2.6: Division of Rational Numbers
Learning Objectives
 Find multiplicative inverses.
 Divide rational numbers.
 Solve realworld problems using division.
Introduction – Identity elements
An identity element is a number which, when combined with a mathematical operation on a number, leaves that number unchanged. For addition and subtraction, the identity element is zero.
The inverse operation of addition is subtraction.
When you add a number to its opposite, you get the identity element for addition.
You can see that the addition of an opposite is an equivalent operation to subtraction.
For multiplication and division, the identity element is one.
In this lesson, we will learn about multiplying by a multiplicative inverse as an equivalent operation to division. Just as we can use opposites to turn a subtraction problem into an addition problem, we can use reciprocals to turn a division problem into a multiplication problem.
Find Multiplicative Inverses
The multiplicative inverse of a number,
Look at the following multiplication problem:
Simplify
We know that we can cancel terms that appear on both the numerator and the denominator. Remember we leave a one when we cancel all terms on either the numerator or denominator!
It is clear that
To find the multiplicative inverse of a rational number, we simply invert the fraction.
The multiplicative inverse of
Example 1
Find the multiplicative inverse of each of the following.
a)
b)
c)
d)
e)
a) Solution
The multiplicative inverse of
b) Solution
The multiplicative inverse of
c) To find the multiplicative inverse of
Solution
The multiplicative inverse of
d) Do not let the negative sign confuse you. The multiplicative inverse of a negative number is also negative!
Solution
The multiplicative inverse of
e) The multiplicative inverse of
Solution
The multiplicative inverse of
Look again at the last example. When we took the multiplicative inverse of
The multiplicative inverse of a whole number is one divided that number.
Remember the idea of the invisible denominator. The idea that every integer is actually a rational number whose denominator is one.
Divide Rational Numbers
Division can be thought of as the inverse process of multiplication. If we multiply a number by seven, we can divide the answer by seven to return to the original number. Another way to return to our original number is to multiply the answer by the multiplicative inverse of seven.
In this way, we can simplify the process of dividing rational numbers. We can turn a division problem into a multiplication process by replacing the divisor (the number we are dividing by) with its multiplicative inverse, or reciprocal.
To divide rational numbers, invert the divisor and multiply
Also,
Example 2
Divide the following rational numbers, giving your answer in the simplest form.
a)
b)
c)
d)
a) Replace
Solution
b) Replace
Solution
c) eplace
Solution
d) Replace
Solution
Solve RealWorld Problems Using Division
Speed, Distance and Time
An object moving at a certain speed will cover a fixed distance in a set time. The quantities speed, distance and time are related through the equation:
Example 3
Andrew is driving down the freeway. He passes mile marker 27 at exactly midday. At 12:35 he passes mile marker 69. At what speed, in miles per hour, is Andrew traveling?
To determine speed, we need the distance traveled and the time taken. If we want our speed to come out in miles per hour, we will need distance in miles and time in hours.
We now plug in the values for distance and time into our equation for speed.
Solution
Andrew is driving at 72 miles per hour.
Example 4
Anne runs a mile and a half in a quarter hour. What is her speed in miles per hour?
We already have the distance and time in the correct units (miles and hours). We simply write each as a rational number and plug them into the equation.
Solution
Anne runs at 6 miles per hour.
Example 5 – Newton’s Second Law
Newton’s second law
First, we rearrange our equation to isolate the acceleraion,
Solution
The resultant acceleration is
Lesson Summary
 The multiplicative inverse of a number is the number which produces one when multiplied by the original number. The multiplicative inverse of
x is the reciprocal1x .  To find the multiplicative inverse of a rational number, we simply invert the fraction:
ab inverts toba .  To divide rational numbers, invert the divisor and multiply
ab÷cd=ab×dc .
Review Questions
 Find the multiplicative inverse of each of the following.
 100

28 
−1921  7

−z32xy2
 Divide the following rational numbers, be sure that your answer in the simplest form.

52÷14 
12÷79 
511÷67 
12÷12 
−x2÷57 
12÷x4y 
(−13)÷(−35) 
72÷74 
11÷(−x4)

 The label on a can of paint states that it will cover 50 square feet per pint. If I buy a
18 pint sample, it will cover a square two feet long by three feet high. Is the coverage I get more, less or the same as that stated on the label?  The world’s largest trench digger, “Bagger 288”, moves at
38 mph. How long will it take to dig a trench23 mile long?  A
27 Newton force applied to a body of unknown mass produces an acceleration of310 m/s2 . Calculate the mass of the body. Note:Newton=kg m/s2 .
Review Answers


1101 
28 
−2119 
17 
−2xy2z3
 10

914 
3566  1

−7x10 
2yx 
59  2

−44x

 At 48 square feet per pint
I get less coverage. 
Time=169 hour (1 hr 46 min 40 sec) 
mass=2021 kg
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