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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Solve a system of equations by elimination
  • Solve applications of systems of equations by elimination
  • Choose the most convenient method to solve a system of linear equations

Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.

  1. Simplify −5 ( 6 3 a ) .
    If you missed this problem, review [link] .
  2. Solve the equation 1 3 x + 5 8 = 31 24 .
    If you missed this problem, review [link] .

We have solved systems of linear equations by graphing and by substitution. Graphing works well when the variable coefficients are small and the solution has integer values. Substitution works well when we can easily solve one equation for one of the variables and not have too many fractions in the resulting expression.

The third method of solving systems of linear equations is called the Elimination Method. When we solved a system by substitution, we started with two equations and two variables and reduced it to one equation with one variable. This is what we’ll do with the elimination method, too, but we’ll have a different way to get there.

Solve a system of equations by elimination

The Elimination Method is based on the Addition Property of Equality. The Addition Property of Equality says that when you add the same quantity to both sides of an equation, you still have equality. We will extend the Addition Property of Equality to say that when you add equal quantities to both sides of an equation, the results are equal.

For any expressions a , b , c , and d ,

if a = b and c = d then a + c = b + d

To solve a system of equations by elimination, we start with both equations in standard form. Then we decide which variable will be easiest to eliminate. How do we decide? We want to have the coefficients of one variable be opposites, so that we can add the equations together and eliminate that variable.

Notice how that works when we add these two equations together:

3 x + y = 5 2 x y = 0 _________ 5 x = 5

The y ’s add to zero and we have one equation with one variable.

Let’s try another one:

{ x + 4 y = 2 2 x + 5 y = −2

This time we don’t see a variable that can be immediately eliminated if we add the equations.

But if we multiply the first equation by −2, we will make the coefficients of x opposites. We must multiply every term on both sides of the equation by −2.

This figure shows two equations. The first is negative 2 times x plus 4y in parentheses equals negative 2 times 2. The second is 2x + 5y = negative 2. This figure shows two equations. The first is negative 2x minus 8y = negative 4. The second is 2x + 5y = -negative 2.

Now we see that the coefficients of the x terms are opposites, so x will be eliminated when we add these two equations.

Add the equations yourself—the result should be −3 y = −6. And that looks easy to solve, doesn’t it? Here is what it would look like.

This figure shows two equations being added together. The first is negative 2x – 8y = −4 and 2x plus 5y = negative 2. The answer is negative 3y = negative 6.

We’ll do one more:

{ 4 x 3 y = 10 3 x + 5 y = −7

It doesn’t appear that we can get the coefficients of one variable to be opposites by multiplying one of the equations by a constant, unless we use fractions. So instead, we’ll have to multiply both equations by a constant.

We can make the coefficients of x be opposites if we multiply the first equation by 3 and the second by −4, so we get 12 x and −12 x .

This figure shows two equations. The first is 3 times 4x minus 3y in parentheses equals 3 times 10. The second is negative 4 times 3x plus 5y in parentheses equals negative 4 times negative 7.

This gives us these two new equations:

{ 12 x 9 y = 30 −12 x 20 y = 28

When we add these equations,

{ 12 x 9 y = 30 −12 x 20 y = 28 _____________ 29 y = 58

the x ’s are eliminated and we just have −29 y = 58.

