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Graphing Linear Inequalities in Two Variables

Module by: Wade Ellis, Denny Burzynski. E-mail the authors

Summary: This module is from Elementary Algebra by Denny Burzynski and Wade Ellis, Jr. In this chapter the student is shown how graphs provide information that is not always evident from the equation alone. The chapter begins by establishing the relationship between the variables in an equation, the number of coordinate axes necessary to construct its graph, and the spatial dimension of both the coordinate system and the graph. Interpretation of graphs is also emphasized throughout the chapter, beginning with the plotting of points. The slope formula is fully developed, progressing from verbal phrases to mathematical expressions. The expressions are then formed into an equation by explicitly stating that a ratio is a comparison of two quantities of the same type (e.g., distance, weight, or money). This approach benefits students who take future courses that use graphs to display information. The student is shown how to graph lines using the intercept method, the table method, and the slope-intercept method, as well as how to distinguish, by inspection, oblique and horizontal/vertical lines. Objectives of this module: be able to locate solutions to linear inequalities in two variables using graphical techniques.

Overview

  • Location of Solutions
  • Method of Graphing

Location of Solutions

In our study of linear equations in two variables, we observed that all the solutions to the equation, and only the solutions to the equation, were located on the graph of the equation. We now wish to determine the location of the solutions to linear inequalities in two variables. Linear inequalities in two variables are inequalities of the forms:

ax+byc ax+byc ax+by<c ax+by>c ax+byc ax+byc ax+by<c ax+by>c

Half-Planes

A straight line drawn through the plane divides the plane into two half-planes.

Boundary Line

The straight line is called the boundary line.

A straight line dividing an xy plane in two half-planes.

Solution to an Inequality in Two Variables

Recall that when working with linear equations in two variables, we observed that ordered pairs that produced true statements when substituted into an equation were called solutions to that equation. We can make a similar statement for inequalities in two variables. We say that an inequality in two variables has a solution when a pair of values has been found such that when these values are substituted into the inequality a true statement results.

The Location of Solutions in the Plane

As with equations, solutions to linear inequalities have particular locations in the plane. All solutions to a linear inequality in two variables are located in one and only in one entire half-plane. For example, consider the inequality

2x+3y6 2x+3y6

A straight line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates  zero, two and three, zero. Equation of this line is two x plus three y equal to six. Points lying in the shaded region below the line are the solutions of inequality two x plus three y less than equal to six.

All the solutions to the inequality 2x+3y6 2x+3y6 lie in the shaded half-plane.

Example 1

Point A(1,1) A(1,1) is a solution since

2x+3y6 2(1)+3(1)6? 236? 16.True 2x+3y6 2(1)+3(1)6? 236? 16.True

Example 2

Point B(2,5) B(2,5) is not a solution since

2x+3y6 2(2)+3(5)6? 4+156? 196.False 2x+3y6 2(2)+3(5)6? 4+156? 196.False

Method of Graphing

The method of graphing linear inequalities in two variables is as follows:

  1. Graph the boundary line (consider the inequality as an equation, that is, replace the inequality sign with an equal sign).
    1. If the inequality is or , draw the boundary line solid. This means that points on the line are solutions and are part of the graph.
    2. If the inequality is < < or > > , draw the boundary line dotted. This means that points on the line are not solutions and are not part of the graph.
  2. Determine which half-plane to shade by choosing a test point.
    1. If, when substituted, the test point yields a true statement, shade the half-plane containing it.
    2. If, when substituted, the test point yields a false statement, shade the half-plane on the opposite side of the boundary line.

Sample Set A

Example 3

Graph 3x2y4 3x2y4 .

1. Graph the boundary line. The inequality is so we’ll draw the line solid. Consider the inequality as an equation.

3x2y=4 3x2y=4
(1)

Table 1
x x y y ( x,y ) ( x,y )
0 4 3 0 4 3 2 0 2 0 ( 0,2 ) ( 4 3 ,0 ) ( 0,2 ) ( 4 3 ,0 )


A graph of a line passing through two points with coordinates zero, two and negative four upon three,  zero. Boundary line points on this line are included in solutions of inequality.

2. Choose a test point. The easiest one is ( 0,0 ) ( 0,0 ) . Substitute ( 0,0 ) ( 0,0 ) into the original inequality.

3x2y4 3( 0 )2( 0 )4? 004? 04.True 3x2y4 3( 0 )2( 0 )4? 004? 04.True
(2)
Shade the half-plane containing ( 0,0 ) ( 0,0 ) .
A straight line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, two and negative four upon three, zero. Points lying in the region to the right of the line are solutions of the inequality and points lying  in the region left to the line are not solutions of the inequality. The test point zero, zero belongs to the shaded region.

