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Lecture 1

Fractional Equations

Definition 1.1. An equation is called a fractional equation if it contains fractional expressions where the unknown variables are appeared in their denominators.
The basic approach for solving a fractional equation is to remove the denominator if possible. However, in many cases this cannot be done by simply multiplying the equation by the least common multiple of the denominators, since it will
lead to an equation of a high degree. Therefore the following techniques are often
needed.
1. Use partial fraction techniques.
2. Use techniques of telescopic sum.
3. Use substitutions of variables or expressions.
Sometimes, it is advisable to manipulate the expressions before the substitution is discovered and applied.

Examples
Example 1. Solve equation

xC7
xC8

xC8
xC9

xC5
xC6
C
D 0.
xC6
xC7

Solution The given equation can be simplified to



1

1
x C8


1

1
xC9


1
1

1
xC6


C 1

1
x C7

D 0;

Lecture 1 Fractional Equations

so

1
xC8

1
1
D
xC9
xC6

1
;
x C7

1
1
D 2
;
x 2 C 17x C 72
x C 13x C 42

x 2 C 17x C 72 D x 2 C 13x C 42;

15
:
2

)xD

Example 2. Solve the following equation


x2

1
1
1
1
C 2
C 2
D
C 2x
x C 6x C 8 x C 10x C 24
5

Solution By moving the term


that

x2

x2

1
:
C 14x C 48

1
to left hand side, it follows
C 14x C 48

1
1
1
1
1
C 2
C 2
C 2
D ;
C 2x
x C 6x C 8
x C 10x C 24
x C 14x C 48
5
1
1
1
1
1
C
C
C
D ;
x.x
C
2/
.x
C
2/.x
C
4/
.x
C
4/.x
C
6/
.x
C
6/.x
C
8/

 


 5
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
C
CC
D ;
2
x xC2
xC2 xC4
xC6 xC8
5
1
2
1
2
D ; so x C 8x 20 D 0;
x xC8
5
x2

then .x

2/.x C 10/ D 0, namely x1 D 2 and x2 D 10.

Example 3. (CHINA/2005) Solve equation

jx

3j jx C 1j
D 1.
2jx C 1j

Solution Splitting the left hand side to two terms, then

x
Thus, x D

jx 3j
1
D 1;
2jx C 1j 2
x 3

x C 1 D 3;
x 3
x 3
D 3 or
D 3;
xC1
xC1
3 D 3x C 3 ) x D 3 and x 3 D 3x

3 ) x D 0:

3 or x D 0.

Substitutions of variables or expressions play important role in solving fractional equations, as shown in the following examples.

Lecture Notes on Mathematical Olympiad

Example 4. Solve equation


Solution Let y D
yC

2x 2 C 1
2x C 4
C 2
D 3.
xC2
2x C 1

2x 2 C 1
2
, then the given equation becomes y C D 3.
xC2
y

2
D 3 ) y2
y

When y D 1, then 2x 2
When y D 2, then 2x 2

3y C 2 D 0 ) .y

2/.y

1/ D 0:

1
1 D 0, so x1 D 1; x2 D
.
2
p
p
1
1
2x 3 D 0, so x3 D .1
7/; x4 D .1 C 7/.
2
2
x

Example 5. (SSSMO(J)/2006) Suppose that the two roots of the equation


x2

1
10x

29

1
10x

x2

45

x2

2
10x

69

D0

are and . Find the value of C .


Solution Let y D x 2

y2
x2

10x

45, the given equation then becomes

1
2
1
C D
;
y C 16
y
y 24
yC8
1
D
;
2
y C 16y
y 24
16y 192 D y 2 C 16y ) y D 6;
10x

45 D

6 ) x2

10x

39 D 0:

Thus, by Vietes Theorem, C D 10.


Sometimes the manipulations on the given equations are needed for finding
the desired substitution, as shown in the following examples.
Example 6. (CHINA/2000) Solve the system for .x; y/:
xy
1
D ;
3x C 2y
8

xy
1
D :
2x C 3y
7

Solution By taking reciprocals to two sides of each equation, it follows that


2
3
C D 8;
x
y
3
2
C D 7:
x
y

Lecture 1 Fractional Equations

Letting u D

1
1
; v D , the system for .u; v/ is
x
y
2u C 3v D 8;
3u C 2v D 7:

By solving them, it is obtained that u D 1; v D 2. Then, returning to .x; y/,


x D 1 and
Example 7. Solve equation

yD

1
:
2

4x 2 C x C 4
x2 C 1
31
C 2
D
.
2
x C1
x CxC1
6

Solution Write the given equation in the form


4C

x
C1
x2 C 1

then

1
1
xC
x

Let w D x C

(ii)

1
1
D :
1
6
xC C1
x

1
, it follows that
x

) .w
(i)

x
1
D5C ;
x2 C x C 1
6

1
1
1
D ;
w wC1
6
w.w C 1/ D 6 ) w 2 C w 6 D 0;
2/.w C 3/ D 0; namely w D 2 or w D 3:

1
D 2, then .x 1/2 D 0, so x1 D x2 D 1.
x
1
w D 3 ) x C D 3, then x 2 C 3x C 1 D 0, so
x
p
p
3
5
3C 5
x3 D
; x4 D
:
2
2
wD2)xC

Example 8. Solve equation

x2
48
2x
C 2 D
15
5x
3

8
.
x

Solution When both sides are multiplied by 15, the given equation becomes
 2


12
12
x2 C
D 10 x
:
x
x

Lecture Notes on Mathematical Olympiad

Let y D x

12
, by completing square it follows that
x
y2
.y

10y C 24 D 0;
4/.y 6/ D 0;

) y D 4 or 6:

Then
yD4)x
yD6)x

12
D 4 ) .x
x
12
D 6 ) x2
x

Example 9. Solve equation 2x 2

6/.x C 2/ D 0; i.e. x1 D 6; x2 D 2:
p
p
6x 12 D 0; i.e. x3 D 3
21; x4 D 3 C 21:
3x C

3x
x2

D 1.

