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T
MTH-4110-1

he Four
Operations
on
Algebraic Fractions
MTH-4110-1
THE FOUR

OPERATIONS

ON

ALGEBRAIC

FRACTIONS
Author: Suzie Asselin

Content revision: Daniel Glineau


Jean-Paul Groleau
Mireille Moisan-Sanscartier
Nicole Perreault

Adult Education Consultants: Les Productions C.G.L. enr.

Coordinator for the DDFD: Jean-Paul Groleau

Coordinator for the DFGA: Ronald Ct

Word processing: Francine Lessard

Photocomposition and layout: Multitexte Plus

English version: Direction du dveloppement pdagogique en langue


anglaise

Translation: Elizabeth Dundas

Linguistic revision: William Gore

Translation of updated sections: Claudia de Fulviis

Reprint: 2004

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All rights for translation and adaptation, in whole or in part, reserved for all countries.
Any reproduction by mechanical or electronic means, including micro-reproduction, is
forbidden without the written permission of a duly authorized representative of the
Socit de formation distance des commissions scolaires du Qubec (SOFAD).

Legal Deposit 2004


Bibliothque et Archives nationales du Qubec
Bibliothque et Archives Canada
ISBN 2-89493-288-9
Answer Key

MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction to the Program Flowchart ................................................... 0.4


The Program Flowchart ............................................................................ 0.5
How to Use This Guide ............................................................................. 0.6
General Introduction ................................................................................. 0.9
Intermediate and Terminal Objectives of the Module ............................ 0.11
Diagnostic Test on the Prerequisites ....................................................... 0.13
Answer Key for the Diagnostic Test on the Prerequisites ...................... 0.17
Analysis of Diagnostic Test Results ......................................................... 0.19
Information for Distance Education Students ......................................... 0.21

UNITS

1. Simplifying Algebraic Fractions ............................................................... 1.1


2. Product and Quotient of Algebraic Fractions .......................................... 2.1
3. Multiplying and Dividing Algebraic Fractions ........................................ 3.1
4. Adding and Subtracting Algebraic Fractions .......................................... 4.1
5. Order of Operations Involving Algebraic Fractions ................................ 5.1

Final Summary.......................................................................................... 6.1


Answer Key for the Final Summary ........................................................ 6.5
Terminal Objective .................................................................................... 6.6
Self-Evaluation Test.................................................................................. 6.7
Answer Key for the Self-Evaluation Test ................................................ 6.13
Analysis of the Self-Evaluation Test Results .......................................... 6.17
Final Evaluation........................................................................................ 6.18
Answer Key for the Exercises ................................................................... 6.19
Glossary ..................................................................................................... 6.41
List of Symbols .......................................................................................... 6.45
Bibliography .............................................................................................. 6.46

Review Activities ....................................................................................... 7.1

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

INTRODUCTION TO THE PROGRAM FLOWCHART

Welcome to the World of Mathematics!

This mathematics program has been developed for the adult students of the
Adult Education Services of school boards and distance education. The learning
activities have been designed for individualized learning. If you encounter
difficulties, do not hesitate to consult your teacher or to telephone the resource
person assigned to you. The following flowchart shows where this module fits
into the overall program. It allows you to see how far you have progressed and
how much you still have to do to achieve your vocational goal. There are several
possible paths you can take, depending on your chosen goal.

The first path consists of modules MTH-3003-2 (MTH-314) and MTH-4104-2


(MTH-416), and leads to a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS).

The second path consists of modules MTH-4109-1 (MTH-426), MTH-4111-2


(MTH-436) and MTH-5104-1 (MTH-514), and leads to a Secondary School
Diploma (SSD), which allows you to enroll in certain Gegep-level programs that
do not call for a knowledge of advanced mathematics.

The third path consists of modules MTH-5109-1 (MTH-526) and MTH-5111-2


(MTH-536), and leads to Cegep programs that call for a solid knowledge of
mathematics in addition to other abiliies.

If this is your first contact with this mathematics program, consult the flowchart
on the next page and then read the section How to Use This Guide. Otherwise,
go directly to the section entitled General Introduction. Enjoy your work!

