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Distance, rate, time word problem.

A boat travels 36km downstream in 2 hours.  The return trip takes 3 hours.  What is the rate of the current??

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Edward A. | Math Tutor, Retired Computer Scientist and Technical CommunicatorMath Tutor, Retired Computer Scientist a...
1
first, identify the quantities involved
let c be the rate of the current
let b be the rate of the boat
 
second, write the formulas that relate these numbers
d=rt is the general formula for distance, rate, time problems
 
When the boat travels downstream, its rate is (b + c)
when the boat travels upstream, its rate is (b - c)
 
36 = (b+c)*2
36 = (b-c)*3
 
Solve these for b and c, and you'll have c.