Equations and Inequalities
Quadratic Equations
Learning Objectives
In this section you will:
 Solve quadratic equations by factoring.
 Solve quadratic equations by the square root property.
 Solve quadratic equations by completing the square.
 Solve quadratic equations by using the quadratic formula.
The computer monitor on the left in (Figure) is a 23.6inch model and the one on the right is a 27inch model. Proportionally, the monitors appear very similar. If there is a limited amount of space and we desire the largest monitor possible, how do we decide which one to choose? In this section, we will learn how to solve problems such as this using four different methods.
Solving Quadratic Equations by Factoring
An equation containing a seconddegree polynomial is called a quadratic equation. For example, equations such asandare quadratic equations. They are used in countless ways in the fields of engineering, architecture, finance, biological science, and, of course, mathematics.
Often the easiest method of solving a quadratic equation is factoring. Factoring means finding expressions that can be multiplied together to give the expression on one side of the equation.
If a quadratic equation can be factored, it is written as a product of linear terms. Solving by factoring depends on the zeroproduct property, which states that ifthenorwhere a and b are real numbers or algebraic expressions. In other words, if the product of two numbers or two expressions equals zero, then one of the numbers or one of the expressions must equal zero because zero multiplied by anything equals zero.
Multiplying the factors expands the equation to a string of terms separated by plus or minus signs. So, in that sense, the operation of multiplication undoes the operation of factoring. For example, expand the factored expressionby multiplying the two factors together.
The product is a quadratic expression. Set equal to zero,is a quadratic equation. If we were to factor the equation, we would get back the factors we multiplied.
The process of factoring a quadratic equation depends on the leading coefficient, whether it is 1 or another integer. We will look at both situations; but first, we want to confirm that the equation is written in standard form,where a, b, and c are real numbers, andThe equationis in standard form.
We can use the zeroproduct property to solve quadratic equations in which we first have to factor out the greatest common factor (GCF), and for equations that have special factoring formulas as well, such as the difference of squares, both of which we will see later in this section.
The ZeroProduct Property and Quadratic Equations
The zeroproduct property states
where a and b are real numbers or algebraic expressions.
A quadratic equation is an equation containing a seconddegree polynomial; for example
where a, b, and c are real numbers, and ifit is in standard form.
Solving Quadratics with a Leading Coefficient of 1
In the quadratic equationthe leading coefficient, or the coefficient ofis 1. We have one method of factoring quadratic equations in this form.
How To
Given a quadratic equation with the leading coefficient of 1, factor it.
 Find two numbers whose product equals c and whose sum equals b.
 Use those numbers to write two factors of the formwhere k is one of the numbers found in step 1. Use the numbers exactly as they are. In other words, if the two numbers are 1 andthe factors are
 Solve using the zeroproduct property by setting each factor equal to zero and solving for the variable.
Solving a Quadratic Equation by Factoring when the Leading Coefficient is not 1
Factor and solve the equation:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1815377″]
To factorwe look for two numbers whose product equalsand whose sum equals 1. Begin by looking at the possible factors of
The last pair,sums to 1, so these are the numbers. Note that only one pair of numbers will work. Then, write the factors.
To solve this equation, we use the zeroproduct property. Set each factor equal to zero and solve.
The two solutions are and We can see how the solutions relate to the graph in (Figure). The solutions are the xintercepts of
Try It
Factor and solve the quadratic equation:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2501096″]
[/hiddenanswer]
Solve the Quadratic Equation by Factoring
Solve the quadratic equation by factoring:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1690316″]
Find two numbers whose product equalsand whose sum equalsList the factors of
The numbers that add to 8 are 3 and 5. Then, write the factors, set each factor equal to zero, and solve.
The solutions are and [/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve the quadratic equation by factoring:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2390008″]
[latex]x=7,[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
Using the ZeroProduct Property to Solve a Quadratic Equation Written as the Difference of Squares
Solve the difference of squares equation using the zeroproduct property:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1342314″]
