Quadratic Equations
An example of a Quadratic Equation:
Quadratic Equations make nice curves, like this one:
Name
The name Quadratic comes from "quad" meaning square, because the variable gets squared (like x^{2}).
It is also called an "Equation of Degree 2" (because of the "2" on the x)
Standard Form
The Standard Form of a Quadratic Equation looks like this:

Here are some more examples:
2x^{2} + 5x + 3 = 0  In this one a=2, b=5 and c=3  
x^{2} − 3x = 0 
This one is a little more tricky:


5x − 3 = 0  Oops! This one is not a quadratic equation: it is missing x^{2} (in other words a=0, which means it can't be quadratic) 
Hidden Quadratic Equations!
So the "Standard Form" of a Quadratic Equation is
ax^{2} + bx + c = 0
But sometimes a quadratic equation doesn't look like that! For example:
In disguise  →  In Standard Form  a, b and c 

x^{2} = 3x 1  Move all terms to left hand side  x^{2}  3x + 1 = 0  a=1, b=3, c=1 
2(w^{2}  2w) = 5  Expand (undo the brackets), and move 5 to left 
2w^{2}  4w  5 = 0  a=2, b=4, c=5 
z(z1) = 3  Expand, and move 3 to left  z^{2}  z  3 = 0  a=1, b=1, c=3 
5 + 1/x  1/x^{2} = 0  Multiply by x^{2 }  5x^{2} + x  1 = 0  a=5, b=1, c=1 
Have a Play With ItPlay with the "Quadratic Equation Explorer" so you can see:

How To Solve It?
The "solutions" to the Quadratic Equation are where it is equal to zero.
There are usually 2 solutions (as shown in the graph above).
They are also called "roots", or sometimes "zeros"
There are 3 ways to find the solutions:
Just plug in the values of a, b and c, and do the calculations.
We will look at this method in more detail now.
About the Quadratic Formula
Plus/Minus
First of all what is that plus/minus thing that looks like ± ?
The ± means there are TWO answers: Here is why we can get two answers: 
But sometimes we don't get two real answers, and the "Discriminant" shows why ...
Discriminant
Do you see b^{2}  4ac in the formula above? It is called the Discriminant, because it can "discriminate" between the possible types of answer:
Complex solutions? Let's talk about them after we see how to use the formula.
Using the Quadratic Formula
Just put the values of a, b and c into the Quadratic Formula, and do the calculations.
Example: Solve 5x² + 6x + 1 = 0
Coefficients are:  a = 5, b = 6, c = 1  
Quadratic Formula:  x = [ −b ± √(b^{2 }− 4ac) ] / 2a  
Put in a, b and c:  x = [ −6 ± √(6^{2} − 4×5×1) ] / (2×5)  
Solve:  x = [ −6 ± √(36^{}−20) ]/10  
x = [ −6 ± √(16) ]/10  
x = ( −6 ± 4 )/10  
x = −0.2 or −1 
Answer: x = 0.2 or x = 1
And we see them on this graph. 
Check 0.2:  5×(0.2)² + 6×(0.2) + 1 = 5×(0.04) + 6×(0.2) + 1 = 0.2 1.2 + 1 = 0 
Check 1:  5×(1)² + 6×(1) + 1 = 5×(1) + 6×(1) + 1 = 5  6 + 1 = 0 
Remembering The Formula
I don't know of an easy way to remember the Quadratic Formula, but a kind reader suggested singing it to "Pop Goes the Weasel":
♫  "x equals minus b  ♫  "All around the mulberry bush  
plus or minus the square root  The monkey chased the weasel  
of bsquared minus four a c  The monkey thought 'twas all in fun  
all over two a"  Pop! goes the weasel" 
Try singing it a few times and it will get stuck in your head!
Complex Solutions?
When the Discriminant (the value b^{2}  4ac) is negative we get Complex solutions ... what does that mean?
It means our answer will include Imaginary Numbers. Wow!
Example: Solve 5x² + 2x + 1 = 0
Coefficients are:  a = 5, b = 2, c = 1  
Note that The Discriminant is negative:  b^{2}  4ac = 2^{2}  4×5×1 = 16  
Use the Quadratic Formula:  x = [ 2 ± √(16) ] / 10  
The square root of 16 is 4i (i is √1, read Imaginary Numbers to find out more) 

So:  x = ( 2 ± 4i )/10 
Answer: x = 0.2 ± 0.4i
The graph does not cross the xaxis. That is why we ended up with complex numbers. 
In some ways it is easier: we don't need more calculation, just leave it as 0.2 ± 0.4i.
Summary
 Quadratic Equation in Standard Form: ax^{2} + bx + c = 0
 Quadratic Equations can be factored
 Quadratic Formula: x = [ b ± √(b^{2}4ac) ] / 2a
 When the Discriminant (b^{2}4ac) is:
 positive, there are 2 real solutions
 zero, there is one real solution
 negative, there are 2 complex solutions