Example 4

Graph x+y3<0 x+y3<0 .

1. Graph the boundary line: x+y3=0 x+y3=0 . The inequality is < < so we’ll draw the line dotted.

A graph of a dashed line passing through two points with coordinates zero, three and three, zero. Boundary line points on this line are not included in the solutions of the inequality.

2. Choose a test point, say (0,0) (0,0) .

x+y3<0 0+03<0? 3<0.True x+y3<0 0+03<0? 3<0.True
(3)
Shade the half-plane containing (0,0) (0,0) .

A dashed straight line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, three and three, zero. The region to the left of the line is shaded. The test point zero, zero belongs to the shaded region.

Example 5

Graph y2x y2x .

  1. Graph the boundary line y=2x y=2x . The inequality is , so we’ll draw the line solid.

    A graph of a line passing through two points with coordinates zero, zero and one, two. Boundary line points on this line are included in the solutions of the inequality.
  2. Choose a test point, say ( 0,0 ) ( 0,0 ) .

    y2x 02( 0 )? 00.True y2x 02( 0 )? 00.True

    Shade the half-plane containing ( 0,0 ) ( 0,0 ) . We can’t! ( 0,0 ) ( 0,0 ) is right on the line! Pick another test point, say ( 1,6 ) ( 1,6 ) .

    y2x 62( 1 )? 62.False y2x 62( 1 )? 62.False

    Shade the half-plane on the opposite side of the boundary line.
    A straight line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, zero and one, two. Points lying in the region to the right of the line are solutions of the inequality and points lying  in the region left to the line are not solutions of the inequality.The test point zero, zero belongs to the shaded region where as another test point one, six does not belong to the shaded region.

Example 6

Graph y>2 y>2 .

1. Graph the boundary line y=2 y=2 . The inequality is > > so we’ll draw the line dotted.

A graph of a dashed line parallel to x axis and passing through point with coordinates zero, two.

2. We don’t really need a test point. Where is y>2? y>2? Above the line y=2! y=2! Any point above the line clearly has a y-coordinate y-coordinate greater than 2.

A dashed straight line in an xy plane parallel to x axis and passing through point with coordinates zero, two. The region above the line is shaded.

Practice Set A

Solve the following inequalities by graphing.

Exercise 1

3x+2y4 3x+2y4

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Solution

A straight line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, two and two, five. The region to the right of the line is shaded.

Exercise 2

x4y<4 x4y<4

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Solution

A dashed straight line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, negative one and four, zero. The region above the line is shaded.

Exercise 3

Exercise 4

Exercises

Solve the inequalities by graphing.

Exercise 5

Exercise 6

x+y1 x+y1

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercise 7

x+2y+40 x+2y+40

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Solution

A line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, negative two and four, zero. The region above the line is shaded.

Exercise 8

x+5y10<0 x+5y10<0

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercise 9

3x+4y>12 3x+4y>12

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Solution

A dashed line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates zero, negative three and four, zero. The region above the line is shaded.

Exercise 10

2x+5y150 2x+5y150

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercise 11

Exercise 12

x2 x2

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercise 13

Exercise 14

xy<0 xy<0

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercise 15

x+3y0 x+3y0

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Solution

A line in an xy plane passing through two points with coordinates negative three, one and three, negative one. The region above the line is shaded.

Exercise 16

2x+4y>0 2x+4y>0

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercises for Review

Exercise 17

((Reference)) Graph the inequality 3x+51 3x+51 .

A horizontal line with arrows on both ends.

Solution

A number line with arrows on each end, labeled from negative three to three, in increments of one. There is an open circle at two. A dark line is orginating from this circle, and heading towards the left of two.

Exercise 18

((Reference)) Supply the missing word. The geometric representation (picture) of the solutions to an equation is called the

          
of the equation.

Exercise 19

((Reference)) Supply the denominator: m= y 2 y 1 ? m= y 2 y 1 ? .

Solution

m= y 2 y 1 x 2 x 1 m= y 2 y 1 x 2 x 1

Exercise 20

((Reference)) Graph the equation y=3x+2 y=3x+2 .

An xy-plane with gridlines, labeled negative five and five on the both axes.

Exercise 21

((Reference)) Write the equation of the line that has slope 4 and passes through the point ( 1,2 ) ( 1,2 ) .

Solution

y=4x+6 y=4x+6

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