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

THE PROGRAM FLOWCHART

CEGEP
MTH-5112-1 Logic

MTH-5111-2 Complement and Synthesis II


MTH-536
MTH-5110-1 Introduction to Vectors

MTH-5109-1 Geometry IV

MTH-5108-1 Trigonometric Functions and Equations


MTH-526
Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
MTH-5107-1 and Equations
MTH-5104-1 Optimization II MTH-5106-1 Real Functions and Equations
MTH-514
MTH-5103-1 Probability II MTH-5105-1 Conics

MTH-5102-1 Statistics III

MTH-5101-1 Optimization I

MTH-4111-2 Complement and Synthesis I


Trades MTH-436
The Four Operations on
MTH-4110-1 You ar e h er e
DVS Algebraic Fractions

MTH-4109-1 Sets, Relations and Functions

MTH-4108-1 Quadratic Functions


MTH-426
MTH-4107-1 Straight Lines II

MTH-4106-1 Factoring and Algebraic Functions

MTH-4105-1 Exponents and Radicals

MTH-4104-2 Statistics II

MTH-4103-1 Trigonometry I
MTH-416
MTH-4102-1 Geometry III

MTH-4101-2 Equations and Inequalities II

MTH-3003-2 Straight Lines I

MTH-314 MTH-3002-2 Geometry II

MTH-3001-2 The Four Operations on Polynomials

MAT-2008-2 Statistics and Probabilities I


MTH-216
MTH-2007-2 Geometry I

MTH-2006-2 Equations and Inequalities I

MTH-1007-2 Decimals and Percent

MTH-1006-2 The Four Operations on Fractions


MTH-116
MTH-1005-2 The Four Operations on Integers 25 hours = 1 credit

50 hours = 2 credits

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HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

Hi! My name is Monica and I have been Youll see that with this method, math is
asked to tell you about this math module. Im Andy.
a real breeze!
Whats your name?

... you have probably taken a My results on the test


Whether you are indicate that I should begin
registered at an placement test which tells you
exactly which module you with this module.
adult education
center or at should start with.
Formation
distance, ...

Now, the module you have in your ... the entry activity, which By carefully correcting this test using the
hand is divided into three contains the test on the corresponding answer key, and record-
sections. The first section is... prerequisites. ing your results on the analysis sheet ...

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

... you can tell if youre well enough And if Im not, if I need a little In that case, before you start the
prepared to do all the activities in the review before moving on, what activities in the module, the results
module. happens then? analysis chart refers you to a review
activity near the end of the module.

I see!

In this way, I can be sure I


have all the prerequisites START
for starting. The starting line
shows where the
Exactly! The second section
contains the learning activities. Its learning activities
the main part of the module. begin.

The little white question mark indicates the questions


? for which answers are given in the text.
The target precedes the
objective to be met.

The memo pad signals a brief reminder of


concepts which you have already studied.

The boldface question mark

Look closely at the box to


? indicates practice exercices
which allow you to try out what
you have just learned.
the right. It explains the
symbols used to identify the
various activities.
The calculator symbol reminds you that
you will need to use your calculator.

The sheaf of wheat indicates a review designed to


? reinforce what you have just learned. A row of
sheaves near the end of the module indicates the
final review, which helps you to interrelate all the
learning activities in the module.

FINISH

Lastly, the finish line indicates


that it is time to go on to the self-evaluation
test to verify how well you have understood
the learning activities.

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There are also many fun things


in this module. For example, A Did you know that...? Must I memorize what the sage says?
when you see the drawing of a
sage, it introduces a Did you
know that... Yes, for example, short tidbits No, its not part of the learn-
on the history of mathematics ing activity. Its just there to
and fun puzzles. They are in- give you a breather.
teresting and relieve tension at
the same time.

Its the same for the math whiz


pages, which are designed espe- They are so stimulating that And the whole module has
cially for those who love math. even if you dont have to do been arranged to make
them, youll still want to. learning easier.

For example. words in bold- ... statements in boxes are important The third section contains the final re-
face italics appear in the points to remember, like definitions, for- view, which interrelates the different
glossary at the end of the mulas and rules. Im telling you, the for- parts of the module.
module... mat makes everything much easier.
Great!

There is also a self-evaluation Thanks, Monica, youve been a big


help. Later ...
test and answer key. They tell
you if youre ready for the final Im glad! Now,
evaluation. Ive got to run. This is great! I never thought that I would
like mathematics as much as this!
See you!

