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Solving Systems of Equations Real World Problems

Wow! You have learned many different strategies for solving systems of equations! First we started with Graphing Systems of Equations . Then we moved onto solving systems using the Substitution Method . In our last lesson we used the Linear Combinations or Addition Method to solve systems of equations.

Now we are ready to apply these strategies to solve real world problems! Are you ready? First let's look at some guidelines for solving real world problems and then we'll look at a few examples.

Steps For Solving Real World Problems

  • Highlight the important information in the problem that will help write two equations.
  • Define your variables
  • Write two equations
  • Use one of the methods for solving systems of equations to solve.
  • Check your answers by substituting your ordered pair into the original equations.
  • Answer the questions in the real world problems. Always write your answer in complete sentences!

Ok... let's look at a few examples. Follow along with me. (Having a calculator will make it easier for you to follow along.)

Example 1: Systems Word Problems

You are running a concession stand at a basketball game. You are selling hot dogs and sodas. Each hot dog costs $1.50 and each soda costs $0.50. At the end of the night you made a total of $78.50. You sold a total of 87 hot dogs and sodas combined. You must report the number of hot dogs sold and the number of sodas sold. How many hot dogs were sold and how many sodas were sold?

1.  Let's start by identifying the important information:

  • hot dogs cost $1.50
  • Sodas cost $0.50
  • Made a total of $78.50
  • Sold 87 hot dogs and sodas combined

2.  Define your variables.

  • Ask yourself, "What am I trying to solve for? What don't I know?

In this problem, I don't know how many hot dogs or sodas were sold. So this is what each variable will stand for. (Usually the question at the end will give you this information).

Let x = the number of hot dogs sold

Let y = the number of sodas sold

3. Write two equations.

One equation will be related to the price and one equation will be related to the quantity (or number) of hot dogs and sodas sold.

1.50x + 0.50y = 78.50    (Equation related to cost)

 x + y = 87   (Equation related to the number sold)

4.  Solve! 

We can choose any method that we like to solve the system of equations. I am going to choose the substitution method since I can easily solve the 2nd equation for y.

Solving a systems using substitution

5. Think about what this solution means.

x is the number of hot dogs and x = 35. That means that 35 hot dogs were sold.

y is the number of sodas and y = 52. That means that 52 sodas were sold.

6.  Write your answer in a complete sentence.

35 hot dogs were sold and 52 sodas were sold.

7.  Check your work by substituting.

1.50x + 0.50y = 78.50

1.50(35) + 0.50(52) = 78.50

52.50 + 26 = 78.50

35 + 52 = 87

Since both equations check properly, we know that our answers are correct!

That wasn't too bad, was it? The hardest part is writing the equations. From there you already know the strategies for solving. Think carefully about what's happening in the problem when trying to write the two equations.

Example 2: Another Word Problem

You and a friend go to Tacos Galore for lunch. You order three soft tacos and three burritos and your total bill is $11.25. Your friend's bill is $10.00 for four soft tacos and two burritos. How much do soft tacos cost? How much do burritos cost?

  • 3 soft tacos + 3 burritos cost $11.25
  • 4 soft tacos + 2 burritos cost $10.00

In this problem, I don't know the price of the soft tacos or the price of the burritos.

Let x = the price of 1 soft taco

Let y = the price of 1 burrito

One equation will be related your lunch and one equation will be related to your friend's lunch.

3x + 3y = 11.25  (Equation representing your lunch)

4x + 2y = 10   (Equation representing your friend's lunch)

We can choose any method that we like to solve the system of equations. I am going to choose the combinations method.

Solving Systems Using Combinations

5. Think about what the solution means in context of the problem.

x = the price of 1 soft taco and x = 1.25.

That means that 1 soft tacos costs $1.25.

y = the price of 1 burrito and y = 2.5.

That means that 1 burrito costs $2.50.

Yes, I know that word problems can be intimidating, but this is the whole reason why we are learning these skills. You must be able to apply your knowledge!

If you have difficulty with real world problems, you can find more examples and practice problems in the Algebra Class E-course.

Take a look at the questions that other students have submitted:

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Problem about the WNBA

Systems problem about ages

Problem about milk consumption in the U.S.

Vans and Buses? How many rode in each?

Telephone Plans problem

Systems problem about hats and scarves

Apples and guavas please!

How much did Alice spend on shoes?

All about stamps

Going to the movies

Small pitchers and large pitchers - how much will they hold?

Chickens and dogs in the farm yard

  • System of Equations
  • Systems Word Problems

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

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Systems of Linear Equations and Word Problems

Note that we saw how to solve linear inequalities here in the Coordinate System and Graphing Lines section . Note also that we solve Algebra Word Problems without Systems here , and we solve systems using matrices in the Matrices and Solving Systems with Matrices  section here.

Introduction to Systems

“Systems of equations” just means that we are dealing with more than one equation and variable. So far, we’ve basically just played around with the equation for a line, which is $ y=mx+b$. Let’s say we have the following situation:

Now, you can always do “guess and check” to see what would work, but you might as well use algebra! It’s much better to learn the algebra way, because even though this problem is fairly simple to solve, the algebra way will let you solve any algebra problem – even the really complicated ones.

The first trick in problems like this is to figure out what we want to know. This will help us decide what variables (unknowns) to use. What we want to know is how many pairs of jeans we want to buy (let’s say “$ j$”) and how many dresses we want to buy (let’s say “$ d$”). Always write down what your variables will be:

Let $ j=$ the number of jeans you will buy Let $ d=$ the number of dresses you’ll buy

Like we did before, let’s translate word-for-word from math to English:

Now we have the 2 equations as shown below. Notice that the $ j$ variable is just like the $ x$ variable and the $ d$ variable is just like the $ y$. It’s easier to put in $ j$   and $ d$ so we can remember what they stand for when we get the answers.

This is what we call a system, since we have to solve for more than one variable – we have to solve for 2 here. The cool thing is to solve for 2   variables , you typically need 2   equations , to solve for 3   variables , you need 3   equations , and so on. That’s easy to remember, right?

We need to get an answer that works in both equations ; this is what we’re doing when we’re solving; this is called solving simultaneous systems , or solving system simultaneously . There are several ways to solve systems; we’ll talk about graphing first.

Solving Systems by Graphing

Remember that when you graph a line, you see all the different coordinates (or $ x/y$ combinations) that make the equation work. In systems, you have to make both equations work, so the intersection of the two lines shows the point that fits both equations (assuming the lines do in fact intersect; we’ll talk about that later).  The points of intersections satisfy both equations simultaneously. 

Put these equations into the $ y=mx+b$ ($ d=mj+b$) format, by solving for the $ d$ (which is like the $ y$):

$ \displaystyle j+d=6;\text{ }\,\text{ }\text{solve for }d:\text{ }d=-j+6\text{ }$

$ \displaystyle 25j+50d=200;\text{ }\,\,\text{solve for }d:\text{ }d=\frac{{200-25j}}{{50}}=-\frac{1}{2}j+4$

Now graph both lines:

Note that with non-linear equations, there will most likely be more than one intersection; an example of how to get more than one solution via the Graphing Calculator can be found in the  Exponents and Radicals in Algebra section. Also, t here are some examples of systems of inequality  here in the Coordinate System and Graphing Lines section .

Solving Systems with Substitution

Substitution is the favorite way to solve for many students! It involves exactly what it says: substituting one variable in another equation so that you only have one variable in that equation. Here is the same problem:

You’re going to the mall with your friends and you have $200 to spend from your recent birthday money. You discover a store that has all jeans for $25 and all dresses for $50 .  You really, really want to take home 6 items of clothing because you “need” that many new things. How many pairs of jeans and how many dresses you can buy so you use the whole $200 (tax not included)?

Below are our two equations, and let’s solve for “$ d$” in terms of “$ j$” in the first equation. Then, let’s substitute what we got for “$ d$” into the next equation. Even though it doesn’t matter which equation you start with, remember to always pick the “easiest” equation first (one that we can easily solve for a variable) to get a variable by itself.

We could buy 4 pairs of jeans and 2 dresses . Note that we could have also solved for “$ j$” first; it really doesn’t matter. You’ll want to pick the variable that’s most easily solved for. Let’s try another substitution problem that’s a little bit different:

Solving Systems with Linear Combination or Elimination

Probably the most useful way to solve systems is using linear combination, or linear elimination. The reason it’s most useful is that usually in real life we don’t have one variable in terms of another (in other words, a “$ y=$” situation).

The main purpose of the linear combination method is to add or subtract the equations so that one variable is eliminated. We can add, subtract, or multiply both sides of equations by the same numbers – let’s use real numbers as shown below. We are using the Additive Property of Equality , Subtraction Property of Equality , Multiplicative Property of Equality , and/or Division Property of Equality that we saw here in the Types of Numbers and Algebraic Properties section :

If we have a set of 2 equations with 2 unknowns, for example, we can manipulate them by adding, multiplying or subtracting (we usually prefer adding) so that we get one equation with one variable. Let’s use our previous problem:

We could buy 4 pairs of jeans and 2 dresses .

Here’s another example:

Types of equations

In the example above, we found one unique solution to the set of equations. Sometimes, however, for a set of equations, there are no solutions (when lines are parallel) or an infinite number of solutions or infinitely many solutions (when the two lines are actually the same line, and one is just a “multiple” of the other).

When there is at least one solution , the equations are consistent equations , since they have a solution. When there is only one solution, the system is called independent , since they cross at only one point. When equations have infinite solutions, they are the same equation, are consistent , and are called dependent or coincident (think of one just sitting on top of the other).

When equations have no solutions , they are called inconsistent equations , since we can never get a solution . 

Here are graphs of inconsistent and dependent equations that were created on a graphing calculator:

Systems with Three Equations

Let’s get a little more complicated with systems; in real life, we rarely just have two unknowns to solve for.

Let’s say at the same store, they also had pairs of shoes for $20 and we managed to get $60 more to spend! Now we have a new problem. To spend the even $260 , how many pairs of jeans, dresses, and pairs of shoes should we get if want, for example, exactly 10 total items (Remember that jeans cost $25 each and dresses cost $50 each).

Let’s let $ j=$ the number of pair of jeans, $ d=$ the number of dresses, and $ s=$ the number of pairs of shoes we should buy. So far, we’ll have the following equations:

$ \displaystyle \begin{array}{c}j+d+s=10\text{ }\\25j+\text{ }50d+\,20s=260\end{array}$

We’ll need another equation, since for three variables, we need three equations (otherwise, we theoretically might have infinite ways to solve the problem). In this type of problem, you would also need something like this: We want twice as many pairs of jeans as pairs of shoes . Now, since we have the same number of equations as variables , we can potentially get one solution for the system of equations. Here are the three equations:

We’ll learn later how to put these in our calculator to easily solve using matrices (see the  Matrices and Solving Systems with Matrices section). For now, we can use two equations at a time to eliminate a variable (using substitution and/or elimination), and keep doing this until we’ve solved for all variables. These can get really difficult to solve, but remember that in “real life”, there are computers to do all this work!

Remember again, that if we ever get to a point where we end up with something like this, it means there are an infinite number of solutions : $ 4=4$  (variables are gone and a number equals another number and they are the same). And if we up with something like this, it means there are no solutions : $ 5=2$ (variables are gone and two numbers are left and they don’t equal each other).

Let’s solve our system:      $ \displaystyle \begin{array}{c}j+d+s=10\text{ }\\25j+\text{ }50d+20s=260\\j=2s\end{array}$ :

We could buy 6 pairs of jeans, 1 dress, and 3 pairs of shoes .

Here’s one more example of a three-variable system of equations, where we’ll only use linear elimination:

$ \displaystyle \begin{align}5x-6y-\,7z\,&=\,7\\6x-4y+10z&=\,-34\\2x+4y-\,3z\,&=\,29\end{align}$

I know – this is really difficult stuff! But if you do it step-by-step and keep using the equations you need with the right variables, you can do it. Think of it like a puzzle – you may not know exactly where you’re going, but do what you can in baby steps, and you’ll get there (sort of like life sometimes, right?!). And we’ll learn much easier ways to do these types of problems.

Algebra Word Problems with Systems

Let’s do more word problems; you’ll notice that many of these are the same type that we did earlier in the Algebra Word Problems  section , but now we can use more than one variable. This will actually make the problems easier! Again, when doing these word problems:

  • If you’re wondering what the variables (or unknowns) should be when working on a word problem, look at what the problem is asking. These are usually (but not always) what your variables are!
  • If you’re not sure how to set up the equations, use regular numbers (simple ones!) and see what you’re doing. Then put the variables back in!

Here are some problems:

Investment Word Problem

We also could have set up this problem with a table:

Mixture Word Problems

Here’s a mixture word problem . With mixture problems, remember if the problem calls for a pure solution or concentrate , use 100% (if the percentage is that solution) or 0% (if the percentage is another solution).

Let’s do the math (use substitution )!

$ \displaystyle \begin{array}{c}x\,\,+\,\,y=10\\.01x+.035y=10(.02)\end{array}$          $ \displaystyle \begin{array}{c}\,y=10-x\\.01x+.035(10-x)=.2\\.01x\,+\,.35\,\,-\,.035x=.2\\\,-.025x=-.15;\,\,\,\,\,x=6\\\,y=10-6=4\end{array}$

We would need 6 liters of the 1% milk, and 4 liters of the 3.5% milk.

Here’s another mixture problem:

$ \displaystyle \begin{array}{c}x+y=50\\8x+4y=50\left( {6.4} \right)\end{array}$                   $ \displaystyle \begin{array}{c}y=50-x\\8x+4\left( {50-x} \right)=320\\8x+200-4x=320\\4x=120\,;\,\,\,\,x=30\\y=50-30=20\\8x+4y=50(6.4)\end{array}$

We would need 30 pounds of the $8 coffee bean, and 20 pounds of the $4 coffee bean. See how similar this problem is to the one where we use percentages?

Distance Word Problem:

Here’s a distance word problem using systems ; distance problems have to do with an object’s speed, time, and distance. Note that, as well as the distance word problem here in the Algebra Word Problems section , there’s an example of a Parametric Distance Problem here in the Parametric Equations section .

Which Plumber Problem

Many word problems you’ll have to solve have to do with an initial charge or setup charge, and a charge or rate per time period. In these cases, the initial charge will be the $ \boldsymbol {y}$ -intercept , and the  rate will be the slope . Here is an example:

Geometry Word Problem:

Many times, we’ll have a geometry problem as an algebra word problem; these might involve perimeter, area, or sometimes angle measurements (so don’t forget these things!). Let’s do one involving angle measurements.

