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More Simplification / Multiplication (page 2 of 7) Sections: Square roots, More simplification / Multiplication, Adding (and subtracting) square roots, Conjugates / Dividing by square roots, Rationalizing denominators, HigherIndex Roots, A special case of rationalizing / Radicals & exponents / Radicals & domains Variables in a radical's argument are simplified in the same way: whatever you've got a pair of can be taken "out front".
The 12 is the product of 3 and 4, so I have a pair of 2's but a 3 left over. Also, I have two pairs of a's; three pairs of b's, with one b left over; and one pair of c's, with one c left over. So the root simplifies as: You are used to putting the numbers first in an algebraic expression, followed by any variables. But for radical expressions, any variables outside the radical should go in front of the radical, as shown above.
Writing out the complete factorization would be a bore, so I'll just use what I know about powers. The 20 factors as 4×5, with the 4 being a perfect square. The r^{18} has nine pairs of r's; the s is unpaired; and the t^{21} has ten pairs of t's, with one t left over. Then:
Technical point: Your textbook
may tell you to "assume all variables are positive" when you
simplify. Why? The square root of the square of a negative number
is not the original number. For instance, you could start with –2,
square to get +4,
and then take the square root (which is defined to be the positive
root) to get +2.
You plugged in a negative and ended up with a positive. Sound familiar?
It should: it's how the absolute
value works: –2
= +2. Taking the square
root of the square is in fact the technical definition of the absolute
value. But this technicality can cause difficulties if you're working
with values of unknown sign; that is, with variables. The –2
is +2,
but what is the sign on 
x ? You can't
know, because you don't know the sign of x itself
— unless they specify that you should "assume all variables are positive",
or at least nonnegative (which means "positive or zero"). Multiplying Square Roots The first thing you'll learn to do with square roots is "simplify" terms that add or multiply roots. Simplifying multiplied radicals is pretty simple. We use the fact that the product of two radicals is the same as the radical of the product, and vice versa.
Copyright © Elizabeth Stapel 19992011 All Rights Reserved Okay, so that manipulation wasn't very useful. But working in the other direction can be helpful:
The process works the same way when variables are included:
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