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

ONE STEP FURTHER IN MATHEMATICS

WITH ALGEBRAIC FRACTIONS

If you are continuing your studies in mathematics or you are taking science

courses, you will have to deal with mathematical expressions containing one or

more variables. Some expressions will be in the form of a fraction whose

numerator or denominator is a monomial or a polynomial. Such algebraic

expressions are known as algebraic fractions. For example, the expressions

2
x 2 + 6x + 8 , 4ab , 1 p 2q 2
and
2x + 4 9 9m 2 4n 2 2 p 2q 2 5 pq 2 3q 2

are algebraic fractions.

In this module, you will learn how to perform various operations on algebraic

fractions. You will first learn how to simplify them. It is important to master

this skill before going on, for you will use it throughout the module. Indeed, all

your results will have to be reduced to lowest terms.

In the following units, you will learn how to multiply and divide algebraic

fractions, simplify algebraic expressions involving the multiplication and divi-

sion of algebraic fractions, add and subtract algebraic fractions and finally,

simplify algebraic expressions that may involve the four operations on algebraic

fractions. In this last case, you need to apply the rules for the order of

operations, which you probably already know.

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What you have already learned about the operations on numerical fractions will
help you a great deal here. You will also find it useful to review the five methods
of factoring polynomials, also known as finding the factors of a polynomial:

factoring by removing the common factor;


factoring by grouping;
factoring trinomials of the form x2 + bx + c or x2 + bxy + cy2;
factoring trinomials of the form ax2 + bx + c or ax2 + bxy + cy2;
factoring differences of squares.

These are the main concepts that will be used in this module on algebraic
fractions.

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INTERMEDIATE AND TERMINAL OBJECTIVES OF


THE MODULE

Module MTH-4110-1 consists of five units and requires 25 hours of study


distributed as shown below. Each unit covers either an intermediate or a
terminal objective. The terminal objective appears in boldface.

Objectives Number of Hours* % (evaluation)

1 to 5 24 100%

* One hour are allotted for the final evaluation.

1. Simplifying Algebraic Fractions

Reduce a rational algebraic fraction to its lowest terms. The numerator and
denominator are factorable polynomials that contain up to three terms each
and each term contains no more than two variables. The steps involved in
simplifying the fraction must be shown.

2. Multiplying and Dividing Algebraic Fractions

Multiply three rational algebraic fractions and divide two rational algebraic
fractions. The polynomials in the numerators and denominators are
factorable and contain up to three terms. Each term contains no more than
two variables. The product and quotient must be reduced to their lowest
terms and the steps in the solution must be shown.

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3. Simplifying Algebraic Expressions Containing Algebraic Fractions That Are


Multiplied and Divided

Simplify an algebraic expression containing up to four rational algebraic


fractions that are multiplied and divided. The numerators and denominators
are factorable polynomials that contain up to three terms each and each term
contains no more than two variables. The steps involved in simplifying the
expression must be shown.

4. Simplifying Algebraic Expressions Containing Algebraic Fractions That Are


Added and Subtracted

Simplify an algebraic expression containing up to three rational algebraic


fractions that are added and subtracted. The numerators and denominators
are factorable polynomials that contain up to three terms each and each term
contains no more than two variables. The steps involved in simplifying the
expression must be shown.

5. Order of Operations Involving Algebraic Fractions

Simplify an algebraic expression containing up to three rational


algebraic fractions by performing the appropriate operations and
by following the order of operations. The algebraic expression
contains no more than two sets of parentheses. The numerators and
denominators are factorable polynomials that contain up to three
terms each and each term contains no more than two variables. The
steps involved in simplifying the expression must be shown.

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

DIAGNOSTIC TEST ON THE PREREQUISITES

Instructions

1. Answer as many questions as you can.

2. You may not use a calculator.

3. Write your answers on the test paper.

4. Do not waste any time. If you cannot answer a question, go on


to the next one immediately.

5. When you have answered as many questions as you can, correct


your answers using the answer key which follows the diagnostic
test.

6. To be considered correct, answers must be identical to those in


the key. In addition, the various steps in your answer should be
equivalent to those shown in the solution.

7. Transcribe your results onto the chart which follows the answer
key. It gives an analysis of the diagnostic test results.

8. Do only the review activities which are suggested for each of


your incorrect answers.

