URGENT: Need Maths Help

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I have to hand this in on Monday, and I just can't seem to get it. The Question is solve the equation for x. I am told to keep my answers in their simplest surd form. Please ignore the dots inbetween terms, i had to do this to get the formatting right

s-5 . 1

--- + - = 0

s+1 . s

I have got this far. step1


--- .. - + - ------ .... =0



s^2 -5s+s+1

----------- =0

s^2 +s


s^2 -4s+1

--------- =0

s^2 +s

because the numerator of step 3 is a quadratic, i put it into the quadratic formula, but Im not sure if I should cancel out the like terms of the fraction.

so in the quadratic formula.


s= 4 +/- sqrt of 4^2 -4*1*1



which simplifies to

s= 4 +/- sqrt of 12



which simplifies to 2 +/- sqrt of 12

sqrt of 12 simplifies to 2 x sqrt3

so s= 2 + 2sqrt3 or

2 - 2sqrt3.

Whats bugging me is that I almost know the answer is wrong, but I dont know why. I'm sure Im supposed to cancel out the fractions after step 3, but then I dont get the kind of answer the question is telling me to submit.

BTW, i worked out the answer in Mathcad, and its like 3.732.

Please! Im not trying to cheat, I just want to know where Im going wrong.Thankyou


  • Reply 1 of 4
    You almost had it, here is the way to do it:

    (s-5)/(s+1) + 1/s = 0

    First rearrange:

    (s-5)/(s+1) = -1/s

    Multiply each numerator by the opposite denominator:

    s^2 - 5s = -s - 1


    s^2 - 4s + 1 = 0

    Then apply the quadratic formula:

    x = (4 +/- sqrt(16 - 4))/ 2

    As the equation is quadratic it can contain as many as 2 zeros, in this case it does have 2. The solutions are:

    3.7320508076 (what you found in MathCad)



    The mistake you made was here:

    so s= 2 + 2sqrt3 or

    2 - 2sqrt3.

    You divided the 4 by 2, but you forgot to divide the term in front of the sqrt by two. The above should be:

    so s= 2 + sqrt3 or

    2 - sqrt3

    which is the same as the answer above, in another form.
  • Reply 2 of 4
    marcukmarcuk Posts: 4,442member
    Many^99 thanks rick,

    Ive almost got it, but im calculating 2-sqrt3 as 0.2679, i think this is what you meant, it looks like you just put the sqrt of 3?

    A question. When I have cross multiplied s-5/s-1 = -1/s, to get s^2-4s+1, I still have the denominator of s^2-s. Was I right to just ignore this? I dont understand why! If you use real number fractions, you still have to divide by the product of the denominators to get an equivalent number of the original fraction? ie

    (10/5)+(6/7) = (70+30)/(5*7) = (100/35) = 2.857....

    Thanks again

    BTW, are you familiar with MathCAD? I can only get one answer out of it at a time in a solve block. I have to tell it the range of values i believe s will be in, which is OK, when I know them, but what if I don't. Can I tell it to give me both answers?
  • Reply 3 of 4
    You are right, I made a mistake as well. I forgot to subtract the second answer from 2. I fixed my original post.

    You don't need to cross multiply - you are multipying both sides by the denominators. They cancel out on the same side. Example:

    (s-5)/(s+1) = -1/s

    multiply both sides by s:

    s(s-5)/(s+1) = s(-1/s)

    On the right hand side the s's cancel out so you have:

    (s^2 - 5s)/(s+1) = -1

    As far as MathCad is concerned, I don't know anything about it.
  • Reply 4 of 4
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