Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from ashley:

A sidewalk has a constant width W and comprises several short sections having lengths
12, 14, and 10 feet. How do I find the simplified expression that gives the number of square feet of sidewalk?

Hi Ashley,

The area of a rectangle is the length times the width so the individual sections will have areas $12 W, 14 W\mbox{ and } 10 W$ square feet. (This assumes that $W$ is in feet.) If there are $n$ sections of length 12 feet each then the area of these $n$ sections is $12 W \times n.$ Introduce letters for the number of sections of length 14 and 10 feet. Find the total area and then simplify the expression.


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