Solution Since x 0, the given equation is equivalent to






1
1
2 x2 C 2
3 xC
D 1:
x
x
1
5
Let y D x C , then 2y 2 3y 4 D 1, i.e., .2y 5/.y C 1/ D 0. Thus, y D
x
2
or 1.
5
2
(i)
y D ) 2x C D 5 ) 2x 2 5x C 2 D 0 ) .2x 1/.x 2/ D 0
2
x
1
) x1 D ; x2 D 2.
2
1
(ii)
y D 1 ) x C D 1 ) x 2 C x C 1 D 0, no real solution.
x

2
x
Example 10. Solve equation x 2 C
D 3.
xC1
Solution By completing the square on the left hand side, it follows that
2
2x 2
x
C
D 3;
xC1
xC1
 2 2
x
x2
C2
3 D 0:
xC1
xC1

x

x2
, then y 2 C 2y 3 D 0 ) .y C 3/.y 1/ D 0, so y D
xC1
x2
yD 3)
D 3 ) x 2 C 3x C 3 D 0, no real solution.
xC1

Let y D
(i)

3 or 1.

Lecture 1 Fractional Equations

x2
D 1 ) x2
(ii) y D 1 )
x
C
1
p
1C 5
:
2

1 D 0 ) x1 D

p
5
; x2 D
2

Testing Questions (A)

1:

Solve the equation

x 3 C 4x 2 C 2x 8
2x 3 C 5x 2 C 4x
D
.
x 2 C 2x 3
2x 2 C x C 1

2:

Solve the equation

x C1
xC6
xC2
x C5
C
D
C
.
x C2
xC7
xC3
x C6

3:

Solve the equation

4:

Solve the equation

5:

Solve the equation x 2 C

6:

Solve the equation

7:

Find all the real solutions .x; y; z/ of the following system

1
.x

1/x

1
x 2 C 11x

1
1
11
CC
D
.
x.x C 1/
.x C 9/.x C 10/
12

1
x 2 C 2x

x2

1
13x

D 0.

x2
5
D .
.x C 1/2
4

3x 2 C 4x
3x 2 4x

9x 2
3
D y;
1 C 9x 2
2
8:

1
x 2 C 4x C 1
D 2
.
1
x
4x C 1

9y 2
3
D z;
1 C 9y 2
2

9z 2
3
D x:
1 C 9z 2
2

(RUSMO/1993) Find all positive solutions of the system of fractional equa-

Lecture Notes on Mathematical Olympiad

tions

1
x2
1
x2 C
x3
1
x3 C
x4
1
x4 C
x5
::
:
x1 C

D 4;
D 1;
D 4;
D 1;

1
D 4;
x100
1
x100 C
D 1:
x1

x99 C

9:

Solve the equation in x:

aCx
bCx
5
C
D .
bCx
aCx
2

2.a C b C c/
aCb aCc
C
D
(where aCb; aC
bCx xCc
xCbCc
c; b C c; a C b C c are all not zero).

10:

Solve the equation in x:

11:

Given that the equation

x
xC1
4x C a
C
D
has only one real root,
xC1
x
x.x C 1/
find the value of real number a.

Testing Questions (B)

1:
2:
3:

4:

Solve equation

x2 x C 1
xC1
C 2
D 1.
2
x C2
x
xC1

x 3 C 7x 2 C 24x C 30
2x 3 C 11x 2 C 36x C 45
D
.
x 2 C 5x C 13
2x 2 C 7x C 20
(RUSMO/2005) It is known that there is such a number s such that if real
numbers a; b; c; d are all neither 0 nor 1, satisfying a C b C c C d D s and
1
1 1
1
1
1
1
1
C C C D s, then
C
C
C
D s. Find s.
a b
c
d
1 a 1 b
1 c
1 d
(VIETNAM/2007) Solve the system of equations
Solve equation

2
12
D p ;
y C 3x
x

and

1C

12
6
Dp :
y C 3x
y

Lecture 1 Fractional Equations

5:

(BELARUS/2005) Find all triples .x; y; z/ with x; y; z 2 .0; 1/ satisfying






1
1
1
1 yC
1
zC
1
xC
2x
2y
2z






xy
yz
zx
D 1
1
1
:
z
x
y

6:

(NORTH-EUROPEAN/2006) Given that x; y; z are real numbers which are


not all equal, satisfying
xC

1
1
1
D y C D z C D k;
y
z
x

where k is a real number. Find all possible values of k.


7:

(GREECE/TST/2009) Find all real solutions .x; y; z/ of equation


.x C 2/2
.y C 4/2
.z C 6/2
C
C
D 36;
yCz 2
zCx 4
xCy 6
giving x; y; z > 3.

8:

(BULGARIA/2004) Given the system of equations


8
< x 2 C y 2 D a2 C 2;
1
1
.a 2 R/:
C
D a:
:
x
y
(a)

(b)
9:

Solve the system when a D 0;

Find range of a such that the system has exactly two solutions.

(CZECH-POLISH-SLOVAK/2004) Solve the system of equations


1
x
D C 1;
xy
z

1
y
D C 1;
yz
x

where x; y; z are real numbers.

1
z
D C 1;
zx
y