What is Algebra?
Date: 08/24/97 at 21:56:12 From: Kathryn Bowser Subject: Algebra Ok, I know this may seem stupid but I really haven't started to do actual algebra in school. I was wondering if u might write back and explain from ground on if it not to much trouble. thanx. Kathryn Bowser
Date: 08/25/97 at 14:50:50 From: Doctor Ken Subject: Re: Algebra Hi Kathryn - Wow, that's a pretty tall order. It would be pretty difficult for me to try to explain high school algebra from the beginning! But there's nothing wrong with you asking the question. Let me start by trying to say what algebra is. This is kind of hard, because different people mean somewhat different things when they say algebra (a professional mathematician might mean something different from your teacher, for instance, but they're sort of talking about different aspects of the same kind of thing). But here's my simplistic view: algebra is the class where you learn how to work with "unknown quantities." For instance, let's look at a simple math problem: Kathryn has 22 dollars, which is 4 more dollars than Momma Bowser. How much money does Momma Bowser have? In algebra, you learn to write "equations" to solve problems like these. Here's an equation for that problem: 22 = 4 + M . M represents the amount of money Momma Bowser has. In algebra, you learn how to solve problems like that, to get the answer: M = 18. If you want more algebra stuff, you might try looking at our Algebra sections on the Web: http://mathforum.org/dr.math/tocs/algebra.middle.html and http://mathforum.org/dr.math/tocs/algebra.high.html Good luck! -Doctor Ken, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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