Solving Equations on the CLEP Scientific Calculator

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  • 0:06 The Solver Mode
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lydia Neptune
In this lesson, learn how to use the Solver function of the CLEP calculator. With calculators, you can solve equations numerically (find a number answer) even when you cannot solve the problem explicitly.

The Solver Mode

When you type in an equation, the CLEP calculator comes up with all of the possible variables.
solver mode two

Let's take a second to look at one of the other modes of the CLEP calculator. In particular, let's look at the Solver mode. When you enter the Solver mode, there's a place to enter your equation and there's a place where all of your variables will pop up. So let's try entering an equation.

Let's enter the equation cos(x*pi) = x^3 - 2*x. So what I've done here is I've used, explicitly, the star where I'm multiplying, and this caret where I'm taking something to a power. Here I'm taking x to the third power, so x cubed. As soon as you type this in, the CLEP calculator comes up with all of the possible variables that you've used in this equation. In this case, it recognizes that pi isn't a variable; it's a known quantity. It's 3.1415…yadda yadda yadda. But it does recognize that x is an unknown, so it puts x down here, under 'Name'. It gives x a value of 0 at first, although, this value won't always be 0. If you click on the 'Solve' button, it will solve this equation for one of the solutions of x. It will do that within some lower limit and some upper limit.

If you know what the value of x is, you can plug it into this field here, where it says 'Value'. This is helpful if instead of just an equation with x in it, you also have y. So say you have two unknowns in one equation, and then you decide to set one of those unknowns (one of those variables). Say you set what x is, then you can solve for y.

If you know the value of x, you can enter it into the value field.
solver three

So let's solve for x. According to the CLEP calculator, a value of x of -0.617 satisfies this equation. But hang on - is that in radians, or is that in degrees? I have cos(x*pi). Do I want it to calculate the cosine in radians or degrees? Let's click 'Done' and find out if we are actually using radians or degrees. Oh, degrees. Let's change that to radians and go back to my Solver.

Let's put my equation back in, cos(x*pi) = x^3 - 2*x. Now let's solve for x. Apparently one solution is x = -0.30. But what I could do is actually put a guess in for the value of x. Let's say there are multiple solutions - one is less than 0 and one is close to 1.5. If it gives me one of the solutions that I don't want, say, the one that is less than 0, I might want to give it a guess. That's this 'Enter a guess for the value of the unknown'. I'll give it a guess that's much closer to the value that I'm interested in.

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