Recognizing that the equation represents the difference of squares, we can write the two factors by taking the square root of each term, using a minus sign as the operator in one factor and a plus sign as the operator in the other. Solve using the zerofactor property.
The solutions are and [/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve by factoring:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1561505″]
[latex]x=5,[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
Solving a Quadratic Equation by Factoring when the Leading Coefficient is not 1
When the leading coefficient is not 1, we factor a quadratic equation using the method called grouping, which requires four terms. With the equation in standard form, letâ€™s review the grouping procedures:
 With the quadratic in standard form,multiply
 Find two numbers whose product equalsand whose sum equals
 Rewrite the equation replacing theterm with two terms using the numbers found in step 1 as coefficients of x.
 Factor the first two terms and then factor the last two terms. The expressions in parentheses must be exactly the same to use grouping.
 Factor out the expression in parentheses.
 Set the expressions equal to zero and solve for the variable.
Solving a Quadratic Equation Using Grouping
Use grouping to factor and solve the quadratic equation:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1558604″]
First, multiplyThen list the factors of
The only pair of factors that sums toisRewrite the equation replacing the b term,with two terms using 3 and 12 as coefficients of x. Factor the first two terms, and then factor the last two terms.
Solve using the zeroproduct property.
The solutions are [latex]\text{and}3.\,[/latex]See (Figure).[/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve using factoring by grouping:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid768476″]
[latex]x=\frac{2}{3},[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
Solving a Polynomial of Higher Degree by Factoring
Solve the equation by factoring:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2440018″]
This equation does not look like a quadratic, as the highest power is 3, not 2. Recall that the first thing we want to do when solving any equation is to factor out the GCF, if one exists. And it does here. We can factor outfrom all of the terms and then proceed with grouping.
Use grouping on the expression in parentheses.
Now, we use the zeroproduct property. Notice that we have three factors.
The solutions are [latex]\frac{2}{3},[/latex]and[/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve by factoring:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2722624″]
[/hiddenanswer]
Using the Square Root Property
When there is no linear term in the equation, another method of solving a quadratic equation is by using the square root property, in which we isolate theterm and take the square root of the number on the other side of the equals sign. Keep in mind that sometimes we may have to manipulate the equation to isolate theterm so that the square root property can be used.
The Square Root Property
With theterm isolated, the square root property states that:
where k is a nonzero real number.
How To
Given a quadratic equation with anterm but noterm, use the square root property to solve it.
 Isolate theterm on one side of the equal sign.
 Take the square root of both sides of the equation, putting asign before the expression on the side opposite the squared term.
 Simplify the numbers on the side with thesign.
Solving a Simple Quadratic Equation Using the Square Root Property
Solve the quadratic using the square root property:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1515767″]
Take the square root of both sides, and then simplify the radical. Remember to use asign before the radical symbol.
The solutions are [latex]2\sqrt{2}.[/latex][/hiddenanswer]
Solving a Quadratic Equation Using the Square Root Property
Solve the quadratic equation:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1568725″]
First, isolate theterm. Then take the square root of both sides.
The solutions are [latex]\text{and}\frac{\sqrt{6}}{2}.[/latex][/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve the quadratic equation using the square root property:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1793755″]
[/hiddenanswer]
Completing the Square
Not all quadratic equations can be factored or can be solved in their original form using the square root property. In these cases, we may use a method for solving a quadratic equation known as completing the square. Using this method, we add or subtract terms to both sides of the equation until we have a perfect square trinomial on one side of the equal sign. We then apply the square root property. To complete the square, the leading coefficient, a, must equal 1. If it does not, then divide the entire equation by a. Then, we can use the following procedures to solve a quadratic equation by completing the square.
We will use the exampleto illustrate each step.

