### Basic functions: Rational functions

### Normal form of a rational function

Just as fractions can be uniquely written in an irrecudible form, rational functions can also be written in a unique irreducible form.

Each rational function has a unique form \[\dfrac{p(x)}{q(x)}\] where \(p(x)\) and \(q(x)\) are mutually indivisible polynomials, i.e., with \(\gcd\left(p(x),q(x)\right)=1\), and \(q(x)\) has leading coefficient \(1\).

Such a fraction is called **irreducible**. We also call it the **normal form** of a rational function.

The polynomials in the numerator and denominator can be factorised by inspection: \[\begin{aligned} x^2+5\,x+6 &= \left(x+2\right)\,\left(x+3\right)\\[0.25cm] x^2-3\,x-18 &= \left(x-6\right)\,\left(x+3\right)\end{aligned}\] So: \[\begin{aligned} \frac{x^2+5\,x+6}{x^2-3\,x-18} &= \frac{\left(x+2\right)\,\left(x+3\right)}{\left(x-6\right)\,\left(x+3\right)}\\[0.25cm] &= {{x+2}\over{x-6}}\end{aligned}\] Because the leading coefficient of the denominator in the previous expression is equal to \(1\), we have indeed obtained the normal form.

\(\phantom{abc}\)

Of course, instead of factorisation, we could have found the greatest common divisor of the numerator and denominator, and then divided both the numerator and denominator by this:

\[\begin{aligned} \mathrm{gcd}(x^2+5\,x+6,x^2-3\,x-18) &= \mathrm{gcd}(x^2-3\,x-18,8\,x+24)\\[0.1cm] {\small \blue{\text{because }x^2+5\,x+6}} &\;{\small \blue{= (x^2-3\,x-18) + 8\,x+24}}\\[0.4cm] &= \mathrm{gcd}(8\,x+24,0)\\[0.1cm] {\small \blue{\text{because }x^2-3\,x-18}} &\;{\small \blue{= {{x-6}\over{8}}\cdot (8\,x+24) + 0}}\\[0.4cm] &= x+3\\[0.1cm] {\small \blue{\text{gcd (with leading coefficient 1)}}}& {\small \blue{\text{ read off from the previous result}}}\end{aligned}\] From \[\frac{x^2+5\,x+6}{x+3}=x+2\quad\text{and}\quad \frac{x^2-3\,x-18}{x+3}=x-6\] follows that \[\frac{x^2+5\,x+6}{x^2-3\,x-18}={{x+2}\over{x-6}}\]