9. If all your answers are correct, you may begin working on this
module.

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

1. Reduce each fraction to lowest terms.

a) 60 = b) 26 =
80 .......................................... 65 ...........................................

2. Factor the following polynomials.

a) 4a2 + 8ab = ...................................................................................................

b) x2 + 2x 3 = .................................................................................................

c) h2 25k2 = ....................................................................................................

d) uw + 2vw 3uv 6v2 = ...............................................................................

e) 4 9j 2 = .......................................................................................................

f) 2z2 13z 7 = ..............................................................................................

g) d2 d + 2 = ................................................................................................

h) 4m2 5mn + n2 = .........................................................................................


.....................................................................................................................

i) r2 + 14rs 49s2 = .......................................................................................

j) 36p2 + 4q2 = ...............................................................................................

3. Perform the following multiplications and divisions. Your results must be


reduced to lowest terms.

a) 9 2 =
10 45 ....................................................................................................
b) 3 14 5 =
7 15 8 ...............................................................................................
c) 3 7 =
4 8 ........................................................................................................
d) 2 2 =
9 3 ........................................................................................................

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

4. Perform the following additions and subtractions. Your results must be


reduced to lowest terms.

a) 3 + 7 =
8 32 ......................................................................................................
b) 2 + 3 =
5 7 ........................................................................................................
c) 5 7 =
6 15 ......................................................................................................
d) 1 1 =
13 10 ....................................................................................................

5. Perform the following operations.

a) (c2 + 3cd) + (2c2 5cd) = ..............................................................................

.....................................................................................................................

b) (t2 7t + 2) (t2 + 7t 10) = ........................................................................

.....................................................................................................................

c) (2d2 + 3dg) + (g2 3g2) (d2 g2 2d2) =

.....................................................................................................................

.....................................................................................................................

d) 3y(2y2 + 4xy + 2x2) = ....................................................................................

e) (a + 2b)(3a b) = .........................................................................................

2
f) 1 x2 1 =
3 2 ................................................................................................

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3 2
g) 25a b + (3a 2 + 2b)2b =
5ab ..............................................................................

h) 1 xy 1 x 2 y 1 xy + 2 x 2 y 2 xy =
2 3 2 3 3

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

ANSWER KEY FOR THE DIAGNOSTIC TEST


ON THE PREREQUISITES

1. a) 60 = 3 20 = 3 b) 26 = 2 13 = 2
80 4 20 4 65 5 13 5

2. a) 4a2 + 8ab = 4a(a + 2b)


b) x2 + 2x 3 = (x + 3)(x 1)
c) h2 25k2 = (h + 5k)(h 5k)
d) uw + 2vw 3uv 6v2 = w(u + 2v) 3v(u + 2v) = (u + 2v)(w 3v)
e) 4 9j2 = (2 + 3j)(2 3j)
f) 2z2 13z 7 = 2z2 14z + z 7 = 2z(z 7) + 1(z 7) = (z 7)(2z + 1)
g) d2 d + 2 = (d2 + d 2) = (d + 2)(d 1) or (d + 2)(1 d)
h) 4m2 5mn + n2 = 4m2 4mn mn + n2 = 4m(m n) n(m n) =
(m n)(4m n)
i) r2 + 14rs 49s2 = (r2 14rs + 49s2) = (r 7s)2
j) 36p2 + 4q2 = 4(9p2 q2) = 4(3p + q)(3p q)

1 1

3. a) 9 2 = 1 1 = 1
10 45 5 5 25
5 5

1
1 2 1

b) 3 14 5 = 1 1 1 = 1
7 15 8 1 1 4 4
1 3 4
1

c) 3 7 = 3 8 = 3 2 = 6
4 8 4 7 17 7
1

1 1

d) 2 2 = 2 3 = 1 1 = 1
9 3 9 2 31 3
3 1

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4. a) 3 + 7 = 12 + 7 = 19 b) 2 + 3 = 14 + 15 = 29
8 32 32 32 32 5 7 35 35 35

c) 5 7 = 25 14 = 11 d) 1 1 = 10 13 = 3
6 15 30 30 30 13 10 130 130 130

5. a) (c2 + 3cd) + (2c2 5cd) = c2 + 2c2 + 3cd 5cd = 3c2 2cd or c(3c 2d)

