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INTRODUCTION TO IRRATIONAL AND IMAGINARY NUMBERS
PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CANNOT USE A CALCULATOR ON THE
ACCUPLACER 
ELEMENTARY ALGEBRA TEST ! YOU MUST BE ABLE TO DO THE FOLLOWING PROBLEMS
WITHOUT A CALCULATOR!
Natural Numbers
The numbers used for counting. That is, the numbers {1, 2, 3, 4, ...}.
Integers
The numbers {... ,  4, 3, 2, 1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ...}.
Whole Numbers or Nonnegative Integers
The numbers {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ...}.
Rational Numbers
Any type of number that can be written as the quotient of two Integers . This
includes all
terminating and repeating decimals, fractions, and the Integers.
Irrational Numbers
Any type of number that cannot be written as the quotient of two Integers. They
are nonterminating
decimal numbers .
Most irrational numbers result from findings roots of numbers that are NOT
perfect
powers. However, there are also some irrational numbers that occur naturally,
such as
the number π (approximately 3.14) and the number e (approximately 2.72).
NOTE: The results when natural numbers are squared, cubed, or raised to
any power are also referred to as perfect powers ! The root of a perfect
power
is a natural number.
Real Numbers
The Real Numbers include all of the Rational and Irrational Numbers.
Imaginary Numbers
Most imaginary numbers result from findings roots of negative numbers given an
EVEN
index only. A purely imaginary number is represented by the letter i and i
is equal to
. Please note that given an odd index, roots
of negative numbers result in rational
or irrational numbers.
NOTE: There is no real number that can be squared to get a result of 1.
Therefore, the solution to only exists in our
imagination.
Finding Rational, Irrational, and Imaginary Numbers
Problem 1:
If possible, find the square root of 144.
, where 12 is a terminating decimal,
specifically an integer, which is a
rational number.
Remember that 12(12) does equal 144 !!!
Problem 2:
If possible, find the cube root of 27.
, where 3 is a terminating decimal,
specifically an integer, which is a
rational number.
Remember that 3(3)(3) does equal 27 !!!
Problem 3:
If possible, find the cube root of 144 rounded to three decimal places.
Here we notice that the number 144 is not a perfect cube! That is, we
CANNOT find a
number written as the quotient of two integers that, when cubed, results in 144!
NOTE: For a problem like this , the ACCUPLACER test will make a
calculator available to you!
According to the calculator , where
5.241482788 is a nonterminating
decimal, which is an irrational number.
Please note that the calculator eventually rounds to a certain number of
decimal
places. That does not mean that the decimal terminated.
Since we are asked to round the answer to three decimal places, we find
to be
approximately equal to 5.241.
Problem 4:
If possible, find the cube root of 7 rounded to three decimal places.
Again, 7 is not a perfect cube.
According to the calculator ,where
1.912931183 is a nonterminating
decimal, which is an irrational number. Note that the index is odd, therefore,
the root is NOT imaginary!
We CANNOT find a number written as the quotient of two integers that, when
cubed, results in 7.
Since we are asked to round the answer to three decimal places, we find
to be
approximately equal to 1.913.
Problem 5:
Given the number 81, find its square root, cube root, and 4th root, if
possible. Round
to three decimal places, if necessary.
square root: ... a rational number because
9(9) = 81
cube root: ... an irrational number because we
CANNOT find
a number written as the quotient of two integers that, when cubed, results in
81.
Since we are asked to round the answer to three decimal places, we find
to be
approximately equal to 4.327.
4th root: ... a rational number because
3(3)(3)(3) = 81
Problem 6:
If possible, find the square root of 81.
is an imaginary number because the INDEX IS
EVEN and the radicand is
negative.
There is no real number that can be squared to get a result of 81.
Therefore, the solution
to only exists in our imagination.
Problem 7:
If possible, find the square root of 3.
is an imaginary number because the INDEX IS
EVEN and the radicand is negative.
There is no real number that can be squared to get a
result of 3. Therefore, the solution
to only exists in our imagination.
Problem 8:
Given the number 64, find its square root and cube root, if possible.
square root: ... an imaginary number because
the index is even
cube root: ... a rational number because the
index is odd and 4(4)(4) =
64
Simplifying Radical Expressions
Please note that the word "simplify" takes on many meanings in mathematics.
Often you must figure out its meaning from the mathematical expression you are
asked to "simplify." Here are are asked to "simplify" instead of to finding the
root of
a number.
Before we begin, we must know that radical expressions can also be written as
exponential expression . Following are the conversions:
Furthermore, is equivalent to
Problem 9:
Write as an exponential expression and
simplify.
and . As
you can see the index 4 becomes the denominator of a
fractional power with a numerator of 1.
Problem 10:
Write as an the exponential expression and
simplify.
and
. As you can see the index 3 becomes the denominator of a
fractional power with a numerator of 1.
Problem 11:
Write as an exponential expression and simplify.
and
. As you can see the index 2 (it is customary
to not write it) becomes
the denominator of a fractional power with a numerator of 1.
Problem 12:
Write as an exponential expression and
simplify.
As you can see the index 2 (it is
customary to not write it) becomes the
denominator of a fractional power with a numerator of 10. and then we can
reduce the
exponential fraction.
Problem 13:
Write as an exponential expression and
simplify.
As you can see the index 2 becomes the
denominator of a fractional power with
a numerator of 1.
Using one of the Laws of Exponents we can further simplify to get the following:
Problem 14:
Write as an exponential expression and
simplify.
As you can see the index 4 becomes
the denominator of a fractional power
with a numerator of 1.
Using one of the Laws of Exponents we can
further simplify to get the following:
which can be further simplified to .
NOTE: It is expected that you have permanently
committed to memory
the following values :
Problem 15:
Write as an exponential expression and
simplify
As you can see the index 3 becomes
the denominator of a fractional
power with a numerator of 1.
Using one of the Laws of Exponents we can further simplify to get the following:
which can be further simplified to
.
Problem 16:
Write as an exponential expression.
As you can see the index 3 becomes the
denominator of a fractional power with a
numerator of 2.
Problem 17:
Write as an exponential expression.
As you can see the index 4 becomes the
denominator of a fractional power with a
numerator of 3.
Problem 18:
Write as an exponential expression.
As you can see the index 2 becomes
the denominator of a fractional power with a
numerator of 3.
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