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Purplemathoffersacompletelesson Thislessonisnotyetavailable
onthetopicyouhaveselected. inMathHelp.com.
Trythelessonbelow!

PartialFractionDecomposition:
GeneralTechniques(page1of3) Purplemath:
Linkingtothissite
Printingpages
Schoollicensing
Sections:Generaltechniques,Howtohandlerepeatedandirreduciblefactors,Examples

Reviewsof
Previously,youhaveaddedandsimplifiedrationalexpressions,suchas: InternetSites:
FreeHelp
Practice
EtCetera

The"Homework
Guidelines"
Partialfractiondecompositionistheprocessofstartingwiththesimplifiedanswerandtakingitback
StudySkillsSurvey
apart,of"decomposing"thefinalexpressionintoitsinitialpolynomialfractions.
TutoringfromPurplemath
Todecomposeafraction,youfirstfactorthedenominator.Let'sworkbackwardsfromtheexample Findalocalmathtutor
above.Thedenominatorisx2+x,whichfactorsasx(x+1).

Thislessonmaybeprintedoutfor
Thenyouwritethefractionswithoneofthefactorsforeachofthedenominators.Ofcourse,youdon't yourpersonaluse.
knowwhatthenumeratorsareyet,soyouassignvariables(usuallycapitalletters)fortheseunknown
values:

Thenyousetthissumequaltothesimplifiedresult:

Whatsyourquestion?

Multiplythroughbythecommondenominatorofx(x+1)getsridofallofthedenominators:
ASK

3x+2=A(x+1)+B(x)CopyrightElizabethStapel20062011AllRightsReserved

Multiplythingsout,andgroupthextermsandtheconstantterms:

3x+2=Ax+A1+Bx
3x+2=(A+B)x+(A)1
(3)x+(2)1=(A+B)x+(A)1
Forthetwosidestobeequal,thecoefficientsofthetwopolynomialsmustbeequal.Soyou"equate
thecoefficients"toget:

3=A+B ADVERTISEMENT

2=A
Thiscreatesasystemofequationsthatyou
cansolve:
FlatRs.3,000off
A=2
UsecodeHTLSTAR.
B=1 Offeron4&5star
Thentheoriginalfractionswere(aswealready hotelsvalidtillmidnight.
know)thefollowing:
MakeMyTrip.com

ThereisanothermethodforsolvingforthevaluesofAandB.Sincetheequation"3x+2=A(x+1)
+B(x)"issupposedtobetrueforanyvalueofx,wecanpickusefulvaluesofx,plugnchug,andfind
thevaluesforAandB.Lookingattheequation"3x+2=A(x+1)+B(x)",youcanseethat,ifx=
0,thenwequicklyfindthat2=A:

3x+2=A(x+1)+B(x)
3(0)+2=A(0+1)+B(0)
0+2=A(1)+0
2=A

Andifx=1,thenweeasilyget3+2=B,soB=1.

I'veneverseenthissecondmethodintextbooks,butitcanoftensaveyouawholelotoftimeoverthe
"equatethecoefficientsandsolvethesystemofequations"methodthattheyusuallyteach.

Ifthedenominatorofyourfractionfactorsintouniquelinearfactors,thenthedecompositionprocessis
fairlystraightforward,asshowninthepreviousexample.Butwhatifthefactorsaren'tuniqueoraren't
linear?

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Citethisarticleas:Stapel,Elizabeth."PartialFractionDecomposition:GeneralTechniques."
Purplemath.Availablefromhttp://www.purplemath.com/modules/partfrac.htm.
Accessed23March2017

Copyright20062012ElizabethStapel|About|TermsofUse Feedback|Error?

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