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Mathematics Worksheet

Algebraic Fractions

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1. Simplification of Fractions You can simplify numerical fractions by doing the same thing to the top and bottom of the fraction. You can simplify algebraic fractions in the same way.
a)

12 6 2 2 = = 18 6 3 3

dividing top and bottom by 6 (or cancelling down).

b)

2ab 2 a b 2b dividing top and bottom by a . = = 3a 3 a 3 a a 1 dividing top and bottom by a . = = 3ab 3 a b 3b 2a + b cannot be simplified as there is no common factor in the numerator. 3a

c)

d)

To check an answer: the number test is a very useful way of checking whether your statement is incorrect. If you can find a numerical value which makes the statement incorrect, then the statement itself is incorrect. But be careful, finding numerical values which make the statement correct, does not prove it is correct. 2a + b 2 + b = then putting a = 2 , b = 1 we 3a 3 2a + b 4 + 1 5 2 + b 2 +1 2a + b 2 + b = = and = = 1 so = get is incorrect. 3a 6 6 3 3 3a 3 For instance if you are tempted to write
e)

2ab 2c 2 a b b c 2bc dividing top and bottom by ab . = = 3ab 3 a b 3 21a3b 2 14ab 2 = 3 7 a a a b b 3a 2 dividing top and bottom by 7ab 2 . = 27 abb 2

f)

g)

2a + 5b cannot be simplified - no common factor in top and bottom. 2ab 2 + 4b 2 (1 + 2b ) 1 + 2b dividing top and bottom by 2. = = 6b 6b 3b 2a + 4ab 2a(1 + 2b ) 2a = = dividing top and bottom by (1 + 2b ) . 3 + 6b 3(1 + 2b ) 3

h)

i)

Notice here that the term (1 + 2b ) behaves like a single letter. If you write x in place 2a(1 + 2b ) 2ax 2a = = of (1 + 2b ) then . Any terms in brackets behave as a single 3(1 + 2b ) 3x 3 term. a 2 + 4ab a ( a + 4b ) j) which cannot be simplified. Although both top and bottom = 3 + 6b 3(1 + 2b ) can be factorised there is no common factor in both top and bottom.
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k)

a 2 + 3a + 2 a 4
2

( a + 2)( a + 1) ( a + 2)( a 2)

a +1 dividing top and bottom by ( a + 2) a2

Exercise 1 Simplify the following, where possible. 24 27 1 (a) (b) (c) 32 32 2 2ab 5ab (a) (c) (b) 4ac 4a 2 3 2a + 6b 2a + 6b (a) (b) (c) 4a 10 4a + 12b 4 2a + 6b a2 1 (a) (b) (c) 4a 12b 2a 2 2 Multiplication and division

196 144 24a 2b (d) 20abc 2 4a (d) 3 + 2a 8a (d) 4a 2 4a (d)

The rules for multiplying and dividing numerical fractions are covered in the booklet Fractions. To summarise first: convert any mixed fractions to improper fractions. then, to multiply, you multiply the numerators together and multiply the denominators 1 2 5 2 10 5 = . together. Hence 1 = = 4 7 4 7 28 14 to divide you multiply the first fraction by the inverse of the second. Hence 1 2 5 2 5 7 35 3 1 = = = = 4 . (See Fractions booklet for proof) 4 7 4 7 4 2 8 8 Multiplying and dividing algebraic fractions is similar but without the complication of having mixed fractions. Hence we have w y wy = , x z xz w y w z wz = = . x z x y xy

Examples 3a 4 12a 6a = = a) 2b b 2b 2 b 2 c)

b)

b 3a 2

5a 5ab 5 = = 4b 12a 2b 12a 3a 4 9a 3a 4 2b 24ab 4 = = = 2 2b b 2b 2b b 9a 18ab 3b 2b ) 1

3a 4 3a b 3ab 3a = = = 2b b 2b 4 8b 8 3a 3a 2b 6ab 2b = = = 6a b b 1 b

d)

e)

(writing 2b as

f) 5a

3 5a 3 5a 3 15a 3 : writing 5a as = = = this gives 5a 10a 1 10a 1 10a 10a 2

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g)

2a 2a ab 2a 1 2a 2 ab = = = = 2 3b 3b 1 3b ab 3ab 3b 2 2a 3 6b 2 : factorising 4a 6 this gives 3b 4a 6 ( 2a 3) 6b 2 = 6b 2 = b 2a 3 6b 2 = 3b 4a 6 3b 2( 2a 3) 6b 2a + 4 2b 2 + 3b 9 2( a + 2) ( 2b 3)( b + 3) ( a + 2 )( b + 3) = = 6b 9 4a 2 3( 2b 3) 2( 2a 1) 3( 2a 1) 2ab 3a 6ab 9a 2ab 3a 4b 1 a( 2b 3) ( 4b 1) 4b 1 = = = 3b 4b 1 3b 6ab 9a 3b 3a( 2b 3) 9b 2a 4 2( a 2 ) 1 2 ( 2 a) = = note 2 a = ( a 2) 3b 3b ( a 2) 3b

h)

i)

j)

k)

