What is the Distributive Property?Date: 4 Mar 1995 14:54:38 -0500 From: Anonymous Subject: Math Questions What is the distributive property? Date: 5 Mar 1995 00:42:41 -0500 From: Dr. Ken Subject: Re: Math Questions Hello there! The distributive property is a pretty cool thing. When we talk about the distributive property, we always talk about the distributive property of one thing over another, like of multiplication over addition or of multiplication over subtraction. If you know what exponents are, you can also talk about the distributive property of exponentiation over multiplication. Basically, what it says is this: if we have a number times the sum of two numbers, we can DISTRIBUTE the first number across the sum and multiply it by each of the second numbers, and then do the adding. For instance, if you have 6 x (4 + 3), you can DISTRIBUTE the 6 over to the 4 and the 3, to get 6x4 + 6x3, and you'll get the same answer you would have gotten if you had done the problem the original way. To check this case, compute the first answer: it's 6 x 7, which is 42, and compute the second answer: it's 24 + 18, which is also 42. Whew, it worked! If you've studied some algebra, here's how the distributive property works out in algebraic symbols: x(y + z) = xy + xz. It's something that will come up a whole lot in the future, so you'll want to make sure you're pretty solid on it. Thanks for the question! -Ken "Dr." Math |
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