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square root

Suppose you need to find the square root of 66564. Set up a "division" with the number under the radical.
Mark off pairs of digits, starting from the decimal point and working left. (Here the decimal point is a period
(.) and commas (,) mark pairs of digits.)

___________
\/ 6,65,64.

Look at the leftmost digit(s) (6 in this case). What is the largest number whose square is less than or equal to
it? It is 2, whose square is 4. Write 2 above, write the square below and subtract.
__2________
\/ 6,65,64.
-4
----
2

Now bring down the next two digits (65). The next "divisor" is double the number on top (2x2=4) and some
other digit in the units position (4_).
__2________
\/ 6,65,64.
-4
-----
4_ ) 265

What is the largest number that we can put in the units and multiply times the divisor and still be less than or
equal to what we have? (Algebraically, what is d such that d × 4d ≤ 265?) It looks like 6 might work (since 6
* 40 = 240), but 6 is too big, since 6 * 46 = 276.
__2__6_____
\/ 6,65,64.
-4
-----
46 ) 265
276 TOO BIG

So try 5 instead.
__2__5_____
\/ 6,65,64.
-4
-----
45 ) 265
-225
-------
40

Repeat: bring down the next two digits, and double the number on top (2x25=50) to make a "divisor", with
another unit.
__2__5_____
\/ 6,65,64.
-4
-----
45 ) 265
-225
-------
50_ ) 4064

It looks like 8 would work. Let's see.


__2__5__8__
\/ 6,65,64.
-4
-----
45 ) 265
-225
-------
508 ) 4064
-4064
------
0

So the square root of 66564 is 258. You can continue for as many decimal places as you need: just bring
down more pairs of zeros.

Here is an example spanning the decimal point. When a number does not have a rational square root, you
can continue calculating (significant) digits as long as you wish.

__1__6.8_4_0_4_2_7_5_...
\/ 2,83.6
-1
-----
26 ) 183
-156
------
328 ) 2760
-2624
-------
3364 ) 13600
-13456
--------
33680 ) 14400
-0
---------
336804 ) 1440000
-1347216
----------
3368082 ) 9278400
-6736164
-----------
33680847 ) 254223600
-235765929
------------
336808545 ) 1845767100
-1684042725
-----------
161724375

cube root
Suppose you need to find the cube root of 55,742,968. Set up a "division" with the number under the radical.
Mark off triples of digits, starting from the decimal point and working left. (The decimal point is a period (.),
and commas (,) mark triples of digits.)

____________
\/ 55,742,968.

Look at the leftmost digit(s) (55 in this case). What is the largest number whose cube is less than or equal to
it? It is 3, whose cube is 27. Write 3 above, write the cube below and subtract.
__3_________
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
28

Now bring down the next three digits (742).


__3_________
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
28742

Coming up with the next "divisor" is more involved than for square roots. First bring down 3 times the
square of the number on top (3 × 3²=27) leaving room for two more digits (27_ _).
__3_________
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
27_ _) 28742

What is the largest number that we can put in the next position and multiply times the divisor and still be
less than or equal to what we have? (Algebraically, what is d such that d × 2700 ≤ 28742?) 10 might work
(since 10 × 2700 = 27000), but we can only use a single digit, so we'll try 9.
__3___9_____
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
27_ _) 28742

The second step in making the divisor is adding 3 times the previous number on top (3) times the last digit
(9) times 10 (3 × 3 × 9 = 81 × 10 = 810) and the square of the last digit (9² = 81).
2700
810
+ 81
-----
3591

Our new divisor is 3591.


__3___9_____
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3591) 28742

Multiply by the last digit (9 × 3591 = 32319) and subtract. But that is too big! So we'll try 8 as the next digit
instead.
__3___8_____
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
27_ _) 28742

We repeat the second step of adding 3 times the previous number on top (3) times the last digit (8) times 10
(3 × 3 × 8 = 72 × 10 = 720) and the square of the last digit (8² = 64).
2700
720
+ 64
-----
3484

Our new divisor is 3484.


__3___8_____
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3484) 28742

Now multiply by the last digit (8 × 3484 = 27872) and subtract.


__3___8_____
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3484) 28742
-27872
------
870

We are ready to start over on the next digit. Bring down the next three digits. The divisor starts as 3 times
the square of the number on top (3 × 38²=4332) leaving room for two more digits (4332_ _).
__3___8_____
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3484) 28742
-27872
------
4332_ _) 870968

It looks like 2 is the next digit.


__3___8___2_
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3484) 28742
-27872
------
4332_ _) 870968

Add 3 times the previous number on top (38) times the last digit (2) times 10 (3 × 38 × 2 = 228 × 10 = 2280)
and the square of the last digit (2² = 4).
433200
2280
+ 4
-------
435484

Our new divisor is 435484.


__3___8___2_
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3484) 28742
-27872
------
435484 ) 870968

Now multiply by the last digit (2 × 435484 = 870968) and subtract.


__3___8___2_
\/ 55,742,968.
-27
----
3484) 28742
-27872
------
435484 ) 870968
-870968
-------
0

So the cube root of 55742968 is 382. You can continue to get as many decimal places as you need: just bring
down more triples of zeros.