Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Simplify -36x squared over 18x

Hi Emily,

Let me start first by simplifying a numeric farction

Simplify 60/36

You can solve this promlem by factoring the numerator and denominator into prime factors and then cancelling.


You might not need to completely factor the numerator and denominator. For example you might realize that 4 divides 60 (4 times 15 = 60) and 4 divides 36 (4 times 9 = 36). Thus


But 15 = 3 times 5 and 9 = 3 times 3 so 15/9 simplifies to 5/3.

You can treat your algebraic promlem in an analogous way. Since 36 = 2 times 18 you can write


I hope this helps,

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