Solving Rational Inequalities


A Rational Expression looks like:

Rational Expression


Sometimes we need to solve rational inequalities like these:

greater than
(x+1)/(3-x) > 2
less than
x/(x+7) < -3
greater than or equal to
(x-1)/(5-x) ≥ 0
less than or equal to
(3-2x)/(x-1) ≤ 2


Solving inequalities is very like solving equations ... you do most of the same things.

Graph of Rational Inequality
When we solve inequalities
we try to find interval(s),
such as the ones marked "<0" or ">0"

These are the steps:

Here is an example:

Example: (3x-10)/(x-4) > 2

First, let us simplify!

But You Cannot Multiply By (x-4)

Because "x-4" could be positive or negative ... we don't know if we should change the direction of the inequality or not. This is all explained on Solving Inequalities.

Instead, bring "2" to the left:

(3x-10)/(x-4) - 2 > 0

Then multiply 2 by (x-4)/(x-4):

(3x-10)/(x-4) - 2(x-4)/(x-4) > 0

Now we have a common denominator, let's bring it all together:

(3x-10-2x+8)/(x-4) > 0


(x-2)/(x-4) > 0


Second, let us find "points of interest".

At x=2 we have: (0)/(x-4) > 0, which is a "=0" point, or root

At x=4 we have: (x-2)/(0) > 0, which is undefined

Third, do test points to see what it does in between:

At x=0:

We can do the same for x=3 and x=5, and end up with these results:

  x=0 x=2 x=3 x=4 x=5
  x-2 < 0   x-2 > 0   x-2 > 0
  x-4 < 0   x-4 < 0   x-4 > 0
(x-2)/(x-4) is > 0 0 < 0 undefined > 0


That gives us a complete picture!

And where is it > 0 ?

So our result is:

(-∞, 2) U (4, +∞)

We did all that without drawing a plot!

But here is the plot of (x-2)/(x-4) so you can see:

Graph of Inequality