Given a quadratic equation that cannot be factored, and withfirst add or subtract the constant term to the right sign of the equal sign.

Multiply the b term byand square it.

Addto both sides of the equal sign and simplify the right side. We have

The left side of the equation can now be factored as a perfect square.

Use the square root property and solve.

The solutions are [latex]\text{and}2\sqrt{3}.[/latex]
Solving a Quadratic by Completing the Square
Solve the quadratic equation by completing the square:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2523221″]
First, move the constant term to the right side of the equal sign.
Then, takeof the b term and square it.
Add the result to both sides of the equal sign.
Factor the left side as a perfect square and simplify the right side.
Use the square root property and solve.
The solutions are [latex]\text{and}\frac{3}{2}\frac{\sqrt{29}}{2}.[/latex][/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve by completing the square:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1830005″]
[/hiddenanswer]
Using the Quadratic Formula
The fourth method of solving a quadratic equation is by using the quadratic formula, a formula that will solve all quadratic equations. Although the quadratic formula works on any quadratic equation in standard form, it is easy to make errors in substituting the values into the formula. Pay close attention when substituting, and use parentheses when inserting a negative number.
We can derive the quadratic formula by completing the square. We will assume that the leading coefficient is positive; if it is negative, we can multiply the equation byand obtain a positive a. Given[latex]a\ne 0,[/latex]we will complete the square as follows:

First, move the constant term to the right side of the equal sign:

As we want the leading coefficient to equal 1, divide through by a:

Then, findof the middle term, and addto both sides of the equal sign:

Next, write the left side as a perfect square. Find the common denominator of the right side and write it as a single fraction:

Now, use the square root property, which gives

Finally, addto both sides of the equation and combine the terms on the right side. Thus,
The Quadratic Formula
Written in standard form,any quadratic equation can be solved using the quadratic formula:
where a, b, and c are real numbers and
How To
Given a quadratic equation, solve it using the quadratic formula
 Make sure the equation is in standard form:
 Make note of the values of the coefficients and constant term,and
 Carefully substitute the values noted in step 2 into the equation. To avoid needless errors, use parentheses around each number input into the formula.
 Calculate and solve.
Solve the Quadratic Equation Using the Quadratic Formula
Solve the quadratic equation:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1800418″]
Identify the coefficients:Then use the quadratic formula.
Solving a Quadratic Equation with the Quadratic Formula
Use the quadratic formula to solve
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1717551″]
First, we identify the coefficients:and
Substitute these values into the quadratic formula.
The solutions to the equation are and or and [/hiddenanswer]
Try It
Solve the quadratic equation using the quadratic formula:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2437187″]
[latex]x=\frac{1}{3}[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
The Discriminant
The quadratic formula not only generates the solutions to a quadratic equation, it tells us about the nature of the solutions when we consider the discriminant, or the expression under the radical,The discriminant tells us whether the solutions are real numbers or complex numbers, and how many solutions of each type to expect. (Figure) relates the value of the discriminant to the solutions of a quadratic equation.
Value of Discriminant  Results 

One rational solution (double solution)  
perfect square  Two rational solutions 
not a perfect square  Two irrational solutions 
Two complex solutions 
The Discriminant
For, where, , andare real numbers, the discriminant is the expression under the radical in the quadratic formula:It tells us whether the solutions are real numbers or complex numbers and how many solutions of each type to expect.
Using the Discriminant to Find the Nature of the Solutions to a Quadratic Equation
Use the discriminant to find the nature of the solutions to the following quadratic equations:
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2508930″]
Calculate the discriminantfor each equation and state the expected type of solutions.

There will be one rational double solution.

Asis a perfect square, there will be two rational solutions.

Asis a perfect square, there will be two rational solutions.

