What is the Discriminant?

Hi everyone and welcome to MathSux! In this post, we are going to answer the question, what is the discriminant? Before going any further, if you need a review on what the quadratic equation or imaginary numbers are, check out each related link! Also, don’t forget to check out the video and practice questions below. Happy calculating! 🙂

What is the Discriminant?

The discriminant is a formula we can use that tells us more about a quadratic equation including:

  1. The number of solutions a quadratic equation has.
  2. The “nature” of the roots of the solution (rational/irrational or real/imaginary).

Discriminant Formula:

The discriminant formula may look familiar! It is part of the quadratic formula and we have seen it before, using the very same coefficients a, b, and c from the quadratic equation.

What is the Discriminant?

How does it Work?

When we find the value of the discriminant of any quadratic equation, it will give us a value that tells us how many solutions (or roots) a quadratic equation has.  Remember when we say “roots” what we really mean are the x-value(s) of the quadratic equation that hit the x-axis. This value will also tell us if the solutions to the quadratic equation are rational/irrational or real/imaginary. Take a look at how it all breaks down below:

Now that we are familiar with the rules, let’s take a look at an Example:

Step 1: First let’s write out our quadratic equation and identify the coefficients a, b, and c so they are ready to be plugged into our discriminant formula.

Step 2: Now let’s write out and fill in our formula using the coefficients and solve.

What is the Discriminant?

Step 3: Now let’s analyze our answer! Since, we got a discriminant value of 36, notice that it is a positive perfect square! If we look back at our discriminant table, this tells us that our quadratic equation is going to have 2 real and rational solutions.

Practice Questions:

Find the discriminant, number of solutions and nature of the roots of the following quadratic equations:  

Solutions:

Still got questions? No problem! Don’t hesitate to comment with any questions below or check out the video above. Thanks for stopping by and happy calculating! 🙂

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