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Algebra

The greatest mathematical


tool of all!!
This is a course in basic introductory
algebra.

Essential Prerequisites:

Ability to work with directed numbers (positives
and negatives)
An understanding of order of operations
Stephen is 5 years older than Nancy.
Their ages add to 80.
How old are they?
Without algebra, students would probably guess different
pairs of values (with each pair differing by 5) and hope to
somehow find a pair that add to 80. Eventually, we might
work out that Stephen is 42 and Nancy is 37 .
The problem, however, is that there can be too
much guesswork. Algebra takes away the
guesswork.
SEE THE SOLUTION!
Contents
1. Substituting numerals and
pronumerals
2. Like and unlike terms adding
and subtracting
3. Multiplying
4. Dividing
5. Mixed operations and order of
operations
GO!!
GO!!
GO!!
GO!!
GO!!
Section 1
Substituting numerals and pronumerals
When working with algebra, you will meet TWO different
kinds of terms..
NUMERALS
These are all the ordinary numbers youve
been working with all your life. Numerals
include 2, 5, 7, 235, 15, 9, 2.757, 3.07,
9, 7.6 , 0, and so on.
PRONUMERALS
These are symbols like , , , and letters
(either single letters or combinations) like x,
y, a, b, ab, xyz, x
2
, y
3
etcPronumerals often
take the place of numerals.
If a = 5
b = 2
c = 3
find the value of
(1) a + b (2) c a b
a + b
= 5 + 2
= 7 (ans)
c a b
= 3 5 2
= 4 (ans)
SOLUTION SOLUTION
NOTE
WHEN WORKING WITH PRONUMERALS YOURE
ALLOWED TO LEAVE OUT MULTIPLICATION SIGNS.
PRONUMERALS ARE USUALLY WRITTEN
ALPHABETICALLY (ab rather than ba)
3 x a = 3a
2 x p = 2p
a x b = ab
5 x a x b = 5ab
c x a x b = abc
THIS DOESNT APPLY WHEN WORKING ONLY
WITH NUMBERS
3 x 4 cant be written
as 34!
If a = 5
b = 2
c = 3
find the value of
(3) ab + c (4) 4bc 2a + ab
ab + c
= 5 2 + 3
= 13 (ans)
4bc 2a + ab
= 4 2 3 2 5 + 5 2
= 24 (ans)
SOLUTION SOLUTION
= 24 10 + 10
Remember to
do
multiplication
first!!
If a = 5
b = 2
c = 3
find the value of
(5) a(b + c) (6) 4b(7c 4a)
a (b + c)
= 5 (2 + 3)
= 25 (ans)
4b(7c 4a)
= 4 2 (7 3 4 5)
= 8 (ans)
SOLUTION SOLUTION
= 8 (21 20)
= 5 5
= 8 1
= 4 b (7 c 4 a) = a (b + c)
If a = 3
b = 10
c = 4
find the value of
(1) 3a + b (2) c (4a b)
= 3 a + b
= 9 + 10
= 1 (ans)
c (4a b)
= 4 (4 3 10)
= 18 (ans)
SOLUTION SOLUTION
= 3 3 + 10
= 3a + b
REMEMBER
ORDER OF
OPERATIONS
= c (4 a b)
= 4 ( 12 10)
= 4 ( 22)
= 4 + 22
Note a ( b) is
same as a + b !!
If a = 3
b = 10
c = 4
evaluate
(3) a
2
+ b
2

(4)
= a a + b b
= 9 + 100
= 109 (ans)
= 2.4 (ans)
SOLUTION
SOLUTION
= 3 3 + 10 10
= a
2
+ b
2

MULTIPLY
BEFORE
YOU ADD!!
Section 2
Like and Unlike terms
Adding and Subtracting
Work out the value of 5 7 + 3 7.
5 7 + 3 7
= 56

Now work out the value of 8 7.
8 7 = 56

So here we have two different questions that give the
same answer, 56. So we can make this conclusion:
57 + 37 = 87
= 35 + 21
5 7 + 3 7 = 8 7
Or, in words,

5 lots of 7 + 3 lots of 7 = 8 lots of 7
Can you predict the value of 9 5 2 5?
If you said 7 5 then you would be correct!
Check that both sums equal 35!
Try these! Make sure you write the SHORT SUM first,
then the answer!
Long sum Short sum Answer
2 x 8 + 5 x 8 7 x 8 56
6 x 9 + 2 x 9
4 x 7 + 1 x 7
8 x 9 3 x 9
7 x 6 3 x 6
5 x 2 + 2

