Equation Solving
Equation Solving
There are a number of algebraic terms you should know in order to be able to talk and think about algebra.
Variable:
an unknown quantity, written as a letter. x and y are the most commonly used letters for variables, but a variable can be represented by any letter in the English (or even Greek) alphabet. Variables allow you to describe general situations without specific numbers.
Constant:
a quantity that does not change. In other words, a number.
Term:
a constant or variable and its coefficient. In an algebraic equation, you’ll find that addition and subtraction signs often separate terms from one another. For example, in the equation:
the left side contains four terms {3x3, 2x2, –7x, 4} and the right side contains two terms {x, –1}.
Expression:
any combination of terms. An expression can be as simple as a single constant term, like 5. It can also be as complicated as the sum or difference of many terms, each of which is a combination of constants and variables, such as {(x2 + 2)3 – 6x} ⁄ 7x5. Expressions don’t include an “equals” sign, which is what differentiates expressions from equations. Expressions therefore cannot be solved; they can only be simplified.
Equation:
two expressions linked by an equal sign.
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