# Basics of Algebra

## Algebra

Algebra is a form of mathematics in which we do not only use numbers but also letters and symbols. Studying algebra involves working
with these symbols and letters and learning the techniques used to manipulate them. We use algebra for generalising patterns,
displaying rules and for finding answers to expressions in which we have at least one unknown number. Usually, algebra is taught
from the beginning of secondary school to the end of university (if you study a subject that involves maths).
The Basics of Algebra
### The Concept

In algebra, letters such as a,b and x represent unknown numbers. For example, and algebraic expression could be 3 + x = 8. X represents the number 5
as 3 plus 5 is equal to 8. Using algebra, we can so solve problems in which numbers are missing. If a problem like this is more complicated, we can
easily solve it by doing the reverse operation which would be 8 - 3 = x (5).
### The Language of Algebra

Although mostly the way we lay out calculation is the same, there are a few variations:
•
Multiplication:
In algebra, we do not use the multiplication sign. Instead we write the letters or a letter and a number together.
Eg: 3 × a = 3a / a × b = ab
(If you multiply two numbers together, you still use the multiplication sign)
•
Division:
In algebra, we do not use the linear division sign. Instead we write the numbers over each other.
Eg: 4 ÷ b = / a ÷ b =
•
Addition and Subtraction are written in the same way as usually.
When writing down algebraic expressions always make sure to write multiplication and division in algebraic form.
Uses of Algebra
We use algebra to:
•
Solve problems
•
Find missing numbers
•
Solve problems with unknown numbers
•
Generalise a pattern
•
Show rules (eg: for the area of a shape)
•
etc.
Presentation
Using Algebra
This was just a brief introduction to teach you what algebra is. Now you should try to use it. A god way to start off is to look at
generalising patterns algebraically or solving linear equations. If you want to have an overview of all topics, visit our library.
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