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Mathematics LibreTexts

3.6: Solve Applications with Linear Inequalities

  • Page ID
    18945
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    Learning Objectives

    By the end of this section, you will be able to:

    • Solve applications with linear inequalities

    Note

    Before you get started, take this readiness quiz.

    1. Write as an inequality: x is at least 30.
      If you missed this problem, review Exercise 2.7.34.
    2. Solve \(8−3y<41\).
      If you missed this problem, review Exercise 2.7.22.

    Solve Applications with Linear Inequalities

    Many real-life situations require us to solve inequalities. In fact, inequality applications are so common that we often do not even realize we are doing algebra. For example, how many gallons of gas can be put in the car for $20? Is the rent on an apartment affordable? Is there enough time before class to go get lunch, eat it, and return? How much money should each family member’s holiday gift cost without going over budget?

    The method we will use to solve applications with linear inequalities is very much like the one we used when we solved applications with equations. We will read the problem and make sure all the words are understood. Next, we will identify what we are looking for and assign a variable to represent it. We will restate the problem in one sentence to make it easy to translate into an inequality. Then, we will solve the inequality.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Emma got a new job and will have to move. Her monthly income will be $5,265. To qualify to rent an apartment, Emma’s monthly income must be at least three times as much as the rent. What is the highest rent Emma will qualify for?

    Answer

    \(\begin{array} {ll} {\textbf{Step 1. Read} \text{ the problem.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 2. Identify} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{\text{the highest rent Emma will qualify for}} \\ {\textbf{Step 3. Name} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{} \\ {} &{\text{Let r = rent}} \\ {\text{Choose a variable to represent that quantity.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 4. Translate} \text{ into an inequality.}} &{} \\{} &{\text{Emma’s monthly income must be at least}} \\ {\text{First write a sentence that gives the information}} &{\text{three times the rent.}} \\ {\text{to find it.}} &{} \\\\ {\textbf{Step 5. Solve} \text{ the inequality.}} &{5265 \geq 3r} \\ {\text{Remember, } a > x\text{ has the same meaning}} &{1755 \geq r} \\ {\text{as }x < a} &{r \leq 1755} \\ {\textbf{Step 6. Check} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{} \\ {\text{and make sure it makes sense.}} &{} \\ {\text{A maximum rent of \$1,755 seems}} &{} \\ {\text{reasonable for an income of \$5,265.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 7. Answer} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{\text{the question with a}} \\ {\text{complete sentence.}} &{\text{The maximum rent is \$1,755.}} \end{array}\)

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)

    Alan is loading a pallet with boxes that each weighs 45 pounds. The pallet can safely support no more than 900 pounds. How many boxes can he safely load onto the pallet?

    Answer

    There can be no more than 20 boxes.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)

    The elevator in Yehire’s apartment building has a sign that says the maximum weight is 2,100 pounds. If the average weight of one person is 150 pounds, how many people can safely ride the elevator?

    Answer

    A maximum of 14 people can safely ride in the elevator.

    Sometimes an application requires the solution to be a whole number, but the algebraic solution to the inequality is not a whole number. In that case, we must round the algebraic solution to a whole number. The context of the application will determine whether we round up or down. To check applications like this, we will round our answer to a number that is easy to compute with and make sure that number makes the inequality true.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\)

    Dawn won a mini-grant of $4,000 to buy tablet computers for her classroom. The tablets she would like to buy cost $254.12 each, including tax and delivery. What is the maximum number of tablets Dawn can buy?

    Answer

    \(\begin{array} {ll} {\textbf{Step 1. Read} \text{ the problem.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 2. Identify} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{\text{the maximum number of tablets Dawn can buy}} \\ {\textbf{Step 3. Name} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{} \\ {} &{\text{Let n = the number of tablets.}} \\ {\text{Choose a variable to represent that quantity.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 4. Translate.} \text{ write a sentence that}} &{} \\{\text{gives the information to find it.}} &{$254.12\text{ times the number of tablets is no}} \\ {} &{\text{more than \$4000.}} \\ {\text{Translate into an inequality.}} &{254.12n \leq 4000} \\ {\textbf{Step 5. Solve} \text{ the inequality.}} &{n \leq 15.74} \\ {\text{But n must be a whole number of tablets,}} &{} \\ {\text{so round to 15.}} &{n \leq 15}\\ \\{\textbf{Step 6. Check} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{} \\ {\text{and make sure it makes sense.}} &{} \\ {\text{Rounding down the price to \$250,}} &{} \\ {\text{15 tablets would cost \$3750, while}} &{} \\ {\text{16 tablets would be \$4000. So a}} &{} \\{\text{maximum of 15 tablets at \$254.12}} &{} \\ {\text{seems reasonable.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 7. Answer} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{\text{the question with a}} \\ {\text{complete sentence.}} &{\text{Dawn can buy a maximum of 15 tablets.}} \end{array}\)

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{5}\)

    Angie has $20 to spend on juice boxes for her son’s preschool picnic. Each pack of juice boxes costs $2.63. What is the maximum number of packs she can buy?

