Yes, this is a neat little way to work with inequalities where factors are multiplied or divided. And, it has a solid reasoning behind it which I will just explain.

If (x-a)(x-b)(x-c)(x-d) < 0, we can draw the points a, b, c and d on the number line.

e.g. Given (x+2)(x-1)(x-7)(x-4) < 0, draw the points -2, 1, 7 and 4 on the number line as shown.

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This divides the number line into 5 regions. Values of x in right most region will always give you positive value of the expression. The reason for this is that if x > 7, all factors above will be positive.

When you jump to the next region between x = 4 and x = 7, value of x here give you negative value for the entire expression because now, (x - 7) will be negative since x < 7 in this region. All other factors are still positive.

When you jump to the next region on the left between x = 1 and x = 4, expression will be positive again because now two factors (x - 7) and (x - 4) are negative, but negative x negative is positive... and so on till you reach the leftmost section.

Since we are looking for values of x where the expression is < 0, here the solution will be -2 < x < 1 or 4< x < 7

It should be obvious that it will also work in cases where factors are divided.

e.g. (x - a)(x - b)/(x - c)(x - d) < 0

(x + 2)(x - 1)/(x -4)(x - 7) < 0 will have exactly the same solution as above.

Note: If, rather than < or > sign, you have <= or >=, in division, the solution will differ slightly. I will leave it for you to figure out why and how. Feel free to get back to me if you want to confirm your conclusion.

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Karishma

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