8 x 9
5 x 7
5 x 9
4 x 6
Rewrite as
5 x 2 + 1 x 2
6 x 2
72
35
45
24
12
So by now you are hopefully beginning
to see the general pattern. For example
using the fact 3 + 4 = 7 we can write.
3 1 + 4 1 = 7 1
3 2 + 4 2 = 7 2
3 8 + 4 8 = 7 8
3 9 + 4 9 = 7 9
In fact, the pattern holds for all numbers (not just 1, 2,
8 and 9) and can be written more generally as
3 a + 4 a = 7 a
or
3 x + 4 x = 7 x
or
any pronumeral (letter) of your choice!
Now try these:
7 b + 8 b =
2 y + 9 y =
4 p 2 p =
6 q 1 q =
8 x + 1 x =
4 x + x =
8 a 2 a =
15 b
11 y
2 p
5 q
9 x
5 x
6 a
Remember x
really means 1x
What would be a single statement that
would cover all possibilities in this pattern?
8 7 + 5 7 = 13 7
8 2 + 5 2 = 13 2
8 12 + 5 12 = 13 12
Ans:
8 a + 5 a = 13 a
5 9 2 9 = 3 9
5 2 2 2 = 3 2
5 79 2 79 = 3 79
Ans: 5 w 2 w = 3 w
And this pattern?
Of course we could have
used any pronumeral here
it does not have to be a or w.
When youre writing algebra sums, youre
allowed to LEAVE OUT
MULTIPLICATION SIGNS!
So,
3 c can be written as 3c
7 a b can be written as
7ab
x y can be written as
xy
BUT
3 4 CANT be written as 34!!
Now try these:
4a + 7a =
5y + 8y =
2p 6p =
q + 7q =
x + x =
10x + x =
a 7a =
11a
13y
4p
8q
2x
11x
6a
Remember x really
means 1x
7z + 5z =
2z
When terms are multiplied, the
order is not important.
6 5 is the same as 5 6 (both = 30)
a b is the same as b a. i.e. ab =ba. We usually
use alphabetical order though, so ab rather than ba.
a b c = b a c
= a c b
= c a b etc .
6 a is the same as a 6 i.e. 6a = a6
But the number is usually written first!
Although its still correct, we dont write a6.
Always write 6a. So. PUT THE NUMBERS
BEFORE PRONUMERALS
Again, we prefer
alphabetical order
so abc is best.
More about like terms
We know that ab and ba are the same thing,
so we can do sums like
4ab + 5ba =
7xy + 9yx =
3abc 2bca + 8cab =
9ab
16xy
9abc
mnp 2mpn 7pmn = 8mnp
Note that in each case,
the number goes first
alphabetical order is used for the answer
(though it is still correct to write 9ba, 16yx etc)
Key
Question:
We know we can write
7 5 + 4 5 as a short sum 11 5,
but is there a similar way of writing
6 3 + 5 7 ?
If we calculate this sum, it is equal to 18 + 35 = 53
But there are no factors of 53 (other than 1 and 53)
so there is NO SHORT SUM for 6 3 + 5 7 !!
Because of this, we can conclude that there is no
easy way of writing 6a + 7b, other than 6a + 7b!
In summary, we can simplify 6a + 7a to get 13a.
But cannot simplify 6a + 7b.
6a + 7a is an example of LIKE TERMS.
Like terms can be added or subtracted to
get a simpler answer (13a in this case)
6a + 7b is an example of UNLIKE TERMS.
Like terms cannot be added or subtracted.
You will encounter terms with powers such as x
2
,
3a
2
, 5p
3
, 3a
2
b etc. These are treated the same
way as terms with single pronumerals. x
2
and x
are UNLIKE, just as x and y are.
2a and 3a
2
are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted
3b and 3b
4
are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted
2ab and 4ab
2
are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted
2a
2
and 3a
2
are LIKE and can be added to get 5a
2
. Subtracted to get 1a
2
or a
2