See – these are getting easier! Here’s one that’s a little tricky though:

Work Problem : 

Let’s do a “ work problem ” that is typically seen when studying Rational Equations (fraction with variables in them) and can be found here in the Rational Functions, E quations and Inequalities  section .

Note that there’s also a simpler version of this problem here in the Direct, Inverse, Joint and Combined Variation section .

Three Variable Word Problem:

Let’s do one more with three equations and three unknowns:

The “Candy” Problem

Sometimes we get lucky and can solve a system of equations where we have more unknowns (variables) then equations. (Actually, I think it’s not so much luck, but having good problem writers!) Here’s one like that:

There are more Systems Word Problems in the  Matrices and Solving Systems with Matrices section , Linear Programming section , and Right Triangle Trigonometry section .

Understand these problems, and practice, practice, practice!

For Practice : Use the Mathway  widget below to try a  Systems of Equations  problem. Click on Submit (the blue arrow to the right of the problem) and click on Solve by Substitution or Solve by Addition/Elimination  to see the answer .

You can also type in your own problem, or click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner and click on “Examples” to drill down by topic.

If you click on Tap to view steps , or Click Here , you can register at Mathway for a free trial , and then upgrade to a paid subscription at any time (to get any type of math problem solved!).

On to Algebraic Functions, including Domain and Range   – you’re ready! 

Module 5: Systems of Linear Equations

5.2 – applications of systems of linear equations, learning objectives.

  • Specify what the variables in a cost/ revenue system of linear equations represent
  • Determine and apply an appropriate method for solving the system

(5.2.2) – Solve value problems with a system of linear equations

(5.2.3) – solve mixture problems with a system of linear equations, (5.2.4) – solve uniform motion problems with a system of linear equations.

A skateboard manufacturer introduces a new line of boards. The manufacturer tracks its costs, which is the amount it spends to produce the boards, and its revenue, which is the amount it earns through sales of its boards. How can the company determine if it is making a profit with its new line? How many skateboards must be produced and sold before a profit is possible?

Skateboarders at a skating rink by the beach.

(credit: Thomas Sørenes)

(5.2.1) – Solve cost and revenue problems

Using what we have learned about systems of equations, we can return to the skateboard manufacturing problem at the beginning of the section. The skateboard manufacturer’s revenue function is the function used to calculate the amount of money that comes into the business. It can be represented by the equation [latex]R=xp[/latex], where [latex]x=[/latex] quantity and [latex]p=[/latex] price. The revenue function is shown in orange in the graph below.

The cost function is the function used to calculate the costs of doing business. It includes fixed costs, such as rent and salaries, and variable costs, such as utilities. The cost function is shown in blue in the graph below. The [latex]x[/latex] -axis represents quantity in hundreds of units. The y -axis represents either cost or revenue in hundreds of dollars.

A graph showing money in hundreds of dollars on the y axis and quantity in hundreds of units on the x axis. A line representing cost and a line representing revenue cross at the point (7,33), which is marked break-even. The shaded space between the two lines to the right of the break-even point is labeled profit.

The point at which the two lines intersect is called the break-even point . We can see from the graph that if 700 units are produced, the cost is $3,300 and the revenue is also $3,300. In other words, the company breaks even if they produce and sell 700 units. They neither make money nor lose money.

The shaded region to the right of the break-even point represents quantities for which the company makes a profit. The shaded region to the left represents quantities for which the company suffers a loss. The profit function is the revenue function minus the cost function, written as [latex]P\left(x\right)=R\left(x\right)-C\left(x\right)[/latex]. Clearly, knowing the quantity for which the cost equals the revenue is of great importance to businesses.

A business wants to manufacture bike frames. Before they start production, they need to make sure they can make a profit with the materials and labor force they have. Their accountant has given them a cost equation of [latex]y=0.85x+35,000[/latex] and a revenue equation of [latex]y=1.55x[/latex]:

  • Interpret x and y for the cost equation
  • Interpret x and y for the revenue equation

Cost: [latex]y=0.85x+35,000[/latex]

Revenue:[latex]y=1.55x[/latex]

The cost equation represents money leaving the company, namely how much it costs to produce a given number of bike frames. If we use the skateboard example as a model, x would represent the number of frames produced (instead of skateboards) and y would represent the amount of money it would cost to produce them (the same as the skateboard problem).

The revenue equation represents money coming into the company, so in this context x still represents the number of bike frames manufactured, and y now represents the amount of money made from selling them.  Let’s organize this information in a table:

Example: Finding the Break-Even Point and the Profit Function Using Substitution

Given the cost function [latex]C\left(x\right)=0.85x+35,000[/latex] and the revenue function [latex]R\left(x\right)=1.55x[/latex], find the break-even point and the profit function.

Write the system of equations using [latex]y[/latex] to replace function notation.

[latex]\begin{array}{l}\begin{array}{l}\\ y=0.85x+35,000\end{array}\hfill \\ y=1.55x\hfill \end{array}[/latex]

Substitute the expression [latex]0.85x+35,000[/latex] from the first equation into the second equation and solve for [latex]x[/latex].

[latex]\begin{array}{c}0.85x+35,000=1.55x\\ 35,000=0.7x\\ 50,000=x\end{array}[/latex]

Then, we substitute [latex]x=50,000[/latex] into either the cost function or the revenue function. [latex]1.55\left(50,000\right)=77,500[/latex]

The break-even point is [latex]\left(50,000,77,500\right)[/latex].

The profit function is found using the formula [latex]P\left(x\right)=R\left(x\right)-C\left(x\right)[/latex].

[latex]\begin{array}{l}P\left(x\right)=1.55x-\left(0.85x+35,000\right)\hfill \\ \text{ }=0.7x - 35,000\hfill \end{array}[/latex]

The profit function is [latex]P\left(x\right)=0.7x - 35,000[/latex].

Analysis of the Solution

The cost to produce 50,000 units is $77,500, and the revenue from the sales of 50,000 units is also $77,500. To make a profit, the business must produce and sell more than 50,000 units.

A graph showing money in dollars on the y axis and quantity on the x axis. A line representing cost and a line representing revenue cross at the break-even point of fifty thousand, seventy-seven thousand five hundred. The cost line's equation is C(x)=0.85x+35,000. The revenue line's equation is R(x)=1.55x. The shaded space between the two lines to the right of the break-even point is labeled profit.

We see from the graph below that the profit function has a negative value until [latex]x=50,000[/latex], when the graph crosses the x -axis. Then, the graph emerges into positive y -values and continues on this path as the profit function is a straight line. This illustrates that the break-even point for businesses occurs when the profit function is 0. The area to the left of the break-even point represents operating at a loss.

A graph showing dollars profit on the y axis and quantity on the x axis. The profit line crosses the break-even point at fifty thousand, zero. The profit line's equation is P(x)=0.7x-35,000.

It is rare to be given equations that neatly model behaviors that you encounter in business, rather, you will probably be faced with a situation for which you know key information as in the example above. Below, we summarize three key factors that will help guide you in translating a situation into a system.

How To: Given a situation that represents a system of linear equations, write the system of equations and identify the solution.

1) Identify unknown quantities in a problem represent them with variables.

2) Write a system of equations which models the problem’s conditions.

3) Solve the system.

4) Check proposed solution.

Now let’s practice putting these key factors to work. In the next example, we determine how many different types of tickets are sold given information about the total revenue and amount of tickets sold to an event.

Example: Writing and Solving a System of Equations in Two Variables

The cost of a ticket to the circus is $25.00 for children and $50.00 for adults. On a certain day, attendance at the circus is 2,000 and the total gate revenue is $70,000. How many children and how many adults bought tickets?

Let c = the number of children and a = the number of adults in attendance.

The total number of people is [latex]2,000[/latex]. We can use this to write an equation for the number of people at the circus that day.

[latex]c+a=2,000[/latex]

The revenue from all children can be found by multiplying $25.00 by the number of children, [latex]25c[/latex]. The revenue from all adults can be found by multiplying $50.00 by the number of adults, [latex]50a[/latex]. The total revenue is $70,000. We can use this to write an equation for the revenue.

[latex]25c+50a=70,000[/latex]

We now have a system of linear equations in two variables.

[latex]\begin{array}{c}c+a=2,000\\ 25c+50a=70,000\end{array}[/latex]

In the first equation, the coefficient of both variables is 1. We can quickly solve the first equation for either [latex]c[/latex] or [latex]a[/latex]. We will solve for [latex]a[/latex].

[latex]\begin{array}{c}c+a=2,000\\ a=2,000-c\end{array}[/latex]

Substitute the expression [latex]2,000-c[/latex] in the second equation for [latex]a[/latex] and solve for [latex]c[/latex].

[latex]\begin{array}{l} 25c+50\left(2,000-c\right)=70,000\hfill \\ 25c+100,000 - 50c=70,000\hfill \\ \text{ }-25c=-30,000\hfill \\ \text{ }c=1,200\hfill \end{array}[/latex]

Substitute [latex]c=1,200[/latex] into the first equation to solve for [latex]a[/latex].

[latex]\begin{array}{l}1,200+a=2,000\hfill \\ \text{ }\text{}a=800\hfill \end{array}[/latex]

We find that [latex]1,200[/latex] children and [latex]800[/latex] adults bought tickets to the circus that day.

In this video example we show how to set up a system of linear equations that represents the total cost for admission to a museum.

Meal tickets at the circus cost $4.00 for children and $12.00 for adults. If 1,650 meal tickets were bought for a total of $14,200, how many children and how many adults bought meal tickets?

700 children, 950 adults

Sometimes, a system can inform a decision.  In our next example, we help answer the question, “Which truck rental company will give the best value?”

Example: Building a System of Linear Models to Choose a Truck Rental Company

Jamal is choosing between two truck-rental companies. The first, Keep on Trucking, Inc., charges an up-front fee of $20, then 59 cents a mile. The second, Move It Your Way, charges an up-front fee of $16, then 63 cents a mile. [1] When will Keep on Trucking, Inc. be the better choice for Jamal?

The two important quantities in this problem are the cost and the number of miles driven. Because we have two companies to consider, we will define two functions.

A linear function is of the form [latex]f\left(x\right)=mx+b[/latex]. Using the rates of change and initial charges, we can write the equations

[latex]\begin{array}{l}K\left(d\right)=0.59d+20\\ M\left(d\right)=0.63d+16\end{array}[/latex]

Using these equations, we can determine when Keep on Trucking, Inc., will be the better choice. Because all we have to make that decision from is the costs, we are looking for when Move It Your Way, will cost less, or when [latex]K\left(d\right)<M\left(d\right)[/latex]. The solution pathway will lead us to find the equations for the two functions, find the intersection, and then see where the [latex]K\left(d\right)[/latex] function is smaller.

image

These graphs are sketched above, with K ( d ) in blue.

To find the intersection, we set the equations equal and solve:

[latex]\begin{array}{l}K\left(d\right)=M\left(d\right)\hfill \\ 0.59d+20=0.63d+16\hfill \\ 4=0.04d\hfill \\ 100=d\hfill \\ d=100\hfill \end{array}[/latex]

This tells us that the cost from the two companies will be the same if 100 miles are driven. Either by looking at the graph, or noting that [latex]K\left(d\right)[/latex] is growing at a slower rate, we can conclude that Keep on Trucking, Inc. will be the cheaper price when more than 100 miles are driven, that is [latex]d>100[/latex].

One application of systems of equations are mixture problems. Mixture problems are ones where two different solutions are mixed together resulting in a new final solution.  A solution is a mixture of two or more different substances like water and salt or vinegar and oil.  Most biochemical reactions occur in liquid solutions, making them important for doctors, nurses, and researchers to understand.  There are many other disciplines that use solutions as well.

The concentration or strength of a liquid solution is often described  as a percentage.  This number comes from the ratio of how much mass is in a specific volume of liquid.  For example if you have 50 grams of salt in a 100mL of water you have a 50% salt solution based on the following ratio:

[latex]\frac{50\text{ grams }}{100\text{ mL }}=0.50\frac{\text{ grams }}{\text{ mL }}=50\text{ % }[/latex]

Solutions used for most purposes typically come in pre-made concentrations from manufacturers, so if you need a custom concentration, you would need to mix two different strengths.  In this section, we will practice writing equations that represent the outcome from mixing two different concentrations of solutions.

We will use the following table to help us solve mixture problems:

To demonstrate why the table is helpful in solving for unknown amounts or concentrations of a solution, consider two solutions that are mixed together, one is 120mL of a 9% solution, and the other is 75mL of a 23% solution. If we mix both of these solutions together we will have a new volume and a new mass of solute and with those we can find a new concentration.

First, find the total mass of solids for each solution by multiplying the volume by the concentration.

Next we add the new volumes and new masses.

Now we have used mathematical operations to describe the result of mixing two different solutions. We know the new volume, concentration and mass of solute in the new solution.  In the following examples, you will see that we can use the table to find an unknown final volume or concentration. These problems can have either one or two variables. We will start with one variable problems, then move to two variable problems.

A chemist has 70 mL of a 50% methane solution. How much of an 80% solution must she add so the final solution is 60% methane?

Let’s use the problem solving process outlined in Module 1 to help us work through a solution to the problem.

Read and Understand:  We are looking for a new amount – in this case a volume –  based on the words “how much”.  We know two starting  concentrations and the final concentration, as well as one volume.

Define and Translate:  Solution 1 is the 70 mL of 50% methane and solution 2 is the unknown amount with 80% methane.  We can call our unknown amount x.

Write and Solve:   Set up the mixture table. Remember that concentrations are written as decimals before we can perform mathematical operations on them.

Multiply amount by concentration to get total, be sure to distribute on the last row: [latex]\left(70 + x\right)0.6[/latex]Add the entries in the amount column to get final amount. The concentration for this amount is 0.6 because we want the final solution to be 60% methane.

Add the total mass for solution 1 and solution 2 to get the total mass for the 60% solution. This is our equation for finding the unknown volume.