    Answer

    seven packs

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{6}\)

    Daniel wants to surprise his girlfriend with a birthday party at her favorite restaurant. It will cost $42.75 per person for dinner, including tip and tax. His budget for the party is $500. What is the maximum number of people Daniel can have at the party?

    Answer

    11 people

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{7}\)

    Pete works at a computer store. His weekly pay will be either a fixed amount, $925, or $500 plus 12% of his total sales. How much should his total sales be for his variable pay option to exceed the fixed amount of $925?

    Answer

    \(\begin{array} {ll} {\textbf{Step 1. Read} \text{ the problem.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 2. Identify} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{\text{the total sales needed for his variable pay}} \\ {} &{\text{option to exceed the fixed amount of \$925}} \\ {\textbf{Step 3. Name} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{} \\ {} &{\text{Let s = the total sales.}} \\ {\text{Choose a variable to represent that quantity.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 4. Translate.} \text{ write a sentence that}} &{} \\{\text{gives the information to find it.}} &{$500\text{ plus 12% of total sales is more than \$925.}} \\ {\text{Translate into an inequality. Remember to}} &{500 + 0.12s > 925} \\{\text{convert the percent to a decimal.}} &{} \\\\ {\textbf{Step 5. Solve} \text{ the inequality.}} &{0.12s > 425} \\ {} &{s > 3541.\overline{66}} \\ \\ \\{\textbf{Step 6. Check} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{} \\ {\text{and make sure it makes sense.}} &{} \\ {\text{Rounding down the price to \$250,}} &{} \\ {\text{15 tablets would cost \$3750, while}} &{} \\ {\text{If we round the total sales up to}} &{} \\{\text{\$4000, we see that}} &{} \\ {\text{500+0.12(4000) = 980, which is more}} &{} \\ {\text{than \$925.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 7. Answer} \text{ the the question with a complete sentence.}} &{\text{The total sales must be more than \$3541.67}} \end{array}\)

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{8}\)

    Tiffany just graduated from college and her new job will pay her $20000 per year plus 2% of all sales. She wants to earn at least $100000 per year. For what total sales will she be able to achieve her goal?

    Answer

    at least $4000000

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{9}\)

    Christian has been offered a new job that pays $24000 a year plus 3% of sales. For what total sales would this new job pay more than his current job which pays $60000?

    Answer

    at least $1200000

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{10}\)

    Sergio and Lizeth have a very tight vacation budget. They plan to rent a car from a company that charges $75 a week plus $0.25 a mile. How many miles can they travel and still keep within their $200 budget?

    Answer

    \(\begin{array} {ll} {\textbf{Step 1. Read} \text{ the problem.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 2. Identify} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{\text{the number of miles Sergio and Lizeth can travel}} \\ {\textbf{Step 3. Name} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{} \\ {} &{\text{Let m = the number of miles.}} \\ {\text{Choose a variable to represent that quantity.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 4. Translate.} \text{ write a sentence that}} &{\text{\$75 plus 0.25 times the number of miles is}} \\{\text{gives the information to find it.}} &{\text{ less than or equal to \$200.}} \\ {\text{Translate into an inequality. }} &{75 + 25m \leq 200} \\\\ {\textbf{Step 5. Solve} \text{ the inequality.}} &{0.25m \leq 125} \\ {} &{m \leq 500 \text{ miles}} \\ \\ \\{\textbf{Step 6. Check} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{} \\ {\text{and make sure it makes sense.}} &{} \\ {\text{Yes, 75 + 0.25(500) = 200.}} & {}\\{\textbf{Step 7. Answer} \text{ the the question with a complete sentence.}} &{\text{Sergio and Lizeth can travel 500 miles}} \\ {} &{\text{and still stay on budget.}} \end{array}\)

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{11}\)

    Taleisha’s phone plan costs her $28.80 a month plus $0.20 per text message. How many text messages can she use and keep her monthly phone bill no more than $50?

    Answer

    no more than 106 text messages

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{12}\)

    Rameen’s heating bill is $5.42 per month plus $1.08 per therm. How many therms can Rameen use if he wants his heating bill to be a maximum of $87.50?

    Answer

    no more than 76 therms

    A common goal of most businesses is to make a profit. Profit is the money that remains when the expenses have been subtracted from the money earned. In the next example, we will find the number of jobs a small businessman needs to do every month in order to make a certain amount of profit.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{13}\)

    Elliot has a landscape maintenance business. His monthly expenses are $1,100. If he charges $60 per job, how many jobs must he do to earn a profit of at least $4,000 a month?

    Answer

    \(\begin{array} {ll} {\textbf{Step 1. Read} \text{ the problem.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 2. Identify} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{\text{the number of jobs Elliot needs}} \\ {\textbf{Step 3. Name} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{} \\ {\text{Choose a variable to represent it}} &{\text{Let j = the number of jobs.}} \\{\textbf{Step 4. Translate.} \text{ write a sentence that}} &{\text{\$60 times the number of jobs minus \$1,100 is at least \$4,000.}} \\{\text{gives the information to find it.}} &{\text{ less than or equal to \$200.}} \\ {\text{Translate into an inequality. }} &{60j - 1100 \geq 4000} \\\\ {\textbf{Step 5. Solve} \text{ the inequality.}} &{60j \geq 5100} \\ {} &{j \geq 85\text{ jobs}} \\ \\{\textbf{Step 6. Check} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{} \\ {\text{and make sure it makes sense.}} &{} \\ {\text{If Elliot did 90 jobs, his profit would be}} & {}\\ {\text{60(90)−1,100,or \$4,300. This is}} &{} \\ {\text{more than \$4,000.}} &{} \\{\textbf{Step 7. Answer} \text{ the the question with a complete sentence.}} &{\text{Elliot must work at least 85 jobs.}} \end{array}\)

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{14}\)

    Caleb has a pet sitting business. He charges $32 per hour. His monthly expenses are $2272. How many hours must he work in order to earn a profit of at least $800 per month?

    Answer

    at least 96 hours

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{15}\)

    Felicity has a calligraphy business. She charges $2.50 per wedding invitation. Her monthly expenses are $650. How many invitations must she write to earn a profit of at least $2800 per month?

    Answer

    at least 1380 invitations

    Sometimes life gets complicated! There are many situations in which several quantities contribute to the total expense. We must make sure to account for all the individual expenses when we solve problems like this.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{16}\)

    Brenda’s best friend is having a destination wedding and the event will last 3 days. Brenda has $500 in savings and can earn $15 an hour babysitting. She expects to pay $350 airfare, $375 for food and entertainment and $60 a night for her share of a hotel room. How many hours must she babysit to have enough money to pay for the trip?

    Answer

    \(\begin{array} {ll} {\textbf{Step 1. Read} \text{ the problem.}} &{} \\ {\textbf{Step 2. Identify} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{\text{the number of hours Brenda must babysit}} \\ {\textbf{Step 3. Name} \text{ what we are looking for.}} &{} \\ {\text{Choose a variable to represent that quantity.}} &{\text{Let h = the number of hours.}} \\{\textbf{Step 4. Translate.} \text{ write a sentence that}} &{} \\{\text{gives the information to find it.}} &{} \\ {} &{\text{The expenses must be less than or equal to}} \\ {} &{\text{the income. The cost of airfare plus the}} \\ {} &{\text{cost of food and entertainment and the}} \\ {} &{\text{hotel bill must be less than or equal to the savings}} \\ {} &{\text{plus the amount earned babysitting.}} \\ {\text{Translate into an inequality. }} &{\$350 + \$375 + \$60(3) \leq \$500 + \$15h} \\\\ {\textbf{Step 5. Solve} \text{ the inequality.}} &{905 \leq 500 + 15h} \\{} &{405 \leq 15h} \\ {} &{27 \leq h} \\ {} &{h \geq 27} \\ \\{\textbf{Step 6. Check} \text{ the answer in the problem}} &{} \\ {\text{and make sure it makes sense.}} &{} \\ {\text{We substitute 27 into the inequality.}} & {}\\{905 \leq 500 + 15h} &{} \\ {905 \leq 500 + 15(27)} &{} \\ {905 \leq 905} &{} \\ \\{\textbf{Step 7. Answer} \text{ the the question with a complete sentence.}} &{\text{Brenda must babysit at least 27 hours.}} \end{array}\)

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{17}\)

    Malik is planning a 6-day summer vacation trip. He has $840 in savings, and he earns $45 per hour for tutoring. The trip will cost him $525 for airfare, $780 for food and sightseeing, and $95 per night for the hotel. How many hours must he tutor to have enough money to pay for the trip?

    Answer

    at least 23 hours

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{18}\)

    Josue wants to go on a 10-day road trip next spring. It will cost him $180 for gas, $450 for food, and $49 per night for a motel. He has $520 in savings and can earn $30 per driveway shoveling snow. How many driveways must he shovel to have enough money to pay for the trip?

    Answer

    at least 20 driveways

    Key Concepts

    • Solving inequalities
      1. Read the problem.
      2. Identify what we are looking for.
      3. Name what we are looking for. Choose a variable to represent that quantity.
      4. Translate. Write a sentence that gives the information to find it. Translate into an inequality.
      5. Solve the inequality.
      6. Check the answer in the problem and make sure it makes sense.
      7. Answer the question with a complete sentence.