9a
6
and 4a
6
are LIKE and can be added to get 13a
6
. Subtracted to get 5a
6

2a
2
band 4ba
2
are LIKE and can be added to get 6a
2
b. Subtracted to get 2a
2
b
2a
2
band 4ab
2
are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted. Theyre unlike
because the powers are on different pronumerals
ab and ac are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted
3a and 5 are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted
3a and 3 are UNLIKE and cant be added or subtracted
4a 11pk
2

6w 2kp
2

6 7a
ab 9bca
3y h
7pk
2
2c
2

7d 12c
5c 7d
3h 5w
3p
2
k 5ba
3c
2
y
4abc 2
In the table below, match each term from Column 1 with
its like term from Column 2
Answers next slide
4a 11k
2
p
6w 2kp
2

6 7a
ab 9bca
3y h
7pk
2
2c
2

7d 12c
5c 7d
3h 5w
3p
2
k 5ba
3c
2
y
4abc 2
In the table below, match each term from Column 1 with
its like term from Column 2
Like terms very important in addition
and subtraction algebra sums !
3a + 2a = 5a
6ab 2ab = 4ab
7a
2
3a
2
= 4a
2

2ac 7ca

= 5ac
8xy
2
3xy
2
= 5xy
2

x 7x + 2x

= 4x
8x 3y

= 8x 3y


5x
2
3x

= 5x
2
3x


2ab 3ac

= 2ab 3ac


8x
2
3x
2
= 5x
2

These questions have
algebra parts that are
like (the same). When
that happens, you can
simplify them!
These questions have
algebra parts that are
different. When that
happens, you cant
simplify them!
A mixed bag. Which have like terms? Simplify those that do.
5a 3a
2x + 7x
3x + 8y
4a 2b
5a + 4
2x + 7x
2

3xy + 8yx
4ab 2b
5a + 4a
2

3x 9x
xy + 7yx
4ab 7ba
5a + 6
x + 6x
8x + 8y
a 7a
5abc + 4cba
2x
3
+ 2x
2

xy + yx
ab ba
5 + 4a
2

x 9x
4x
3
+ 5x
3

7ac ca
2a
9x
11xy
6x
6xy
3ab
7x
6a
9abc
2xy
0
8x
9x
3

6ac
Simplifying expressions with more than two terms
3x + 5x + y + 8y
= 8x + 9y (ans)
The like terms are added
together
2a 3a + 5b 6b
= a b (ans)
The like terms are simplified
5a
2
+ 3a + 2a
2
+ a
= 7a
2
+ 4a (ans)
The like terms are simplified
Remember that terms with a
and a
2
are unlike and cant be
added
Simplify 5 7 + 6 2
Working left to right 5 7 + 6 2
= 2 + 6 2
= 4 2
= 2
But we can also rearrange the terms in the
original question using cut n paste
using cut n paste
5 7 2 +6
First, draw lines to separate the
terms, placing lines in front of
each + or sign
Now, cut any term between the
lines (with its sign) and move it to a
new position. Well move the +6
next to the 5, swapping it with the
7
5 2
Now the original question appears as
5 + 6 7 2
Which can now easily be simplified to the
correct answer, 2.
Note that we did not HAVE to cut and paste the
+6 and the 7 . We are allowed to cut and
paste ANY TERMS we like.
We will now apply this to help us simplify ALGEBRAIC
EXPRESSIONS, and aim to cut and paste so like terms
are together.
Example 1: Simplify 3a + 2b + 5a 9b
Here well use cut n paste
to bring the as together
and the bs together by
swapping the +2b and +5a
3a
+2b +5a 9b
3a
9b
The question now becomes 3a + 5a + 2b 9b
= 8a 7b ans
Simplifying like terms, we get
3a +5a =8a
2b 9b = 7b
Example 2: Simplify a 9b 2b + 8a
Again use cut n paste to
bring the as together and
the bs together by
swapping the 9b and +8a
a
9b 2b +8a
a
2b
The question now becomes a + 8a 2b 9b
= 9a 11b ans
Simplifying like terms, we get
a +8a =9a
2b 9b = 11b
Example 3: Simplify 2x 5 + 4x + 8
Again use cut n paste to
bring the xs together and
the numbers together by
swapping the 5 and +4x
2x
5 +4x +8
2x
+8
The question now becomes 2x + 4x 5 + 8
= 6x + 3 ans
Simplifying like terms, we get
2x +4x =6x
5 +8 =+3
Example 4: Simplify 3y 2x 5x
2
+ 4y + x 2x
2

