## SYSTEMS OF EQUATIONS in TWO VARIABLES

A system of equations is a collection of two or more equations with the same set of unknowns. In solving a system of equations, we try to find values for each of the unknowns that will satisfy every equation in the system.

The equations in the system can be linear or non-linear. This tutorial reviews systems of linear equations.

A problem can be expressed in narrative form or the problem can be expressed in algebraic form.

Let's start with an example stated in narrative form. We'll convert it to an equivalent equation in algebraic form, and then we will solve it.

Problem 2.1c:

Ten gallons of a 30% acid mixture is obtained by mixing a 20% solution with a 50% solution. How much of each must be used?

Answer: 3-1/3 gallons of the 50% solution and 6-2/3 gallons of the 20% solution.

Solutions:

To find out how much acid exists in the 20% solution, you multiply the total amount of the 20% solution by 0.20. To find out how much acid exits in the 50% solution, you multiply the total amount of the 50% solution by 0.50. To find out how much acid exists in the 30% solution, you multiply the total amount of the 30% solution (10 gallons) by 0.30 to get 3 gallons of acid.

Essentially you have two sentences: one sentence deals with total amounts and the other deals with acid amounts.

One sentence could be rewritten as ''the total amount of the 20% solution'' plus ''the total amount of the 50% solution'' equals 10 gallons. The second sentence could be rewritten as ''the amount of acid in the 20% solution'' plus ''the amount of acid in the 50% solution'' equals ''the amount of acid in 10 gallons of a 30% solutions.''

Let's rewrite the sentences again.

Sentence (1): ''the total amount of the 20% solution'' + ''the total amount of the 50% solution'' = 10 gallons.

Sentence (2): ''0.20 times the total amount of the 20% solution' + '0.50 times the total amount of the 50% solution'' = 3

It is going to become tiresome writing the phrases ''the total amount of the 20% solution'' and ''the total amount of the 50% solution'' over and over. Therefore, let the symbol x represent the phrase ''the total amount of the 20% solution'', and let the symbol y represent the phrase ''the total amount of the 50% solution'' and rewrite the sentence.

We have converted a narrative statement of the problem to an equivalent algebraic statement of the problem. Let's solve this system of equations.

A system of linear equations can be solved four different ways:

Substitution

Elimination

Matrices

Graphing

The Method of Substitution:

The method of substitution involves several steps:

Step 1:

Solve for x in equation (1).

Step 2:

Substitute this value for x in equation (2). This will change equation (2) to an equation with just one variable, y.

Step 3:

Solve for y in the translated equation (2).

Step 4:

Substitute this value of y in equation (1) and solve for x.

The total amount of the 20% solutions is 6-2/3 gallons, and the total amount of the 50% solutions is 3-1/3 gallons.

Step 5:

Check your answers by substituting the values of x and y in each of the original equations. If, after the substitution, the left side of the equation equals the right side of the equation, you know that your answers are correct.

The Method of Elimination:

The process of substitution involves several steps:

In a two-variable problem rewrite the equations so that when the equations are added, one of the variables is eliminated, and then solve for the remaining variable.

Step 1:

Multiply equation (1) by -0.20 and add it to equation (2) to form equation (3) with just one variable.

Step 2:

Solve for y.

Step 2:

Substitute in equation (1) and solve for x.

Step 3:

The Method of Matrices:

This method is essentially a shortcut for the method of elimination.

Rewrite equations (1) and (2) without the variables and operators. The left column contains the coefficients of the x's, the middle column contains the coefficients of the y's, and the right column contains the constants.

The objective is to reorganize the original matrix into one that looks like
where a and b are the solutions to the system.

Step 1.

Manipulate the matrix so that the number in cell 11 (row 1-col 1) is 1. Cell 11 already has a 1.

Step 2:

Manipulate the matrix so that the number is cell 21 (row 2-col 1) is 0. Do this by adding -0.20 times row 1 to row 2 to form a new row 2.

Step 3:

Manipulate the matrix so that the cell 22 is 1. Do this by multiplying row 2 by 1/0.30.

Step 4: Manipulate the matrix so that cell 12 is 0. Do this by adding

The method of Graphing:

In this method solve for y in each equation and graph both. The point of intersection is the solution.

If you would like to go back to the problem page, click on Problem.

If you would like to review the solution to the next problem, click on Problem

If you would like to return to the beginning of the two by two system of equations, click on Example.

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Author: Nancy Marcus