Combining equations

Given two equations with the same variable, how can they be combined? If the equations are consistent, they may be solved as simultaneous equations. But what if the equations are inconsistent? There are two ways to combine them in that case, one is OR, the other is AND.

Consider the equations x = a and x = b, where a ≠ b. If we multiply these equations together, we get

x² = ab,

in which the solution is x = √ab, so that x is the geometric mean of a and b.

If we make the equations homogeneous first, then multiply them together, we get: 0 = x − a and 0 = x − b, so that

0 = (x − a) (x − b) = x² − (a + b) x + ab.

The solution of the combined equation is either x = a or x = b. To combine equations with AND, multiply homogeneous equations together.

Another way to combine equations is to add them together. In this case, we get

x + x = 2x = a + b, or x = (a + b)/2,

so that x is the arithmetic mean of a and b. Homogeneous equations added produce the same result: 0 = x − a + x − b = 2x − (a + b), so that x = (a + b)/2.