b) (t2 7t + 2) (t2 + 7t 10) = t2 7t + 2 t2 7t + 10 = 14t + 12 or 2(7t 6)

c) (2d2 + 3dg) + (g2 3g2) (d2 g2 2d2) =


2d2 + 3dg + g2 3g2 d2 + g2 + 2d2 = 3d2 + 3dg g2

d) 3y(2y2 + 4xy + 2x2) = 6y3 + 12xy2 + 6x2y

e) (a + 2b)(3a b) = 3a2 + 6ab ab 2b2 = 3a2 + 5ab 2b2

2 2 2
f) 1 x2 1 = 1 x2 2 1 x 2 1 + 1 = 1 x4 1 x2 + 1
3 2 3 3 2 2 9 3 4

3 2
g) 25a b + (3a 2 + 2b)2b = 5a 2b + 6a 2b + 4b 2 = 11a 2b + 4b 2
5ab

1 xy 1 x 2 y 1 xy + 2 x 2 y 2xy
h) 2 xy = 1 x 3 y 2 1 x 2 y 2 + 1 x 3 y 2 =
2 3 2 3 3 6 4 3 3

x 3y 2 x 2 y 2 3x 2 y 3xy
3 = or 3 x 2 y 3 xy
2 4 2xy 4 8 4 8

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ANALYSIS OF THE DIAGNOSTIC


TEST RESULTS

Answer Review Before Going


Question Correct Incorrect Section Page to Unit(s)
1. a) 7.1 7.4 1 to 5
b) 7.1 4.4 1 to 5
2. a) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
b) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
c) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
d) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
e) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
f) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
g) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
h) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
i) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
j) 7.2 7.7 1 to 5
3. a) 7.3 7.23 2, 3 and 5
b) 7.3 7.23 2, 3 and 5
c) 7.3 7.23 2, 3 and 5
d) 7.3 7.23 2, 3 and 5
4. a) 7.4 7.28 4 and 5
b) 7.4 7.28 4 and 5
c) 7.4 7.28 4 and 5
d) 7.4 7.28 4 and 5
5. a) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
b) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
c) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
d) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
e) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
f) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
g) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5
h) 7.5 7.37 3 to 5

If all your answers are correct, you may begin working on this module.

For each incorrect answer, find the related section listed in the Review
column. Do the review activities for that section before beginning the units
listed in the right-hand column under the heading Before Going to Unit(s).

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

INFORMATION FOR DISTANCE


EDUCATION STUDENTS

You now have the learning material for MTH-4110-1 together with the home-

work assignments. Enclosed with this material is a letter of introduction from

your tutor indicating the various ways in which you can communicate with him

or her (e.g. by letter, telephone) as well as the times when he or she is available.

Your tutor will correct your work and help you with your studies. Do not hesitate

to make use of his or her services if you have any questions.

DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE STUDY HABITS

Distance education is a process which offers considerable flexibility, but which

also requires active involvement on your part. It demands regular study and

sustained effort. Efficient study habits will simplify your task. To ensure

effective and continuous progress in your studies, it is strongly recommended

that you:

draw up a study timetable that takes your working habits into account and

is compatible with your leisure time and other activities;

develop a habit of regular and concentrated study.

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The following guidelines concerning the theory, examples, exercises and assign-
ments are designed to help you succeed in this mathematics course.

Theory

To make sure you thoroughly grasp the theoretical concepts:

1. Read the lesson carefully and underline the important points.

2. Memorize the definitions, formulas and procedures used to solve a given

problem, since this will make the lesson much easier to understand.

3. At the end of an assignment, make a note of any points that you do not

understand. Your tutor will then be able to give you pertinent explanations.

4. Try to continue studying even if you run into a particular problem. However,

if a major difficulty hinders your learning, ask for explanations before

sending in your assignment. Contact your tutor, using the procedure

outlined in his or her letter of introduction.

Examples

The examples given throughout the course are an application of the theory you

are studying. They illustrate the steps involved in doing the exercises. Carefully

study the solutions given in the examples and redo them yourself before starting

the exercises.

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Exercises

The exercises in each unit are generally modelled on the examples provided.
Here are a few suggestions to help you complete these exercises.

1. Write up your solutions, using the examples in the unit as models. It is


important not to refer to the answer key found on the coloured pages at the
end of the module until you have completed the exercises.

