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 Question from ang: I'm a friend trying to help a friend in lower algebra. I feel like this question needs to be thrown away. It's so ill written. Find an mathematical expression/equation: Half of the quotient of the total of a number and negative six and a number less negative six is the ratio of a number to a number more than negative seventeen I got (X-6)/(2y+12) = (x)/(y+17) Am I going in the right direction?

We have two responses for you

Ang,

I agree with both your statements. This is a terrible question!

The only suggestion I have with your mathematical expression is that you change y in one place to a different letter. The phrase "a number" appears 4 times in the question and there is no indication that it refers to the same number so I would use 4 different letters. Maybe X and Y on the left and x and y on the right. There is also a sign error, It should be -17.

Harley

Hi Ang. Maybe this question is deliberately wordy like this in order to give practice in parsing a sentence and turning it into algebra. Since you said this was "lower algebra" I make the guess that it is all dealing with the same one number (I'll call it N). So I parse it as follows:

(1/2) [ (N + -6) / (N - -6) ] = (N) / (N + -17)

which is like yours, but with a negative 17 rather than positive. By the way, you need the quadratic formula to complete it if you are to solve for N:

(N-6)/(N+6) = 2N / (N-17)
N2 -23N +102 = 2N2 + 12N
0 = N2 +35N - 102

Not too nice. Probably then, this is just a horrible question!

Stephen La Rocque.

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