This figure shows a rock cliff.
Figure 9.1 Square roots are used to determine the time it would take for a stone falling from the edge of this cliff to hit the land below.

Suppose a stone falls from the edge of a cliff. The number of feet the stone has dropped after t seconds can be found by multiplying 16 times the square of t. But to calculate the number of seconds it would take the stone to hit the land below, we need to use a square root. In this chapter, we will introduce and apply the properties of square roots, and extend these concepts to higher order roots and rational exponents.