2. Compare your solutions with those in the answer key only after having done
all the exercises. Careful! Examine the steps in your solution carefully even
if your answers are correct.

3. If you find a mistake in your answer or your solution, review the concepts that
you did not understand, as well as the pertinent examples. Then, redo the
exercise.

4. Make sure you have successfully completed all the exercises in a unit before
moving on to the next one.

Homework Assignments

Module MTH-4110-1 contains three assignments. The first page of each


assignment indicates the units to which the questions refer. The assignments
are designed to evaluate how well you have understood the material studied.
They also provide a means of communicating with your tutor.

When you have understood the material and have successfully done the perti-
nent exercises, do the corresponding assignment immediately. Here are a few
suggestions.

1. Do a rough draft first and then, if necessary, revise your solutions before
submitting a clean copy of your answer.

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2. Copy out your final answers or solutions in the blank spaces of the document
to be sent to your tutor. It is preferable to use a pencil.

3. Include a clear and detailed solution with the answer if the problem involves
several steps.

4. Mail only one homework assignment at a time. After correcting the assign-
ment, your tutor will return it to you.

In the section Students Questions, write any questions which you may wish to
have answered by your tutor. He or she will give you advice and guide you in your
studies, if necessary.

In this course
Homework Assignment 1 is based on units 1 to 4.
Homework Assignment 2 is based on unit 5.
Homework Assignment 3 is based on units 1 to 5.

CERTIFICATION

When you have completed all the work, and provided you have maintained an
average of at least 60%, you will be eligible to write the examination for this
course.

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START

UNIT 1

SIMPLIFYING ALGEBRAIC FRACTIONS

1.1 SETTING THE CONTEXT

Special Fractions

So you've long been an ace at simplifying fractions! In the wink of an eye, you
can reduce the following fractions to lowest terms.

Prove it to yourself by filling in the blanks below.

? The simplest expression of 4 is ............. .


8

? If we simplify the fraction 5 , we get ............... .


70

? By reducing 13 to lowest terms, we obtain ............... .


143

? After simplifcation, the fraction 18 becomes ............... .


171

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You probably obtained the following answers: 1 , 1 , 1 and 2 .


2 14 11 19

4= 1
To arrive at these answers, you had to 8 2
13 = 1
143 11
5 = 1 18 = 1
find the greatest common factor of the 70 14 171 19

numerator and of the denominator.

The common factor of a fraction is a number by which both


terms can be divided.
In any fraction of the form a , the term a is called the
b
numerator and the term b is called the denominator.

Do you know how to simplify algebraic fractions like these ones?

4x , 42ab 2c 3 , 2m + 8
8x 2 3a 2b m 2 + 6m + 8

Simplifying algebraic fractions will be very useful should you decide to continue
studying mathematics or science. This new skill will enable you to solve various
problems in trigonometry, geometry, differential and integral calculus and other
fields.

To reach the objective of this unit, you should be able to reduce


algebraic fractions to lowest terms.

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

Algebraic fractions are fractions whose numerator and


denominator are monomials or polynomials.

A monomial is an algebraic expression consisting of a


single term which can be a number, a variable or a product
of numbers and variables.
E.g. 2m, 42ab2c3, 8, m2.

A polynomial is an algebraic expression made up of a term or


a group of terms, that are joined by addition or subtraction
signs.
E.g. 5x2, 2m + 8, 36a2b3c2 + 6abc + bc2.

To reduce an algebraic fraction to lowest terms, simply apply the method used
for numerical fractions, which consists in dividing the numerator and the
denominator by the greatest common factor.

Example 1

Reduce the following algebraic fractions to lowest terms:


4x , 42ab 2c 3 , 2m + 8
2 2 2
8x 3a b m + 6m + 8

a) 4x = 1 4x = 1
8x 2 2x 4x 2x

The algebraic expression 4x is the greatest common factor of both the


numerator and the denominator.

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

b) 42ab2 c = 14bc 3ab = 14bc


2 3 3 3

3a b a 3ab a

3ab is the greatest common factor of the numerator and the denomi-
nator.

2m + 8 2 (m + 4)
c) = = 2
m + 6m + 8 (m + 2) (m + 4) m + 2
2

(m + 4) is the greatest common factor of the numerator and the


denominator.

