What is Algebra? - Math Made Easy
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!



Algebra is the way Islamic mathematicians figured out to connect our ideas about geometry with our ideas about numbers. You can use equations to represent geometric shapes. You can also use equations to represent the movement of numbers (or real objects like trains) through time or space.

The simplest equations have only one variable. They look like y = 3 or x = 4 + 15. These equations define a line in space: they tell you which line someone is talking about.

Equations can also have two variables. These look like y = 2x + 1 or x = 4y - 12. These equations also define a straight line, but the line can be tilted in various ways, and can move up or down, to the left or to the right.

What if the line you want to talk about isn't straight, but curvy? Quadratic equations help you to define a curved line. They look like y = x2 or x = 8y3 + 16.

These equations each define one particular line, but you can also use algebra to describe a whole set of lines that are all in the same category. We call simple categories algebraic groups, and more complicated kinds of groups are called rings and fields.

Learn by doing: playing Battleship
More about equations

Bibliography and further reading about algebra:

More about geometry
Quatr.us home

For Presidents' Day, check out our articles about Washington in the Revolutionary War and Lincoln in the Civil War. Find out about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the other Amendments, and how Washington promised to include freedom of religion.
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Looking for more?
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Proud of your class page, homework page, or resource page? Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Cool stuff we've been enjoying: Looking for Valentine's gifts? Check out these new Chromebooks - all the computer you need for only $229.00!. Then study in peace with these Beats wireless headphones - for the exact same price! When you're done, show off your presentation or watch a movie with this excellent smartphone projector for only $39.99!

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 21 February, 2017