   SEARCH HOME Math Central Quandaries & Queries  Question from Linda, a student: The length of the top of a table is 2 feet longer than 4 times the width. The area is 72m squared. Find the dimensions of the table. Hi Linda,

Are you sure that you have transcribed this problem correctly, there is a mixture of units in it? If this is the correct problem then the first thing to do is convert one of the units. I know that there are 2.54 cm in an inch and 12 inches in a foot so 2 feet is 2.54 × 12 × 2 = 60.96 cm which is 0.6096 m.

You are correct in labeling this as an algebra problem and that you are probably going to need to use a variable for the length or the width or maybe both. If you read the sentence

The length of the top of a table is 2 feet longer than 4 times the width.

You see that if you knew the width then you could easily calculate the length, multiply the width by 4 and then add 2 feet (0.6096 m) so I am going to let the width be w meters and hence the length is

4w + 0.6096 m.

The area is the length times the width so

(4w + 0.6096) × w = 72 m squared.

Solve for w.

Penny     Math Central is supported by the University of Regina and The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences.