You may also like

problem icon

Real(ly) Numbers

If x, y and z are real numbers such that: x + y + z = 5 and xy + yz + zx = 3. What is the largest value that any of the numbers can have?

problem icon

Overturning Fracsum

Solve the system of equations to find the values of x, y and z: xy/(x+y)=1/2, yz/(y+z)=1/3, zx/(z+x)=1/7

problem icon

Bang's Theorem

If all the faces of a tetrahedron have the same perimeter then show that they are all congruent.

Intersections

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Solve the two pairs of simultaneous equations:

\begin{eqnarray} x + 0.99999y & = & 2.99999 \\ 0.99999x + y & = & 2.99998 \end{eqnarray} and \begin{eqnarray} x + 1.00001y & = & 2.99999 \\ 0.99999 x + y & = & 2.99998. \end{eqnarray}

Explain why the solutions are so different and yet the pairs of equations are nearly identical.

NOTES AND BACKGROUND
In this question a small perturbation in one of a pair of equations makes a big change in the solutions. Considering the geometrical properties of the lines represented by the equations helps to de-mystify the results.