[latex]35+0.8x=42+0.6x[/latex]

[latex]\begin{array}{c}35+0.8x=42+0.6x\\\underline{-0.6x}\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\underline{-0.6x}\\35+0.2x=42\\\end{array}[/latex]

Subtract 35 from both sides

[latex]\begin{array}{c}35+0.2x=42\\\underline{-35}\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\underline{-35}\\0.2x=7\end{array}[/latex]

Divide both sides by 0.2

[latex]\begin{array}{c}0.2x=7\\\frac{0.2x}{0.2}=\frac{7}{0.2}\end{array}[/latex] [latex]x=35[/latex]

35mL must be added to the original 70 mL to gain a solution with a concentration of 60%

The above problem illustrates how we can use the mixture table to define an equation to solve for an unknown volume. In the next example we will start with two known concentrations and use a system of equations to find two starting volumes necessary to achieve a specified final concentration.

A farmer has two types of milk, one that is 24% butterfat and another which is 18% butterfat. How much of each should he use to end up with 42 gallons of 20% butterfat?

Read and Understand:  We are asked to find two starting volumes of milk whose concentrations of butterfat are both known. We also know the final volume is 42 gallons. There are two unknowns in this problem.

Define and Translate:  We will call the unknown volume of the  24% solution x, and the unknown volume of the 18% solution y.

Write and Solve:  Fill in the table with the information we know.

Find the total mass by multiplying the amount of each solution by the concentration. The total mass of the final solution comes from

When you sum the amount column you get one equation: [latex]x+ y = 42[/latex] When you sum the total column you get a second equation: [latex]0.24x + 0.18y = 8.4[/latex]

Use elimination to find a value for [latex]x[/latex], and [latex]y[/latex].

Multiply the first equation by [latex]-0.18[/latex]

[latex]\begin{array}{cc}-0.18(x+y) &= (42)(-0.18) \\ -0.18x-0.18y &= -7.56 \end{array}[/latex]

Now our system of equations looks like this:

[latex]\begin{array}{cc} -0.18x-0.18y &= -7.56\\0.24x + 0.18y &= 8.4 \end{array}[/latex]

Adding the two equations together to eliminate the y terms gives this equation:

[latex]0.06x = 8.4[/latex]

Divide by 0.06 on each side:

[latex]x = 14[/latex]

Now substitute the value for x into one of the equations in order to solve for y.

[latex]\begin{array}{cc} (14) + y &= 42\\ y &= 28 \end{array}[/latex]

This can be interpreted as 14 gallons of 24% butterfat milk added to 28 gallons of 18% butterfat milk will give 42 gallons of 20% butterfat milk.

In the following video you will be given an example of how to solve a mixture problem without using a table, and interpret the results.

Many real-world applications of uniform motion arise because of the effects of currents—of water or air—on the actual speed of a vehicle. Cross-country airplane flights in the United States generally take longer going west than going east because of the prevailing wind currents.

Let’s take a look at a boat travelling on a river. Depending on which way the boat is going, the current of the water is either slowing it down or speeding it up.

The images below show how a river current affects the speed at which a boat is actually travelling. We’ll call the speed of the boat in still water [latex]b[/latex] and the speed of the river current [latex]c[/latex].

The boat is going downstream, in the same direction as the river current. The current helps push the boat, so the boat’s actual speed is faster than its speed in still water. The actual speed at which the boat is moving is [latex]b+c[/latex].

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Now, the boat is going upstream, opposite to the river current. The current is going against the boat, so the boat’s actual speed is slower than its speed in still water. The actual speed of the boat is [latex]b-c[/latex].

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

We’ll put some numbers to this situation in the next example.

Translate to a system of equations and then solve.

A river cruise ship sailed 60 miles downstream for 4 hours and then took 5 hours sailing upstream to return to the dock. Find the speed of the ship in still water and the speed of the river current.

Read the problem: This is a uniform motion problem and a picture will help us visualize the situation.

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Identify  what we are looking for: We are looking for the speed of the ship in still water and the speed of the current.

Name  what we are looking for:

Let [latex]s=[/latex] the rate of the ship in still water.

Let [latex]c=[/latex] the rate of the current.

A chart will help us organize the information. The ship goes downstream and then upstream. Going downstream, the current helps the ship and so the ship’s actual rate is [latex]s+c[/latex]. Going upstream, the current slows the ship and so the actual rate is [latex]s-c[/latex]. Downstream it takes 4 hours. Upstream it takes 5 hours. Each way the distance is 60 miles.

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Translate  into a system of equations. Since rate times time is distance, we can write the system of equations.

 [latex]\begin{array}{c}4(s+c)=60 \\ 5(s-c) = 60\end{array}[/latex]

Solve  the system of equations. Distribute to put both equations in standard form, then solve by elimination.

 [latex]\begin{array}{c}4s+4c=60 \\ 5s-5c = 60\end{array}[/latex]

Multiply the top equation by 5 and the bottom equation by 4. Add the equations, then solve for [latex]s[/latex].

[latex]\begin{array}{cc}20s+20c &= 300 \\ 20s-20c &= 240 \\ \hline \\ 40s &= 540 \\ s &= 13.5 \end{array}[/latex]

Substitute [latex]s=13.5[/latex] into one of the original equations.

[latex]\begin{array}{cc}4(s+c) &= 60 \\ 4(13.5+c) &= 60 \\ 54 + 4c &= 60 \\ 4c &= 6 \\ c &= 1.5 \end{array}[/latex]

Check  the answer in the problem. The downstream rate would be:

[latex]13.5+1.5 = 15[/latex] mph

In 4 hours the ship would travel:

[latex]15 \cdot 4 = 60[/latex] miles.

The upstream rate would be

[latex]13.5 - 1.5 = 12[/latex] mph.

In 5 hours the ship would travel

[latex]12\cdot 5[/latex] miles.

Answer  the question. The rate of the ship is 13.5 mph and the rate of the current is 1.5 mph.

In the next video, we present another example of a uniform motion problem which can be solved with a system of linear equations.

  • Rates retrieved Aug 2, 2010 from http://www.budgettruck.com and http://www.uhaul.com/ ↵
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  • Solving Systems of Equations using Elimination. Authored by : James Sousa (Mathispower4u.com). Located at : https://youtu.be/ova8GSmPV4o . License : CC BY: Attribution
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  • 4.1 Solve Systems of Linear Equations with Two Variables
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 Use the Language of Algebra
  • 1.2 Integers
  • 1.3 Fractions
  • 1.4 Decimals
  • 1.5 Properties of Real Numbers
  • Key Concepts
  • Review Exercises
  • Practice Test
  • 2.1 Use a General Strategy to Solve Linear Equations
  • 2.2 Use a Problem Solving Strategy
  • 2.3 Solve a Formula for a Specific Variable
  • 2.4 Solve Mixture and Uniform Motion Applications
  • 2.5 Solve Linear Inequalities
  • 2.6 Solve Compound Inequalities
  • 2.7 Solve Absolute Value Inequalities
  • 3.1 Graph Linear Equations in Two Variables
  • 3.2 Slope of a Line
  • 3.3 Find the Equation of a Line
  • 3.4 Graph Linear Inequalities in Two Variables
  • 3.5 Relations and Functions
  • 3.6 Graphs of Functions
  • 4.2 Solve Applications with Systems of Equations
  • 4.3 Solve Mixture Applications with Systems of Equations
  • 4.4 Solve Systems of Equations with Three Variables
  • 4.5 Solve Systems of Equations Using Matrices
  • 4.6 Solve Systems of Equations Using Determinants
  • 4.7 Graphing Systems of Linear Inequalities
  • 5.1 Add and Subtract Polynomials
  • 5.2 Properties of Exponents and Scientific Notation
  • 5.3 Multiply Polynomials
  • 5.4 Dividing Polynomials
  • Introduction to Factoring
  • 6.1 Greatest Common Factor and Factor by Grouping
  • 6.2 Factor Trinomials
  • 6.3 Factor Special Products
  • 6.4 General Strategy for Factoring Polynomials
  • 6.5 Polynomial Equations
  • 7.1 Multiply and Divide Rational Expressions
  • 7.2 Add and Subtract Rational Expressions
  • 7.3 Simplify Complex Rational Expressions
  • 7.4 Solve Rational Equations
  • 7.5 Solve Applications with Rational Equations
  • 7.6 Solve Rational Inequalities
  • 8.1 Simplify Expressions with Roots
  • 8.2 Simplify Radical Expressions
  • 8.3 Simplify Rational Exponents
  • 8.4 Add, Subtract, and Multiply Radical Expressions
  • 8.5 Divide Radical Expressions
  • 8.6 Solve Radical Equations
  • 8.7 Use Radicals in Functions
  • 8.8 Use the Complex Number System
  • 9.1 Solve Quadratic Equations Using the Square Root Property
  • 9.2 Solve Quadratic Equations by Completing the Square
  • 9.3 Solve Quadratic Equations Using the Quadratic Formula
  • 9.4 Solve Equations in Quadratic Form
  • 9.5 Solve Applications of Quadratic Equations
  • 9.6 Graph Quadratic Functions Using Properties
  • 9.7 Graph Quadratic Functions Using Transformations
  • 9.8 Solve Quadratic Inequalities
  • 10.1 Finding Composite and Inverse Functions
  • 10.2 Evaluate and Graph Exponential Functions
  • 10.3 Evaluate and Graph Logarithmic Functions
  • 10.4 Use the Properties of Logarithms
  • 10.5 Solve Exponential and Logarithmic Equations
  • 11.1 Distance and Midpoint Formulas; Circles
  • 11.2 Parabolas
  • 11.3 Ellipses
  • 11.4 Hyperbolas
  • 11.5 Solve Systems of Nonlinear Equations
  • 12.1 Sequences
  • 12.2 Arithmetic Sequences
  • 12.3 Geometric Sequences and Series
  • 12.4 Binomial Theorem

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Determine whether an ordered pair is a solution of a system of equations
  • Solve a system of linear equations by graphing
  • Solve a system of equations by substitution
  • Solve a system of equations by elimination
  • Choose the most convenient method to solve a system of linear equations

Be Prepared 4.1

Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.

For the equation y = 2 3 x − 4 , y = 2 3 x − 4 , ⓐ Is ( 6 , 0 ) ( 6 , 0 ) a solution? ⓑ Is ( −3 , −2 ) ( −3 , −2 ) a solution? If you missed this problem, review Example 3.2 .

Be Prepared 4.2

Find the slope and y -intercept of the line 3 x − y = 12 . 3 x − y = 12 . If you missed this problem, review Example 3.16 .

Be Prepared 4.3

Find the x- and y -intercepts of the line 2 x − 3 y = 12 . 2 x − 3 y = 12 . If you missed this problem, review Example 3.8 .

Determine Whether an Ordered Pair is a Solution of a System of Equations

In Solving Linear Equations , we learned how to solve linear equations with one variable. Now we will work with two or more linear equations grouped together, which is known as a system of linear equations .

System of Linear Equations

When two or more linear equations are grouped together, they form a system of linear equations .

In this section, we will focus our work on systems of two linear equations in two unknowns. We will solve larger systems of equations later in this chapter.

An example of a system of two linear equations is shown below. We use a brace to show the two equations are grouped together to form a system of equations.

A linear equation in two variables, such as 2 x + y = 7 , 2 x + y = 7 , has an infinite number of solutions. Its graph is a line. Remember, every point on the line is a solution to the equation and every solution to the equation is a point on the line.

To solve a system of two linear equations, we want to find the values of the variables that are solutions to both equations. In other words, we are looking for the ordered pairs ( x , y ) ( x , y ) that make both equations true. These are called the solutions of a system of equations .

Solutions of a System of Equations

The solutions of a system of equations are the values of the variables that make all the equations true. A solution of a system of two linear equations is represented by an ordered pair ( x , y ) . ( x , y ) .

To determine if an ordered pair is a solution to a system of two equations, we substitute the values of the variables into each equation. If the ordered pair makes both equations true, it is a solution to the system.

Example 4.1

Determine whether the ordered pair is a solution to the system { x − y = −1 2 x − y = −5 . { x − y = −1 2 x − y = −5 .

ⓐ ( −2 , −1 ) ( −2 , −1 ) ⓑ ( −4 , −3 ) ( −4 , −3 )

Determine whether the ordered pair is a solution to the system { 3 x + y = 0 x + 2 y = −5 . { 3 x + y = 0 x + 2 y = −5 .

ⓐ ( 1 , −3 ) ( 1 , −3 ) ⓑ ( 0 , 0 ) ( 0 , 0 )

Determine whether the ordered pair is a solution to the system { x − 3 y = −8 − 3 x − y = 4 . { x − 3 y = −8 − 3 x − y = 4 .

ⓐ ( 2 , −2 ) ( 2 , −2 ) ⓑ ( −2 , 2 ) ( −2 , 2 )

Solve a System of Linear Equations by Graphing

In this section, we will use three methods to solve a system of linear equations. The first method we’ll use is graphing.

The graph of a linear equation is a line. Each point on the line is a solution to the equation. For a system of two equations, we will graph two lines. Then we can see all the points that are solutions to each equation. And, by finding what the lines have in common, we’ll find the solution to the system.

Most linear equations in one variable have one solution, but we saw that some equations, called contradictions, have no solutions and for other equations, called identities, all numbers are solutions.

Similarly, when we solve a system of two linear equations represented by a graph of two lines in the same plane, there are three possible cases, as shown.

Each time we demonstrate a new method, we will use it on the same system of linear equations. At the end of the section you’ll decide which method was the most convenient way to solve this system.

Example 4.2

How to solve a system of equations by graphing.

Solve the system by graphing { 2 x + y = 7 x − 2 y = 6 . { 2 x + y = 7 x − 2 y = 6 .

Solve the system by graphing: { x − 3 y = −3 x + y = 5 . { x − 3 y = −3 x + y = 5 .

Solve the system by graphing: { − x + y = 1 3 x + 2 y = 12 . { − x + y = 1 3 x + 2 y = 12 .

The steps to use to solve a system of linear equations by graphing are shown here.

Solve a system of linear equations by graphing.

  • Step 1. Graph the first equation.
  • Step 2. Graph the second equation on the same rectangular coordinate system.
  • Step 3. Determine whether the lines intersect, are parallel, or are the same line.
  • If the lines intersect, identify the point of intersection. This is the solution to the system.
  • If the lines are parallel, the system has no solution.
  • If the lines are the same, the system has an infinite number of solutions.
  • Step 5. Check the solution in both equations.

In the next example, we’ll first re-write the equations into slope–intercept form as this will make it easy for us to quickly graph the lines.

Example 4.3

Solve the system by graphing: { 3 x + y = − 1 2 x + y = 0 . { 3 x + y = − 1 2 x + y = 0 .