Exercise 2 Simplify the following, cancelling down as far as possible, where possible. 2 12 21 25 20 22 5 16 1 (a) 11 (b) (c) (d) 5 32 3 14 5 32 49 3 8 25 a 4 5b + 5 1 a 2b a 2b 2 (a) (b) (c) 3 2b + 2 4a 3 a+b a+b 2 2 b 2a 3b 3 (a) a 1 4b + 20 (b) 4b 8 2b 4b ab b 2 (c) 2 3a 2ab 3b 3b + 15 a +1 4a + 8 6

3. Addition & Subtraction (a) Equivalent fractions As you know when you add or subtract two numerical fractions you need to change the fractions so that they have the same denominator; these are called equivalent fractions. This is covered in the Fractions booklet. Examples (a) (b) (c)
12 6 2 2 = = 18 6 3 3 3 3 4 12 = = 5 5 4 20 12 18 3 5 2 3 12 20

so so

and

and

a a c ac a ac = = so and are equivalent fractions b b c bc b bc 2 2 c 2c 2 2c = = so and are equivalent fractions b b b c bc bc

(d)

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(e)

2 + a ( 2 + a) c ( 2 + a)c 2+a ( 2 + a)c = = so and are equivalent fractions b bc bc b bc c c (1 c ) c (1 c ) c (1 c ) c = = are equivalent fractions 2 so 1 + c and 1 + c (1 + c )(1 c ) 1 c 1 c2

(f)

Exercise 3 Complete the following 3 ? ? 30 3a ? = = = = 1. = 5 10 25 ? ? 15b c ? ? c( c + b ) 3cd ? = = = = = 2. 2 b bd b ? ? 4b( a + 2b ) (b) Adding and subtracting As you know when you add or subtract two numerical fractions you need to change the fractions so that they have the same denominator. This is covered in the Fractions booklet. Examples 1 1 3 2 5 + = + = (i) 2 3 6 6 6 3 5 9 10 19 + =3 (ii) 1 + 2 = 3 + 8 12 24 24 24 5 2 3 10 8 9 9 3 =6 =6 (iii) 3 + 5 2 = ( 3 + 5 2) + + 6 3 4 12 12 12 12 4 In the same way to add algebraic fractions they must have the same denominator. 1 1 1 + = . a b a+b This can be checked, using the number test mentioned earlier, by putting, say, a = 1 and b = 1: 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 + = + = 2 but = = a b 1 1 a + b 1+1 2 1 1 2 + = note that is also wrong (try a = 1 and b = 1). a b a+b A common error is to write Writing the two fractions with a common denominator ab gives 1 1 b a b+a + = + = . a b ab ab ab The lowest denominator is usually called the Lowest Common Multiple (LCM) or Lowest Common Denominator (LCD) Algebraic fractions are dealt with in the same way as numerical fractions; you need to find the LCM of the fractions, the simplest expression that the denominators of the fractions will go into. This is often quite easy to see. It is also possible to use larger,

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or more complicated, common denominators. The first example above could have 1 1 30 20 50 5 + = + = = been written as: 2 3 60 60 60 6 50 5 cancelling down the fraction to by dividing top and bottom by 10 (see the 6 60 Fractions booklet if you have any problems with this). Both 6 and 60 are common multiples of 2 and 3 but 6 is (obviously) the Lowest Common Multiple (LCM). If the LCM of, say, a, b, c is d then a, b, c are all factors of d (ie go into d without leaving a remainder). 1 1 + . We want to put both fractions over a common denominator. a 1 a + 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 + = + + Putting x = ( a 1) ; y = ( a + 2) , then becomes a 1 a + 2 x y a 1 a + 2 1 1 y x y + x ( a + 2) + ( a 1) 2a + 1 + = = = which we can do as above + = ( a 1)( a + 2) ( a 1)( a + 2) x y xy xy xy Consider In practice we write this as 1 1 a+2 a 1 ( a + 2) + ( a 1) = 2a + 1 + = + = ( a 1)( a + 2) ( a 1)( a + 2) a 1 a + 2 ( a 1)( a + 2 ) ( a 1)( a + 2)
a+2 with practice step 1, which uses the fact that a1 1 and ( a 1)( a + 2 ) are equivalent fractions, can be left out.

