Solving quadratics with inequalities

Q:  Solve  (a/2)2 – a > 0

A:  Follow the steps below

Solving Algebraically:

Step 1:  Simplify

We can simplify the equation by squaring the fraction to get:

a2/4 – a > 0

OR in different form:

(1/4) a2 – a > 0

Now, to get rid of the fraction and clean things up, I am going to multiply everything by 4 (since the fraction is 1/4 — you don’t have to do this, just a “cleaning up” step”):

4*(1/4) a2 – 4*a > 4*0

a2 – 4a > 0

Normally, when you solve inequalities, you isolate the variable by moving things around to the left / right side.  When it is a quadratic, you don’t want to do that.  You want all of the numbers and variables on one side and zero on the other side.  We have that, so we are good to go.

Step 2:  Factor

Now, factor the left side:

a2 – 4a > 0

a (a – 4) > 0

Step 3:  Identify the zeroes

As we are used to doing with quadratics, we need to find what values you plug in to make “zeroes”

So, take each factor and set it equal to zero like so:

a = 0 and a – 4 = 0

Solve to get:

a = 0 and a = 4

The zeroes are:  0 and 4.

So, this parabola (quadratic) crosses the x-axis at 0 and 4.  Now, we want to find where the quadratic is greater than 0.

With analysis, we know the quadratic is concave up in shape (a smiley face).  On your paper, draw an x-y graph with a parabola that crosses the x-axis and 0 and 4 and is concave up.  You should get:


So, where is the parabola > 0 (above the x-axis?)

When a < 0 and when a > 4


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