x = 4 ln((1.346 years".04) .04)x = 1000 (1.250(1.04) = ln(4) x = ln(4)/ln(1. Just remember to keep your work as "exact" as you can for as long as you can. wait to approximate things in your calculator until the very end. rounded to three decimal places. .or about 35. you shouldn't have too much trouble in solving these equations. or about thirty-five years and four months. If this question had been stated in terms of interest rates and investments. along with the definitions of exponentials and logs.346. if at all possible.04)x) = ln(4) xln(1.. the above answer would have stood for "35.