Here there are 6 terms which
can be grouped into 3 pairs of
like terms (2 terms contain an x,
2 terms contain an x
2
and 2
terms contain y.
= 7y x 7x
2
ans
Simplifying like terms,
we get
3y +4y =7y
x 2x = x
5x
2
2x
2
= 7 x
2

3y
2x 5x
2
+4y +x 2x
2

Now swap +x with 5x
2

= 3y
2x 5x
2
+4y +x 2x
2

Swap +4y with 2x
= 3y
2x 5x
2
+4y +x 2x
2

This puts the ys together
This puts the xs together
and the x
2
terms together
Section 3
Multiplying and working with brackets
Remember the basic rules
Place numbers before letters
Keep letters in alphabetical order
Two negatives multiply to make a positive
A negative and a positive multiply to make a negative
If an even number of negatives is multiplied, the
answer is a positive (because they pair off)
If an odd number of negatives is multiplied, the
answer is a negative (one is left after they pair off)
You can rearrange terms that are all being multiplied
(3 x 4 x 5 = 5 x 3 x 4 = 4 x 5 x 3; ab = ba etc)

When doing multiplication, we do not have to bother
with like terms!
x 3y =
4a 4 a =
3xy
c a b =
abc
a 5 2 =
3kw w 3 k =
10a
x a b w = abwx
a 3bc = 3abc
3b a = 3ab
a 5c =
5ac
2a b = 2ab
5x 3y 6p = 90pxy
2a 3b c 5d
=
30abcd
a 5b 6c = 15abc
NOTE in this last question, its
easier to change the order and do
a x 6c x 5b
a a
= aa
= a
2

b b b
= bbb
= b
3

x x x
= xxx
= x
3

a
2
a
= aa a
= a
3

b
2
b b
3

= bbbbbb
= b
6

( x)
4

= ( x)(x)( x)(x)
= x
4

= aaa
(3a)
2

= 3a 3a
= 9a
2

7b 7b 7b 7b
(7b)
4

= 2401b
4

(5x)
3

= 5x 5x 5x
= 125x
3

( ab)
4

= ab ab ab ab
= +a
4
b
4

NOTE: negatives raised to an even power give a POSITIVE
negatives raised to an odd power give a NEGATIVE
QUESTION ANSWER QUESTION ANSWER
2a b = 2a 5a a =
5a 3b = a b ab 2ba =
2a 3 = 4a 3a
2
=
a a = a
2
a
3
=
2 a = y y y =
3a 2a = 2ab 3a
2
b
3
=
4p 2p = cd 2cd =
2a 4a 7a = 2a 3a 5a =
ab 3ab = 2a + 3a + 5a =
a 3ab 5b 2 = (2ab)
3
=
ab 2ab 3a = (5abc)
2
=
a 3 2a 6b (2cdg)
3

=
2ab
15ab
6a
a
2

2a
6a
2

8p
2

56a
3

3a
2
b
2

30a
2
b
2

6a
3
b
2

36a
2
b
10a
3

2a
3
b
3

12a
3

a
5

y
3

6a
3
b
4

2c
2
d
2

30a
3

11a
8a
3
b
3

25a
2
b
2
c
2

8c
3
d
3
g
3

Note the blue one! Its an addition!!
Section 4
Dividing
Basically, all expressions with a division sign can
be simplified, or at least rewritten in a more
concise form.
Consider the expression 24 18.
This can be written as a fraction and simplified

further by dividing (cancelling) numerator and
denominator by 6.
18
24
18
24
3
4

4
3
The same process can be applied to algebraic
expressions.
Simplify 12x 3
3
12x

3
12x

Example 1
Solution
12x 3
Writing as a fraction
= 4x ans
Now think. What is the largest number that divides
into both numerator and denominator? (the HCF )
4
1
Note when there is only a
1 left in the
denominator, ignore it!
3
1
4x

Simplify 8ab 2a
a
ab
2
8

a
ab
2
8

Example 2
Solution
8ab 2a
Writing as a fraction
= 4b ans
Dividing numerator and denominator by
HCF 2
4
and also by a.
1
acd
abc
18
28

Simplify 28abc 18acd


acd
abc
18
28

Example 3
Solution
28abc 18acd
Writing as a fraction
Dividing numerator and denominator by
HCF (2) and by a and by c.
d
b
9
14