We’ll solve both of these equations for y y so that we can easily graph them using their slopes and y -intercepts.

Solve the system by graphing: { − x + y = 1 2 x + y = 10 . { − x + y = 1 2 x + y = 10 .

Solve the system by graphing: { 2 x + y = 6 x + y = 1 . { 2 x + y = 6 x + y = 1 .

In all the systems of linear equations so far, the lines intersected and the solution was one point. In the next two examples, we’ll look at a system of equations that has no solution and at a system of equations that has an infinite number of solutions.

Example 4.4

Solve the system by graphing: { y = 1 2 x − 3 x − 2 y = 4 . { y = 1 2 x − 3 x − 2 y = 4 .

Solve the system by graphing: { y = − 1 4 x + 2 x + 4 y = − 8 . { y = − 1 4 x + 2 x + 4 y = − 8 .

Solve the system by graphing: { y = 3 x − 1 6 x − 2 y = 6 . { y = 3 x − 1 6 x − 2 y = 6 .

Sometimes the equations in a system represent the same line. Since every point on the line makes both equations true, there are infinitely many ordered pairs that make both equations true. There are infinitely many solutions to the system.

Example 4.5

Solve the system by graphing: { y = 2 x − 3 − 6 x + 3 y = − 9 . { y = 2 x − 3 − 6 x + 3 y = − 9 .

If you write the second equation in slope-intercept form, you may recognize that the equations have the same slope and same y -intercept.

Solve the system by graphing: { y = − 3 x − 6 6 x + 2 y = − 12 . { y = − 3 x − 6 6 x + 2 y = − 12 .

Try It 4.10

Solve the system by graphing: { y = 1 2 x − 4 2 x − 4 y = 16 . { y = 1 2 x − 4 2 x − 4 y = 16 .

When we graphed the second line in the last example, we drew it right over the first line. We say the two lines are coincident . Coincident lines have the same slope and same y- intercept.

Coincident Lines

Coincident lines have the same slope and same y- intercept.

The systems of equations in Example 4.2 and Example 4.3 each had two intersecting lines. Each system had one solution.

In Example 4.5 , the equations gave coincident lines, and so the system had infinitely many solutions.

The systems in those three examples had at least one solution. A system of equations that has at least one solution is called a consistent system.

A system with parallel lines, like Example 4.4 , has no solution. We call a system of equations like this inconsistent. It has no solution.

Consistent and Inconsistent Systems

A consistent system of equations is a system of equations with at least one solution.

An inconsistent system of equations is a system of equations with no solution.

We also categorize the equations in a system of equations by calling the equations independent or dependent . If two equations are independent, they each have their own set of solutions. Intersecting lines and parallel lines are independent.

If two equations are dependent, all the solutions of one equation are also solutions of the other equation. When we graph two dependent equations, we get coincident lines.

Let’s sum this up by looking at the graphs of the three types of systems. See below and Table 4.1 .

Example 4.6

Without graphing, determine the number of solutions and then classify the system of equations.

ⓐ { y = 3 x − 1 6 x − 2 y = 12 { y = 3 x − 1 6 x − 2 y = 12 ⓑ { 2 x + y = − 3 x − 5 y = 5 { 2 x + y = − 3 x − 5 y = 5

ⓐ We will compare the slopes and intercepts of the two lines.

A system of equations whose graphs are parallel lines has no solution and is inconsistent and independent.

ⓑ We will compare the slope and intercepts of the two lines.

A system of equations whose graphs are intersect has 1 solution and is consistent and independent.

Try It 4.11

ⓐ { y = −2 x − 4 4 x + 2 y = 9 { y = −2 x − 4 4 x + 2 y = 9 ⓑ { 3 x + 2 y = 2 2 x + y = 1 { 3 x + 2 y = 2 2 x + y = 1

Try It 4.12

ⓐ { y = 1 3 x − 5 x − 3 y = 6 { y = 1 3 x − 5 x − 3 y = 6 ⓑ { x + 4 y = 12 − x + y = 3 { x + 4 y = 12 − x + y = 3

Solving systems of linear equations by graphing is a good way to visualize the types of solutions that may result. However, there are many cases where solving a system by graphing is inconvenient or imprecise. If the graphs extend beyond the small grid with x and y both between −10 −10 and 10, graphing the lines may be cumbersome. And if the solutions to the system are not integers, it can be hard to read their values precisely from a graph.

Solve a System of Equations by Substitution

We will now solve systems of linear equations by the substitution method.

We will use the same system we used first for graphing.

We will first solve one of the equations for either x or y . We can choose either equation and solve for either variable—but we’ll try to make a choice that will keep the work easy.

Then we substitute that expression into the other equation. The result is an equation with just one variable—and we know how to solve those!

After we find the value of one variable, we will substitute that value into one of the original equations and solve for the other variable. Finally, we check our solution and make sure it makes both equations true.

Example 4.7

How to solve a system of equations by substitution.

Solve the system by substitution: { 2 x + y = 7 x − 2 y = 6 . { 2 x + y = 7 x − 2 y = 6 .

Try It 4.13

Solve the system by substitution: { − 2 x + y = −11 x + 3 y = 9 . { − 2 x + y = −11 x + 3 y = 9 .

Try It 4.14

Solve the system by substitution: { 2 x + y = −1 4 x + 3 y = 3 . { 2 x + y = −1 4 x + 3 y = 3 .

Solve a system of equations by substitution.

  • Step 1. Solve one of the equations for either variable.
  • Step 2. Substitute the expression from Step 1 into the other equation.
  • Step 3. Solve the resulting equation.
  • Step 4. Substitute the solution in Step 3 into either of the original equations to find the other variable.
  • Step 5. Write the solution as an ordered pair.
  • Step 6. Check that the ordered pair is a solution to both original equations.

Be very careful with the signs in the next example.

Example 4.8

Solve the system by substitution: { 4 x + 2 y = 4 6 x − y = 8 . { 4 x + 2 y = 4 6 x − y = 8 .

We need to solve one equation for one variable. We will solve the first equation for y .

Try It 4.15

Solve the system by substitution: { x − 4 y = −4 − 3 x + 4 y = 0 . { x − 4 y = −4 − 3 x + 4 y = 0 .

Try It 4.16

Solve the system by substitution: { 4 x − y = 0 2 x − 3 y = 5 . { 4 x − y = 0 2 x − 3 y = 5 .

Solve a System of Equations by Elimination

We have solved systems of linear equations by graphing and by substitution. Graphing works well when the variable coefficients are small and the solution has integer values. Substitution works well when we can easily solve one equation for one of the variables and not have too many fractions in the resulting expression.

The third method of solving systems of linear equations is called the Elimination Method. When we solved a system by substitution, we started with two equations and two variables and reduced it to one equation with one variable. This is what we’ll do with the elimination method, too, but we’ll have a different way to get there.

The Elimination Method is based on the Addition Property of Equality. The Addition Property of Equality says that when you add the same quantity to both sides of an equation, you still have equality. We will extend the Addition Property of Equality to say that when you add equal quantities to both sides of an equation, the results are equal.

For any expressions a, b, c, and d .

To solve a system of equations by elimination, we start with both equations in standard form. Then we decide which variable will be easiest to eliminate. How do we decide? We want to have the coefficients of one variable be opposites, so that we can add the equations together and eliminate that variable.

Notice how that works when we add these two equations together:

The y ’s add to zero and we have one equation with one variable.

Let’s try another one:

This time we don’t see a variable that can be immediately eliminated if we add the equations.

But if we multiply the first equation by −2 , −2 , we will make the coefficients of x opposites. We must multiply every term on both sides of the equation by −2 . −2 .

Then rewrite the system of equations.

Now we see that the coefficients of the x terms are opposites, so x will be eliminated when we add these two equations.

Once we get an equation with just one variable, we solve it. Then we substitute that value into one of the original equations to solve for the remaining variable. And, as always, we check our answer to make sure it is a solution to both of the original equations.

Now we’ll see how to use elimination to solve the same system of equations we solved by graphing and by substitution.

Example 4.9

How to solve a system of equations by elimination.

Solve the system by elimination: { 2 x + y = 7 x − 2 y = 6 . { 2 x + y = 7 x − 2 y = 6 .

Try It 4.17

Solve the system by elimination: { 3 x + y = 5 2 x − 3 y = 7 . { 3 x + y = 5 2 x − 3 y = 7 .

Try It 4.18

Solve the system by elimination: { 4 x + y = − 5 − 2 x − 2 y = − 2 . { 4 x + y = − 5 − 2 x − 2 y = − 2 .

The steps are listed here for easy reference.

Solve a system of equations by elimination.

  • Step 1. Write both equations in standard form. If any coefficients are fractions, clear them.
  • Decide which variable you will eliminate.
  • Multiply one or both equations so that the coefficients of that variable are opposites.
  • Step 3. Add the equations resulting from Step 2 to eliminate one variable.
  • Step 4. Solve for the remaining variable.
  • Step 5. Substitute the solution from Step 4 into one of the original equations. Then solve for the other variable.
  • Step 6. Write the solution as an ordered pair.
  • Step 7. Check that the ordered pair is a solution to both original equations.

Now we’ll do an example where we need to multiply both equations by constants in order to make the coefficients of one variable opposites.

Example 4.10

Solve the system by elimination: { 4 x − 3 y = 9 7 x + 2 y = −6 . { 4 x − 3 y = 9 7 x + 2 y = −6 .

In this example, we cannot multiply just one equation by any constant to get opposite coefficients. So we will strategically multiply both equations by different constants to get the opposites.

Try It 4.19

Solve the system by elimination: { 3 x − 4 y = − 9 5 x + 3 y = 14 . { 3 x − 4 y = − 9 5 x + 3 y = 14 .

Try It 4.20

Solve each system by elimination: { 7 x + 8 y = 4 3 x − 5 y = 27 . { 7 x + 8 y = 4 3 x − 5 y = 27 .

When the system of equations contains fractions, we will first clear the fractions by multiplying each equation by the LCD of all the fractions in the equation.

Example 4.11

Solve the system by elimination: { x + 1 2 y = 6 3 2 x + 2 3 y = 17 2 . { x + 1 2 y = 6 3 2 x + 2 3 y = 17 2 .

In this example, both equations have fractions. Our first step will be to multiply each equation by the LCD of all the fractions in the equation to clear the fractions.

Try It 4.21

Solve each system by elimination: { 1 3 x − 1 2 y = 1 3 4 x − y = 5 2 . { 1 3 x − 1 2 y = 1 3 4 x − y = 5 2 .

Try It 4.22

Solve each system by elimination: { x + 3 5 y = − 1 5 − 1 2 x − 2 3 y = 5 6 . { x + 3 5 y = − 1 5 − 1 2 x − 2 3 y = 5 6 .

When we solved the system by graphing, we saw that not all systems of linear equations have a single ordered pair as a solution. When the two equations were really the same line, there were infinitely many solutions. We called that a consistent system. When the two equations described parallel lines, there was no solution. We called that an inconsistent system.

The same is true using substitution or elimination. If the equation at the end of substitution or elimination is a true statement, we have a consistent but dependent system and the system of equations has infinitely many solutions. If the equation at the end of substitution or elimination is a false statement, we have an inconsistent system and the system of equations has no solution.

Example 4.12

Solve the system by elimination: { 3 x + 4 y = 12 y = 3 − 3 4 x . { 3 x + 4 y = 12 y = 3 − 3 4 x .

This is a true statement. The equations are consistent but dependent. Their graphs would be the same line. The system has infinitely many solutions.

After we cleared the fractions in the second equation, did you notice that the two equations were the same? That means we have coincident lines.

Try It 4.23

Solve the system by elimination: { 5 x − 3 y = 15 y = − 5 + 5 3 x . { 5 x − 3 y = 15 y = − 5 + 5 3 x .

Try It 4.24

Solve the system by elimination: { x + 2 y = 6 y = − 1 2 x + 3 . { x + 2 y = 6 y = − 1 2 x + 3 .

Choose the Most Convenient Method to Solve a System of Linear Equations

When you solve a system of linear equations in in an application, you will not be told which method to use. You will need to make that decision yourself. So you’ll want to choose the method that is easiest to do and minimizes your chance of making mistakes.

Example 4.13

For each system of linear equations, decide whether it would be more convenient to solve it by substitution or elimination. Explain your answer.

ⓐ { 3 x + 8 y = 40 7 x − 4 y = −32 { 3 x + 8 y = 40 7 x − 4 y = −32 ⓑ { 5 x + 6 y = 12 y = 2 3 x − 1 { 5 x + 6 y = 12 y = 2 3 x − 1

Since both equations are in standard form, using elimination will be most convenient.

Since one equation is already solved for y , using substitution will be most convenient.

Try It 4.25

For each system of linear equations decide whether it would be more convenient to solve it by substitution or elimination. Explain your answer.

ⓐ { 4 x − 5 y = −32 3 x + 2 y = −1 { 4 x − 5 y = −32 3 x + 2 y = −1 ⓑ { x = 2 y − 1 3 x − 5 y = −7 { x = 2 y − 1 3 x − 5 y = −7

Try It 4.26

ⓐ { y = 2 x − 1 3 x − 4 y = − 6 { y = 2 x − 1 3 x − 4 y = − 6 ⓑ { 6 x − 2 y = 12 3 x + 7 y = −13 { 6 x − 2 y = 12 3 x + 7 y = −13

Practice Makes Perfect

In the following exercises, determine if the following points are solutions to the given system of equations.

{ 2 x − 6 y = 0 3 x − 4 y = 5 { 2 x − 6 y = 0 3 x − 4 y = 5

ⓐ ( 3 , 1 ) ( 3 , 1 ) ⓑ ( −3 , 4 ) ( −3 , 4 )

{ − 3 x + y = 8 − x + 2 y = −9 { − 3 x + y = 8 − x + 2 y = −9

ⓐ ( −5 , −7 ) ( −5 , −7 ) ⓑ ( −5 , 7 ) ( −5 , 7 )

{ x + y = 2 y = 3 4 x { x + y = 2 y = 3 4 x

ⓐ ( 8 7 , 6 7 ) ( 8 7 , 6 7 ) ⓑ ( 1 , 3 4 ) ( 1 , 3 4 )

{ 2 x + 3 y = 6 y = 2 3 x + 2 { 2 x + 3 y = 6 y = 2 3 x + 2 ⓐ ( −6 , 2 ) ( −6 , 2 ) ⓑ ( −3 , 4 ) ( −3 , 4 )

In the following exercises, solve the following systems of equations by graphing.

