Dictionary for Basic and Intermediate Algebra
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Distributive Law
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The first component of a point in the Cartesian Coordinate Plane.
For example, the abscissa of the point P(2, 1) is 2.

Absolute Value

The absolute value of a real number x, denoted |x|, is the distance from x to 0 (on a real number line).  The absolute value of any number can not be negative. For example .   To solve equations with absolute value use the equivalent definition 

Acute Angle

An angle between 0o and 90o


Perform the addition of two or more expressions. For example, .  To add fractions, you have to give them a common denominator and then add their numerators, for example,


Any of a sequence of numbers that are to be added. For example in  3 + 4,  the addends are 3, and 4.


Mathematical operation performed on two or more expressions to give a result which is their sum. For example, polynomials are added by combining like terms.

Additive Identity

Is the number added to any given number x will still get you x. 
In symbols, x + 0 = x = 0 + x, where 0 is  the additive identity. 

Additive Inverse

The additive inverse of an element x is the opposite of x, e.g., the element that added to x give 0; symbolically -x . For example .


The branch of elementary mathematics that generalizes arithmetic by using letters to denote arbitrary numbers. The name algebra came from the Arabic al-jabr w'al-muqabala meaning "restoration and reduction", which first occurred in the works of al-Khwarizmi   (c780-850 A.D.).

Algebraic Expression

Any finite combination of numbers, letters and arithmetic operations, constructed in consonance with the rules of formation. 


A mechanical procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps. For example, the method to find the least common multiple of two numbers. The name derived from the Arab mathematician al-Khwarizmi.


The measure of (a limited region on) a surface.  For example: The area of a triangle with base 4 cm and height 5 cm is
For formula, click here.


The branch of mathematics concerned with numerical calculations, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and the extraction of roots.


Describing the property of a binary operation that the result does not depends on how the elements are grouped. The associative law for addition is   a+(b+c)=(a+b)+c and for multiplication is  a(bc)=(ab)c. Subtraction and division are not associative, for example 7-(5-2)=4 whereas (7-5)-2=0.


Average is the mean value of a group of numbers. For example:  The average of 1, 4, 7, and 8 is 5, since   .


In a Cartesian Coordinate System, either of the lines used to located a point in terms of its perpendicular distance from them. The number of axes is called the dimension of the space.  For example, there are the x-axis and the y-axis in the Cartesian coordinate plane, which has a dimension two.

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NVCC Alexandria Campus Math Dictionary