How to factorise several kinds of algebra expressions.



Part 1

Algematics uses six different methods to factorise an algebraic expression. They are:

    1. common factors

8p² + 12pq – 4pr factorises to: 4p(2p + 3q – r)

    1. difference of perfect squares

a² – b² factorises to: (a + b)(a – b)

    1. sum of perfect cubes

a³ + b³ factorises to: (a + b)(a² – ab + b²)

    1. difference of perfect cubes

a³ – b³ factorises to: (a – b)(a² + ab + b²)

    1. split middle term of quadratics

2x² + 3x – 5 becomes: 2x² – 2x + 5x – 5

(While this has not factorised the expressions, this is just the first of several steps needed to factorise the quadratic. In this case you will need to use the factorise command two more times. )

    1. group and factorise four terms

2x² – 2x + 5x – 5 becomes: 2x(x – 1) + 5(x – 1)

This does two things. First, the four terms are swapped around and regrouped if necessary, then the pairs of terms are factorised in such a way that a common factor results. In this example, (x-1) is now a common factor, so that if the factorise command is used one more time the expression will be fully factorised.

The software examines the expression and chooses the method to use. All you have to do is keep on clicking the (factorise) button until the expression no longer changes.

If you click and nothing changes, then the software cannot factorise the expression. Press Ctrl+Delete to delete the duplicate step.


Part 2

IMPORTANT: This topic assumes that you know how to enter mathematical formulas into Algematics. Find out how by completing the three simple tutorials in the ‘Getting Started’ section of the Algematics program ‘Help’.

We will use the expression: to demonstrate how to use the factorise command.

Step 1 Enter the data

Click and type the expression to be factorised into the maths box in the data entry dialog box.

If the ‘EMPTY’ message is not displayed between the blue buttons, click the button until the message: ‘INSERT’ appears.

If necessary, use the ‘ * ‘ symbol for multiply and the ‘ / ‘ symbol for divide.


 x[6] – 1

and then click

Step 2 Factorise

Click (factorise) button. This will generate a new step.

If this new step is the same as the last, then this means that Algematics cannot factorise the expression any further. In that case, delete the duplicate step by pressing Ctrl+Delete on the keyboard.

Keep clicking until the expression cannot be factorised any further.

The example expression factorises in the following sequence:

Click : (Difference of perfect squares)

(x³ + 1)(x³ – 1)

Click : (Sum of perfect cubes)

(x + 1)(x² – x´1 + 1)(x³ – 1)

Click : (Difference of perfect cubes)

(x + 1)(x² – x´1 + 1)(x – 1)(x² + x´1 + 1)

This expression is now fully factorised, and can be tidied up by clicking (simplify all), giving:

(x + 1)(x² – x + 1)(x – 1)(x² + x + 1)

Go back to step 1 to factorise another expression.

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