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Linear equations

Recall the definition of a linear equation (or a function):

none of the variables is raised to any other power than 1.

For example: 1/x + 2 = 0 is non-linear because x is

raised to the power of -1.

To solve the linear equation: 10x 2 = 0.

Rearrange the expression move the xs to the left-hand

side and the constant to the right-hand side.

You get: 10x = 2, divide by 10

You get: x = 2/10 = 1/5.

Check by substitution: 10(1/5) 2 =0.

Linear functions Example (1)

Consider the linear function: y = -4x + 8, which

expresses the relationship between the

variables x and y.

Here x is the independent variable and y is the

dependent variable.

To graph this function, you can (1) use a table of

values, (2) compute the intercepts (3) use the

slope and one of the intercepts.

(1) A table of values for y = -4x+8

y = -4(-1)+8=12 -1

y = -4(2)+8=0 2

y = -4(1)+8=4 1

y = -4(0)+8=8 0

y = -4x+8 x

(2) Computing the intercepts

To compute the intercepts, set one of the variables

equal to zero and solve for the other:

If y = 0, then 0 = -4x +8, or 4x = 8, or x = 2 (the x-

intercept); the coordinates for this point (2, 0)

If x = 0, then y = -4(0) + 8, and y = 8 (y-intercept);

the coordinates for this point (0, 8)

Using (2, 0) and (0, 8) you can draw the graph

through these points.

(3) Slope and y-intercept

From y = -4x + 8, we learn that the slope is -4. Since

the slope is negative, the graph is downward

sloping.

Take the y-intercept (0, 8) and plot it into the graph.

Using the slope, move one step to the right

(increase x by one unit) and four steps down (y

decreases by 4 units), you arrive at the point (1, 4),

etc. This way you find the points which are on the

graph of y = -4x + 8.

x

y

y = -4x + 8

8

2

Example (2)

Suppose you are given two coordinates, (x

0

, y

0

)=(1, 3)

and (x

1

, y

1

)=(2, 4), and asked to derive a corresponding

linear equation.

Use the general form of the linear equation y = ax + b.

You need to find a (the slope) and b (the y-intercept) to

be able to do this.

Using the coordinates from above, write down:

y

0

= ax

0

+ b => -3 = a(1) + b => b = -3 - a (1)

y

1

= ax

1

+ b => 4 = a(2) + b => b = -2a + 4. (2)

Example (2)

The equations (1) and (2) form a system of equations

Set -3 - a = -2a + 4 and solve for a => a = 7.

Substitute a = 7 back into one of the equations above to

get: b = -3 - 7 = -10.

Hence, the linear function takes the form:

y = 7x - 10.

Example (2)

Alternatively, compute the slope and then use one of the

coordinates to compute the y-intercept (b).

The slope:

7

1

7

1 2

) 3 ( 4

0 1

0 1

= =

=

x

y

x x

y y

a

Plug into the general form either pair of values, say (1, -3):

-3 = 7(1)+b, and solve for b: b = -10

You can now write down the specific form of the linear

function: y = 7x 10.

x

y

y =7x - 10

-10

10/7

System of equations

Three equations and three unknowns: Check the

Renshaw book section 3.17 p. 109.

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