To simplify algebraic fractions, it is necessary to factor the numerator and the


denominator.

Factoring an algebraic expression means breaking it down into


the product of prime factors, that is, factors that cannot them-
selves be broken down into factors.
The five methods of factoring are:
factoring by removing the common factor
e.g. m2 + 3m = m(m + 3);
factoring by grouping
e.g. p2 + 2pq + pr + 2qr = (p + 2q)(p + r);
factoring a trinomial of the form x2 + bx + c
or of the form x2 + bxy + cy2
e.g. a2 + 7ab + 12b2 = (a + 3b)(a + 4b);
factoring a trinomial of the form ax2 + bx + c
or of the form ax2 + bxy + cy2
e.g. 2z2 9z 5 = (2z + 1)(z 5);
factoring differences of squares
e.g. 4x2 9y2 = (2x 3y)(2x + 3y).

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

To reduce an algebraic fraction to lowest terms:


1. Factor the numerator and the denominator if possible.
2. Simplify the fraction by dividing the numerator and the
denominator by the common factors.

Take a close look at Example 2 before going on to the exercises.

Example 2

p2 4
a) Simplify the algebraic fraction .
2 p2 + 7 p + 6

1. Factor the numerator and the denominator:

p2 4 = (p 2)(p + 2) (difference of squares)


2p2 + 7p + 6 = (2p + 3)(p + 2) (trinomial of the form x2 + bx + c)

( p 2)( p + 2)
The algebraic fraction becomes:
(2 p + 3)( p + 2)

2. The common factor of the numerator and the denominator is (p + 2).


Remove this factor:
( p 2)( p + 2) p 2
=
(2 p + 3)( p + 2) 2 p + 3

p2 4
This is the simplest expression of the fraction .
2 p2 + 7 p + 6

b) Simplify the algebraic fraction 2x 14 .


3x 21 + bx 7b

2x 14 2(x 7)
= = 2
3x 21 + bx 7b (x 7)(3 + b) 3 + b

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

N.B. In this case, two methods of factoring are used: removing the
common factor in the numerator and factoring by grouping in the denomi-
nator.

Now it's your turn to practise this method in the following exercise!

Exercise 1.1

Reduce each of the following algebraic fractions to lowest terms.

6g
1. =
9g

2 5
2. 15s tu2 =
27stu

2 2
3. a 3 a3 b =
c c b

4. 2x + 6 =
2
x + 5x + 6

2
5. v v 12 =
v4

6. 6m 12 =
8m 16

2
7. ab + bc2 + a2 + ac =
b a

8. r 2 2r 15 =
4r 2 + 13r + 3

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

N.B. If you had difficulty solving the preceding problems, reread the explana-
tions and examples from the beginning of this unit. Practise factoring
polynomials in particular, as you will have to do this throughout this module.
Don't hesitate to do the review activities or consult a resource person if
necessary.

Notes

Simplifying algebraic fractions is not always that simple, and you should beware
of a number of traps.

1. Only identical factors found in the numerator and the denominator of the
fraction can be eliminated. Identical terms in the polynomials that make up
an algebraic fraction cannot be removed. For example, in the algebraic
2 2
fraction a +2 b , the term b2 cannot be cancelled out, as b2 is not a factor of
b 2 2
the polynomial a2 + b2. In other words, a + b a 2 .
b2

2. The factor (a + b) is identical to the factor (b + a), since the order in which
the terms are placed does not matter. Thus (a + b) = (b + a).

3. The factors (a b) et (b a) are not identical! We can, however, transform


one of these factors. Thus,
(b a) = + b a = 1( b + a) = (a b).

We can ensure that the law of signs is properly applied by performing the
inverse operation: (a b) = a + b = b a.

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

Law of signs for multiplication and division:


+ + = + + + = +
= + and = +
+ = + =
+ = + =

Example 3

y2 1
Simplify the fraction .
y y2

1. Factor the numerator and the denominator.


( y + 1)( y 1) ( y + 1)( y 1) ( y + 1)( y 1)
= =
y(1 y) y(1 + y) y( y 1)

2. Simplify by removing the common factor.


( y + 1)( y 1)
y( y 1)

y+1 ( y + 1) 1 y
The answer is y or y or y .

N.B. Certain algebraic fractions cannot be simplified. To determine which


ones cannot, it is still necessary to factor the numerator and the denominator.

