Differential Equations Workbook For Dummies
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You can use the algebraic technique of factoring to solve “real” limit problems. All algebraic methods involve the same basic idea. When substitution doesn’t work in the original function — usually because of a hole in the function — you can use algebra to manipulate the function until substitution does work (it works because your manipulation plugs up the hole).

Here’s an example of solving a limit by factoring:

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  1. Try plugging 5 into xyou should always try substitution first.

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  2. Factor:

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  3. Cancel the (x – 5) from the numerator and denominator.

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  4. Now substitution will work.

    = 5 + 5

    = 10

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And note that the limit as x approaches 5 is 10, which is the height of the hole at (5, 10).

About This Article

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About the book author:

Steven Holzner was an award-winning author of more than 130 books, of which more than 2 million copies have been sold. His books have been translated into 23 languages. He served on the Physics faculty at Cornell University for more than a decade, teaching both Physics 101 and Physics 102. Holzner received his doctorate in physics from Cornell and performed his undergraduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also served as a faculty member.

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