Elementary Algebra 2e

# 2.6Solve a Formula for a Specific Variable

Elementary Algebra 2e2.6 Solve a Formula for a Specific Variable

## Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

• Use the Distance, Rate, and Time formula
• Solve a formula for a specific variable

## Be Prepared 2.16

Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.

Solve: $15t=120.15t=120.$
If you missed this problem, review Example 2.13.

## Be Prepared 2.17

Solve: $6x+24=96.6x+24=96.$
If you missed this problem, review Example 2.27.

## Use the Distance, Rate, and Time Formula

One formula you will use often in algebra and in everyday life is the formula for distance traveled by an object moving at a constant rate. Rate is an equivalent word for “speed.” The basic idea of rate may already familiar to you. Do you know what distance you travel if you drive at a steady rate of 60 miles per hour for 2 hours? (This might happen if you use your car’s cruise control while driving on the highway.) If you said 120 miles, you already know how to use this formula!

## Distance, Rate, and Time

For an object moving at a uniform (constant) rate, the distance traveled, the elapsed time, and the rate are related by the formula:

$d=rtwhered=distancer=ratet=timed=rtwhered=distancer=ratet=time$

We will use the Strategy for Solving Applications that we used earlier in this chapter. When our problem requires a formula, we change Step 4. In place of writing a sentence, we write the appropriate formula. We write the revised steps here for reference.

## How To

### Solve an application (with a formula).

1. Step 1. Read the problem. Make sure all the words and ideas are understood.
2. Step 2. Identify what we are looking for.
3. Step 3. Name what we are looking for. Choose a variable to represent that quantity.
4. Step 4. Translate into an equation. Write the appropriate formula for the situation. Substitute in the given information.
5. Step 5. Solve the equation using good algebra techniques.
6. Step 6. Check the answer in the problem and make sure it makes sense.
7. Step 7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.

You may want to create a mini-chart to summarize the information in the problem. See the chart in this first example.

## Example 2.58

Jamal rides his bike at a uniform rate of 12 miles per hour for $312312$ hours. What distance has he traveled?

## Try It 2.115

Lindsay drove for $512512$ hours at 60 miles per hour. How much distance did she travel?

## Try It 2.116

Trinh walked for $213213$ hours at 3 miles per hour. How far did she walk?

## Example 2.59

Rey is planning to drive from his house in San Diego to visit his grandmother in Sacramento, a distance of 520 miles. If he can drive at a steady rate of 65 miles per hour, how many hours will the trip take?

## Try It 2.117

Lee wants to drive from Phoenix to his brother’s apartment in San Francisco, a distance of 770 miles. If he drives at a steady rate of 70 miles per hour, how many hours will the trip take?

## Try It 2.118

Yesenia is 168 miles from Chicago. If she needs to be in Chicago in 3 hours, at what rate does she need to drive?

## Solve a Formula for a Specific Variable

You are probably familiar with some geometry formulas. A formula is a mathematical description of the relationship between variables. Formulas are also used in the sciences, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. In medicine they are used for calculations for dispensing medicine or determining body mass index. Spreadsheet programs rely on formulas to make calculations. It is important to be familiar with formulas and be able to manipulate them easily.

In Example 2.58 and Example 2.59, we used the formula $d=rtd=rt$. This formula gives the value of $dd$, distance, when you substitute in the values of $randtrandt$, the rate and time. But in Example 2.59, we had to find the value of $tt$. We substituted in values of $dandrdandr$ and then used algebra to solve for $tt$. If you had to do this often, you might wonder why there is not a formula that gives the value of $tt$ when you substitute in the values of $dandrdandr$. We can make a formula like this by solving the formula $d=rtd=rt$ for $tt$.

To solve a formula for a specific variable means to isolate that variable on one side of the equals sign with a coefficient of 1. All other variables and constants are on the other side of the equals sign. To see how to solve a formula for a specific variable, we will start with the distance, rate and time formula.

