Let’s look at a few problems on solving equations of different forms.
Find the smaller root for the following.
Problem (a). (2-x) (3-x) = 2 / 3
Problem (b). x (x-1) (7-2x) = (3-x) (4-x) (4-2x)
Problem (c). [x (x-1) ⁄ (3-x)] + [x (x-1) ⁄ (4-x)] = 4 – 2x
Relating to equations above, we plot several curves using Geogebra (an app which can produce the graph for given functions – of course, this is only one feature of the many).
What’s interesting is all the three equations as in (a)(b)(c) share a common solution, and it can be found through algebraic manipulation. Take a forward look (click) here – you will see amazing graphs; the solution (roots) shall be some intersection points.
Of these questions, the challenging levels are in the order of ascending: from average level like (a), to somewhat challenging like (b), to very challenging in (c). For better understanding, we suggest the reader to try solve questions (a) (b) (c) first; and then compare with the solution provided in this file (pdf),
where we solve algebraically only for (a), but applying a combination of algebraic and graphic solution to tackle problems (b) and (c). It’s called smart solution — we are applying a variety of tools at hand, not just following a fixed procedure.
Combining graphing with algebra facilitate us to guess where the root(s) of the equation are, or (sometimes) make observation of the roots easier. It’s also fun!
Try work out these equations first, then you can check out the solutions (pdf) here.
Now you can take a second look at the graphic solution. Have you seen and understood more, about the question, and about the how algebraic manipulation plays out in function graphs?