Rational numbers are numbers that can be expressed as the ratio of two integers. Rational numbers follow the rules of arithmetic and all rational numbers can be reduced to the form , where and .
Rational numbers are often denoted by . These numbers are a subset of the real numbers, which comprise the complete number line and are often denoted by . Real numbers that cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers are called irrational numbers.
1. Determine the value of .
The line over denotes that it is a repeating decimal, of the form .
Solution. Let . Then , and taking the sum, we obtain
2. Show that is not rational.
Solution: We give a proof by contradiction. If is rational, then , implying is also rational. Since , we obtain is rational. Thus, is also rational, which is a contradiction.
We generalize the result that is rational if and only if is a perfect square.
Theorem. Given integers and , if is rational, then is an integer. In particular, the only rational roots of integers are the integers.
Proof: Let , where and are coprime integers. Then taking powers and clearing denominators gives . If is a prime that divides , then divides , so divides and thus divides . Since and are coprime, there is no prime that divides both and . Hence, no prime divides , implying . Therefore, is an integer.
Rational Root Theorem. If has a rational root of the form with , then and .
Proof: Suppose is a root of . Then
By shifting the term to the right hand side, and multiplying throughout by , we obtain . Notice that the left hand side is a multiple of , thus . Since , Euclid's Lemma implies .
Similarly, if we shift the term to the right hand side and multiply throughout by , we obtain Note that the left hand side is a multiple of , thus . Since , Euclid's Lemma implies .
In particular, this tells us that if we want to check for 'nice' rational roots of a polynomial , we only need to check finitely many numbers of the form , where and . This is a great tool for factorizing polynomials.
Integer Root Theorem. If is a monic polynomial (leading coefficient of 1), then the rational roots of must be integers.
Proof: By the rational root theorem, if is a root of , then . But since by assumption, hence and thus is an integer.
1. Factorize the cubic polynomial .
By the rational root theorem, any rational root of has the form where and . Thus, we only need to try the numbers . We see that
Hence, by the remainder-factor theorem, is a factor of , implying . We can then use the quadratic formula to factorize the quadratic if irrational roots are desired.
2. Using the rational root theorem, show that is not rational.
Since is a root of the polynomial , the rational root theorem tells us that the rational roots of are of the form . It is easy to check that none of these are roots of , hence has no rational roots. Thus, is not rational.
3. Show that if is a positive rational such that is an integer, then must be an integer.
Let , where is an integer. This is equivalent to finding the roots of . Since is a monic polynomial, by the integer root theorem, if is a rational root of , then it is an integer root.
4. Prove Theorem 1 using the Rational Root Theorem.
Consider the polynomial . By the rational root theorem, if is a rational root of , then we must have , and hence (or -1). Thus, is an integer. [Pop Quiz: Give a 1 line proof of Theorem 1 using the Integer Root Theorem].