
algebra


A generalization of arithmetic in which letter symbols are used to represent unknown quantities so that we can generalize specific arithmetic relationships and patterns. For example, the arithmetic facts 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 4 x 3 and 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 4 x 5 are special cases of the algebraic statement z + z + z + z = 4z. Letters are used to denote any number, or any one of a certain set of numbers, such as all real numbers, to relate laws that hold for any numbers in the set.

