Understanding inequalities

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For any two real numbers a and b, one of three possibilities exists: either a is less than b(a < b), a is equal to b (a = b), or a is greater than b (a>b). a > b or b > a(quote needed or not) is an inequality. Inequalities can also involve equations, and these equations can be solved to arrive at a solution i.e. a range of values that satisfies the inequality.

Inequality Signs

> means greater than

< means less than

≥ means greater than or equal to

≤ means less than or equal to

 

Properties of inequalities

Trichotomy Property

For any real two numbers a and b, only one of the following can be true.

a < b

a = b

a > b

 

Transitive properties of inequality

If a < b and b < c, then a < c

If a > b and b > c, then a > c.

 

Properties of addition and subtraction

An equal quantity may be added to or subtracted from both sides of an inequality without changing the inequality.

If a < b, then a + c < b + c

If a > b, then a + c > b + c

If a < b, then a – c < b – c

If a > b, then a – c < b – c

 

Properties of multiplication and division

i. An equal positive quantity may multiply or divide both sides of an inequality without changing the inequality.

If a < b and c > 0, then ac < bc and (a/c) < (b/c)

If a > b and c > 0, then ac > bc and  (a/c) > (b/c)

ii. If both sides of an inequality are multiplied or divided by a negative quantity, then the inequality is reversed.

If a < b and c < 0, then ac > bc and (a/c) > (b/c)

If a > b and c < 0, then ac < bc and  (a/c) < (b/c)

 

Important inequalities

  1. a2 + b2 ≥2ab  (Equality for a = b)
  2. Arithmetic mean ≥Geometric mean≥ Harmonic meanArithmetic mean ≥ Geometric mean≥ Harmonic mean
  3. a2 + b2 + c2 ≥ ab + bc + ca
  4. a3 + b3 ≥ ab(a+b) if a > 0 and b > 0, the equality being obtained only when a = b.
  5. If a + b =2, then a4 + b4 ≥ 2.
  6. 2n > n2 for n ≥ 5

 

Modulus or absolute value

The absolute value of a real number is its numerical value without regard to its sign. In other words, the absolute value of a real number, from an analytical geometry perspective, is that number’s distance from zero along the number line.  For any real number ‘a’ the absolute value or modulus of ‘a’ is denoted by |a| and is defined as

Properties of modulus


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