Working with IntegersDate: 01/12/99 at 22:45:14 From: Britni E. Subject: Integers (dividing and multiplication) Hello, I'm having trouble figuring out how to divide, multiply, add, and subtract integers. Could you explain to me how to do integers? Maybe include some examples? It would really help! Date: 01/13/99 at 12:49:28 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: Integers (dividing and multiplication) Hi, Britni. Integers are simply numbers with a sign attached. The sign says which way you go on the number line: plus means to the right; minus means to the left. I'll call the number part the "value" of the integer. It would be better to call it the "absolute value," but I want to save some typing. So for example the integer -3 consists of the sign "-" and the value "3". If there's no sign, it means +. We only write + when we want to emphasize that the number is a positive integer. Let's start with multiplication and division, because that's the easy part (surprise!). They both follow the same rule: you multiply the values together, and choose a sign for the answer using this table: | + | - | --+---+---+ + | + | - | --+---+---+ - | - | + | --+---+---+ That is, when you multiply or divide + by +, or - by - (the same sign), the answer is +. If the signs are + and -, or - and + (different signs), the answer is -. You can think of - as flipping the whole number line over, so if you flip it twice in a row everything is back where it started: - - = +. Here are some examples: -2 * 3 = -+ 2*3 = -6 4 * -9 = +- 4*9 = -36 -3 * -5 = -- 3*5 = +15 -6 / 2 = -+ 6/2 = -3 4 / -2 = +- 4/2 = -2 -9 / -3 = -- 9/3 = +3 For adding, I prefer not to use a rule, but just to think about what it means. Think of a positive number as an arrow whose length is the value of the number, pointing to the right, and a negative number as an arrow pointing to the left. Adding them means starting at zero, following one arrow, then starting the next arrow there and following it to its end. For example, here's 2 + 3 = 5: ---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--- -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 +-------> 3 2 +----------> +------------------> 5 We went 2 to the right and then 3 more to the right, which is the same as going 5 to the right. If the arrows go in the same direction, it's easy: just add the values and keep the sign. To add -2 + -3 you just add a negative sign and get -5: ---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--- -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 -3 <-------+ <----------+ -2 <------------------+ -5 If the signs are opposite, like 2 + -3, one will be undoing part of what the other does, so the result will be whatever is left over of the larger one: ---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--- -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 +2 +-------> <----------+ <--+ -3 -1 Here I first went 2 to the right, then 3 to the left. 2 of the 3 were used up in just getting back to the start of the 2. The remaining 1 continues in the negative direction, giving us -1 for the answer. To do this, you just notice that the number with the larger value is negative (-3). You subtract the smaller value, 2, from the larger value, 3, leaving 1, and use the negative sign. You'd do exactly the same thing if the numbers were in the other order,-3 + 2, and the answer would be the same. You probably would have no trouble figuring out that if I told you I took two steps forward and three steps back, I ended up going one step backward. Just use the same sort of thinking to add integers, and you'll be on your way. Finally, you can change subtraction to addition by just combining the minus sign with the negative sign. For example, to do -3 - -2, I would combine the - - to make a +: -3 + 2. Then you can add that just as we did above. If you still need more help, try sending us one or two of the problems you got wrong, showing what you did, so we can see what part gives you trouble. - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
Search the Dr. Math Library: |
[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]
Ask Dr. Math^{TM}
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/