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# Algebra foundations: FAQ

Frequently asked questions about algebra foundations

## Where did algebra come from?

Algebra has a long history. The earliest recorded use of basic algebraic concepts is from ancient Babylon, where people used it for things like land measurement and trade. The word "algebra" itself comes from a book written by the medieval Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.

Learn more with our Origins of algebra
video.

## Who invented the algebra that we use today?

Lots of people! Modern algebra is the result of centuries of development by many different mathematicians in many different cultures.

## How is algebra used in the real world?

Algebra is used in countless ways! One example is in computer programming, where variables are used to store data and expressions are used to carry out calculations. Algebra is also used in science, engineering, finance, and many other fields.

Learn more with our Creative algebra at work
video.

## How do we use variables in algebra?

We use variables in algebra to represent unknown quantities. They help us generalize mathematical relationships and solve equations.

Learn more with our Why all the letters in algebra
video.

## What's the difference between an equation and an expression?

An equation has an equals sign, while an expression does not. For example, $3x+2$ is an expression, while $3x+2=8$ is an equation.

## What does it mean to "evaluate" an expression?

Evaluating an expression means finding its value when we substitute specific numbers in for the variables. For example, if we evaluate $2x+3$ when $x=4$ , we get $2(4)+3=11$ .

Practice with our Evaluating expressions with one variable
exercise.

## What are "like terms"?

Like terms are terms that have the same variable raised to the same power. For example, $3x$ and $2x$ are like terms because they both have $x$ as the variable, while $3x$ and $2y$ are not like terms because the variables are different.

Practice with our Combining like terms with negative coefficients exercise.

## Want to join the conversation?

- What happens if there is no algebra in the world?(40 votes)
- Stock market go boom(124 votes)

- Math is math and it just keeps getting harder as you go along.(26 votes)
- I have found that as you progress the levels we call math, if you practice and get ahead on your own it becomes easy. Treat it as a game.(36 votes)

- my punny brain is still like 0/0=0 1/0=0 because there no way for 1/0 to turn into any number and zero means nothing and 1/0 would be nothing due to the denominator being 0 since 1 divided by 0 would be 0

same with 0/0(6 votes)- You can have a whole pizza, or you can divide a pizza into 2 parts, 3 parts, 4 parts, or as many as you want (but too many would be not much pizza). How can you divide a pizza into 0 parts?(22 votes)

- When assuming x is not equal to 0, x/0=k ; x/0 times 0 = k times 0; how do you come up with x on the left side of the equation when x times 0 = 0. Why would the end not be 0=0?(14 votes)
- We are also trying to find the value of k and there are infinite possiblilites(2 votes)

- why is math important?(4 votes)
- Math is important because we use it everyday in our lives. You don't have to be an astrophysicist or a mathematician to understand the full impact of math. You apply it everyday when buying things, when cooking, when planning out your schedule for the day. It surrounds us everywhere, provides the foundation of analytical thinking, and lies behind the inventions of humanity.(23 votes)

- What if in an expression, you don't have any knowledge of a variable in that expression. Such as "2x + 5". How would you solve for x?(3 votes)
- Until the value of x is given, the expression would remain unsolved and as the most simplified form, "2x + 5".(11 votes)

- Why do we need math?(5 votes)
- To solve our problems, and to get high paying jobs in the future(11 votes)

- are there any other names for algebra from olden times(9 votes)
- The first video in lesson 1 explores the origins of Algebra and connects this term to the word "completion."(4 votes)

- is 2x+2=2(x+1)?(3 votes)
- Yes because when you distribute it's equal(8 votes)

- What if I programmed a calculator by code and don't have any exceptions like 0/0.
`cout << x/y << endl;`

And if I enter x = 0 and y = 0, what would the program do? Will it crash?(5 votes)- The result of division by zero depends on the language. In JavaScript, the result is NaN (not a number), in Python, a ZeroDivisionError exception is raised, in Rust, the code will not compile, and in C++, the output is "Floating point exception".

As you can see, each language has its own way of handling division by zero. T(11 votes)