# 5.2 The Square Root ```Section 5.2
The Square Root 1
5.2 The Square Root
In this this review we turn our attention to the square root function, the function
defined by the equation
√
f (x) = x.
(5.1)
We can determine the domain and range of the square root function by projecting
all points on the graph onto the x- and y-axes, as shown in Figures 1(a) and (b),
respectively.
y
10
y
10
f
f
x
10
x
10
(a) Domain = [0, ∞)
(b) Range = [0, ∞)
Figure 1. Project onto the axes
to find the domain and range.
Translations
If we shift the graph of y =
range are affected.
√
x right and left, or up and down, the domain and/or
I Example 1
Determine the domain and range of f (x) =
√
x − 2.
√
√
If we replace x with x − 2, the basic equation y = x becomes y = x − 2. From
our review work with transformations, we know that this will shift the graph two units
to the right, as shown in Figures 2(a) and (b).
To find the domain, we project each point on the graph of f onto the x-axis, as
shown in Figure 2(a). Note that all points to the right of or including 2 are shaded
on the x-axis. Consequently, the domain of f is
Domain = [2, ∞) = {x : x ≥ 2}.
As there has been no shift in the vertical direction, the range remains the same.
To find the range, we project each point on the graph onto the y-axis, as shown in
Figure 2(b). Note that all points at and above zero are shaded on the y-axis. Thus,
the range of f is
Version: Fall 2007
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Chapter 5
y
10
y
10
f
f
x
10
x
10
(a) Domain = [2, ∞)
(b) Range = [0, ∞)
√
Figure 2. To
draw
the
graph
of
f
(x)
=
x − 2, shift the
√
graph of y = x two units to the right.
Range = [0, ∞) = {y : y ≥ 0}.
We can find the
√ domain of this function algebraically by examining its defining
equation f (x) = x − 2. We understand that we cannot take the square root of a
negative number. Therefore, the expression under the radical must be nonnegative
(positive or zero). That is,
x − 2 ≥ 0.
Solving this inequality for x,
x ≥ 2.
Thus, the domain of f is Domain = [2, ∞), which matches the graphical solution above.
The Pythagorean Theorem
Our review now focus’s on a very famous and practical theorem
Version: Fall 2007
Section 5.2
The Square Root 3
Pythagorean Theorem. Let c represent the length of the hypotenuse, the side
of a right triangle directly opposite the right angle (a right angle measures 90◦ ) of
the triangle. The remaining sides of the right triangle are called the legs of the
right triangle, whose lengths are designated by the letters a and b.
c
b
a
The relationship involving the legs and hypotenuse of the right triangle, given by
a2 + b2 = c2 ,
(5.2)
is called the Pythagorean Theorem.
Note that the Pythagorean Theorem can only be applied to right triangles.
Let’s look at a simple application of the Pythagorean Theorem (5.2).
I Example 2
Given that the length of one leg of a right triangle is 4 centimeters and the hypotenuse
has length 8 centimeters, find the length of the second leg.
Let’s begin by sketching and labeling a right triangle with the given information.
We will let x represent the length of the missing leg.
8 cm
4 cm
x
Figure 3.
bit easier.
A sketch makes things a
Here is an important piece of advice.
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Chapter 5
Tip 1
The hypotenuse is the longest side of the right triangle. It is located directly
opposite the right angle of the triangle. Most importantly, it is the quantity that
is isolated by itself in the Pythagorean Theorem.
a2 + b2 = c2
Always isolate the quantity representing the hypotenuse on one side of the equation. The legs go on the other side of the equation.
So, taking the tip to heart, and noting the lengths of the legs and hypotenuse in
Figure 3, we write
42 + x2 = 82 .
Square, then isolate x on one side of the equation.
16 + x2 = 64
x2 = 48
Normally, we would take plus or minus the square root in solving this equation, but x
represents the length of a leg, which must be a positive number. Hence, we take just
the positive square root of 48.
√
x = 48
√ √
x = 16 3
√
x=4 3
If need be, you can use your graphing calculator to approximate this length. To the
nearest hundredth of a centimeter, x ≈ 6.93 centimeters.
Applications of the Pythagorean Theorem
Let’s look at a few examples of the Pythagorean Theorem in action.
The practical applications of the Pythagorean Theorem are numerous.
