For example:

|x+5| - |x - 2| = 6

How could I display this equation graphically to give students an understanding of the underlying algebra to solve it?

I tried graphing y = |x+5| - |x - 2| and y=6 to find the intersection but was unsatisfied with the result as y = |x+5| - |x - 2| is not something easily tied to the absolute value concept or 'v' shaped absolute value graphs.

I was eventually satisfied with graphing y= |x+5| and y = |x-2| and then examining each part of the graph until I found a section of the graph that was 6 units apart.

For those wondering how to put it into a graphics calculator while exploring the concept

Go Menu -> Graph & Tab

Edit -> Clear All -> ok

at "Y1:" ->Softkeyboard->mth tab->select 'x'->type "x+5)" (it will change from abs(x+5) to |x+5|)

at "Y2:"->select 'x'->type "x-2)"

ensure that the boxes next to "Y1" and "Y2" are ticked

Now the temptation is to assume the answer is the intersection point.

but if we look at the equation |x+5| - |x - 2| = 6, it is asking "for what value of x is the value of |x+5| (the dotted line) subtract the value of |x-2| (the solid line) equal to 6".

**When is the gap between the two functions +6.**

We can ignore values of x<= -5 as y=|x+5| is below y=|x-2| and the subtraction will only give negative values (we are looking for a gap of +6 which is a positive value).

We can also ignore values up to the intersection point as this also will only result in negative values.

The next place I looked is at x>=2 as the gap is constant and positive after this point (both functions have the same gradient).

at x=2, |x+5| is equal to 7 and |x-2| is equal to 0. |2+5| - |2-2| = 7. We can ignore values where x>=2 as the answer is not +6.

In fact the only possible solution has to lie between the intersection point (x~-1.5) and 2 and is probably closer to 2.

In fact the only possible solution has to lie between the intersection point (x~-1.5) and 2 and is probably closer to 2.

For y=|x+5| all values are positive between -1.5 < x < 2

For y=|x-2| all values are negative between -1.5 < x < 2

To ensure positive values for x-2 in the range -1.5< x < 2 we need to take the negative of (x-2) when solving the equation |x+5| - |x - 2| = 6.

Check answer:

Viola.

It would also be interesting to explore |x+a| + |x-b| = c, |x+a| = |x-b| and -|x+a| = c in a similar way.

Here is a link to other CAS calculator posts.

x+5 - (-(x-2)) = 6

2x+3 = 6

x=1.5

2x+3 = 6

x=1.5

Check answer:

|x+5| - |x - 2| = 6

Let x=1.5

|1.5+5| - |1.5-2| = 6

LHS =| 6.5| -| -.5|

Let x=1.5

|1.5+5| - |1.5-2| = 6

LHS =| 6.5| -| -.5|

= 6.5 - 0.5

= 6.0

= RHS

= 6.0

= RHS

Viola.

It would also be interesting to explore |x+a| + |x-b| = c, |x+a| = |x-b| and -|x+a| = c in a similar way.

Here is a link to other CAS calculator posts.

## No comments:

## Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for leaving a comment.. it's good to hear what people think!