{ 3 x + y = −3 2 x + 3 y = 5 { 3 x + y = −3 2 x + 3 y = 5

{ − x + y = 2 2 x + y = −4 { − x + y = 2 2 x + y = −4

{ y = x + 2 y = −2 x + 2 { y = x + 2 y = −2 x + 2

{ y = x − 2 y = −3 x + 2 { y = x − 2 y = −3 x + 2

{ y = 3 2 x + 1 y = − 1 2 x + 5 { y = 3 2 x + 1 y = − 1 2 x + 5

{ y = 2 3 x − 2 y = − 1 3 x − 5 { y = 2 3 x − 2 y = − 1 3 x − 5

{ x + y = −4 − x + 2 y = −2 { x + y = −4 − x + 2 y = −2

{ − x + 3 y = 3 x + 3 y = 3 { − x + 3 y = 3 x + 3 y = 3

{ − 2 x + 3 y = 3 x + 3 y = 12 { − 2 x + 3 y = 3 x + 3 y = 12

{ 2 x − y = 4 2 x + 3 y = 12 { 2 x − y = 4 2 x + 3 y = 12

{ x + 3 y = −6 y = − 4 3 x + 4 { x + 3 y = −6 y = − 4 3 x + 4

{ − x + 2 y = −6 y = − 1 2 x − 1 { − x + 2 y = −6 y = − 1 2 x − 1

{ − 2 x + 4 y = 4 y = 1 2 x { − 2 x + 4 y = 4 y = 1 2 x

{ 3 x + 5 y = 10 y = − 3 5 x + 1 { 3 x + 5 y = 10 y = − 3 5 x + 1

{ 4 x − 3 y = 8 8 x − 6 y = 14 { 4 x − 3 y = 8 8 x − 6 y = 14

{ x + 3 y = 4 − 2 x − 6 y = 3 { x + 3 y = 4 − 2 x − 6 y = 3

{ x = −3 y + 4 2 x + 6 y = 8 { x = −3 y + 4 2 x + 6 y = 8

{ 4 x = 3 y + 7 8 x − 6 y = 14 { 4 x = 3 y + 7 8 x − 6 y = 14

{ 2 x + y = 6 − 8 x − 4 y = −24 { 2 x + y = 6 − 8 x − 4 y = −24

{ 5 x + 2 y = 7 − 10 x − 4 y = −14 { 5 x + 2 y = 7 − 10 x − 4 y = −14

{ y = 2 3 x + 1 − 2 x + 3 y = 5 { y = 2 3 x + 1 − 2 x + 3 y = 5

{ y = 3 2 x + 1 2 x − 3 y = 7 { y = 3 2 x + 1 2 x − 3 y = 7

{ 5 x + 3 y = 4 2 x − 3 y = 5 { 5 x + 3 y = 4 2 x − 3 y = 5

{ y = − 1 2 x + 5 x + 2 y = 10 { y = − 1 2 x + 5 x + 2 y = 10

{ 5 x − 2 y = 10 y = 5 2 x − 5 { 5 x − 2 y = 10 y = 5 2 x − 5

In the following exercises, solve the systems of equations by substitution.

{ 2 x + y = −4 3 x − 2 y = −6 { 2 x + y = −4 3 x − 2 y = −6

{ 2 x + y = −2 3 x − y = 7 { 2 x + y = −2 3 x − y = 7

{ x − 2 y = −5 2 x − 3 y = −4 { x − 2 y = −5 2 x − 3 y = −4

{ x − 3 y = −9 2 x + 5 y = 4 { x − 3 y = −9 2 x + 5 y = 4

{ 5 x − 2 y = −6 y = 3 x + 3 { 5 x − 2 y = −6 y = 3 x + 3

{ − 2 x + 2 y = 6 y = −3 x + 1 { − 2 x + 2 y = 6 y = −3 x + 1

{ 2 x + 5 y = 1 y = 1 3 x − 2 { 2 x + 5 y = 1 y = 1 3 x − 2

{ 3 x + 4 y = 1 y = − 2 5 x + 2 { 3 x + 4 y = 1 y = − 2 5 x + 2

{ 2 x + y = 5 x − 2 y = −15 { 2 x + y = 5 x − 2 y = −15

{ 4 x + y = 10 x − 2 y = −20 { 4 x + y = 10 x − 2 y = −20

{ y = −2 x − 1 y = − 1 3 x + 4 { y = −2 x − 1 y = − 1 3 x + 4

{ y = x − 6 y = − 3 2 x + 4 { y = x − 6 y = − 3 2 x + 4

{ x = 2 y 4 x − 8 y = 0 { x = 2 y 4 x − 8 y = 0

{ 2 x − 16 y = 8 − x − 8 y = −4 { 2 x − 16 y = 8 − x − 8 y = −4

{ y = 7 8 x + 4 − 7 x + 8 y = 6 { y = 7 8 x + 4 − 7 x + 8 y = 6

{ y = − 2 3 x + 5 2 x + 3 y = 11 { y = − 2 3 x + 5 2 x + 3 y = 11

In the following exercises, solve the systems of equations by elimination.

{ 5 x + 2 y = 2 − 3 x − y = 0 { 5 x + 2 y = 2 − 3 x − y = 0

{ 6 x − 5 y = −1 2 x + y = 13 { 6 x − 5 y = −1 2 x + y = 13

{ 2 x − 5 y = 7 3 x − y = 17 { 2 x − 5 y = 7 3 x − y = 17

{ 5 x − 3 y = −1 2 x − y = 2 { 5 x − 3 y = −1 2 x − y = 2

{ 3 x − 5 y = −9 5 x + 2 y = 16 { 3 x − 5 y = −9 5 x + 2 y = 16

{ 4 x − 3 y = 3 2 x + 5 y = −31 { 4 x − 3 y = 3 2 x + 5 y = −31

{ 3 x + 8 y = −3 2 x + 5 y = −3 { 3 x + 8 y = −3 2 x + 5 y = −3

{ 11 x + 9 y = −5 7 x + 5 y = −1 { 11 x + 9 y = −5 7 x + 5 y = −1

{ 3 x + 8 y = 67 5 x + 3 y = 60 { 3 x + 8 y = 67 5 x + 3 y = 60

{ 2 x + 9 y = −4 3 x + 13 y = −7 { 2 x + 9 y = −4 3 x + 13 y = −7

{ 1 3 x − y = −3 x + 5 2 y = 2 { 1 3 x − y = −3 x + 5 2 y = 2

{ x + 1 2 y = 3 2 1 5 x − 1 5 y = 3 { x + 1 2 y = 3 2 1 5 x − 1 5 y = 3

{ x + 1 3 y = −1 1 3 x + 1 2 y = 1 { x + 1 3 y = −1 1 3 x + 1 2 y = 1

{ 1 3 x − y = −3 2 3 x + 5 2 y = 3 { 1 3 x − y = −3 2 3 x + 5 2 y = 3

{ 2 x + y = 3 6 x + 3 y = 9 { 2 x + y = 3 6 x + 3 y = 9

{ x − 4 y = −1 − 3 x + 12 y = 3 { x − 4 y = −1 − 3 x + 12 y = 3

{ − 3 x − y = 8 6 x + 2 y = −16 { − 3 x − y = 8 6 x + 2 y = −16

{ 4 x + 3 y = 2 20 x + 15 y = 10 { 4 x + 3 y = 2 20 x + 15 y = 10

In the following exercises, decide whether it would be more convenient to solve the system of equations by substitution or elimination.

ⓐ { 8 x − 15 y = −32 6 x + 3 y = −5 { 8 x − 15 y = −32 6 x + 3 y = −5 ⓑ { x = 4 y − 3 4 x − 2 y = −6 { x = 4 y − 3 4 x − 2 y = −6

ⓐ { y = 7 x − 5 3 x − 2 y = 16 { y = 7 x − 5 3 x − 2 y = 16 ⓑ { 12 x − 5 y = −42 3 x + 7 y = −15 { 12 x − 5 y = −42 3 x + 7 y = −15

ⓐ { y = 4 x + 9 5 x − 2 y = −21 { y = 4 x + 9 5 x − 2 y = −21 ⓑ { 9 x − 4 y = 24 3 x + 5 y = −14 { 9 x − 4 y = 24 3 x + 5 y = −14

ⓐ { 14 x − 15 y = −30 7 x + 2 y = 10 { 14 x − 15 y = −30 7 x + 2 y = 10 ⓑ { x = 9 y − 11 2 x − 7 y = −27 { x = 9 y − 11 2 x − 7 y = −27

Writing Exercises

In a system of linear equations, the two equations have the same intercepts. Describe the possible solutions to the system.

Solve the system of equations by substitution and explain all your steps in words: { 3 x + y = 12 x = y − 8 . { 3 x + y = 12 x = y − 8 .

Solve the system of equations by elimination and explain all your steps in words: { 5 x + 4 y = 10 2 x = 3 y + 27 . { 5 x + 4 y = 10 2 x = 3 y + 27 .

Solve the system of equations { x + y = 10 x − y = 6 { x + y = 10 x − y = 6

ⓐ by graphing ⓑ by substitution ⓒ Which method do you prefer? Why?

After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.

If most of your checks were:

…confidently. Congratulations! You have achieved the objectives in this section. Reflect on the study skills you used so that you can continue to use them. What did you do to become confident of your ability to do these things? Be specific.

…with some help. This must be addressed quickly because topics you do not master become potholes in your road to success. In math every topic builds upon previous work. It is important to make sure you have a strong foundation before you move on. Whom can you ask for help?Your fellow classmates and instructor are good resources. Is there a place on campus where math tutors are available? Can your study skills be improved?

…no - I don’t get it! This is a warning sign and you must not ignore it. You should get help right away or you will quickly be overwhelmed. See your instructor as soon as you can to discuss your situation. Together you can come up with a plan to get you the help you need.

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Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/intermediate-algebra-2e/pages/1-introduction
  • Authors: Lynn Marecek, Andrea Honeycutt Mathis
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  • Book title: Intermediate Algebra 2e
  • Publication date: May 6, 2020
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  • Book URL: https://openstax.org/books/intermediate-algebra-2e/pages/1-introduction
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Linear Equations in Two Variables

A linear equation in two variables is an equation in which two variables have the exponent 1. A system of equations with two variables has a unique solution, no solutions, or infinitely many solutions. A linear system of equations may have 'n' number of variables. An important thing to keep in mind while solving linear equations with n number of variables is that there must be n equations to solve and determine the value of variables.

Linear equations in two variables are the algebraic equations which are of the form (or can be converted to the form) y = mx + b, where m is the slope and b is the y-intercept . They are the equations of the first order. For example, y = 2x + 3 and 2y = 4x + 9 are two-variable linear equations.

What are Linear Equations in Two Variables?

The linear equations in two variables are the equations in which each of the two variables is of the highest order ( exponent ) of 1 and may have one, none, or infinitely many solutions. The standard form of a two-variable linear equation is ax + by + c = 0 where x and y are the two variables. The solutions can also be written in ordered pairs like (x, y). The graphical representation of the pairs of linear equations in two variables includes two straight lines which could be:

  • intersecting lines
  • parallel lines or
  • coincident lines .

Forms of Linear Equations in Two Variables

A linear equation in two variables can be in different forms like standard form , intercept form and point-slope form . For example, the same equation 2x + 3y=9 can be represented in each of the forms like 2x + 3y - 9=0 (standard form), y = (-2/3)x + 3 ( slope-intercept form ), and y - 5/3 = -2/3(x + (-2)) (point-slope form). Look at the image given below showing all these three forms of representing linear equations in two variables with examples.

Linear Equations in Two Variables are of three forms standard form, slope intercept form and the point slope form. Each form is provided with an example

The system of equations means the collection of equations and they are also referred to as simultaneous linear equations . We will learn how to solve pair of linear equations in two variables using different methods.

Solving Pairs of Linear Equations in Two Variables

There are five methods to solve pairs of linear equations in two variables as shown below:

  • Graphical Method
  • Substitution Method
  • Cross Multiplication Method
  • Elimination Method

Determinant Method

Graphical method for solving linear equations in two variables.

The steps to solve linear equations in two variables graphically are given below:

  • Step 1 : To solve a system of two equations in two variables graphically , we graph each equation. To know how, click here or follow steps 2 and 3 below.
  • Step 2 : To graph an equation manually, first convert it to the form y = mx+b by solving the equation for y.
  • Step 3 : Start putting the values of x as 0, 1, 2, and so on and find the corresponding values of y, or vice-versa.
  • Step 4 : Identify the point where both lines meet.
  • Step 5 : The point of intersection is the solution of the given system.

Example: Find the solution of the following system of equations graphically.

Solution: We will graph them and see whether they intersect at a point. As you can see below, both lines meet at (1, 2). Thus, the solution of the given system of linear equations is x=1 and y=2.

Graph of pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables has two lines that meet at the point with coordinates 1 comma 2.

But both lines may not intersect always. Sometimes they may be parallel. In that case, the pairs of linear equations in two variables have no solution. In some other cases, both lines coincide with each other. In that case, each point on that line is a solution of the given system and hence the given system has an infinite number of solutions.

Consistent and Inconsistent System of Linear Equations:

  • If the system has a solution, then it is said to be consistent;
  • otherwise, it is said to be inconsistent.

Independent and Dependent System of Linear Equations:

  • If the system has a unique solution, then it is independent.
  • If it has an infinite number of solutions, then it is dependent. It means that one variable depends on the other.

Consider a system of two linear equations: a 1 x + b 1 y + c 1 = 0 and a 2 x + b 2 y + c 2 = 0. Here we can understand when a linear system with two variables is consistent/inconsistent and independent/dependent.

Types of Solutions of linear equations in two variables, consistent and inconsistent, dependent and independent

Method of Substitution

To solve a system of two linear equations in two variables using the substitution method , we have to use the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Solve one of the equations for one variable.
  • Step 2: Substitute this in the other equation to get an equation in terms of a single variable.
  • Step 3: Solve it for the variable.
  • Step 4: Substitute it in any of the equations to get the value of another variable.

