## Using a Problem-Solving Strategy to Solve Number Problems

### Learning Outcomes

• Solve number problems
• Solve consecutive integer problems

## Solving Number Problems

Now we will translate and solve number problems. In number problems, you are given some clues about one or more numbers, and you use these clues to build an equation. Number problems don’t usually arise on an everyday basis, but they provide a good introduction to practicing the Problem-Solving Strategy. Remember to look for clue words such as difference, of, and and.

### Example

The difference of a number and six is thirteen. Find the number.

Solution:

 Step 1. Read the problem. Do you understand all the words? Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. the number Step 3. Name. Choose a variable to represent the number. Let $n=\text{the number}$ Step 4. Translate. Restate as one sentence. Translate into an equation. $n-6\enspace\Rightarrow$ The difference of a number and 6 $=\enspace\Rightarrow$ is $13\enspace\Rightarrow$ thirteen Step 5. Solve the equation. Add 6 to both sides. Simplify. $n-6=13$ $n-6\color{red}{+6}=13\color{red}{+6}$ $n=19$ Step 6. Check:The difference of $19$ and $6$ is $13$. It checks. Step 7. Answer the question. The number is $19$.

### example

The sum of twice a number and seven is fifteen. Find the number.

Watch the following video to see another example of how to solve a number problem.

### Solving for Two or More Numbers

Some number word problems ask you to find two or more numbers. It may be tempting to name them all with different variables, but so far we have only solved equations with one variable. We will define the numbers in terms of the same variable. Be sure to read the problem carefully to discover how all the numbers relate to each other.

### example

One number is five more than another. The sum of the numbers is twenty-one. Find the numbers.

Watch the following video to see another example of how to find two numbers given the relationship between the two.

### example

The sum of two numbers is negative fourteen. One number is four less than the other. Find the numbers.

### example

One number is ten more than twice another. Their sum is one. Find the numbers.

## Solving for Consecutive Integers

Another type of number problem involves consecutive numbers. Consecutive numbers are numbers that come one after the other.  Some examples of consecutive integers are:

$\begin{array}{c} \hfill \text{…}1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6\text{,…}\hfill \end{array}$
$\text{…}-10,-9,-8,-7\text{,…}$
$\text{…}150,151,152,153\text{,…}$

If we are looking for several consecutive numbers, it is important to first identify what they look like with variables before we set up the equation.  Notice that each number is one more than the number preceding it. So if we define the first integer as $n$, the next consecutive integer is $n+1$. The one after that is one more than $n+1$, so it is $n+1+1$, or $n+2$.

$\begin{array}{cccc}n\hfill & & & \text{1st integer}\hfill \\ n+1\hfill & & & \text{2nd consecutive integer}\hfill \\ n+2\hfill & & & \text{3rd consecutive integer}\hfill \end{array}$

For example, let’s say I want to know the next consecutive integer after $4$. In mathematical terms, we would add $1$ to $4$ to get $5$. We can generalize this idea as follows: the consecutive integer of any number, $x$, is $x+1$. If we continue this pattern, we can define any number of consecutive integers from any starting point. The following table shows how to describe four consecutive integers using algebraic notation.

 First $x$ Second $x+1$ Third $x+2$ Fourth $x+3$

We apply the idea of consecutive integers to solving a word problem in the following example.

### example

The sum of two consecutive integers is $47$. Find the numbers.

Solution:

 Step 1. Read the problem. Step 2. Identify what you are looking for. two consecutive integers Step 3. Name. Let $n=\text{1st integer}$ $n+1=\text{next consecutive integer}$ Step 4. Translate. Restate as one sentence. Translate into an equation. $n+n+1\enspace\Rightarrow$ The sum of the integers $=\enspace\Rightarrow$ is $47\enspace\Rightarrow$ 47 Step 5. Solve the equation. $n+n+1=47$ Combine like terms. $2n+1=47$ Subtract 1 from each side. $2n=46$ Divide each side by 2. $n=23$      1st integer Substitute to get the second number. $n+1$     2nd integer $\color{red}{23}+1$ $24$ Step 6. Check: $23+24\stackrel{\text{?}}{=}47$ $47=47\quad\checkmark$ Step 7. Answer the question. The two consecutive integers are $23$ and $24$.

### Example

The sum of three consecutive integers is $93$. What are the integers?

### example

Find three consecutive integers whose sum is $42$.

### try it

Watch this video for another example of how to find three consecutive integers given their sum.

In the following video we show an example of a consecutive integer problem in which you are given the sum of four consecutive integers.

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