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Math Help - [SOLVED] Inequality. If x is real, why does it mean this equation has real roots?

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    [SOLVED] Inequality. If x is real, why does it mean this equation has real roots?

    Hiya. There's an example in a book that I can follow the algebra of, but I don't quite understand the reasoning of one of the steps. The underlined part is the one and only part I don't understand. It would be great if someone could explain it some more.

    Here's what the book has:
    Q: If x is real, find the possible values of the function: \frac{x^2}{x+1}
    A: Use  y = \frac{x^2}{x+1} \Rightarrow x^2-yx-y=0
    Since x is real, the roots of this equation are real, so  b^2-4ac \ge 0

    Then there's a bit of algebra to get: y\le-4 or y\ge0

    The algebra's fine and I get that if the roots are real, then  b^2-4ac \ge 0, but I don't see why x being real means that that equation must have real roots.

    If anyone could help me get some more understanding of this, intuitive or otherwise, it'd be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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    By roots I assume they mean "values of y". Since x is real there exist integers m and n such that x=n/m.

     y = \frac{x^2}{x+1} = \frac{\frac{n^2}{m^2}}{\frac n m + 1}=\frac{n^2}{nm+m^2}=\frac a b where a=n^2 and b=nm+m^2 and a,b are both integers.

    Therefore, y must be real.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_Dave View Post
    Since x is real there exist integers m and n such that x=n/m.
    I'm not sure but I think that would only be true if the statement was "Since x is rational...".

    But x being real doesn't necessarily mean it can be represented by a fraction. Because x could be irrational at the same time as being real. If someone could confirm or deny that, it'd be appreciated. Thanks for the input either way, it's interesting to see people's approach to the problem. Would love to see more.
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    You're absolutely right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tleave2000 View Post
    Q: If x is real, find the possible values of the function: \frac{x^2}{x+1}
    A: Use  y = \frac{x^2}{x+1} \Rightarrow x^2-yx-y=0
    Since x is real, the roots of this equation are real, so  b^2-4ac \ge 0....
    You have defined x to be a real number. To solve the quadratic equation, you will apply the Quadratic Formula. This will give you an expression for x (in terms of y).

    Since x is defined as being real, then you cannot have a negative inside the square root in the Formula. Therefore the "b^2 - 4ac" part has to be non-negative.

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    Thanks that's good. Although I think it might have been a restatement of the part I had a problem with rather than quite explaining it, it might have helped me to specify my question better:

    Why does x being real force the discriminant of  x^2-yx-y=0 to be positive?
    The domain (x) has been real for all quadratic equations that I've dealt with so far, but I've found plenty of ones with no real roots. So why does this one have to have real roots, just because x is real?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tleave2000 View Post
    Why does x being real force the discriminant of  x^2-yx-y=0 to be positive?
    If the discriminant is negative, will the square root evaluate to a real number?

    Since x is real, and since x\,=\, \frac{-b\, \pm\, \sqrt{b^2\, -\, 4ac}}{2a}, can you have a value in the square root that is negative?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tleave2000 View Post
    Why does x being real force the discriminant of  x^2-yx-y=0 to be positive?
    The domain (x) has been real for all quadratic equations that I've dealt with so far, but I've found plenty of ones with no real roots. So why does this one have to have real roots, just because x is real?
    x is a root of the equation and we have defined x to be real. So any roots of the equation must be real. We do not consider values of y that produce non-real roots, for then x would not be real. Consequently, we take b^2-4ac\geq0.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reckoner View Post
    x is a root of the equation and we have defined x to be real.
    Ok I think I get it now, thanks : ).
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