Example: Solve the following system of equations using the substitution method. x+2y-7=0 2x-5y+13=0

Solution: Let us solve the equation, x+2y-7=0 for y: x+2y-7=0 ⇒2y=7-x ⇒ y=(7-x)/2

Substitute this in the equation, 2x-5y+13=0:

2x-5y+13=0 ⇒ 2x-5((7-x)/2)+13=0 ⇒ 2x-(35/2)+(5x/2)+13=0 ⇒ 2x + (5x/2) = 35/2 - 13 ⇒ 9x/2 = 9/2 ⇒ x=1

Substitute x=1 this in the equation y=(7-x)/2:

y=(7-1)/2 = 3

Therefore, the solution of the given system is x=1 and y=3.

Consider a system of linear equations: a 1 x + b 1 y + c 1 = 0 and a 2 x + b 2 y + c 2 = 0.

To solve this using the cross multiplication method , we first write the coefficients of each of x and y and constants as follows:

Cross Multiplication Method to Solve Linear Equations in Two Variables

Here, the arrows indicate that those coefficients have to be multiplied. Now we write the following equation by cross-multiplying and subtracting the products. \(\dfrac{x}{b_{1} c_{2}-b_{2} c_{1}}=\dfrac{y}{c_{1} a_{2}-c_{2} a_{1}}=\dfrac{1}{a_{1} b_{2}-a_{2} b_{1}}\)

From this equation, we get two equations:

\(\begin{align} \dfrac{x}{b_{1} c_{2}-b_{2} c_{1}}&=\dfrac{1}{a_{1} b_{2}-a_{2} b_{1}} \\[0.2cm] \dfrac{y}{c_{1} a_{2}-c_{2} a_{1}}&=\dfrac{1}{a_{1} b_{2}-a_{2} b_{1}} \end{align}\)

Solving each of these for x and y, the solution of the given system is:

\(\begin{align} x&=\frac{b_{1} c_{2}-b_{2} c_{1}}{a_{1} b_{2}-a_{2} b_{1}}\\[0.2cm] y&=\frac{c_{1} a_{2}-c_{2} a_{1}}{a_{1} b_{2}-a_{2} b_{1}} \end{align}\)

Method of Elimination

To solve a system of linear equations in two variables using the elimination method , we will use the steps given below:

  • Step 1: Arrange the equations in the standard form: ax+by+c=0 or ax+by=c.
  • Step 2: Check if adding or subtracting the equations would result in the cancellation of a variable.
  • Step 3: If not, multiply one or both equations by either the coefficient of x or y such that their addition or subtraction would result in the cancellation of any one of the variables.
  • Step 4: Solve the resulting single variable equation.
  • Step 5: Substitute it in any of the given equations to get the value of another variable.

Example: Solve the following system of equations using the elimination method. 2x+3y-11=0 3x+2y-9=0

Adding or subtracting these two equations would not result in the cancellation of any variable. Let us aim at the cancellation of x. The coefficients of x in both equations are 2 and 3. Their LCM is 6. We will make the coefficients of x in both equations 6 and -6 such that the x terms get canceled when we add the equations.

3 × (2x+3y-11=0) ⇒ 6x+9y-33=0 -2 × (3x+2y-9=0) ⇒ -6x-4y+18=0

Now we will add these two equations: 6x+9y-33=0 -6x-4y+18=0

On adding both the above equations we get, ⇒ 5y-15=0 ⇒ 5y=15 ⇒ y=3

Substitute this in one of the given two equations and solve the resultant variable for x. 2x+3y-11=0 ⇒ 2x+3(3)-11=0 ⇒ 2x+9-11=0 ⇒ 2x=2 ⇒ x=1

Therefore, the solution of the given system of equations is x=1 and y=3.

The determinant of a 2 × 2 matrix is obtained by cross-multiplying elements starting from the top left corner and subtracting the products.

Determinant Method to Solve Linear Equations in Two Variables

Consider a system of linear equations in two variables: a 1 x + b 1 y = c 1 and a 2 x + b 2 y = c 2 . To solve them using the determinants method (which is also known as Crammer's Rule ), follow the steps given below:

  • Step 1: We first find the determinant formed by the coefficients of x and y and label it Δ. Δ = \(\left|\begin{array}{ll}a_1 & b_1 \\a_2 & b_2\end{array}\right| = a_1 b_2 - a_2b_1\)
  • Step 2: Then we find the determinant Δ x which is obtained by replacing the first column of Δ with constants. Δ x = \(\left|\begin{array}{ll}c_1 & b_1 \\c_2 & b_2\end{array}\right| = c_1 b_2 - c_2b_1\)
  • Step 3: We then find the determinant Δ y which is obtained by replacing the second column of Δ with constants. Δ y = \(\left|\begin{array}{ll}a_1 & c_1 \\a_2 & c_2\end{array}\right| = a_1 c_2 - a_2c_1\)

Now, the solution of the given system of linear equations is obtained by the formulas:

  • x = Δ x / Δ
  • y = Δ y / Δ

Important Points on Linear Equations with Two Variables:

  • A linear equation in two variables is of the form ax + by + c = 0, where x and y are variables; and a, b, and c are real numbers.
  • A pair of linear equations are of the form a 1 x + b 1 y + c 1 = 0 and a 2 x + b 2 y + c 2 = 0 and its solution is a pair of values (x, y) that satisfy both equations.
  • To solve linear equations in two variables, we must have at least two equations.
  • A linear equation in two variables has infinitely many solutions.

Tricks and Tips:

While solving the equations using either the substitution method or the elimination method:

  • If we get an equation that is true (i.e., something like 0 = 0, -1 = -1, etc), then it means that the system has an infinite number of solutions.
  • If we get an equation that is false (i.e., something like 0 = 2, 3 = -1, etc), then it means that the system has no solution.

☛Related Topics:

  • Solving Linear Equations Calculator
  • Equation Calculator
  • System of Equations Calculator
  • Linear Graph Calculator

Linear Equations in Two Variables Examples

Example 1: The sum of the digits of a two-digit number is 8. When the digits are reversed, the number is increased by 18. Find the number.

Solution: Let us assume that x and y are the tens digit and the ones digit of the required number. Then the number is 10x+y.

And the number when the digits are reversed is 10y+x.

The question says, "The sum of the digits of a two-digit number is 8".

So from this, we get a linear equation in two variables: x+y=8.

Also, when the digits are reversed, the number is increased by 18.

So, the equation is 10y+x =10x+y+18

⇒ 10(8-x)+x =10x+(8-x)+18 (by substituting the value of y) ⇒ 80-10x+x =10x+8-x+18 ⇒ 80-9x=9x+26 ⇒ 18x = 54 ⇒ x=3

Substituting x=3 in y=8-x, we get, ⇒ y = 8-3 = 5 ⇒ 10x+y=10(3)+5 =35 Answer: The required number is 35.

Example 2: Jake's piggy bank has 11 coins (only quarters or dimes) that have a total value of $1.85. How many dimes and quarters does the piggy bank has?

Solution: Let us assume that the number of dimes be x and the number of quarters be y in the piggy bank. Let us form linear equations in two variables based on the given information.

Since there are 11 coins in total, x+y=11 ⇒ y=11-x. We know that, 1 dime = 10 cents and 1 quarter = 25 cents. The total value of the money in the piggy bank is $1.85 (185 cents).

Thus we get the equation 10x + 25y = 185 ⇒ 10x + 25(11-x) = 185 (as y = 11-x) ⇒ 10x + 275 - 25x =185 ⇒ -15x +275 =185 ⇒ -15x=-90 ⇒ x = 6

Substitute this value of x in x+y=11. ⇒ y=11-6=5

Answer: Therefore, the number of dimes is 6 and the number of quarters is 5.

Example 3: In a river, a boat can travel 30 miles upstream in 2 hours. The same boat can travel 51 miles downstream in 3 hours. Find,

  • What is the speed of the boat in still water?
  • What is the speed of the current?

Solution: Let us assume that:

  • the speed of the boat in still water = x miles per hour
  • the speed of current = y miles per hour.

During upstream, the current pulls back the boat's speed and the speed of the boat upstream = (x-y). During downstream, the current's speed adds to the boat's speed and the speed of the boat downstream = (x+y).

Using the last two columns of the table, we can form a pair of linear equations in two variables: x-y=15 x+y=17

Adding both equations we get: 2x = 32 ⇒ x=16

Substitute x=16 in x+y=17 16+y= 17 y=1

Answer: Therefore, the speed of the boat is 16 miles per hour and the speed of the current is 1 mile per hour.

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word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

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Practice Questions on Linear Equations in Two Variables

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FAQs on Linear Equations in Two Variables

What is meant by linear equation in two variables.

A linear equation is an equation with degree 1. A linear equation in two variables is a type of linear equation in which there are 2 variables present. For example, 2x - y = 45, x+y =35, a-b = 45 etc.

How do you Identify Linear Equations in Two Variables?

We can identify a linear equation in two variables if it can be expressed in the form ax+by+ c = 0, consisting of two variables x and y and the highest degree of the given equation is 1.

Can You Solve a Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables?

Yes, we can solve pair of linear equations in two variables using different methods and ensure there are two equations present in the given system of equations so as to obtain the values of variables. If there is one solution it means that the given lines are intersecting, if there is no solution possible, then it means that the given equations are of parallel lines. If there are infinitely many solutions possible, it means that the given equations are forming coincidental lines.

How to Graphically Represent a Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables?

We can represent linear equations in two variables graphically using the steps given below:

  • Step 1: A system of two equations in two variables can be solved graphically by graphing each equation by converting it to the form y=mx+b by solving the equation for y.
  • Step 2: The points where both lines meet are identified.
  • Step 3: The point of intersection is the solution of the given pair of linear equations in two variables.

How Does One Solve the System of Linear Equations in Two Variables?

We have different methods to solve the system of linear equations:

  • Determinant or Matrix Method

How Many Solutions Does a Linear Equation with Two Variables Have?

Suppose we have a 1 x + b 1 y + c 1 = 0 and a 2 x + b 2 y + c 2 = 0. The solutions of a linear equation with two variables are:

  • One and unique if a 1 /a 2 ≠ b 1 /b 2
  • None if a 1 /a 2 = b 1 /b 2 ≠ c 1 /c 2
  • Infinitely many if a 1 /a 2 = b 1 /b 2 = c 1 /c 2

How is a Linear Inequality in Two Variables like a Linear Equation in Two Variables?

A linear inequality in two variables and a linear equation in two variables have the following things in common:

  • The degree of a linear equation and linear inequality is always 1.
  • Both of them can be solved graphically.
  • The way to solve a linear inequality is the same as linear equations except that it is separated by an inequality symbol. But note that the inequality rules should be taken care of.

Systems of Linear Equations Word Problems - Practice - Expii

Systems of linear equations word problems - practice, explanations (3).

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

(Videos) Set up Word Problems Using a System

by mathman1024

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

This video by mathman1024 works through word problems with systems of equations.

The general guideline to follow when doing these word problems is:

  • Define your variables . Since this is a system, there will be two or more variables.
  • Write your equations. Again, since this is a system, there will be two or more equations. This is also the tricky part which will be focused on in the videos.
  • Solve the system. This can be done using the elimination method , substitution method , or graphing .
  • State your answer.

The first problem that he goes over in the video is, " The sum of two numbers is 79, and their difference is 23. What are the two numbers? "

We want to write algebraic expressions for this system.

Step one is defining the variables. The question asks for two numbers so we can see that these are the variables. Let x=one numbery=the other number The first sentence is, " The sum of two numbers is 79. " Since sum means addition , we write, x+y=79 The next part states, " The difference of those two numbers is 23. " Since difference means subtraction, we write, x−y=23 And now we have our system of equations: {x+y=79x−y=23. This can be solved with substitution but you might notice it would be easier with elimination. x+y=79+x−y=232x+0y=1022x=1022x2=1022x=51 Finally, plug this back in to either equation to find the y value. (51)+y=7951−51+y=79−51y=28 The solution to this word problem's system of equations is (51,28).

The next problem is a little trickier. It isn't as obvious how to set up the equations. It says, " A minor league ballpark attracts 88 fans and draws in $553 in revenue from ticket sales. A child's ticket costs $4 and an adult's ticket is $7. How many of each type of ticket were sold? "

First, we define our variables. The problem asks for how many of each type of ticket. Since there are two types of tickets we can write, Let C=# of childrenA=# of adults The first snippet is, " A minor league ballpark attracts 88 fans ". We know there's a total of 88 fans which are made up of children and adults. So we can write, C+A=88 Next we have, " and draws in $553 in revenue from ticket sales. A child's ticket costs $4 and an adult's ticket is $7. " So we have to factor in the money. We see that we get $4 from each child and we get $7 from each adult. Total, we have $553. So we can write, 4C+7A=553 Now we have the system: {C+A=884C+7A=553. This can be solved by either elimination or substitution. For this one, I personally would choose substitution, but either works.

Let's solve the first equation for C. C+A=88C+A−A=88−AC=88−A Plug this back into the other equation to solve for A. 4(88−A)+7A=553352−4A+7A=553352+3A=553352−352+3A=553−3523A=2013A3=2013A=67 Finally, plug this back into either equation to solve for C. C=88−(67)C=21 Our solution is (21,67).

Remember, the best way to double check your answer to either of these example problems is to plug in your solved coordinates back into the original equations.

Related Lessons

As with most word problems, the most effective approach to take is translation. The goal is to take written information and translate into a new language: math equations.

Let's work through an example to see how this translation works.

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images via Pixabay ( CC0 )

The key to translating a word problem is to identify the given information. Here's what we know from reading the problem:

  • Cupcakes cost $2
  • Pies cost $7.50
  • William bought 20 items
  • Total cost (pies + cupcakes) = $73

We can get two equations from this information.

First, we know that, all together, William bought 20 items. If we say that the number of cupcakes is C and the number of pies is P, we can write the equation:

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Systems of Linear Equations: Word Problems

Sometimes, it is helpful to translate a word problem into a system of linear equations and solve the system. After translating words to math, isolate one variable in one equation, then use its corresponding expression to solve for the other variable in the other equation. Finally, solve for the first variable! Here is a graphic with an example.

word problems involving systems of linear equations in two variables

Image source: By Caroline Kulczycky

SOLVING SYSTEM OF LINEAR EQUATIONS WORD PROBLEMS IN 2 VARIABLES

Problem 1 :

A fraction becomes 9/11, if 2 is added to both numerator and the denominator. If 3 be added to both the numerator and the denominator, the fraction becomes 5/6. Find the fraction.

Let x/y be the required fraction

If 2 is added to both numerator and denominator the fraction becomes 9/11.

