Elementary Rules
The objective of solving a singlevariable equation is to get it into a form where the expression on the lefthand side of the equals sign is the variable being sought (for example, x) standing all alone, and the expression on the righthand side of the equals sign is an expression that does not contain the variable being sought.
There are several ways in which an equation in one variable can be manipulated to obtain a solution, assuming a solution exists. The following rules can be applied in any order, and any number of times.
Addition of a quantity to each side: Any defined constant, variable, or expression can be added to both sides of an equation, and the result is equivalent to the original equation.
Subtraction of a quantity from each side: Any defined constant, variable, or expression can be subtracted from both sides of an equation, and the result is equivalent to the original equation.
Multiplication of each side by a quantity: Both sides of an equation can be multiplied by a defined constant, variable, or expression, and the result is equivalent to the original equation.
Division of each side by a quantity: Both sides of an equation can be divided by a nonzero constant, by a variable that cannot attain a value of zero, or by an expression that cannot attain a value of zero over the range of its variable(s), and the result is equivalent to the original equation.
Basic Equation and Factored Equations in One Variable
Basic Equation in One Variable
Consider an equation of the following form:
 ax + b = cx + d
where a, b, c, and d are realnumber constants, x is a variable, and a ≠ c. This equation is solved for x as follows:
 ax + b = cx + d
 ax = cx + d – b
 ax – cx = d – b
 (a – c)x = d – b
 x = (d – b)/(a – c)
Factored Equations in One Variable
Consider an equation of the following form:
 (x – a_{1})(x – a_{2})(x – a_{3}) . . . (x – a_{n}) = 0
where a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, . . ., an are realnumber constants, and x is a variable. There are multiple solutions to this equation. Call the solutions x_{1}, x_{2}, x_{3}, and so on up to x_{n}, as follows:
 x_{1} = a^{1}
 x^{2} = a_{2}
 x_{3} = a^{3}
 ↓
 x_{n} = a_{n}
The solution set of this equation is {a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, . . ., a_{n}}.
Quadratic Equations
Consider an equation of the following form:
 ax^{2} + bx + c = 0
where a, b, and c are realnumber constants, x is a variable, and a is not equal to 0. This is called the standard form of a quadratic equation. It may have no realnumber solutions for x, or a single realnumber solution, or two realnumber solutions. The solutions of this equation, call them x_{1} and x_{2}, can be found according to the following formulas:
 x_{1} = [–b + (b^{2} – 4ac)^{1/2}]/2a
 x_{2} = [–b – (b^{2} – 4ac)^{1/2}]/2a
Sometimes these are written together as a single formula, using a plusorminus sign (±) to indicate that either addition or subtraction can be performed. This is the wellknown quadratic formula from elementary algebra:
 x = [–b ± (b^{2} – 4ac)^{1/2}]/2a

1
 2
Ask a Question
Have questions about this article or topic? AskRelated Questions
Q:
Q:
Q:
Q:
Popular Articles
 Kindergarten Sight Words List
 First Grade Sight Words List
 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
 Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
 Theories of Learning
 A Teacher's Guide to Differentiating Instruction
 Child Development Theories
 Social Cognitive Theory
 Curriculum Definition
 Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development