## Example 2.60

Solve the formula $d=rtd=rt$ for $tt$:

1. when $d=520d=520$ and $r=65r=65$
2. in general

## Try It 2.119

Solve the formula $d=rtd=rt$ for $rr$:

when $d=180andt=4d=180andt=4$ in general

## Try It 2.120

Solve the formula $d=rtd=rt$ for $rr$:

when $d=780andt=12d=780andt=12$ in general

## Example 2.61

Solve the formula $A=12bhA=12bh$ for $hh$:

when $A=90A=90$ and $b=15b=15$ in general

## Try It 2.121

Use the formula $A=12bhA=12bh$ to solve for $hh$:

when $A=170A=170$ and $b=17b=17$ in general

## Try It 2.122

Use the formula $A=12bhA=12bh$ to solve for $bb$:

when $A=62A=62$ and $h=31h=31$ in general

The formula $I=PrtI=Prt$ is used to calculate simple interest, I, for a principal, P, invested at rate, r, for t years.

## Example 2.62

Solve the formula $I=PrtI=Prt$ to find the principal, $PP$:

when $I=5,600,r=4%,t=7yearsI=5,600,r=4%,t=7years$ in general

## Try It 2.123

Use the formula $I=PrtI=Prt$ to find the principal, $PP$:

when $I=2,160,r=6%,t=3yearsI=2,160,r=6%,t=3years$ in general

## Try It 2.124

Use the formula $I=PrtI=Prt$ to find the principal,$PP$:

when $I=5,400,r=12%,t=5yearsI=5,400,r=12%,t=5years$ in general

Later in this class, and in future algebra classes, you’ll encounter equations that relate two variables, usually x and y. You might be given an equation that is solved for y and need to solve it for x, or vice versa. In the following example, we’re given an equation with both x and y on the same side and we’ll solve it for y.

## Example 2.63

Solve the formula $3x+2y=183x+2y=18$ for y:

when $x=4x=4$ in general

## Try It 2.125

Solve the formula $3x+4y=103x+4y=10$ for y:

when $x=143x=143$ in general

## Try It 2.126

Solve the formula $5x+2y=185x+2y=18$ for y:

when $x=4x=4$ in general

In Examples 1.60 through 1.64 we used the numbers in part as a guide to solving in general in part . Now we will solve a formula in general without using numbers as a guide.

## Example 2.64

Solve the formula $P=a+b+cP=a+b+c$ for $aa$.

## Try It 2.127

Solve the formula $P=a+b+cP=a+b+c$ for b.

## Try It 2.128

Solve the formula $P=a+b+cP=a+b+c$ for c.

## Example 2.65

Solve the formula $6x+5y=136x+5y=13$ for y.

## Try It 2.129

Solve the formula $4x+7y=94x+7y=9$ for y.

## Try It 2.130

Solve the formula $5x+8y=15x+8y=1$ for y.

## Section 2.6 Exercises

### Practice Makes Perfect

Use the Distance, Rate, and Time Formula

In the following exercises, solve.

376.

Steve drove for $812812$ hours at 72 miles per hour. How much distance did he travel?

377.

Socorro drove for $456456$ hours at 60 miles per hour. How much distance did she travel?

378.

Yuki walked for $134134$ hours at 4 miles per hour. How far did she walk?

379.

Francie rode her bike for $212212$ hours at 12 miles per hour. How far did she ride?

380.

Connor wants to drive from Tucson to the Grand Canyon, a distance of 338 miles. If he drives at a steady rate of 52 miles per hour, how many hours will the trip take?

381.

Megan is taking the bus from New York City to Montreal. The distance is 380 miles and the bus travels at a steady rate of 76 miles per hour. How long will the bus ride be?

382.

Aurelia is driving from Miami to Orlando at a rate of 65 miles per hour. The distance is 235 miles. To the nearest tenth of an hour, how long will the trip take?

383.

Kareem wants to ride his bike from St. Louis to Champaign, Illinois. The distance is 180 miles. If he rides at a steady rate of 16 miles per hour, how many hours will the trip take?

384.

Javier is driving to Bangor, 240 miles away. If he needs to be in Bangor in 4 hours, at what rate does he need to drive?

385.

Alejandra is driving to Cincinnati, 450 miles away. If she wants to be there in 6 hours, at what rate does she need to drive?

386.

Aisha took the train from Spokane to Seattle. The distance is 280 miles and the trip took 3.5 hours. What was the speed of the train?

387.

Philip got a ride with a friend from Denver to Las Vegas, a distance of 750 miles. If the trip took 10 hours, how fast was the friend driving?

Solve a Formula for a Specific Variable

In the following exercises, use the formula $d=rtd=rt$.