(x + 2)/(y+2)  =  9/11

11(x + 2)  =  9(y + 2)

11x + 22  =  9y + 18

11x – 9y  =  18 – 22

11x – 9y  =  -4 ------(1)

If 3 is added to both the numerator and the denominator it becomes 5/6.

(x + 3)/(y+3)  =  5/6

6(x + 3)  =  5(y + 3)

6x + 18  =  5y + 15

6x – 5y  =  15 - 18

6x – 5y  =  - 3 ------(2)

Solving (1) and (2), we get

                                               x  =  7

Substitute 7 for x in (1). 

(1)-----> 11(7) – 9y  =  -4

77 – 9y  =  -4

-9y  =  -81

y  =  9

Then, 

x/y  =  7/9

So, the required fraction is 7/9.

Problem 2 :

Five years hence, the age of Jacob will be three times that of his son. Five years ago, Jacob’s age was seven times that of his son. What are their present ages?

Let x be the age of Jacob and y be the age of his son.

5 years hence their ages will be

x + 5 and y + 5

x + 5  =  3(y + 5)

x + 5  =  3y + 15

 x – 3y  =  -5 + 15

 x – 3y  =  10 ------(1)

5 years ago, their ages were

x – 5 and y – 5

x – 5  =  7(y – 5)

x – 5  =  7y – 35

x – 7y  =  5 - 35

x – 7y  =  -30 ------(2)

(1) - (2) :

4y  =  40

y  =  10

Substitute 10 for y in (2).

(2)------> x - 7(10)  =  -30

x – 70  =  -30

x  =  40

age of Jacob's son  =  10

Age of Jacob  =  40

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Word Problems Linear Equations

Andymath.com features free videos, notes, and practice problems with answers! Printable pages make math easy. Are you ready to be a mathmagician?

\(\textbf{1)}\) Joe and Steve are saving money. Joe starts with $105 and saves $5 per week. Steve starts with $5 and saves $15 per week. After how many weeks do they have the same amount of money? Show Equations \(y= 5x+105,\,\,\,y=15x+5\) Show Answer 10 weeks ($155)

\(\textbf{2)}\) mike and sarah collect rocks. together they collected 50 rocks. mike collected 10 more rocks than sarah. how many rocks did each of them collect show equations \(m+s=50,\,\,\,m=s+10\) show answer mike collected 30 rocks, sarah collected 20 rocks., \(\textbf{3)}\) in a classroom the ratio of boys to girls is 2:3. there are 25 students in the class. how many are girls show equations \(b+g=50,\,\,\,3b=2g\) show answer 15 girls (10 boys), \(\textbf{4)}\) kyle makes sandals at home. the sandal making tools cost $100 and he spends $10 on materials for each sandal. he sells each sandal for $30. how many sandals does he have to sell to break even show equations \(c=10x+100,\,\,\,r=30x\) show answer 5 sandals ($150), \(\textbf{5)}\) molly is throwing a beach party. she still needs to buy beach towels and beach balls. towels are $3 each and beachballs are $4 each. she bought 10 items in total and it cost $34. how many beach balls did she get show equations show answer 4 beachballs (6 towels), \(\textbf{6)}\) anna volunteers at a pet shelter. they have cats and dogs. there are 36 pets in total at the shelter, and the ratio of dogs to cats is 4:5. how many cats are at the shelter show equations \(c+d=40,\,\,\,5d=4c\) show answer 20 cats (16 dogs), \(\textbf{7)}\) a store sells oranges and apples. oranges cost $1.00 each and apples cost $2.00 each. in the first sale of the day, 15 fruits were sold in total, and the price was $25. how many of each type of frust was sold show equations \(o+a=15,\,\,\,1o+2a=25\) show answer 10 apples and 5 oranges, \(\textbf{8)}\) the ratio of red marbles to green marbles is 2:7. there are 36 marbles in total. how many are red show equations \(r+g=36,\,\,\,7r=2g\) show answer 8 red marbles (28 green marbles), \(\textbf{9)}\) a tennis club charges $100 to join the club and $10 for every hour using the courts. write an equation to express the cost \(c\) in terms of \(h\) hours playing tennis. show equation the equation is \(c=10h+100\), \(\textbf{10)}\) emma and liam are saving money. emma starts with $80 and saves $10 per week. liam starts with $120 and saves $6 per week. after how many weeks will they have the same amount of money show equations \(e = 10x + 80,\,\,\,l = 6x + 120\) show answer 10 weeks ($180 each), \(\textbf{11)}\) mark and lisa collect stamps. together they collected 200 stamps. mark collected 40 more stamps than lisa. how many stamps did each of them collect show equations \(m + l = 200,\,\,\,m = l + 40\) show answer mark collected 120 stamps, lisa collected 80 stamps., \(\textbf{12)}\) in a classroom, the ratio of boys to girls is 3:5. there are 40 students in the class. how many are boys show equations \(b + g = 40,\,\,\,5b = 3g\) show answer 15 boys (25 girls), \(\textbf{13)}\) lisa is selling handmade jewelry. the materials cost $60, and she sells each piece for $20. how many pieces does she have to sell to break even show equations \(c=60,\,\,\,r=20x\) show answer 3 pieces, \(\textbf{14)}\) tom is buying books and notebooks for school. books cost $15 each, and notebooks cost $3 each. he bought 12 items in total, and it cost $120. how many notebooks did he buy show equations \(b + n = 12,\,\,\,15b+3n=120\) show answer 5 notebooks (7 books), \(\textbf{15)}\) emily volunteers at an animal shelter. they have rabbits and guinea pigs. there are 36 animals in total at the shelter, and the ratio of guinea pigs to rabbits is 4:5. how many guinea pigs are at the shelter show equations \(r + g = 36,\,\,\,5g=4r\) show answer 16 guinea pigs (20 rabbits), \(\textbf{16)}\) mike and sarah are going to a theme park. mike’s ticket costs $40, and sarah’s ticket costs $30. they also bought $20 worth of food. how much did they spend in total show equations \(m + s + f = t,\,\,\,m=40,\,\,\,s=30,\,\,\,f=20\) show answer they spent $90 in total., \(\textbf{17)}\) the ratio of red marbles to blue marbles is 2:3. there are 50 marbles in total. how many are blue show equations \(r + b = 50,\,\,\,3r=2b\) show answer 30 blue marbles (20 red marbles), \(\textbf{18)}\) a pizza restaurant charges $12 for a large pizza and $8 for a small pizza. if a customer buys 5 pizzas in total, and it costs $52, how many large pizzas did they buy show equations \(l + s = 5,\,\,\,12l+8s=52\) show answer they bought 3 large pizzas (2 small pizzas)., \(\textbf{19)}\) the area of a rectangle is 48 square meters. if the length is 8 meters, what is the width of the rectangle show equations \(a=l\times w,\,\,\,l=8,\,\,\,a=48\) show answer the width is 6 meters., \(\textbf{20)}\) two numbers have a sum of 50. one number is 10 more than the other. what are the two numbers show equations \(x+y=50,\,\,\,x=y+10\) show answer the numbers are 30 and 20., \(\textbf{21)}\) a store sells jeans for $40 each and t-shirts for $20 each. in the first sale of the day, they sold 8 items in total, and the price was $260. how many of each type of item was sold show equations \(j+t=8,\,\,\,40j+20t=260\) show answer 5 jeans and 3 t-shirts were sold., \(\textbf{22)}\) the ratio of apples to carrots is 3:4. there are 28 fruits in total. how many are apples show equations \(\)a+c=28,\,\,\,4a=3c show answer there are 12 apples and 16 carrots., \(\textbf{23)}\) a phone plan costs $30 per month, and there is an additional charge of $0.10 per minute for calls. write an equation to express the cost \(c\) in terms of \(m\) minutes. show equation the equation is \(\)c=30+0.10m, \(\textbf{24)}\) a triangle has a base of 8 inches and a height of 6 inches. calculate its area. show equations \(a=0.5\times b\times h,\,\,\,b=8,\,\,\,h=6\) show answer the area is 24 square inches., \(\textbf{25)}\) a store sells shirts for $25 each and pants for $45 each. in the first sale of the day, 4 items were sold, and the price was $180. how many of each type of item was sold show equations \(t+p=4,\,\,\,25t+45p=180\) show answer 0 shirts and 4 pants were sold., \(\textbf{26)}\) a garden has a length of 12 feet and a width of 10 feet. calculate its area. show equations \(a=l\times w,\,\,\,l=12,\,\,\,w=10\) show answer the area is 120 square feet., \(\textbf{27)}\) the sum of two consecutive odd numbers is 56. what are the two numbers show equations \(x+y=56,\,\,\,x=y+2\) show answer the numbers are 27 and 29., \(\textbf{28)}\) a toy store sells action figures for $15 each and toy cars for $5 each. in the first sale of the day, 10 items were sold, and the price was $110. how many of each type of item was sold show equations \(a+c=10,\,\,\,15a+5c=110\) show answer 6 action figures and 4 toy cars were sold., \(\textbf{29)}\) a bakery sells pie for $2 each and cookies for $1 each. in the first sale of the day, 14 items were sold, and the price was $25. how many of each type of item was sold show equations \(p+c=14,\,\,\,2p+c=25\) show answer 11 pies and 3 cookies were sold., \(\textbf{for 30-33}\) two car rental companies charge the following values for x miles. car rental a: \(y=3x+150 \,\,\) car rental b: \(y=4x+100\), \(\textbf{30)}\) which rental company has a higher initial fee show answer company a has a higher initial fee, \(\textbf{31)}\) which rental company has a higher mileage fee show answer company b has a higher mileage fee, \(\textbf{32)}\) for how many driven miles is the cost of the two companies the same show answer the companies cost the same if you drive 50 miles., \(\textbf{33)}\) what does the \(3\) mean in the equation for company a show answer for company a, the cost increases by $3 per mile driven., \(\textbf{34)}\) what does the \(100\) mean in the equation for company b show answer for company b, the initial cost (0 miles driven) is $100., \(\textbf{for 35-39}\) andy is going to go for a drive. the formula below tells how many gallons of gas he has in his car after m miles. \(g=12-\frac{m}{18}\), \(\textbf{35)}\) what does the \(12\) in the equation represent show answer andy has \(12\) gallons in his car when he starts his drive., \(\textbf{36)}\) what does the \(18\) in the equation represent show answer it takes \(18\) miles to use up \(1\) gallon of gas., \(\textbf{37)}\) how many miles until he runs out of gas show answer the answer is \(216\) miles, \(\textbf{38)}\) how many gallons of gas does he have after 90 miles show answer the answer is \(7\) gallons, \(\textbf{39)}\) when he has \(3\) gallons remaining, how far has he driven show answer the answer is \(162\) miles, \(\textbf{for 40-42}\) joe sells paintings. each month he makes no commission on the first $5,000 he sells but then makes a 10% commission on the rest., \(\textbf{40)}\) find the equation of how much money x joe needs to sell to earn y dollars per month. show answer the answer is \(y=.1(x-5,000)\), \(\textbf{41)}\) how much does joe need to sell to earn $10,000 in a month. show answer the answer is \($105,000\), \(\textbf{42)}\) how much does joe earn if he sells $45,000 in a month show answer the answer is \($4,000\), see related pages\(\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- linear equations}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- averages}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- consecutive integers}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- distance, rate and time}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- break even}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- ratios}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- age}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), \(\bullet\text{ word problems- mixtures and concentration}\) \(\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\,\), linear equations are a type of equation that has a linear relationship between two variables, and they can often be used to solve word problems. in order to solve a word problem involving a linear equation, you will need to identify the variables in the problem and determine the relationship between them. this usually involves setting up an equation (or equations) using the given information and then solving for the unknown variables . linear equations are commonly used in real-life situations to model and analyze relationships between different quantities. for example, you might use a linear equation to model the relationship between the cost of a product and the number of units sold, or the relationship between the distance traveled and the time it takes to travel that distance. linear equations are typically covered in a high school algebra class. these types of problems can be challenging for students who are new to algebra, but they are an important foundation for more advanced math concepts. one common mistake that students make when solving word problems involving linear equations is failing to set up the problem correctly. it’s important to carefully read the problem and identify all of the relevant information, as well as any given equations or formulas that you might need to use. other related topics involving linear equations include graphing and solving systems. understanding linear equations is also useful for applications in fields such as economics, engineering, and physics., about andymath.com, andymath.com is a free math website with the mission of helping students, teachers and tutors find helpful notes, useful sample problems with answers including step by step solutions, and other related materials to supplement classroom learning. if you have any requests for additional content, please contact andy at [email protected] . he will promptly add the content. topics cover elementary math , middle school , algebra , geometry , algebra 2/pre-calculus/trig , calculus and probability/statistics . in the future, i hope to add physics and linear algebra content. visit me on youtube , tiktok , instagram and facebook . andymath content has a unique approach to presenting mathematics. the clear explanations, strong visuals mixed with dry humor regularly get millions of views. we are open to collaborations of all types, please contact andy at [email protected] for all enquiries. to offer financial support, visit my patreon page. let’s help students understand the math way of thinking thank you for visiting. how exciting.

Word Problems on Linear Equations

Worked-out word problems on linear equations with solutions explained step-by-step in different types of examples.

There are several problems which involve relations among known and unknown numbers and can be put in the form of equations. The equations are generally stated in words and it is for this reason we refer to these problems as word problems. With the help of equations in one variable, we have already practiced equations to solve some real life problems.

Steps involved in solving a linear equation word problem: ● Read the problem carefully and note what is given and what is required and what is given. ● Denote the unknown by the variables as x, y, ……. ● Translate the problem to the language of mathematics or mathematical statements. ● Form the linear equation in one variable using the conditions given in the problems. ● Solve the equation for the unknown. ● Verify to be sure whether the answer satisfies the conditions of the problem.

Step-by-step application of linear equations to solve practical word problems:

1. The sum of two numbers is 25. One of the numbers exceeds the other by 9. Find the numbers. 

Solution: Then the other number = x + 9 Let the number be x.  Sum of two numbers = 25 According to question, x + x + 9 = 25 ⇒ 2x + 9 = 25 ⇒ 2x = 25 - 9 (transposing 9 to the R.H.S changes to -9)  ⇒ 2x = 16 ⇒ 2x/2 = 16/2 (divide by 2 on both the sides)  ⇒ x = 8 Therefore, x + 9 = 8 + 9 = 17 Therefore, the two numbers are 8 and 17.