From above we can see that the simplest common denominator (LCM) for terms with no common factors is the product of those terms. Denominators ( a + 3) and (2a 1) give LCM ( a + 3)(2a 1) Denominators ( a 2 + 1) and ( a 1) give LCM ( a 2 + 1)( a 1) What about terms which have common factors? The LCM of a 2 and a is not a3 but a 2 as both a and a 2 will go into a 2 without leaving a remainder. Hence the LCM of ( a + 1)2 and ( a + 1) is ( a + 1)2 . The LCM of 3( a + 1)3 and 2( a + 1)2 is 6( a + 1)3 etc. Examples In each case step 1 can be left out once you understand how to get to step 2! 1 2 a 1 2( a + 3) a 1 + 2a + 6 3a + 5 + = + = = (a) a + 3 a 1 ( a + 3)( a 1) ( a + 3)( a 1) ( a + 3)( a 1) ( a + 3)( a 1) (b) 1 1 a+2 a3 a + 2 ( a 3) 5 = = = a 3 a + 2 ( a 3)( a + 2) ( a 3)( a + 2 ) ( a 3)( a + 2 ) ( a 3)( a + 2 )

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(c)

3a 3a 2( a + 2 ) 3a 2( a + 2) 3a 2a 4 a 4 2 = = = = a+2 a+2 a+2 a+2 a+2 a+2 1

(d)

( a + 1)
8a

1 1 a +1 1+ a +1 a+2 = + = = 2 2 2 a + 1 ( a + 1) ( a + 1) ( a + 1) ( a + 1) 2 5 2( a + 1)
2

(e)

3( a + 1)

6( a + 1)

2( 8a )

3( a + 1) 5 6( a + 1)
3

16a 15a 15 6( a + 1)
3

6( a + 1) 3

a 15

Exercise 4 Work out the following 1 1 1. a b 4. 1 1 + x2 x+2 5 1 2y 3 y + 2 3r + 5 r +1

2.

x 2x + 5 3 3 2 t 2 t +2 1 3 + z z+2 3 s+2 + s2 s2 1 y y

3.

2 1 x 2 3 + 3x 4 x + 6 2

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

( x 2) 2

1 x2

10.

( r + 1)

11.

12.

4 1 +3 x 1 x2 2 1 + r 2 3r + 2

1 13. 4 + t 3

14.

( y + 2) 2

15. 3

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1(a )

3 27 5 49 b 5b 23b 6a (b ) (c ) (d ) 2(a ) (b ) (c ) (d ) 4 32 24 36 2c 4a 24ac 5c a + 3b 1 b 2 4a a + 3b a +1 a 2 3(a ) (b) (c) (d ) 4(a ) (b) (c ) (d ) 2a 5 2 2 + 3b 3 + 2a 2a 6b 2 a+2 a 1

a 2b 3( a + b ) 3( a 2b ) a+b

Exercise 2 4 75 5 1 5( a 4) 1( a ) (b ) (c) (d ) 2( a ) 7 56 12 10 8a 4( a 1) 3 1 3( a ) (b ) (c) 3 b( a + 2 ) 3ab( a b ) Exercise 3 3 6 15 30 3a 9b = = = = 1. = 5 10 25 50 5a 15b Exercise 4 ba 13x 1. 2. ab 15

7. 12. 3 y + 13 ( 2 y 3)( y + 2) 3x 3 + x 2 x + 1 x 2 ( x 1) 8. 2x x

(b )

(c)

2.

c cd bc c( c + b ) 3cd 4c( a + 2b ) = = = = = b bd b 2 b(c + b ) 3bd 4b( a + 2b )

t + 10 t 4 s 2 ( s + 2) 4s 2 4
2

3.

4. 9.

2x 2x = 2 ( x 2)( x + 2) x 4 x

5. 11.

6.

11x ( 3x 4)( x + 6)

4z + 2 z ( z + 2) 12 + t 13. 3

( x 2) 2
4y + 4

10.

8r + 5

( r + 1) 2

14.

A 4 x 2 1 + B( 2 x + 1) + C ( 2 x 1) 4 Ax 2 + ( 2 B 2C ) x A + B + C 17. = ( 2 x 1)( 2 x + 1) ( 2 x 1)( 2 x + 1) 18.

( Ax + B )( x 2) + C
x2

Ax 2 + ( B 2 A) x 2 B + C x2

We would appreciate your comments on this worksheet, especially if youve found any errors, so that we can improve it for future use. Please contact the Maths tutor by email at studyadvice@hull.ac.uk
Updated 25th November 2004

The information in this leaflet can be made available in an alternative format on request. Telephone 01482 466199
2009

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