Distributive PropertyDate: 12/11/97 at 20:04:52 From: Kerry Subject: Distributive property What is the distributive property? Date: 12/11/97 at 20:21:43 From: Doctor Tom Subject: Re: Distributive property The distributive property usually means that multiplication (*) distributes over addition (+). It is stated in the form of the following formula: a*(b+c) = a*b + a*c, where a, b, and c can be any numbers. In other words, you can either add b and c together first and then multiply by a, or you can multiply a by b and a by c, and add those products, and the result will be the same in either case. Using numbers, for example: 5*(7+3) = 5*7 + 5*3 since 5*(10) = 35 + 15 50 = 50 In the math you encounter before you go to college, this is exactly what the distributive law means, but there's a more general sense in that if you invented other operations besides addition and multiplication, those operations could distribute over each other. That may not make sense, but let me give you a concrete example. I will show you that division (/) does NOT distribute over addition (+). In other words, a/(b+c) is not equal to a/b + a/c. To check, just plug in some numbers: 5/(7+3) is not equal to 5/7 + 5/3, since 5/(7+3) = 5/10 = 1/2, but 5/7 + 5/3 = 15/21 + 35/21 = 50/21, which is not equal to 1/2. -Doctor Tom, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
Search the Dr. Math Library: |
[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]
Ask Dr. Math^{TM}
© 1994-2015 The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/