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Simplifying radical expressions: two variables

A worked example of simplifying elaborate expressions that contain radicals with two variables. In this example, we simplify √(60x²y)/√(48x). Created by Sal Khan and Monterey Institute for Technology and Education.

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Video transcript

We're asked to divide and simplify. And we have one radical expression over another radical expression. The key to simplify this is to realize if I have the principal root of x over the principal root of y, this is the same thing as the principal root of x over y. And it really just comes out of the exponent properties. If I have two things that I take to some power-- and taking the principal root is the same thing as taking it to the 1/2 power-- if I'm raising each of them to some power and then dividing, that's the same thing as dividing first and then raising them to that power. So let's apply that over here. This expression over here is going to be the same thing as the principal root-- it's hard to write a radical sign that big-- the principal root of 60x squared y over 48x. And then we can first look at the coefficients of each of these expressions and try to simplify that. Both the numerator and the denominator is divisible by 12. 60 divided by 12 is 5. 48 divided by 12 is 4. Both the numerator and the denominator are divisible by x. x squared divided by x is just x. x divided by x is 1. Anything we divide the numerator by, we have to divide the denominator by. And that's all we have left. So if we wanted to simplify this, this is equal to the-- make a radical sign-- and then we have 5/4. And actually, we can write it in a slightly different way, but I'll write it this way-- 5/4. And we have nothing left in the denominator other than that 4. And in the numerator, we have an x and we have a y. And now we could leave it just like that, but we might want to take more things out of the radical sign. And so one possibility that you can do is you could say that this is really the same thing as-- this is equal to 1/4 times 5xy, all of that under the radical sign. And this is the same thing as the square root of or the principal root of 1/4 times the principal root of 5xy. And the square root of 1/4, if you think about it, that's just 1/2 times 1/2. Or another way you could think about it is that this right here is the same thing as-- so you could just say, hey, this is 1/2. 1/2 times 1/2 is 1/4. Or if you don't realize it's 1/2, you say, hey, this is the same thing as the square root of 1 over the square root of 4, and the square root of 1 is 1 and the principal root of 4 is 2, so you get 1/2 once again. And so if you simplify this right here to 1/2, then the whole thing can simplify to 1/2 times the principal root-- I'll just write it all in orange-- times the principal root of 5xy. And there's nothing else that you can really take out of the radical sign here. Nothing else here is a perfect square.