Dictionary for Basic and Intermediate Algebra
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Distributive Law
Removing Parenthesis
Evaluation Expression

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Cartesian plane

A system consisting of two perpendicular number lines where a point is represented by an ordered pair of real numbers. The point of intersection is call the origin (0, 0).   For example, in the picture shown below, we plot (3, 2), where 3 is the x-coordinate and 2 is the y-coordinate.. 

Cartesian coordinates were first introduced in the 17th century by French mathematician, Rene Descartes

Center of a Circle

Point from which all the points on its circumference are equidistant.


Prefix denoting a fraction of 100th of the initial units of the international system.
Metric System


Another word for graph


A straight line segment connecting two points on a curve or surface and lying between them.


The distance around a circle,  the circumference for a circle of radius is .


Describing the situation in which a polygon can be completely enclosed by a circle that passed through all the vertices of the polygon. The term can be extended to other figures, including solids.

Closed interval

A set of real numbers lying between and including its endpoints, for example  usually written  [2,5].


A numerical or constant multiplier of the variables in an algebraic term.
Example : Coefficient of  wpe10.jpg (1581 bytes) is -3a

Collinear points

Three or more points in the plane are collinear if there exists a line passing through them.


A vertical array of numbers.


A selection of a subset of objects from a set without regarding order. The number of selections of r different items from n distinguishable items when the order of selection is ignored. Denoted by wpe1.jpg (1346 bytes)  it has the value  wpe2.jpg (1271 bytes).   Example: wpe3.jpg (2223 bytes)

Common denominator

An integer that is exactly divisible by all the denominators of a set of fractions. For example the fractions    have common denominator 12,24,36,48,etc. The least common denominator (LCD) is the lowest such number, in this case 12.

Common factor

A number or a polynomial  that is a factor of each of a given set.

Common multiple

An integer or a  polynomial that is an integral multiple of each in a given set.

Commutative law

Describing the property of a binary operation for which the result does not depend on the order that is performed.  Addition and multiplication of numbers are commutative operations since wpe4.jpg (1040 bytes) and  wpe7.jpg (909 bytes), but subtraction and division are not, since wpe8.jpg (1017 bytes) and wpeB.jpg (1025 bytes).

Complete the square

To solve quadratic equations by replacing the quadratic expression
Quadratic Equations

Complex fraction

A fraction whose numerator or denominator contains fractions.
Working With Fractions


A number, a letter or an expression that that has a fixed value.


A system of equations is consistent if it has one or infinitely many solutions. For example the equations  x+ y = 5  and  2x+y=7 are consistent , since they are satisfied  by x=2 and y=3. For the contrary the equations x + y =5  and  x+ y =7 are inconsistent, since there is no pair of values of x and y that satisfies both equations simultaneously, they are parallel lines. 
System of Linear Equations


A solid with six identical square sides that are mutually perpendicular.
Areas and Volumes 

Cube root

The number, quantity, or expression whose cube is a given number, quantity, or expression. For example, .


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NVCC Alexandria Campus Math Dictionary