Roots of Real Numbers

Finding the square root of a number and squaring a number are inverse operations. To find the square root of a number n, you must find a number whose square is n. For example, a square root of 49 is 7 since 72 = 49. Likewise, (–7)2 = 49, so –7 is also a square root of 49.

Definition of Square Root For any real numbers a and b, if a2 = b, then a is a square root of b. NOTE: Every positive real number has two real number square roots. The number 0 has just one square root, 0 itself. Negative numbers do not have real number square roots.

Understanding the symbols This symbol represents the principal square root of a.

The principal square root of a non-negative number is its nonnegative square root. For example: In other words, To name the negative square root of a we use this symbol. For example:

To indicate both square roots, use the plus/minus sign which indicates positive or negative. For example: Negative numbers do not have real number square roots. For example: Terminology The symbol

is called a radical sign. An expression written with a radical sign is called a radical

expression. The expression written under the radical sign is called the radicand.

Examples: Simplify completely. Do not use a calculator.

NOTE: Since m could be any real number value, positive or negative, and the symbol used in the principal square root, we should indicate the absolute value of m to ensure the result is non-negative. NOTE: A perfect square trinomial can be factored to be the product of a binomial squared. Absolute value bars are needed since this is the principal square root.

Cube Roots
Definition of Cube Root

The number c is the cube root of a if its third power is a, that is, c3 = a. Every real number has exactly one cube root in the real number system. For example: 2 is the cube root of 8 because 23 = 8, or .

–3 is the cube root of –27 because (–3)3 = –27, or

NOTE: No absolute value signs are needed when finding cube roots, because a real number has just one cube root. The cube root of a positive number is positive. The cube root of a negative number is negative.

nth Roots
For any real numbers a and b, and any positive integer n, if an = b, then a is the nth root of b. example:

Whenever the number n in

is an odd number, we say we are taking an odd root.

When the index is an even number, we say that we are taking an even root. The number n is called the index. When the index is 2 we do not write it. When we take any odd root of a number, we find that there is just one answer. If the number is positive, the root is positive. If the number is negative, the root is negative. Every positive real number has two nth roots when n is even. One of these roots is positive and one is negative. Negative real numbers do not have nth roots when n is even. Absolute value signs are never needed when finding odd roots. When finding even nth roots, absolute value signs are sometimes necessary, as with square roots.

examples:

odd index – one answer only, no absolute value bars needed.

even index – two nth roots are possible, we only want the non-negative root. Absolute value bars are needed to ensure y is non-negative. odd index – one answer only, a negative constant, no absolute value bars needed since index is odd.

A SQUARE ROOT RADICAL is "simplified" when the radicand has no
square factors.

Example 1. 33, for example, has no square factors. Its factors are 3· 11, neither of which is a square number. Therefore, is simplified, or, as we say, in its simplest form. Example 2. 18 has the square factor 9. 18 = 9· 2. Therefore, is not in its simplest form. To put a radical in its simplest form, we make use of this theorem:

The square root of a product is equal to the product of the square roots of each factor.
Therefore, = We have simplified . = · =3

Problem 1. Simplify the following. a) = = =5 b) = = =3 c) = =7 42 has no square factors. Therefore, d) its simplest form. e) = = 10 f) = =5 g) = =4 Problem 2. Reduce to lowest terms. a) b) c)
2 3

is in

= =

2 3

= =

2

= 3 =2

The radical is in its simplest form. The fraction = 2 cannot be reduced.

Similar radicals
Similar radicals have the same radicand. We add them as like terms.
7+2 +5 +6 − = 7+8 +4

7 does not "belong" to any radical. Problem 3. Simplify each radical, then add the similar radicals. a) + =3 +2 =5 b) 4 <> −2 + = 4 −2 − 2· 7 − 14 + + +

= 4· 5 = 20 =7 c) 3 <> + −2 = 3

+ +2 +2 −2

−2 − 2· 4 −8

= 3· 2 =6 =2 d) 3 + + =3 + =3 + 2 =3 + 5 e) 1 − + =1 − =1 − 8 =1 − 5 + +3 + +3

Problem 4. Simplify the following. a)
2

=

2

=2 − , = 2+ =

on dividing each term in the numerator by 2.

b) c)

5 6

= = 6

5

3

Simplifying powers

Example 3. Since the square of any power produces an even exponent (a )² = a
3 6

-- then the square root of an even power will be half the exponent. =a
7 3

As for an odd power, such as a , it is composed of an even power times a: a = aa
7 6

Therefore, = =a
3

Problem 5. Simplify each radical. (Assume a a) d) f)

0.)

=
= = =a = a7

b) a5

=
e) g) = = =

c) an a4
= an

=

Problem 6. Simplify each radical. Remove the even powers. (Assume that the variables do not have negative values.)

a) b) c)

= = =

= 2x = 2x²y
3

= 3x yz²
4

Factors of the radicand
Problem 7. True or false? That is, which of these is a formal rule of algebra? (Assume that the variables do not have negative values.) True. This is the rule. The square root of a product a) is the product of the square roots of each factor. False. The radicand is not made up of b) = + factors, as in part a). c) b d) a e) b = a + False! The radicand is not made up of factors. = T rue. = a + True. The radicand is (a + b)².

Problem 8. Express each radical in simplest form. a) = =2 . Make factors! b) = = 2a c) = = 3b

We have assumed that the variables of the radicand do not have negative values. Thus, when x ≥ 0, then . But if x < 0 -- if, for example, x = −5 -- then

Ex. -- because the square root is never negative. Rather, when x < 0, then

In general, then, for any value of x, positive or negative, we can identify with the absolute value of x.

Fractional radicand
A radical is also in it simplest form when the radicand is not a fraction. Example 4. The denominator a square number. When the denominator is a square number, as =1 2 Example 5. = The definition of division , then

=1
2

Problem 9. Simplify each radical. a) = d) =
1 3

b) = =5
6

=1
3

c) =

=2
5

Example The denominator not a 6. square number.

Simplify

.

Solution. When the denominator is not a square number, we can make it a square number by multiplying it. In this example, we will multiply it by itself, that is, by 2. But then we must multiply the numerator also by 2: = = =1
2

Example 7. Simplify

.

Solution. The denominator must be a perfect square -- it must be composed of even powers. Therefore, simply multiply the denominator -- and the numerator -- by bc. Then extract the even powers. = =
a b c
3

4

Problem 10. Simplify each radical.

a) = d) =

=

1 3 =

b) = = 5 6 x

=

1 5

c) =

=

1 7

e) =

=

2 x ²

f) =

a =² b c²