Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Demetrie, a student:

Dwayne's garden is triangle-shaped with two equal sides and a third side that is 4 ft more than the length of an equal side. If the perimeter is 49 ft, how long is the longest side?

Hi Demetrie,

In these algebra problems you sometimes need to decide which quantity is to be the "unknown". I am going to use the length of one of the equal length sides to be the unknown.

Let $L$ be the length of one of the two sides of equal length, in feet. Thus you have 2 sides of length $L$ feet each. The third side has a length $L + 4$ feet. What is the sum of the lengths of the three sides? This sum is the perimeter if 49 feet. Solve for $L$.


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