Hey jwu.

Consider a + SQRT(b) = c + SQRT(d) then a - c = SQRT(b) - SQRT(d). Now if a and c are rational then a - c is also rational but if SQRT(b) - SQRT(d) is irrational (two numbers added or subtracted are irrational) then the only time when this can happen is when both sides are equal to 0.

Hence you get the result.