388.

Solve for $tt$ when $d=350d=350$ and $r=70r=70$ in general

389.

Solve for $tt$ when $d=240andr=60d=240andr=60$ in general

390.

Solve for $tt$ when $d=510andr=60d=510andr=60$ in general

391.

Solve for $tt$
when $d=175andr=50d=175andr=50$
in general

392.

Solve for $rr$
when $d=204andt=3d=204andt=3$ in general

393.

Solve for $rr$ when $d=420andt=6d=420andt=6$ in general

394.

Solve for $rr$ when $d=160andt=2.5d=160andt=2.5$ in general

395.

Solve for $rr$ when $d=180andt=4.5d=180andt=4.5$ in general

In the following exercises, use the formula $A=12bhA=12bh$.

396.

Solve for $bb$ when $A=126andh=18A=126andh=18$ in general

397.

Solve for $hh$
when $A=176andb=22A=176andb=22$ in general

398.

Solve for $hh$ when $A=375andb=25A=375andb=25$ in general

399.

Solve for $bb$ when $A=65andh=13A=65andh=13$ in general

In the following exercises, use the formula I = Prt.

400.

Solve for the principal, P for $I=5,480,r=4%,I=5,480,r=4%,$$t=7yearst=7years$ in general

401.

Solve for the principal, P for
$I=3,950,r=6%,I=3,950,r=6%,$$t=5yearst=5years$ in general

402.

Solve for the time, t for $I=2,376,P=9,000,I=2,376,P=9,000,$$r=4.4%r=4.4%$ in general

403.

Solve for the time, t for
$I=624,P=6,000,I=624,P=6,000,$$r=5.2%r=5.2%$ in general

In the following exercises, solve.

404.

Solve the formula $2x+3y=122x+3y=12$ for y when $x=3x=3$ in general

405.

Solve the formula $5x+2y=105x+2y=10$ for y when $x=4x=4$ in general

406.

Solve the formula $3x−y=73x−y=7$ for y when $x=−2x=−2$ in general

407.

Solve the formula $4x+y=54x+y=5$ for y when $x=−3x=−3$ in general

408.

Solve $a+b=90a+b=90$ for $bb$.

409.

Solve $a+b=90a+b=90$ for $aa$.

410.

Solve $180=a+b+c180=a+b+c$ for $aa$.

411.

Solve $180=a+b+c180=a+b+c$ for $cc$.

412.

Solve the formula $8x+y=158x+y=15$ for y.

413.

Solve the formula $9x+y=139x+y=13$ for y.

414.

Solve the formula $−4x+y=−6−4x+y=−6$ for y.

415.

Solve the formula $−5x+y=−1−5x+y=−1$ for y.

416.

Solve the formula $4x+3y=74x+3y=7$ for y.

417.

Solve the formula $3x+2y=113x+2y=11$ for y.

418.

Solve the formula $x−y=−4x−y=−4$ for y.

419.

Solve the formula $x−y=−3x−y=−3$ for y.

420.

Solve the formula $P=2L+2WP=2L+2W$ for $LL$.

421.

Solve the formula $P=2L+2WP=2L+2W$ for $WW$.

422.

Solve the formula $C=πdC=πd$ for $dd$.

423.

Solve the formula $C=πdC=πd$ for $ππ$.

424.

Solve the formula $V=LWHV=LWH$ for $LL$.

425.

Solve the formula $V=LWHV=LWH$ for $HH$.

### Everyday Math

426.

Converting temperature While on a tour in Greece, Tatyana saw that the temperature was 40o Celsius. Solve for F in the formula $C=59(F−32)C=59(F−32)$ to find the Fahrenheit temperature.

427.

Converting temperature Yon was visiting the United States and he saw that the temperature in Seattle one day was 50o Fahrenheit. Solve for C in the formula $F=95C+32F=95C+32$ to find the Celsius temperature.

### Writing Exercises

428.

Solve the equation $2x+3y=62x+3y=6$ for $yy$ when $x=−3x=−3$ in general Which solution is easier for you, or ? Why?

429.

Solve the equation $5x−2y=105x−2y=10$ for $xx$ when $y=10y=10$ in general
Which solution is easier for you, or ? Why?

### Self Check

After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.

What does this checklist tell you about your mastery of this section? What steps will you take to improve?