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Why Use n for Any Number?

Date: 09/28/2002 at 06:16:14
From: Killa gal
Subject: n

Why do people use n when any number can fit in or when they want to 
indicate position?


Date: 09/28/2002 at 11:36:50
From: Doctor Mike
Subject: Re: n

Hello,
  
Probably because n is the initial letter of "number".
  
One reason to use a single letter to stand for a number is if the 
number is an unknown.  Like if you say "In 2*n is 14, what is n?"  It 
is just more convenient to have a short way to  write the number.  
  
Another reason to use a single letter to stand for a number is if you 
are giving a formula for somehing that's true about every number.  
This is using n as a variable. Here is an example.

   "If the edges of a square are each n inches long, 
    then the area of the square is n*n square inches."  

You might see this as an equation:  A = n*n  
  
I hope this makes more sense to you now.  

- Doctor Mike, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ 
Associated Topics:
High School Basic Algebra
Middle School Algebra

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