# ALGEBRAIC EXPRESSIONS

May 29th, 2015
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ALGEBRA IS A METHOD OF WRITTEN CALCULATIONS that help us reason about numbers. At the very outset, the student should realize that algebra is a skill. And like any skill - driving a car, baking cookies, playing the guitar -- it

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ALGEBRAIC EXPRESSIONSALGEBRA IS A METHOD OF WRITTEN CALCULATIONS that help us reason about numbers. At the very outset, the student should realize that algebra is a skill. And like any skill - driving a car, baking cookies, playing the guitar -- it requires practice. A lot of practice. Written practice. That said, let us begin.The first thing to note is that, in algebra, we use letters as well as numbers. But the letters represent numbers. And the rules of algebra correspond to the rules of arithmetic, but we write those rules using letters.For example, we know in arithmetic that the order in which we add two numbers does not matter. 7 + 3 = 3 + 7In algebra, we express that as the rule:a + b = b + aLetter a simply means the first number -- whatever it might be. Letter b means the second number. We use letters because we mean that the rule will be true for any numbers. In algebra, we imitate with letters what we could write with numbers. The numbers are the numerical symbols, while the letters are called literal symbols.THE FOUR OPERATIONS AND THEIR SIGNSWhat are the four operations of arithmetic, and what are their operation signs?1) Addition: a + b; The operation sign is +For example, if a represents 3, and b represents 4, then a + b represents 7.2) Subtraction: a b; The operation sign is If a represents 8, for example, and b represents 2, then a b represents 6.3) Multiplication: a b or ab2 5 = 10"2 times 5 e

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