There will be two complex solutions.
[/hiddenanswer]
Using the Pythagorean Theorem
One of the most famous formulas in mathematics is the Pythagorean Theorem. It is based on a right triangle, and states the relationship among the lengths of the sides aswhereandrefer to the legs of a right triangle adjacent to theangle, andrefers to the hypotenuse. It has immeasurable uses in architecture, engineering, the sciences, geometry, trigonometry, and algebra, and in everyday applications.
We use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve for the length of one side of a triangle when we have the lengths of the other two. Because each of the terms is squared in the theorem, when we are solving for a side of a triangle, we have a quadratic equation. We can use the methods for solving quadratic equations that we learned in this section to solve for the missing side.
The Pythagorean Theorem is given as
whereandrefer to the legs of a right triangle adjacent to theangle, andrefers to the hypotenuse, as shown in (Figure).
Finding the Length of the Missing Side of a Right Triangle
Find the length of the missing side of the right triangle in (Figure).
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2528218″]
As we have measurements for side b and the hypotenuse, the missing side is a.
Try It
Use the Pythagorean Theorem to solve the right triangle problem: Leg a measures 4 units, leg b measures 3 units. Find the length of the hypotenuse.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1574190″]
units
[/hiddenanswer]
Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with quadratic equations.
Key Equations
quadratic formula 
Key Concepts
 Many quadratic equations can be solved by factoring when the equation has a leading coefficient of 1 or if the equation is a difference of squares. The zerofactor property is then used to find solutions. See (Figure), (Figure), and (Figure).
 Many quadratic equations with a leading coefficient other than 1 can be solved by factoring using the grouping method. See (Figure) and (Figure).
 Another method for solving quadratics is the square root property. The variable is squared. We isolate the squared term and take the square root of both sides of the equation. The solution will yield a positive and negative solution. See (Figure) and (Figure).
 Completing the square is a method of solving quadratic equations when the equation cannot be factored. See (Figure).
 A highly dependable method for solving quadratic equations is the quadratic formula, based on the coefficients and the constant term in the equation. See (Figure).
 The discriminant is used to indicate the nature of the roots that the quadratic equation will yield: real or complex, rational or irrational, and how many of each. See (Figure).
 The Pythagorean Theorem, among the most famous theorems in history, is used to solve righttriangle problems and has applications in numerous fields. Solving for the length of one side of a right triangle requires solving a quadratic equation. See (Figure).
Section Exercises
Verbal
How do we recognize when an equation is quadratic?
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1752703″]
It is a seconddegree equation (the highest variable exponent is 2).
[/hiddenanswer]
When we solve a quadratic equation, how many solutions should we always start out seeking? Explain why when solving a quadratic equation in the formwe may graph the equationand have no zeroes (xintercepts).
When we solve a quadratic equation by factoring, why do we move all terms to one side, having zero on the other side?
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid3094978″]
We want to take advantage of the zero property of multiplication in the fact that ifthen it must follow that each factor separately offers a solution to the product being zero:
[/hiddenanswer]
In the quadratic formula, what is the name of the expression under the radical signand how does it determine the number of and nature of our solutions?
Describe two scenarios where using the square root property to solve a quadratic equation would be the most efficient method.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1579361″]
One, when no linear term is present (no x term), such asTwo, when the equation is already in the form
[/hiddenanswer]
Algebraic
For the following exercises, solve the quadratic equation by factoring.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2707466″]
[latex]x=3[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1951698″]
[latex]x=\frac{1}{3}[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2390151″]
[latex]x=5[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid3207108″]
[latex]x=\frac{3}{2}[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2520812″]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2725532″]
[latex]x=\frac{3}{7}[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
For the following exercises, solve the quadratic equation by using the square root property.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1593245″]
[latex]x=6[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid3105701″]
[latex]x=4[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1518490″]
[latex]x=2[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
For the following exercises, solve the quadratic equation by completing the square. Show each step.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2946107″]
[latex]x=11[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid3236177″]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1334842″]
