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# why can't I divide by |y| ?

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Senior Manager
Joined: 12 May 2010
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Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Technology
GMAT Date: 10-22-2011
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why can't I divide by |y| ? [#permalink]

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31 Oct 2011, 15:21
I don't understand why I can't divide by |y| here when rephrasing... can anyone help?

This is an MGMAT CAT question... They say this -->

"It is extremely tempting to divide both sides of this inequality by y or by the |y|, to come up with a rephrased question of “is x > y?” However, we do not know the sign of y, so this cannot be done. "

I thought you COULD divide y^2 by |y|, because |y| is positive?
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Re: why can't I divide by |y| ? [#permalink]

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31 Oct 2011, 20:09
n2739178 wrote:
I don't understand why I can't divide by |y| here when rephrasing... can anyone help?

This is an MGMAT CAT question... They say this -->

"It is extremely tempting to divide both sides of this inequality by y or by the |y|, to come up with a rephrased question of “is x > y?” However, we do not know the sign of y, so this cannot be done. "

I thought you COULD divide y^2 by |y|, because |y| is positive?

Yes, you can divide by |y| since it is positive. I think all they are trying to say is that you cannot rephrase the question as "Is x > y"

If you divide by |y|, you will get "Is $$x > y*\frac{y}{|y|}$$?"
You have to keep in mind that y/|y| can be 1 or -1 depending on whether y is positive or negative.
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Karishma
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Get started with Veritas Prep GMAT On Demand for $199 Veritas Prep Reviews Math Forum Moderator Joined: 20 Dec 2010 Posts: 2021 Followers: 157 Kudos [?]: 1556 [0], given: 376 Re: why can't I divide by |y| ? [#permalink] ### Show Tags 01 Nov 2011, 02:41 n2739178 wrote: I don't understand why I can't divide by |y| here when rephrasing... can anyone help? This is an MGMAT CAT question... They say this --> "It is extremely tempting to divide both sides of this inequality by y or by the |y|, to come up with a rephrased question of “is x > y?” However, we do not know the sign of y, so this cannot be done. " I thought you COULD divide y^2 by |y|, because |y| is positive? |y| can be 0 as well. Division by 0 is undefined. _________________ Veritas Prep GMAT Instructor Joined: 16 Oct 2010 Posts: 6827 Location: Pune, India Followers: 1917 Kudos [?]: 11920 [0], given: 221 Re: why can't I divide by |y| ? [#permalink] ### Show Tags 01 Nov 2011, 04:05 fluke wrote: |y| can be 0 as well. Division by 0 is undefined. Yes, you are right. Division by 0 is undefined. But its relevance in this question is very limited since statement 2 states that y > 0. You know that the two statements never conflict so you don't really need to worry about y = 0. Even if this condition were not mentioned, instead of wondering whether x*|y| > y^2, I would find it far easier to work with x > y*y/|y| since the variables are separated here. I can separately worry about the condition "y=0" if it is possible in a particular question. My question will be: Is $$x > y*y/|y|$$? I will think, "y/|y| can be 1 or -1 (assuming y is not 0)" Statement 1 says x > y. Then can I say that x > -y too (in case y/|y| = -1)? Not necessarily. If y is negative, it may not hold. e.g. x = 3, y = -4 y/|y| = -1 x is greater than y but x (=3) is not greater than y*y/|y| (=4) I don't really need to worry about y = 0 here. Statement 2 clarifies that y is positive. Now we know that y/|y| = 1 Since statement 1 says x > y, it is sufficient to say x > y*y/|y|. _________________ Karishma Veritas Prep | GMAT Instructor My Blog Get started with Veritas Prep GMAT On Demand for$199

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Senior Manager
Joined: 12 May 2010
Posts: 288
Location: United Kingdom
Concentration: Entrepreneurship, Technology
GMAT Date: 10-22-2011
GPA: 3
WE: Information Technology (Internet and New Media)
Followers: 4

Kudos [?]: 52 [0], given: 12

Re: why can't I divide by |y| ? [#permalink]

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03 Nov 2011, 13:48
great thanks guys!
Re: why can't I divide by |y| ?   [#permalink] 03 Nov 2011, 13:48
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