I Example 3
A painter leans a 20 foot ladder against the wall of a house. The base of the ladder is
on level ground 5 feet from the wall of the house. How high up the wall of the house
Consider the triangle in Figure 4. The hypotenuse of the triangle represents the
ladder and has length 20 feet. The base of the triangle represents the distance of the
base of the ladder from the wall of the house and is 5 feet in length. The vertical leg
of the triangle is the distance the ladder reaches up the wall and the quantity we wish
to determine.
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Section 5.2
20
The Square Root 5
h
5
Figure 4. A ladder leans against the
wall of a house.
Applying the Pythagorean Theorem,
52 + h2 = 202 .
Again, note that the square of the length of the hypotenuse is the quantity that is
isolated on one side of the equation.
Next, square, then isolate the term containing h on one side of the equation by
subtracting 25 from both sides of the resulting equation.
25 + h2 = 400
h2 = 375
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Chapter 5
We need only extract the positive square root.
√
h = 375
√
We could place the solution in simple form, that is, h = 5 15, but the nature of the
problem warrants a decimal approximation. Using a calculator and rounding to the
nearest tenth of a foot,
h ≈ 19.4.
The Distance Formula
We often need to calculate the distance between two points P and Q in the plane.
Indeed, this is such a frequently recurring need, we’d like to develop a formula that
will quickly calculate the distance between the given points P and Q. Such a formula
is the goal of this last section.
Let P (x1 , y1 ) and Q(x2 , y2 ) be two arbitrary points in the plane, as shown in
Figure 5(a) and let d represent the distance between the two points.
y
y
Q(x2 , y2 )
Q(x2 , y2 )
d
d
x
P (x1 , y1 )
P (x1 , y1 )
(a)
Figure 5.
|x2 − x1 |
|y2 − y1 |
x
R(x2 , y1 )
(b)
Finding the distance between the points P and Q.
To find the distance d, first draw the right triangle 4P QR, with legs parallel to the
axes, as shown in Figure 5(b). Next, we need to find the lengths of the legs of the
right triangle 4P QR.
•
The distance between P and R is found by subtracting the x coordinate of P from
the x-coordinate of R and taking the absolute value of the result. That is, the
distance between P and R is |x2 − x1 |.
•
The distance between R and Q is found by subtracting the y-coordinate of R from
the y-coordinate of Q and taking the absolute value of the result. That is, the
distance between R and Q is |y2 − y1 |.
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Section 5.2
The Square Root 7
We can now use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate d. Thus,
d2 = (|x2 − x1 |)2 + (|y2 − y1 |)2 .
However, for any real number a,
(|a|)2 = |a| &middot; |a| = |a2 | = a2 ,
because a2 is nonnegative. Hence, (|x2 − x1 |)2 = (x2 − x1 )2 and (|y2 − y1 |)2 = (y2 − y1 )2
and we can write
d2 = (x2 − x1 )2 + (y2 − y1 )2 .
Taking the positive square root leads to the Distance Formula.
The Distance Formula. Let P (x1 , y1 ) and Q(x2 , y2 ) be two arbitrary points in
the plane. The distance d between the points P and Q is given by the formula
p
(5.3)
d = (x2 − x1 )2 + (y2 − y1 )2 .
The direction of subtraction is unimportant. Because you square the result of the
subtraction, you get the same response regardless of the direction of subtraction (e.g.
(5 − 2)2 = (2 − 5)2 ). Thus, it doesn’t matter which point you designate as the point
P , nor does it matter which point you designate as the point Q. Simply subtract xcoordinates and square, subtract y-coordinates and square, add, then take the square
root.
Let’s look at an example.
I Example 4
Find the distance between the points P (−4, −2) and Q(4, 4).
It helps the intuition if we draw a picture, as we have in Figure 6. One can now
take a compass and open it to the distance between points P and Q. Then you can
place your compass on the horizontal axis (or any horizontal gridline) to estimate the
distance between the points P and Q. We did that on our graph paper and estimate
the distance d ≈ 10.
Let’s now use the distance formula to obtain an exact value for the distance d. With
(x1 , y1 ) = P (−4, −2) and (x2 , y2 ) = Q(4, 4),
p
d = (x2 − x1 )2 + (y2 − y1 )2
p
= (4 − (−4))2 + (4 − (−2))2
p
= 82 + 6 2
√
= 64 + 36
√
= 100
= 10.
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Chapter 5
It’s not often that your exact result agrees with your approximation, so never worry if
you’re off by just a little bit.
y
Q(4, 4)
d
x
P (−4, −2)
Figure 6. Gauging the
P (−4, −2) and Q(4, 4).
Version: Fall 2007
distance
between
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