Irrational numbers include the square root, cube root, fourth root, and nth root of many
numbers. Whenever numbers are preceded with a radical sign, the numbers are called radicals
A radical sign is a math symbol that looks almost like a v and is placed in front of a number to indicate that the root should be taken:
Not all radicals are irrational.
is not an irrational number
It is because
= 2 and 2 is a whole number
Examples of irrational numbers:
Why are the radicals above irrational?
They are irrational because the decimal expansion is neither terminating nor repeating
Take a close look at the decimal expansion of every radical above, you will notice that no single number or group of numbers repeat themselves as in the following examples
1.222222222222 (The 2 repeats itself, so it is not irrational)
4.3636363636 (36 repeats itself, so it is not irrational)
There are basically no patterns!
The radicals above are not terminating. This means that the decimal expansion has an infinite amount of numbers
We wrote only 7 digits after the decimal point. However, you can get more numbers
It never ends...
Whenever a number is irrational, all we can get is an approximation. We can never write the number completely.
Difference between rational and irrational numbers
Although rational numbers can go on and on with an infinite amount of numbers, they nonetheless have a pattern. Irrational numbers don't have a pattern.
How to find out if a radical is irrational
There are a couple of ways to check if a number is rational:
a. If you can quickly find a root for the radical, the radical is rational
b. If you are only looking for the square-root, you could use the square-root algorithm
Of course, the method above is lengthy and time-consuming!
c. You could use a calculator. This may be the best way to check
Find the following cube-root symbol on your calculator:
Depending on your calculator, you will either enter 125 and then hit the symbol. Or hit the symbol first and then enter 125
You should get 5
5 is terminating, so it is not a rational number
Find the following n-root symbol on your calculator:
Play around with the calculator to get
3.179630631616273 is non terminating and non repeating, so it is irrational
Proof that square root of 5 is irrational