Definitions

Variable:  a letter which represents an unknown number
Constant:
 a number that does not vary
Expression:
  a combination of variables, constants, and arithmetic operations
Equation: 
two expressions connected by an equal sign
Inequality symbols are 
(not equal to), < (less than), > (greater than), (less than or equal to), (greater than or equal to)
Absolute value is the distance of a number on the number line from zero. The evaluation of an absolute value is always positive.             and 
The Additive Inverse of a number is the number which when added to a given number would sum to be zero.  For example, given the number 5, the additive inverse would be 5 since 5 + (5) = 0.  The additive inverse is also called the opposite of a number.
The Multiplicative Inverse of a number is the number that when multiplied to a given number would result in a product of positive 1.
For example, given the number 5, the additive inverse would be
since and

The Exponent tells how many times to use the base as a factor.  The exponent is attached to the base, the single character directly below the exponent and to the left unless a parenthesis is used.  If a parenthesis is involved, then the exponent affects everything within the parenthesis.  Therefore,  and is very different from

The Square Root of a number is the number that when squared (raised to the 2nd power) would equal the radicand.  For example, since .  The square root of a negative radicand is not a Real Number, since no Real Number squared may equal a negative number.  For example, is not a Real Number.

General Algebra Tips

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of Mary Lou Baker.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Columbia State Community College.

This page was edited on 09-Jan-2014