Example 4

2 2
The algebraic fraction r 2 + 8rs + 12s 2 cannot be simplified because, after
r + 7rs + 12s
(r + 6s)(r + 2s)
factoring, we obtain the fraction , which does not contain any
(r + 4s)(r + 3s)
common factor in the numerator and the denominator. This fraction is

therefore said to be irreducible.

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Exercise 1.2

Reduce the following algebraic fractions to lowest terms.

2 2 2
1. h 3 h 3k 2 =
h h k

2. ab bc =
b

4 j
3. 2
=
j 16

4x 2 8xy 12 y 2
4. =
3y x

5. 21m 3n =
n 2 49m 2

6. 2d 6 =
2
2d 7d + 6

N.B. Before doing the practice exercises, make sure that you have understood the
exercises in this series. It is essential that you master the objective of this unit,
for you will have to apply it in all of the following units.

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

Did you know that...

sometimes a little logic can be a life saver?

Suppose you were in the following rather unfortunate


situation: you are being held by an over-zealous executioner who wants to
test his wits against yours. To make the situation even more interesting,
he is willing to let you choose your punishment. The rules are:

if you tell the truth, you will be hanged;


if you tell a lie, you will be beheaded.

The executioner knows, however, that you


can say one sentence that would make it
impossible for him to execute you. Hurry up
and find that sentence!

Solution:

In both cases, the executioner cannot execute you... Whew!


is the truth, and the punishment is again wrong.
If it is a lie, you will be beheaded. But if you are beheaded, what you have just said
is a lie, and the punishment is wrong.
If it is the truth, you must be hanged. But if you are hanged, what you have just said
The sentence is, I will be beheaded.

By now, you should be ready to tackle the practice exercises!

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

? 1.2 PRACTICE EXERCISES

Reduce the algebraic fractions below to lowest terms.

6x 2 8xy
1. =
9xy 12 y 2

2 3
2. 15a 3b =
3a b

3. 2m + 2n2 =
(m + n)

2 2
4. c 4d =
2d + c

(2 j + 6) 2
5. 2 =
4 j 36

3p 9
6. 2
=
3p + 6p 9

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

7. 2v 3 =
2v 2 + v 6

8. z+2 =
2
z + 4z + 4

g5
9. =
5 g

2xy + 3xz
10. x =

11. 8k h =
h 2 64k 2

2q 2 + 17qr + 21r 2
12. =
3q 2 + 26qr + 35r 2

13. 5u u 2 =
3u 3 9u 2 30u

2 2
14. s2 + 7st 12t =
s 5st + 6t 2

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

2
15. 4t 36t
2
+ 80 =
(4t t )(5 t)

2y 2 4 yz + 2z 2
16. =
10x 2 y 10 yz 2

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MTH-4110-1 The Four Operations on Algebraic Fractions

1.3 SUMMARY ACTIVITY

1. What is an algebraic fraction?

...........................................................................................................................

...........................................................................................................................

...........................................................................................................................

2. Explain the two steps in the algorithm for reducing an algebraic fraction to
lowest terms.

1. .....................................................................................................................

2. .....................................................................................................................

.....................................................................................................................

3. A mistake was made in the simplification of each algebraic fraction shown


below. In each case, explain why the simplification is wrong.

2x 3y 2x 3y
a) = =1
2y 3x 2y 3x

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

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b) n + 1 = n + 1 = 1
n+2 n+2 2

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

c) a 3 = a + 3 = a
b3 b+3 b

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

d) 5t 7u = 5t 7u = 1
7u 5t 7u 5t

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

.......................................................................................................................

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1.4 THE MATH WHIZ PAGE

Take a Bite Out of These Problems!

Here are five brain teasers.

Reduce the following algebraic fractions to lowest terms.

(3x 2 + 7xy + 2y 2)(2x 2 + 15xy + 28 y 2)


1. =
(2x 2 + 11xy + 14 y 2)(3x 2 + 13xy + 4 y 2)

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24a 3c 2d 2(2d 2 d 3)
2.
(18a 2d 2 12a 2d 3)(1 d 2)

4 (m + n) 2
3.
8(2 + m + n)(2 m n)

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2
(r s) t 2
4. 2 =
r 2 (s t)

5. h 2 + hk =
h 2 k2 h k

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