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Functions versus Relations (page 1 of 2

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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 .

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.

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".

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.

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".

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.

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.

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 .