[latex]z=\frac{1}{2}[/latex]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid3048222″]
[/hiddenanswer]
For the following exercises, determine the discriminant, and then state how many solutions there are and the nature of the solutions. Do not solve.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2734015″]
Not real
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1357814″]
One rational
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2947599″]
Two real; rational
[/hiddenanswer]
For the following exercises, solve the quadratic equation by using the quadratic formula. If the solutions are not real, state No Real Solution.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1334304″]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2712002″]
[/hiddenanswer]
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1353942″]
[/hiddenanswer]
Technology
For the following exercises, enter the expressions into your graphing utility and find the zeroes to the equation (the xintercepts) by using 2^{nd} CALC 2:zero. Recall finding zeroes will ask left bound (move your cursor to the left of the zero,enter), then right bound (move your cursor to the right of the zero,enter), then guess (move your cursor between the bounds near the zero, enter). Round your answers to the nearest thousandth.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid3261334″]
and
[/hiddenanswer]
To solve the quadratic equationwe can graph these two equations
and find the points of intersection. Recall 2^{nd} CALC 5:intersection. Do this and find the solutions to the nearest tenth.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2685483″]
and
[/hiddenanswer]
To solve the quadratic equationwe can graph these two equations
and find the points of intersection. Recall 2^{nd} CALC 5:intersection. Do this and find the solutions to the nearest tenth.
Extensions
Beginning with the general form of a quadratic equation,solve for x by using the completing the square method, thus deriving the quadratic formula.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2522022″]
[/hiddenanswer]
Show that the sum of the two solutions to the quadratic equation is
A person has a garden that has a length 10 feet longer than the width. Set up a quadratic equation to find the dimensions of the garden if its area is 119 ft.^{2}. Solve the quadratic equation to find the length and width.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2021223″]
7 ft. and 17 ft.
[/hiddenanswer]
Abercrombie and Fitch stock had a price given aswhereis the time in months from 1999 to 2001. (is January 1999). Find the two months in which the price of the stock was $30.
Suppose that an equation is givenwhererepresents the number of items sold at an auction andis the profit made by the business that ran the auction. How many items sold would make this profit a maximum? Solve this by graphing the expression in your graphing utility and finding the maximum using 2^{nd} CALC maximum. To obtain a good window for the curve, set[0,200] and[0,10000].
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2513409″]
maximum at
[/hiddenanswer]
RealWorld Applications
A formula for the normal systolic blood pressure for a man agemeasured in mmHg, is given asFind the age to the nearest year of a man whose normal blood pressure measures 125 mmHg.
The cost function for a certain company isand the revenue is given byRecall that profit is revenue minus cost. Set up a quadratic equation and find two values of x (production level) that will create a profit of $300.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid1919092″]
The quadratic equation would beThe two values ofare 20 and 60.
[/hiddenanswer]
A falling object travels a distance given by the formulaft, whereis measured in seconds. How long will it take for the object to traveled 74 ft?
A vacant lot is being converted into a community garden. The garden and the walkway around its perimeter have an area of 378 ft^{2}. Find the width of the walkway if the garden is 12 ft. wide by 15 ft. long.
[hiddenanswer a=”fsid2385540″]
3 feet
[/hiddenanswer]
An epidemiological study of the spread of a certain influenza strain that hit a small school population found that the total number of students,who contracted the fludays after it broke out is given by the modelwhereFind the day that 160 students had the flu. Recall that the restriction onis at most 6.
Glossary
 completing the square
 a process for solving quadratic equations in which terms are added to or subtracted from both sides of the equation in order to make one side a perfect square
 discriminant
 the expression under the radical in the quadratic formula that indicates the nature of the solutions, real or complex, rational or irrational, single or double roots.
 Pythagorean Theorem
 a theorem that states the relationship among the lengths of the sides of a right triangle, used to solve right triangle problems
 quadratic equation
 an equation containing a seconddegree polynomial; can be solved using multiple methods
 quadratic formula
 a formula that will solve all quadratic equations
 square root property
 one of the methods used to solve a quadratic equation, in which theterm is isolated so that the square root of both sides of the equation can be taken to solve for x
 zeroproduct property
 the property that formally states that multiplication by zero is zero, so that each factor of a quadratic equation can be set equal to zero to solve equations