6.5: Compound Inequalities
What if you spent 2 more hours doing your homework this week than you spent last week? If the number of hours that you spent last week is represented by
Guidance
Inequalities that relate to the same topic can be written as a compound inequality. A compound inequality involves the connecting words “and” and “or.”
The word and in mathematics means the intersection between the sets.
“What the sets have in common.”
The word or in mathematics means the union of the sets.
“Combining both sets into one large set.”
Inequalities Involving “And”
Consider, for example, the speed limit situation from the previous Concept. Using interval notation, the solutions to this situation can be written as [0, 65]. As an inequality, what is being said it this:
The speed must be at least 0 mph and at most 65 mph.
Using inequalities to represent “at least” and “at most,” the following sentences are written:
This is an example of a compound inequality. It can be shortened by writing:
Example A
Graph the solutions to
Solution: Color in a circle above –40 to represent “less than or equal to.” Draw an uncolored circle above 60. The variable is placed between these two values, so the solutions occur between these two numbers.
Inequalities Involving “Or”
A restaurant offers discounts to children 3 years or younger or to adults over 65. Write an inequality for the possible ages eligible to receive the discount.
Begin by writing an inequality to represent each piece. “3 years or younger” means you must be born but must not have celebrated your fourth birthday.
“Adults over 65” implies
The word or between the phrases allows you to graph all the possibilities on one number line.
Solving “And” Compound Inequalities
When we solve compound inequalities, we separate the inequalities and solve each of them separately. Then, we combine the solutions at the end.
Example B
Solve for
Solution:
To solve
The answers are
Solving “Or” Compound Inequalities
To solve an “or” compound inequality, separate the individual inequalities. Solve each separately. Then combine the solutions to finish the problem.
Example C
Solve for
Solution:
To solve
The answers are
Using a Graphing Calculator to Solve Compound Inequalities
As you have seen in previous Concepts, graphing calculators can be used to solve many complex algebraic sentences.
Example D
Solve
Solution:
This is a compound inequality:
To enter a compound inequality:
Press the [Y=] button.
The inequality symbols are found by pressing [TEST] [2nd] [MATH]
Enter the inequality as:
To enter the [AND] symbol, press [TEST]. Choose [LOGIC] on the top row and then select option 1.
The resulting graph is as shown below.
The solutions are the values of
In this case,
Guided Practice
Graph the solution set for
Solution:
Start by solving for
Practice
Sample explanations for some of the practice exercises below are available by viewing the following video. Note that there is not always a match between the number of the practice exercise in the video and the number of the practice exercise listed in the following exercise set. However, the practice exercise is the same in both. CK12 Basic Algebra: Compound Inequalities (11:45)
 Describe the solution set to a compound inequality joined by the word “and.”
 How would your answer to question #1 change if the joining word was “or.”
 Write the process used to solve a compound inequality.
Write the compound inequalities represented by the following graphs.
Graph each compound inequality on a number line.

−4≤x≤6 
x<0 orx>2 
x≥−8 orx≤−20 
−15<x≤85
In 15 – 30, solve the following compound inequalities and graph the solution on a number line.

−5≤x−4≤13 
−2<4x−5≤11 
x−26≤2x−4 orx−26>x+5 
1≤3x+4≤4 
−12≤2−5x≤7 
34≤2x+9≤32 
−2<2x−13<−1 
5x+2(x−3)≥2 
3x+2≤10 or3x+2≥15 
4x−1≥7 or \begin{align*}\frac{9x}{2} < 3\end{align*}  \begin{align*}3x < 4\end{align*} or \begin{align*}3x > 10\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}\frac{2x+3}{4} < 2\end{align*} or \begin{align*}\frac{x}{5}+3\frac{2}{5}\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}2x  7 \le 3\end{align*} or \begin{align*}2x  3 > 11\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}6d>48\end{align*} or \begin{align*}10+d>11\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}6+b<8\end{align*} or \begin{align*}b+6 \ge 6\end{align*}
 \begin{align*}4x+3 \le 9\end{align*} or \begin{align*}5x+4 \le 12\end{align*}
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compound inequalities
Inequalities that relate to the same topic can be written as a compound inequality. A compound inequality involves the connecting words and and or.intersection
The word and in mathematics means the intersection between the sets. What the sets have in common.union
The word or in mathematics means the union of the sets.Combining both sets into one large set.Image Attributions
Here you'll learn how to find the solution to a compound inequality and graph it, as well as how to use a graphing calculator to solve the inequality.