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And so that means, if you leave out the numbers between 4 and 5, you’re leaving

out an infinity of numbers! You’re leaving out more numbers than there are stars in
the universe. That is the magnitude of that error.

So it’s very important to be discerning when you read inequalities. It’s very
important not to fall into that trap at any point of thinking that all possible numbers
are just the numbers that you can count on your fingers.

Using the Symbols for Solving Inequalities


You will have to use the first four inequality symbols in problem solving. The test
will not have you work with the unequal sign in problems. So when you actually
have to do work for yourself, you could see greater than or less than or greater
than equal to or less than or equal to. But work that you have to do with yourself,
you will not just see the unequal sign.

The unequal sign might appear in the specification of problems, in that sense, you’ll
need to know it, but you’ll not have to work with it. An algebraic statement
involving one of these four symbols is known as an inequality. All of these are
inequalities. With equations, we can do almost anything to one side, as long as we
do the same thing to the other side, and the two sides remain equal.

Equations are very easy to handle that way. What operations can we perform to
both sides of inequality that preserve the statement of the inequality? So now if we
have an inequality, say greater than or less than pointing in a certain direction, we
wanna do the same thing to both sides. And we want to understand, are those
things still greater than or less than?

We have to understand that. First of all, we can always add the same thing to both
sides or subtract the same thing from both sides. And the inequality remains the
same. So addition or subtraction work exactly the same way with inequalities as
they work with equations.

So that much is easy. For example, if I have the inequality x + 7 is greater than 2
and I want to get x by itself, I subtract 7 from both sides. And of course, I get x is
greater than -5. And so that is the solution range for x. Addition or subtraction
work the same way with equations as they do with inequalities.
With multiplication and division, things are a little trickier with inequalities. We can
still multiply or divide both sides by any positive number. That will preserve the
inequality. So if we know what we’re multiplying by is a positive, if we’re
guaranteed of that, then multiplying and dividing with inequalities is exactly the
same as equations.

Solving Inequalities Using Multiplication and Division


You can just do the same thing to both sides. What’s trickier is that multiplication
or division by a negative number reverses the order of the inequalities. So for
example, if I have -x is greater than 3, well, if I wanna get x by itself, I have to
multiply by -1. And of course, I’ll multiply both sides by -1.

But that has the effect of changing the direction in which the inequality points to
be. The -x becomes a positive x, the 3 becomes a -3 and that greater than sign has
to become a less than sign. And so the final statement is x is less than -3. One easy
way to see why this is, is to think about what happens with ordinary numbers.

So take the variables out entirely and let’s just think of ordinary numbers. So here
are two valid, legitimate true inequalities. It is true that 7 is greater than 3. It is
true that 5 is greater than -2. Well, let’s multiply everything by negative signs. It is
also true that -3 is greater than -7.

-3 is to the right of -7 on the number line, and of course -5 is less than 2. In other
words, in order to maintain true statements when we multiply by -1, we have to
reverse the direction of the inequality.

Practice Problem
Here’s a practice problem, pause the video and then we’ll talk about this. So we
want to get x by itself. Much in the same way as with equations, first, we want to
collect all the x’s on one side.