# James A Sellers

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When one polynomial is divided by another, the result is called a rational function because it is the ratio of two polynomials. These functions play an important role in algebra. Learn how to add and subtract rational functions by first finding their common divisor.

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Continuing your exploration of rational expressions, try your hand at multiplying and dividing them. The key to solving these complicated-looking equations is to proceed one-step at a time. Close the lesson with a problem that brings together all you've learned about rational functions.

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The order in which you do simple operations of arithmetic can make a big difference. Learn how to solve problems that combine adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, as well as raising numbers to various powers. These same concepts also apply when you need to simplify algebraic expressions, making it critical to master them now.

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Advance to the next level of problem solving by using variables as the building blocks to create algebraic expressions, which are combinations of mathematical symbols that might include numbers, variables, and operation symbols. Also, learn some tricks for translating the language of problems (phrases in English) into the language of math (algebraic expressions).

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In previous lessons, you moved from linear, quadratic, and rational functions to the graphs that display them. Now do the same with radical functions. For these, it's important to pay attention to the domain of the functions to ensure that negative values are not introduced beneath the root symbol.

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After learning the definition of a function, investigate an additional approach to solving quadratic equations: completing the square. This technique is very useful when rewriting the equation of a quadratic function in such a way that the graph of the function is easily sketched.

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Discover that by following basic rules on how to treat coefficients and exponents, you can reduce very complicated algebraic expressions to much simpler ones. You start by using the commutative property of multiplication to rearrange the terms of an expression, making combining them relatively easy.

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Discover how to solve equations that contain radical expressions. A key step is isolating the radical term and then squaring both sides. As always, it's important to check the solution by plugging it into the equation to see if it makes sense. This is especially true with radical equations, which can sometimes yield extraneous, or invalid, solutions.

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For those cases that defy simple factoring, the quadratic formula provides a powerful technique for solving quadratic equations. Discover that this formidable-looking expression is not as difficult as it appears and is well worth committing to memory. Also learn how to determine if a quadratic equation has no solutions.

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Most of the expressions you've studied in the course so far have been polynomials. Learn what characterizes a polynomial and how to recognize polynomials in both algebraic functions and in graphical form. Professor Sellers defines several terms, including the degree of an equation, the leading coefficient, and the domain.

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Anytime you see a root symbol - for example, the symbol for a square root - then you're dealing with what mathematicians call a radical. Learn how to simplify radical expressions and perform operations on them, such as multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, as well as combinations of these operations.

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Investigating more complicated examples of linear equations, learn that linear equations fall into three categories. First, the equation might have exactly one solution. Second, it might have no solutions at all. Third, it might be an identity, which means every number is a solution.

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Much of what you've learned about linear and quadratic expressions applies to adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing polynomials. Discover how the FOIL operation can be extended to multiplying large polynomials, and a version of long division works for dividing one polynomial by another.

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Shift gears to consider linear inequalities, which are mathematical expressions featuring a less than sign or a greater than sign instead of an equal sign. Discover that these kinds of problems have some very interesting twists, and they come up frequently in business applications.

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Use what you've learned about slope to graph linear equations in the slope-intercept form, y = mx + b, where m is the slope, and b is the y intercept. Experiment with examples in which you calculate the equation from a graph and from a table of pairs of points.

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Expand your tools for solving systems of linear equations by exploring the method of solving by elimination. This technique allows you to eliminate one variable by performing addition, subtraction, or multiplication on both sides of an equation, allowing a straightforward solution for the remaining variable.

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Sketch the graphs of several rational functions by first calculating the vertical and horizontal asymptotes, the x and y intercepts, and then plotting several points in the function. In the final exercise, you must simplify the expression in order to extract the needed information.

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Using graph paper and pencil, begin your exploration of the coordinate plane, also known as the Cartesian plane. Learn how to plot points in the four quadrants of the plane, how to choose a scale for labeling the x and y axes, and how to graph a linear equation.

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When two lines intersect, they form a system of linear equations. Discover two methods for finding a solution to such a system: by graphing and by substitution. Then try out a real-world example, involving a farmer who wants to plant different crops in different proportions.