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What is Algebra?
Algebra is a branch of mathematics that uses mathematical statements to describe relationships between things that vary over time. These variables include things like the relationship between supply of an object and its price. When we use a mathematical statement to describe a relationship, we often use letters to represent the quantity that varies, sisnce it is not a fixed amount. These letters and symbols are referred to as variables. (See the Appendix One for a brief review of constants and variables.)
The mathematical statements that describe relationships are expressed using algebraic terms, expressions, or equations (mathematical statements containing letters or symbols to represent numbers). Before we use algebra to find information about these kinds of relationships, it is important to first cover some basic terminology. In this unit we will first define terms, expressions, and equations. In the remaining units in this book we will review how to work with algebraic expressions, solve equations, and how to construct algebraic equations that describe a relationship. We will also introduce the notation used in algebra as we move through this unit.
History of algebra

The history of algebra began in ancient Egypt and Babylon, where people learned to solve linear (ax = b) and quadratic (ax2 + bx = c) equations, as well as indeterminate equations such as x2 + y2 = z2, whereby several unknowns are involved. The ancient Babylonians solved arbitrary quadratic equationsby essentially the same procedures taught today. They also could solve some indeterminate equations.The Alexandrian mathematicians Hero of Alexandria and Diophantus continued the traditions of Egypt and Babylon, but Diophantus's book Arithmetica is on a much higher level and gives many surprising solutions to difficult indeterminate equations. This ancient knowledge of solutions of…...

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