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Quadratic Functions and Equations

Solving Quadratic Equations

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Quadratic Equation

A quadratic equation is a polynomial equation of second degree, meaning the highest exponent of its monomials is A quadratic equation can be written in standard form as follows.

Here, the leading coefficient is non-zero, which guarantees that the term is present. Solving a quadratic equation means finding the zeros of the related quadratic function. Therefore, quadratic equations can have at most two solutions.
This type of equation can be solved using several methods, such as graphing and factoring.


Solving a Quadratic Equation Graphically

A quadratic equation can be solved graphically by drawing the parabola that corresponds to the related quadratic function and identifying its zeros. Consider the following equation as an example.
These four steps can be followed to find the solutions of the equation.
Write the Equation in Standard Form
If neither side of the equation equals rearrange it so that all terms are on the same side.
If there is more than one term with the same degree, simplify the equation by combining like terms.
The equation is in standard form now.
Graph the Related Function
The side with the variables can now be seen as a function
To graph the quadratic function in standard form, its characteristics should be identified first.
Direction Vertex Axis of Symmetry intercept

In addition to these points, the reflection of the intercept across the axis of symmetry is at which is also on the parabola. Now, the graph can be drawn.

Graph of related function
Identify Any Points With coordinate

Now, find all the points on the graph that have a coordinate equal to

Identify the coordinates of Those Points

The coordinates of the identified points solve the equation

In the example, the coordinates of the points where the curve intercepts the axis are and Note that solving an equation graphically does not necessarily lead to an exact answer. To verify a solution, substitute it into and evaluate the expression. Verifying the solution is done by evaluating
Evaluate right-hand side
When the value of is Therefore, is an exact solution. The solution can now be verified by following the same procedure.
Solution Substitute Evaluate
Since is also a solution. Therefore, the equation has two solutions.


Simple Quadratic Equation

Simple quadratic equations take the form
and are solved using inverse operations. Once remains on the left-hand side, the equation can be written as where . The value of gives the number of solutions the equation has.


Solving Quadratic Equations with Square Roots

Simple quadratic equations are quadratic equations whose linear coefficient is equal to
This type of equation can be solved using inverse operations, and two steps must be followed.
  1. Isolate
  2. Take square roots on both sides of the equation.
As an example, consider the equation
Inverse operations will be used to isolate Here, will be added to both sides of the equation. Then, the left- and right-hand sides will be divided by
Take Square Roots
Now that has been isolated, it is necessary to undo the exponent. Exponents and radicals of the same index undo each other. Therefore, square roots undo powers of

Note that the negative solution is also considered along with the principal root when solving the equation.


Factoring a Quadratic Trinomial

When trying to factor a quadratic trinomial of the form it can be difficult to see its factors. Consider the following expression.
Here, and There are six steps to factor this trinomial.
Factor Out the GCF of and
To fully factor a quadratic trinomial, the Greatest Common Factor (GCF) of and has to be factored out first. To identify the GCF of these numbers, their prime factors will be listed.
It can be seen that and share exactly one factor,
Now, can be factored out.
In the remaining steps, the factored coefficient before the parentheses can be ignored. The new considered quadratic trinomial is Therefore, the current values of and are and respectively. If the GCF of the coefficients is this step can be ignored.
Find the Factor Pair of Whose Sum Is

It is known that and so Therefore, the factors must have the same sign. Also, Since the sum of the factors is positive and they must have the same sign, both factors must be positive. All positive factor pairs of can now be listed and their sums checked.

Factors of Sum of Factors

In this case, the correct factor pair is and The following table sums up how to determine the signs of the factors based on the values of and

Positive Positive Both positive
Positive Negative Both negative
Negative Positive One positive and one negative. The absolute value of the positive factor is greater.
Negative Negative One positive and one negative. The absolute value of the negative factor is greater.

Such analysis makes the list of possible factor pairs shorter.

Write as a Sum
The factor pair obtained in the previous step will be used to rewrite the term — the linear term — of the quadratic trinomial as a sum. Remember that the factors are and
The linear term can be rewritten in the original expression as
Factor Out the GCF of the First Two Terms
The expression has four terms, which can be grouped into the and the Then, the GCF of each group can be factored out.
The first two terms, and can be factored.
The GCF of and is
Factor Out the GCF of the Last Two Terms
The process used in Step will be repeated for the last two terms. In this case, and cannot be factored, so their GCF is
Factor Out the Common Factor
If all the previous steps have been performed correctly, there should now be two terms with a common factor.
The common factor will be factored out.
The factored form of is Remember that the original trinomial was and that the GCF was factored out in Step This GCF has to be included in the final result.


Solve the quadratic equation by factoring

Solve the following equation by factoring.
Show Solution expand_more
We'll focus on the left-hand side of the equation before solving for Notice that and are the factors that multiply to equal and add to
Notice that, in factored form, the numbers in the parentheses with are the numbers from the chosen factor pair. This is because the coefficient of is We could have written the expression in factored form immediately after finding the factor pair. Lastly, we can use the zero product property to solve the equation.
Thus, the solutions to the equation are and
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