Questions & Answers

help me understand graphs
Marlene Reply
what kind of graphs?
bruce
function f(x) to find each value
Marlene
I am in algebra 1. Can anyone give me any ideas to help me learn this stuff. Teacher and tutor not helping much.
Marlene
Given f(x)=2x+2, find f(2) so you replace the x with the 2, f(2)=2(2)+2, which is f(2)=6
Melissa
if they say find f(5) then the answer would be f(5)=12
Melissa
I need you to help me Melissa. Wish I can show you my homework
Marlene
How is f(1) =0 I am really confused
Marlene
what's the formula given? f(x)=?
Melissa
It shows a graph that I wish I could send photo of to you on here
Marlene
Which problem specifically?
Melissa
which problem?
Melissa
I don't know any to be honest. But whatever you can help me with for I can practice will help
Marlene
I got it. sorry, was out and about. I'll look at it now.
Melissa
Thank you. I appreciate it because my teacher assumes I know this. My teacher before him never went over this and several other things.
Marlene
I just responded.
Melissa
Thank you
Marlene
-65r to the 4th power-50r cubed-15r squared+8r+23 ÷ 5r
WENDY Reply
write in this form a/b answer should be in the simplest form 5%
August Reply
convert to decimal 9/11
August
Equation in the form of a pending point y+2=1/6(×-4)
Jose Reply
write in simplest form 3 4/2
August
definition of quadratic formula
Ahmed Reply
From Google: The quadratic formula, , is used in algebra to solve quadratic equations (polynomial equations of the second degree). The general form of a quadratic equation is , where x represents a variable, and a, b, and c are constants, with . A quadratic equation has two solutions, called roots.
Melissa
what is the answer of w-2.6=7.55
What Reply
10.15
Michael
w = 10.15 You add 2.6 to both sides and then solve for w (-2.6 zeros out on the left and leaves you with w= 7.55 + 2.6)
Korin
Nataly is considering two job offers. The first job would pay her $83,000 per year. The second would pay her $66,500 plus 15% of her total sales. What would her total sales need to be for her salary on the second offer be higher than the first?
Mckenzie Reply
x > $110,000
bruce
greater than $110,000
Michael
Estelle is making 30 pounds of fruit salad from strawberries and blueberries. Strawberries cost $1.80 per pound, and blueberries cost $4.50 per pound. If Estelle wants the fruit salad to cost her $2.52 per pound, how many pounds of each berry should she use?
nawal Reply
$1.38 worth of strawberries + $1.14 worth of blueberries which= $2.52
Leitha
how
Zaione
is it right😊
Leitha
lol maybe
Robinson
8 pound of blueberries and 22 pounds of strawberries
Melissa
8 pounds x 4.5 = 36 22 pounds x 1.80 = 39.60 36 + 39.60 = 75.60 75.60 / 30 = average 2.52 per pound
Melissa
8 pounds x 4.5 equal 36 22 pounds x 1.80 equal 39.60 36 + 39.60 equal 75.60 75.60 / 30 equal average 2.52 per pound
Melissa
hmmmm...... ?
Robinson
8 pounds x 4.5 = 36 22 pounds x 1.80 = 39.60 36 + 39.60 = 75.60 75.60 / 30 = average 2.52 per pound
Melissa
The question asks how many pounds of each in order for her to have an average cost of $2.52. She needs 30 lb in all so 30 pounds times $2.52 equals $75.60. that's how much money she is spending on the fruit. That means she would need 8 pounds of blueberries and 22 lbs of strawberries to equal 75.60
Melissa
good
Robinson
👍
Leitha
thanks Melissa.
Leitha
nawal let's do another😊
Leitha
we can't use emojis...I see now
Leitha
Sorry for the multi post. My phone glitches.
Melissa
Vina has $4.70 in quarters, dimes and nickels in her purse. She has eight more dimes than quarters and six more nickels than quarters. How many of each coin does she have?
Mckenzie Reply
10 quarters 16 dimes 12 nickels
Leitha
A private jet can fly 1,210 miles against a 25 mph headwind in the same amount of time it can fly 1,694 miles with a 25 mph tailwind. Find the speed of the jet.
Crispy Reply
wtf. is a tail wind or headwind?
Robert
48 miles per hour with headwind and 68 miles per hour with tailwind
Leitha
average speed is 58 mph
Leitha
Into the wind (headwind), 125 mph; with wind (tailwind), 175 mph. Use time (t) = distance (d) ÷ rate (r). since t is equal both problems, then 1210/(x-25) = 1694/(×+25). solve for x gives x=150.
bruce
the jet will fly 9.68 hours to cover either distance
bruce
Riley is planning to plant a lawn in his yard. He will need 9 pounds of grass seed. He wants to mix Bermuda seed that costs $4.80 per pound with Fescue seed that costs $3.50 per pound. How much of each seed should he buy so that the overall cost will be $4.02 per pound?
Vonna Reply
33.336
Robinson
Amber wants to put tiles on the backsplash of her kitchen counters. She will need 36 square feet of tiles. She will use basic tiles that cost $8 per square foot and decorator tiles that cost $20 per square foot. How many square feet of each tile should she use so that the overall cost of the backsplash will be $10 per square foot?
Imaan Reply
Ivan has $8.75 in nickels and quarters in his desk drawer. The number of nickels is twice the number of quarters. How many coins of each type does he have?
mikayla Reply
2q=n ((2q).05) + ((q).25) = 8.75 .1q + .25q = 8.75 .35q = 8.75 q = 25 quarters 2(q) 2 (25) = 50 nickles Answer check 25 x .25 = 6.25 50 x .05 = 2.50 6.25 + 2.50 = 8.75
Melissa
John has $175 in $5 and $10 bills in his drawer. The number of $5 bills is three times the number of $10 bills. How many of each are in the drawer?
mikayla Reply
7-$10 21-$5
Robert
Enrique borrowed $23,500 to buy a car. He pays his uncle 2% interest on the $4,500 he borrowed from him, and he pays the bank 11.5% interest on the rest. What average interest rate does he pay on the total $23,500? (Round your answer to the nearest tenth of a percent.)
Parker Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Elementary algebra. OpenStax CNX. Jan 18, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12116/1.2
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