2.The difference between the two numbers is 48. The ratio of the two numbers is 7:3. What are the two numbers?  Solution:   Let the common ratio be x.  Let the common ratio be x.  Their difference = 48 According to the question,  7x - 3x = 48  ⇒ 4x = 48  ⇒ x = 48/4  ⇒ x = 12 Therefore, 7x = 7 × 12 = 84           3x = 3 × 12 = 36  Therefore, the two numbers are 84 and 36.

3. The length of a rectangle is twice its breadth. If the perimeter is 72 metre, find the length and breadth of the rectangle.  Solution: Let the breadth of the rectangle be x,  Then the length of the rectangle = 2x Perimeter of the rectangle = 72 Therefore, according to the question 2(x + 2x) = 72 ⇒ 2 × 3x = 72 ⇒ 6x = 72  ⇒ x = 72/6 ⇒ x = 12 We know, length of the rectangle = 2x                       = 2 × 12 = 24 Therefore, length of the rectangle is 24 m and breadth of the rectangle is 12 m.

4. Aaron is 5 years younger than Ron. Four years later, Ron will be twice as old as Aaron. Find their present ages. 

Solution: Let Ron’s present age be x.  Then Aaron’s present age = x - 5 After 4 years Ron’s age = x + 4, Aaron’s age x - 5 + 4.  According to the question;  Ron will be twice as old as Aaron.  Therefore, x + 4 = 2(x - 5 + 4)  ⇒ x + 4 = 2(x - 1)  ⇒ x + 4 = 2x - 2 ⇒ x + 4 = 2x - 2 ⇒ x - 2x = -2 - 4 ⇒ -x = -6 ⇒ x = 6 Therefore, Aaron’s present age = x - 5 = 6 - 5 = 1 Therefore, present age of Ron = 6 years and present age of Aaron = 1 year.

5. A number is divided into two parts, such that one part is 10 more than the other. If the two parts are in the ratio 5 : 3, find the number and the two parts.  Solution: Let one part of the number be x Then the other part of the number = x + 10 The ratio of the two numbers is 5 : 3 Therefore, (x + 10)/x = 5/3 ⇒ 3(x + 10) = 5x  ⇒ 3x + 30 = 5x ⇒ 30 = 5x - 3x ⇒ 30 = 2x  ⇒ x = 30/2  ⇒ x = 15 Therefore, x + 10 = 15 + 10 = 25 Therefore, the number = 25 + 15 = 40  The two parts are 15 and 25. 

More solved examples with detailed explanation on the word problems on linear equations.

6. Robert’s father is 4 times as old as Robert. After 5 years, father will be three times as old as Robert. Find their present ages.  Solution: Let Robert’s age be x years.  Then Robert’s father’s age = 4x After 5 years, Robert’s age = x + 5 Father’s age = 4x + 5 According to the question,  4x + 5 = 3(x + 5)  ⇒ 4x + 5 = 3x + 15  ⇒ 4x - 3x = 15 - 5  ⇒ x = 10 ⇒ 4x = 4 × 10 = 40  Robert’s present age is 10 years and that of his father’s age = 40 years.  

7. The sum of two consecutive multiples of 5 is 55. Find these multiples.  Solution: Let the first multiple of 5 be x.  Then the other multiple of 5 will be x + 5 and their sum = 55 Therefore, x + x + 5 = 55 ⇒ 2x + 5 = 55 ⇒ 2x = 55 - 5 ⇒ 2x = 50 ⇒ x = 50/2  ⇒ x = 25  Therefore, the multiples of 5, i.e., x + 5 = 25 + 5 = 30 Therefore, the two consecutive multiples of 5 whose sum is 55 are 25 and 30.  

8. The difference in the measures of two complementary angles is 12°. Find the measure of the angles.  Solution: Let the angle be x.  Complement of x = 90 - x Given their difference = 12° Therefore, (90 - x) - x = 12° ⇒ 90 - 2x = 12 ⇒ -2x = 12 - 90 ⇒ -2x = -78 ⇒ 2x/2 = 78/2 ⇒ x = 39 Therefore, 90 - x = 90 - 39 = 51  Therefore, the two complementary angles are 39° and 51°

9. The cost of two tables and three chairs is $705. If the table costs $40 more than the chair, find the cost of the table and the chair.  Solution: The table cost $ 40 more than the chair.  Let us assume the cost of the chair to be x.  Then the cost of the table = $ 40 + x The cost of 3 chairs = 3 × x = 3x and the cost of 2 tables 2(40 + x)  Total cost of 2 tables and 3 chairs = $705 Therefore, 2(40 + x) + 3x = 705 80 + 2x + 3x = 705 80 + 5x = 705 5x = 705 - 80 5x = 625/5 x = 125 and 40 + x = 40 + 125 = 165 Therefore, the cost of each chair is $125 and that of each table is $165. 

10. If 3/5 ᵗʰ of a number is 4 more than 1/2 the number, then what is the number?  Solution: Let the number be x, then 3/5 ᵗʰ of the number = 3x/5 Also, 1/2 of the number = x/2  According to the question,  3/5 ᵗʰ of the number is 4 more than 1/2 of the number.  ⇒ 3x/5 - x/2 = 4 ⇒ (6x - 5x)/10 = 4 ⇒ x/10 = 4 ⇒ x = 40 The required number is 40.  

Try to follow the methods of solving word problems on linear equations and then observe the detailed instruction on the application of equations to solve the problems.

●   Equations

What is an Equation?

What is a Linear Equation?

How to Solve Linear Equations?

Solving Linear Equations

Problems on Linear Equations in One Variable

Word Problems on Linear Equations in One Variable

Practice Test on Linear Equations

Practice Test on Word Problems on Linear Equations

●   Equations - Worksheets

Worksheet on Linear Equations

Worksheet on Word Problems on Linear Equation

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5.5: Solve Mixture Applications with Systems of Equations

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  • Page ID 30527

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Solve mixture applications
  • Solve interest applications

Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.

  • Multiply 4.025(1,562). If you missed this problem, review Exercise 1.8.22 .
  • Write 8.2% as a decimal. If you missed this problem, review Exercise 1.8.46 .
  • Earl’s dinner bill came to $32.50 and he wanted to leave an 18% tip. How much should the tip be? If you missed this problem, review Exercise 3.2.10 .

Solve Mixture Applications

When we solved mixture applications with coins and tickets earlier, we started by creating a table so we could organize the information. For a coin example with nickels and dimes, the table looked like this:

This is a table with three rows and four columns. The first row of the table is a header row, and each cell names the column or columns below it. The first cell from the left is named “Type.” The second cell contains the equation “Number” times “Value” equals “Total Value,” with one column corresponding to “Number,” one column corresponding to “Value,” and one column corresponding to total value. Hence the content of the “Number” column times the content of the “Value” column equals the content of the “Total Value” column. In the second row of the table, the “Type” column contains “nickels,” the “Number” column is blank, the “Value” column contains 0.05, and the “Total Value” column is blank. In the third row of the table, the “Type” column contains “dimes,” the “Number” column is blank, the “Value column contains 0.10, and the “Total Value” column is blank.

Using one variable meant that we had to relate the number of nickels and the number of dimes. We had to decide if we were going to let n be the number of nickels and then write the number of dimes in terms of n , or if we would let d be the number of dimes and write the number of nickels in terms of d .

Now that we know how to solve systems of equations with two variables, we’ll just let n be the number of nickels and d be the number of dimes. We’ll write one equation based on the total value column, like we did before, and the other equation will come from the number column.

For the first example, we’ll do a ticket problem where the ticket prices are in whole dollars, so we won’t need to use decimals just yet.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

Translate to a system of equations and solve:

The box office at a movie theater sold 147 tickets for the evening show, and receipts totaled $1,302. How many $11 adult and how many $8 child tickets were sold?

Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

The ticket office at the zoo sold 553 tickets one day. The receipts totaled $3,936. How many $9 adult tickets and how many $6 child tickets were sold?

There were 206 adult tickets sold and 347 children tickets sold.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

A science center sold 1,363 tickets on a busy weekend. The receipts totaled $12,146. How many $12 adult tickets and how many $7 child tickets were sold?

There were 521 adult tickets sold and 842 children tickets sold.

In Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\) we’ll solve a coin problem. Now that we know how to work with systems of two variables, naming the variables in the ‘number’ column will be easy.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\)

Priam has a collection of nickels and quarters, with a total value of $7.30. The number of nickels is six less than three times the number of quarters. How many nickels and how many quarters does he have?

Exercise \(\PageIndex{5}\)

Matilda has a handful of quarters and dimes, with a total value of $8.55. The number of quarters is 3 more than twice the number of dimes. How many dimes and how many quarters does she have?

Matilda has 13 dimes and 29 quarters.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{6}\)

Juan has a pocketful of nickels and dimes. The total value of the coins is $8.10. The number of dimes is 9 less than twice the number of nickels. How many nickels and how many dimes does Juan have?

Juan has 36 nickels and 63 dimes.

Some mixture applications involve combining foods or drinks. Example situations might include combining raisins and nuts to make a trail mix or using two types of coffee beans to make a blend.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{7}\)

Carson wants to make 20 pounds of trail mix using nuts and chocolate chips. His budget requires that the trail mix costs him $7.60 per pound. Nuts cost $9.00 per pound and chocolate chips cost $2.00 per pound. How many pounds of nuts and how many pounds of chocolate chips should he use?

Exercise \(\PageIndex{8}\)

Greta wants to make 5 pounds of a nut mix using peanuts and cashews. Her budget requires the mixture to cost her $6 per pound. Peanuts are $4 per pound and cashews are $9 per pound. How many pounds of peanuts and how many pounds of cashews should she use?

Greta should use 3 pounds of peanuts and 2 pounds of cashews.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{9}\)

Sammy has most of the ingredients he needs to make a large batch of chili. The only items he lacks are beans and ground beef. He needs a total of 20 pounds combined of beans and ground beef and has a budget of $3 per pound. The price of beans is $1 per pound and the price of ground beef is $5 per pound. How many pounds of beans and how many pounds of ground beef should he purchase?

Sammy should purchase 10 pounds of beans and 10 pounds of ground beef.

Another application of mixture problems relates to concentrated cleaning supplies, other chemicals, and mixed drinks. The concentration is given as a percent. For example, a 20% concentrated household cleanser means that 20% of the total amount is cleanser, and the rest is water. To make 35 ounces of a 20% concentration, you mix 7 ounces (20% of 35) of the cleanser with 28 ounces of water.

For these kinds of mixture problems, we’ll use percent instead of value for one of the columns in our table.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{10}\)

Sasheena is a lab assistant at her community college. She needs to make 200 milliliters of a 40% solution of sulfuric acid for a lab experiment. The lab has only 25% and 50% solutions in the storeroom. How much should she mix of the 25% and the 50% solutions to make the 40% solution?

Exercise \(\PageIndex{11}\)

LeBron needs 150 milliliters of a 30% solution of sulfuric acid for a lab experiment but only has access to a 25% and a 50% solution. How much of the 25% and how much of the 50% solution should he mix to make the 30% solution?

LeBron needs 120 ml of the 25% solution and 30 ml of the 50% solution.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{12}\)

Anatole needs to make 250 milliliters of a 25% solution of hydrochloric acid for a lab experiment. The lab only has a 10% solution and a 40% solution in the storeroom. How much of the 10% and how much of the 40% solutions should he mix to make the 25% solution?

Anatole should mix 125 ml of the 10% solution and 125 ml of the 40% solution.

Solve Interest Applications

The formula to model interest applications is I = Prt . Interest, I , is the product of the principal, P , the rate, r , and the time, t . In our work here, we will calculate the interest earned in one year, so t will be 1.

We modify the column titles in the mixture table to show the formula for interest, as you’ll see in Exercise \(\PageIndex{13}\).

Exercise \(\PageIndex{13}\)

Adnan has $40,000 to invest and hopes to earn 7.1% interest per year. He will put some of the money into a stock fund that earns 8% per year and the rest into bonds that earns 3% per year. How much money should he put into each fund?

Exercise \(\PageIndex{14}\)

Leon had $50,000 to invest and hopes to earn 6.2 % interest per year. He will put some of the money into a stock fund that earns 7% per year and the rest in to a savings account that earns 2% per year. How much money should he put into each fund?

Leon should put $42,000 in the stock fund and $8000 in the savings account.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{15}\)

Julius invested $7,000 into two stock investments. One stock paid 11% interest and the other stock paid 13% interest. He earned 12.5% interest on the total investment. How much money did he put in each stock?

Julius invested $1,750 at 11% and $5,250 at 13%.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{16}\)

Rosie owes $21,540 on her two student loans. The interest rate on her bank loan is 10.5% and the interest rate on the federal loan is 5.9%. The total amount of interest she paid last year was $1,669.68. What was the principal for each loan?

Exercise \(\PageIndex{17}\)

Laura owes $18,000 on her student loans. The interest rate on the bank loan is 2.5% and the interest rate on the federal loan is 6.9 %. The total amount of interest she paid last year was $1,066. What was the principal for each loan?

The principal amount for the bank loan was $4,000. The principal amount for the federal loan was $14,000.

Exercise \(\PageIndex{18}\)

Jill’s Sandwich Shoppe owes $65,200 on two business loans, one at 4.5% interest and the other at 7.2% interest. The total amount of interest owed last year was $3,582. What was the principal for each loan?

The principal amount for was $41,200 at 4.5%. The principal amount was, $24,000 at 7.2%.

Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with solving application problems with systems of linear equations.

  • Cost and Mixture Word Problems
  • Mixture Problems

Key Concepts

This table is mostly blank. It has four columns and four rows. The last row is labeled “Total.” The first row labels each column as “Type,” and “Number times Value = Total Value.”

IMAGES

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

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  3. 3.3: Applications of Linear Systems with Two Variables

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    Solution: Adding 9 to a number is written as x + 9, while subtracting 7 from three times the number is written as 3x − 7. We therefore get the equation: x + 9 = 3x − 7. We solve for x by adding 7 on both sides of the equation: x + 16 = 3x. Then we subtract x: 16 = 2x. After dividing by 2, we obtain the answer x = 8.

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  11. 4.1 Solve Systems of Linear Equations with Two Variables

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  23. 5.5: Solve Mixture Applications with Systems of Equations

    Answer. Simplify and solve for . = 19 into the second equation. the answer in the problem. Exercise \ (\PageIndex {5}\) Translate to a system of equations and solve: Matilda has a handful of quarters and dimes, with a total value of $8.55. The number of quarters is 3 more than twice the number of dimes.