14
9
Note in this question (and
many others) your answer will
be a fraction!
abbcccc
aaabbc
8
20

Simplify 20a
3
b
2
c 8ab
2
c
4

abbcccc
aaabbc
8
20

Example 4
Solution
20a
3
b
2
c 8ab
2
c
4

Writing as a fraction and in expanded
format to make dividing easier
Dividing numerator and denominator by
HCF (4)
and cancelling matching pairs of
pronumerals (a with a, b with b etc)
ccc
aa
2
5

5
2
3
2
2
5
c
a

xxyyyzzzzz
xyyz
15
5

Simplify 5xy
2
z 15x
2
y
3
z
5

xxyyyzzzzz
xyyz
15
5

Example 5
Solution
5xy
2
z 15x
2
y
3
z
5

Writing as a fraction and in expanded
format to make dividing easier
Dividing numerator and denominator by
HCF (5)
and cancelling matching pairs of
pronumerals (x with x, y with y etc)
xyzzzz 3
1

1
3
4
3
1
xyz

IMPORTANT NOTES
(1) When a negative sign remains in top or
bottom, place it in front of the whole fraction
(2) When only a 1 remains in the top, you
must keep it. (Remember when a 1
remains in the bottom, you can ignore it)
Section 5
Mixed Operations
Before anything, simplify all BRACKETS
Then..
Working from left to right, do all
DIVISON and MULTIPLICATION
operations
Then..
Working from left to right, do
all ADDITION and
SUBTRACTION operations
B
DM
AS
Example 1
Solution
Simplify 20 2 9
No brackets.
Do the multiplication first
20 2 9
= 20 18
Now do the subtraction
= 2 (ans)
NOTE good setting out has all the = signs
directly under one another, and never more
than one = sign on the same line.
Example 2
Solution
Simplify 13 (6 + 5) 4
Do brackets first.
Now do the multiplication
= 13 11 4
= 13 44
Now do the subtraction
= 31 (ans)
13 (6 + 5) 4
Example 3
Solution
Simplify 2x 3 + 4 5x
No brackets.
Do the two multiplications
working left to right
= 6x + 20x
= 26x (ans) Now do the addition
2x 3 + 4 5x
2x 3 + 4 5x
Remembering
that you can
only add LIKE
TERMS
Example 4
Solution
Simplify 2x 6xy 4y 3x
2

No brackets.
Do the two multiplications
working left to right
= 12x
2
y 12x
2
y
= 0 (ans) Now do the subtraction
2x 6xy 4y 3x
2

2x 6xy 4y 3x
2

Example 5
Solution
Simplify 12ab (2b + 3b) 4a
Do brackets first.
Now do the multiplication
= 12ab 5b 4a
= 12ab 20ab
Now do the subtraction
= 8ab (ans)
12ab (2b + 3b) 4a
Example 6
Solution
Simplify 8a 12ab (4b + 2b) + 3a a 5a
2

Brackets first.
Division &
multiplication
= 8a 12ab 6b + 3a a 5a
2

= 8a 2a + 3a
2
5a
2

Now subtract like terms
= 6a 2a
2

(ans)
8a 12ab (4b + 2b) + 3a a 5a
2

Example 7
Solution
Simplify (3ab
2
)
2
(ab + ab) 4ab
3
+ 2a
3
b ab
Brackets
first
(3ab
2
)
2
(ab + ab) 4ab
3
+ 2a
3
b
5
ab
= 9a
2
b
4
2ab 4ab
3
+ 2a
3
b
5
ab
Note (3ab
2
)
2
= 3ab
2
x 3ab
2
= 9a
2
b
4

Multiplication
& Division
= 9a
2
b
4
8a
2
b
4
2a
2
b
4

Note 2ab x 4ab
3
= 8a
2
b
4

Note 2a
3
b
5
ab

= 2a
2
b
4

= a
2
b
4


Subtract as
these are all
like terms
The solution to our introductory problem on
Slide #3
Let Nancys age = x
So Stephens age = x + 5
These add to 80, so
x + 5 + x = 80
2x + 5 = 80
2x = 75
x = 75 2
x = 37
So Nancys age is 37 and
Stephen (who is 5 years older)
must be 42
NO GUESSWORK!!!
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