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In this section students will:
  • Evaluate square roots.
  • Use the product rule to simplify square roots.
  • Use the quotient rule to simplify square roots.
  • Add and subtract square roots.
  • Rationalize denominators.
  • Use rational roots.

A hardware store sells 16-ft ladders and 24-ft ladders. A window is located 12 feet above the ground. A ladder needs to be purchased that will reach the window from a point on the ground 5 feet from the building. To find out the length of ladder needed, we can draw a right triangle as shown in [link] , and use the Pythagorean Theorem.

A right triangle with a base of 5 feet, a height of 12 feet, and a hypotenuse labeled c
a 2 + b 2 = c 2 5 2 + 12 2 = c 2 169 = c 2

Now, we need to find out the length that, when squared, is 169, to determine which ladder to choose. In other words, we need to find a square root. In this section, we will investigate methods of finding solutions to problems such as this one.

Evaluating square roots

When the square root of a number is squared, the result is the original number. Since 4 2 = 16 , the square root of 16 is 4. The square root function is the inverse of the squaring function just as subtraction is the inverse of addition. To undo squaring, we take the square root.

In general terms, if a is a positive real number, then the square root of a is a number that, when multiplied by itself, gives a . The square root could be positive or negative because multiplying two negative numbers gives a positive number. The principal square root    is the nonnegative number that when multiplied by itself equals a . The square root obtained using a calculator is the principal square root.

The principal square root of a is written as a . The symbol is called a radical    , the term under the symbol is called the radicand    , and the entire expression is called a radical expression    .

The expression: square root of twenty-five is enclosed in a circle. The circle has an arrow pointing to it labeled: Radical expression. The square root symbol has an arrow pointing to it labeled: Radical. The number twenty-five has an arrow pointing to it labeled: Radicand.

Principal square root

The principal square root    of a is the nonnegative number that, when multiplied by itself, equals a . It is written as a radical expression     , with a symbol called a radical    over the term called the radicand    : a .

Does 25 = ± 5 ?

No. Although both 5 2 and ( −5 ) 2 are 25 , the radical symbol implies only a nonnegative root, the principal square root. The principal square root of 25 is 25 = 5.

Evaluating square roots

Evaluate each expression.

  1. 100
  2. 16
  3. 25 + 144
  4. 49 81
  1. 100 = 10 because 10 2 = 100
  2. 16 = 4 = 2 because 4 2 = 16 and 2 2 = 4
  3. 25 + 144 = 169 = 13 because 13 2 = 169
  4. 49 81 = 7 9 = −2 because 7 2 = 49 and 9 2 = 81
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For 25 + 144 , can we find the square roots before adding?

No. 25 + 144 = 5 + 12 = 17. This is not equivalent to 25 + 144 = 13. The order of operations requires us to add the terms in the radicand before finding the square root.

Evaluate each expression.

  1. 225
  2. 81
  3. 25 9
  4. 36 + 121
  1. 15
  2. 3
  3. 4
  4. 17
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Using the product rule to simplify square roots

To simplify a square root, we rewrite it such that there are no perfect squares in the radicand. There are several properties of square roots that allow us to simplify complicated radical expressions. The first rule we will look at is the product rule for simplifying square roots, which allows us to separate the square root of a product of two numbers into the product of two separate rational expressions. For instance, we can rewrite 15 as 3 5 . We can also use the product rule to express the product of multiple radical expressions as a single radical expression.

Questions & Answers

what is math number
Tric Reply
x-2y+3z=-3 2x-y+z=7 -x+3y-z=6
Sidiki Reply
Need help solving this problem (2/7)^-2
Simone Reply
what is the coefficient of -4×
Mehri Reply
the operation * is x * y =x + y/ 1+(x × y) show if the operation is commutative if x × y is not equal to -1
Alfred Reply
An investment account was opened with an initial deposit of $9,600 and earns 7.4% interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 15 years?
Kala Reply
lim x to infinity e^1-e^-1/log(1+x)
given eccentricity and a point find the equiation
Moses Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
Alexandra Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
College algebra is really hard?
Shirleen Reply
Absolutely, for me. My problems with math started in First grade...involving a nun Sister Anastasia, bad vision, talking & getting expelled from Catholic school. When it comes to math I just can't focus and all I can hear is our family silverware banging and clanging on the pink Formica table.
I'm 13 and I understand it great
I am 1 year old but I can do it! 1+1=2 proof very hard for me though.
Not really they are just easy concepts which can be understood if you have great basics. I am 14 I understood them easily.
hi vedant can u help me with some assignments
find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
I know this work
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
If f(x) = x-2 then, f(3) when 5f(x+1) 5((3-2)+1) 5(1+1) 5(2) 10
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
make 5/4 into a mixed number, make that a decimal, and then multiply 32 by the decimal 5/4 turns out to be
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
is it a question of log
I rally confuse this number And equations too I need exactly help
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Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
im all ears I need to learn
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Practice Key Terms 6

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Source:  OpenStax, College algebra. OpenStax CNX. Feb 06, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11759/1.3
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