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ED MATHEMATICS

PAPER #3A - ICT MATH

VARIABLES, SYMBOLS AND ALGEBRAIC EXPRESSIONS

In Algebra, variables and symbols are used extensively. Variables are letters or symbols

used to represent unknown numbers.

Example A: The term 3n is a product which means 3n. The symbol n is a

variable whose value is unknown.

Example B: The expression 3n = 9 is a sentence which means 3n = 9. The symbol n is a

variable whose indicated value is 3 because 3 3 = 9.

Example C: The expression 3 + n = 9 is a sentence which can either be true or false.

If n = 5, 3 + n = 9 is false.

If n = 6, 3 + n = 9 is true.

Example D: (pronounced pie) is a symbol given to a very special number determined

by the ratio , where c stands for circumference and d for diameter. It has a

fixed value of 3.1416, thus, it is called constant.

The signs of operations and symbols used in algebra are generally the same as those used

in arithmetic. See the table below.

SYMBOLS NAME MEANING

+ plus addition

- minus subtraction

raised dot multiplication

( ) parenthesis multiplication

fraction bar division

= equal equality

not equal inequality

<, > Less than , greater than relations

, Greater or equal, less or equal relations

Notice that in Algebra, variables, numbers and symbols of operations are used to write an

expression.

Example A: 4xy, 3m

3

n, 4 + 5z, are Algebraic Expressions.

Example B: In the algebraic expression 5x

2

+6x+4x-3,

5x

2

, 6x, 4x and 3 are called terms of the expression;

5x

2

and 6x are unlike or dissimilar terms;

6x and 4x are like or similar terms;

-3 is a constant term.

Example C: In the term 5x

2

,

5 and x

2

are factors.

5 is the numerical coefficient of x

2

.

X

2

is the literal coefficient of 5.

5x s called the base and 2 is the exponent of x.

x

2

means xx

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