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LINEAR INEQUALITIES

Hot upon the heels of our work on equations comes this inoffensive topic requiring little in the
way of extra teaching or knowledge.
3x + 5 < 17

Consider the inequality


Which says:

Which numbers, call them x, when multiplied by 3 and subsequently increased by 5 give an
answer less than 17 ?
Look difficult ? Just look at the solution:
We have
Subtract 5 from both sides
Divide both sides by 3 to get

3x + 5 < 17
3x
< 12
x
< 4, i.e. x can be any number less than 4.

Simple!
Example 1.

Solve the inequality 3(x

5) > 10

2x.
Greater than

Solution.
Remove brackets to get

3x

15 > 10

Add 2x to both sides to get


Add 15 to both sides to get
Divide both sides by 5 to get

5x
5x
x

15 > 10
> 25
> 5.

2x

{The solution is thus given by any number greater than 5.}

We cannot help but notice the similarities with solving the equivalent equations!
10 + 5(x + 3)

8x

2.

Solution.
Remove brackets to get

10 + 5x + 15

8x

Less than or equal to


2

Tidy up !

25 + 5x

8x

2.

Subtract 5x from both sides to get


Add 2 to both sides to get
Divide both sides by 3 to get

25
27
9

3x
3x
x.

2.

Example 2.

Solve the inequality

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NOTE.
The solution to the previous example is given by 9 x which says
9 is less than or equal to x.
This is the same as saying
x is any number greater than or equal to 9.
Hence we see that the solution given by 9

x can be expressed as x

9 if we so prefer.

Our next example is slightly more difficult although the algebra content is nothing special.
Example 3.
a)
Rearrange the inequality 3 + 7n < 2n +22 into the form n < some number.
b)

Given that n also satisfies the inequality 3n > 1, write down all the integer values
of n that satisfy both inequalities.
Whole numbers

Solution.
a)
We have
Subtract 2n from both sides to get
Subtract 3 from both sides to get
Divide both sides by 5 to get

3 + 7n < 2n + 22
3 + 5n <
22
5n < 19
19
.
n<
5

19
38
is the same as
which equals 3.8 and thus our solution is given by n < 3.8
5
10
which says that n is any number less than 3.8.

Now,

b)

1
. So, combining this with our answer to a) means that we are
3
1
looking for all integers n which are greater than but, at the same time less than 3.8.
3
The only possibilities are n = 1, n = 2 or n = 3

3n >1 means that n >

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Exercise 1.

NO CALCULATORS.

1)

Rearrange the inequality

a)

5n

4 > 3n + 11

into the form


n > a number.

2)

b)

Write down the least whole number value of n which satisfies this inequality.

a)

Rearrange the inequality


4n

4 < 20

2n

into the form


n < a number.

3)

b)

Write down the greatest integer value (whole number) of n which satisfies this
inequality.

a)

Rearrange the inequality


4n

4 < 20

into the form


n < a number.

4)

5)

6)

b)

Write down the greatest whole number value of n which satisfies this
inequality.

a)

Rearrange the inequality 3

b)

Given that n also satisfies the inequality 3n > 2, write down all the integer
values of n that satisfy both inequalities.

a)

Rearrange the inequality 3 + 4n < 20

b)

Given that n also satisfies the inequality 3n > 1, write down all the integer
values of n that satisfy both inequalities.

a)

Rearrange the inequality 3

b)

Given that n also satisfies the inequality 3n > 2, write down all the integer
values of n that satisfy both inequalities.

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2n > 3n 24 into the form n < some number.

n into the form n < some number.

2n > 3n 33 into the form n < some number.

ANSWERS / SOLUTIONS.
1)

a)

n > 7.5,

b)

n = 8.

2)

a)

n < 4,

b)

n = 3.

3)

a)

n < 4.8,

b)

n = 4.

4)

a)

n < 5.4,

b)

n = 1, n = 2, n = 3, n = 4 or n = 5.

5)

a)

n < 3.4,

b)

n = 1, n = 2 or n = 3.

6)

a)

n < 7.2,

b)

n = 1, n = 2, n = 3, n = 4, n = 5, n = 6 or n = 7.

Solution to 4).
a)
We have
Add 2n to both sides
Add 24 to both sides
Divide both sides by 5
Which is the same as
b)

3 2n > 3n 24
3
> 5n 24
27
> 5n
5.4

> n.

{Since

27
54
=
etc.}
5
10

n < 5.4

2
. Combining this with the answer
3
to a) means that the only permissible integer values are n = 1, n = 2, n = 3, n = 4 or
n = 5.

We now have that 3n > 2 which means that n >

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