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# Word Problems/Compound Proportions

Question
Hello:

Four carpenters can build eight houses in ten days. Two carpenters  can build how may houses in 15 days?

I used this solution:

8 houses = (constant) X 4 carpenters X 10 days

The constant represents the 8/(4 X 10) or 8/40 or 1/5

So, 8 = (1/5) X 4 X 10. Now the missing number can be determined by using a similar calculation:

unknown houses = 1/5 X 2 carpenters X 15 days

unknown houses = 1/5 X 30 = 6 or 6 houses

However this solution does not work if one of the other amounts is unknown.  For example, we know that four carpenters can build eight houses in ten days. But how many days can two carpenters build six houses?

This solution is incorrect:

10 days = (constant) X 4 carpenters X 8 houses

10/(4 X 8) = 10/32

? days = (10/32) X 2 carpenters X 6 houses does not give the correct answer. The correct answer is 15 days

Do you know the correct constant to use in the solution?

"Four carpenters can build eight houses in ten days."
8 houses per 40 carpenter-days = ⅕ house per carpenter-day

"Two carpenters can build how may houses in 15 days?"
2 carpenters × 15 days = 30 carpenter-days
30 carpenter-days × ⅕ house per carpenter-day = 6 houses

"in how many days can two carpenters build six houses?"
6 houses × (1 carpenter-day)/(⅕ house) = 30 carpenter-days
30 carpenter-days ÷ (2 carpenters) = 15 days
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Word Problems

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#### Janet Yang

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Word problems are my favorite type of math questions! I would not feel comfortable answering questions that require specialized knowledge (Physics, Statistics, etc.) because I have not studied these in depth.

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