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Created by: Team Maths -, Last Updated: May 31, 2024


In algebra, operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are performed on algebraic expressions, which include numbers, variables, and coefficients. Algebra builds on the foundations of arithmetic by introducing the concept of unknown values, which allows for the formulation and solving of more complex problems

What is Algebra?

Algebra is a branch of mathematics that deals with symbols and the rules for manipulating these symbols. These symbols represent quantities without fixed values, known as variables. The primary aim of algebra is to solve equations or systems of equations to find the values of these variables.

Branches of Algebra

Algebra is a foundational pillar in the world of mathematics, facilitating the study of numbers, equations, and their relationships through various specialized branches. Each branch focuses on different aspects of algebraic concepts and complexities:


This introductory level lays the groundwork for future studies in algebra. Pre-algebra prepares students by introducing basic mathematical concepts such as arithmetic operations, fractions, decimals, and basic properties of numbers. It’s essential for building a solid foundation for understanding algebraic expressions and equations

Elementary Algebra:

  • Often considered the starting point of formal algebra, this branch introduces the basic concepts of variables, expressions, and equations. Elementary algebra is fundamental in solving linear equations, simplifying algebraic expressions, and understanding functions. It serves as the backbone for high school and early college math curricula.
  • Linear equations are of the form, ax + b = c, ax + by + c = 0, ax + by + cz + d = 0. Elementary algebra based on the degree of the variables, branches out into quadratic equations and polynomials. A general form of representation of a quadratic equation is axΒ² + bx + c = 0, & for a polynomial equation, it is axⁿ+ bxⁿ⁻¹+ cxⁿ⁻²+ …..k = 0.

Abstract Algebra:

This branch delves into more sophisticated structures such as groups, rings, and fields. Abstract algebra explores operations within these structures and their underlying axiomatic systems. It is crucial for advanced mathematical theories and applications in cryptography, physics, and computer science.

Universal Algebra:

Universal algebra studies general algebraic structures rather than specific instances. It deals with properties and theories that apply to all algebraic structures, including groups, rings, fields, and lattices. This branch abstracts the elements common to these structures to gain a deeper understanding of their fundamental aspects.

Algebraic Expressions

Algebraic Expression

In algebra, an algebraic expression is a mathematical phrase that can include numbers, variables (symbols that represent unknown values), and arithmetic operationsβ€”specifically addition (+), subtraction (βˆ’), multiplication (Γ—), and division (Γ·). For instance, the algebraic expression 5x + 6 illustrates how these elements are combined:

  • 5 and 6 are constants, meaning they are fixed numbers.
  • x is a variable, which represents an unknown value that can change.

Variables in algebraic expressions can be simple, represented by single letters like x, y, or z, or they can be more complex, involving powers (exponents) and products of variables such as π‘₯Β², π‘₯Β³, π‘₯ⁿ, π‘₯𝑦, or π‘₯²𝑦.

Algebraic Equation

Algebraic equations can be classified based on the highest degree (the largest exponent) of the variable involved. This classification helps in identifying the nature and complexity of the solutions. Here are the main types:

Linear Equations

Linear equations describe relationships between variables, typically x, y, and z, each raised to the first power. These equations are foundational in algebra and are characterized by their simplicity and direct proportionality between variables. A typical linear equation in one variable can be expressed as π‘Žπ‘₯+𝑏=0, where a and b are constants, and x is the variable. Linear equations are straightforward to solve using basic algebraic operations like addition and subtraction.

Quadratic Equations

Quadratic equations are second-degree equations, meaning the highest power of the variable is two. The standard form of a quadratic equation is π‘Žπ‘₯Β²+𝑏π‘₯+𝑐=0, where a, b, and c are constants, and π‘₯ represents the variable. These equations are notable for having up to two solutions, which can be real or complex. The solutions, or roots, of a quadratic equation are determined using methods such as factoring, completing the squares, or applying the quadratic formula. Quadratic equations are pivotal in various applications ranging from physics to economics, where they model scenarios involving acceleration and optimization.

Cubic Equations

Cubic equations involve variables raised to the third power and are expressed in the general form π‘Žπ‘₯Β³+𝑏π‘₯Β²+𝑐π‘₯+𝑑=0. These equations are more complex than linear and quadratic equations and can have up to three real or complex solutions. Cubic equations are extensively used in fields such as calculus and three-dimensional geometry. They are crucial for solving problems involving cubic curves and volume calculations and often require advanced techniques for solving, including synthetic division and Cardano’s method.

Sequence and Series


A sequence is an ordered list of numbers where each number is called a term. Sequences can be finite or infinite depending on whether they have a limited or unlimited number of terms. The terms in a sequence are typically defined by a specific rule or formula. For instance, an arithmetic sequence is one where each term after the first is obtained by adding a constant, called the common difference, to the previous term.

Examples of Sequences:

  • Arithmetic Sequence: An example is 2, 5, 8, 11, …, where each term increases by 3.
  • Geometric Sequence: For instance, 3, 6, 12, 24, …, where each term is obtained by multiplying the previous term by 2.
  • Fibonacci Sequence: Starts with 0 and 1, and each subsequent term is the sum of the two preceding ones (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, …).


A series is the sum of the terms of a sequence. If the sequence is finite, the series is called a finite series, and the sum can be directly calculated. If the sequence is infinite, the series is called an infinite series, and the sum may or may not converge to a finite value.

Types of Series:

  • Arithmetic Series: The sum of an arithmetic sequence. For example, adding the terms of the sequence 2, 5, 8, 11 gives an arithmetic series.
  • Geometric Series: This is the sum of a geometric sequence. For instance, the series formed by summing 3, 6, 12, 24, … is a geometric series.
  • Convergent Series: An infinite series that approaches a specific value as more and more terms are added.
  • Divergent Series: An infinite series where the sum grows without bound as more terms are added.

Calculating Series:

  • For an arithmetic series, the sum S of the first n terms can be calculated using the formula: 𝑆=𝑛/2Γ—(first term+last term)
  • For a geometric series, if the absolute value of the common ratio r is less than 1, the sum S of the first n terms is: 𝑆=first termΓ—[1βˆ’π‘ŸβΏ/1βˆ’π‘Ÿβ€‹]


Exponents in algebra are used to represent repeated multiplication of the same number, simplifying notation and calculations significantly. Here’s an overview of the basic concepts and rules related to exponents in algebra:

Basics of Exponents

An exponent indicates how many times a base number is multiplied by itself. The expression is written as π‘Žπ‘›an, where:

  • a is the base,
  • n is the exponent, and
  • an is read as “a raised to the power of n” or simply “a to the n.”

Key Properties of Exponents

Exponents follow specific rules that make calculations involving powers simpler. Here are the fundamental properties:

Product of Powers Rule: When multiplying two powers that have the same base, add the exponents.


Quotient of Powers Rule: When dividing two powers with the same base, subtract the exponents.


Power of a Power Rule: When taking a power of another power, multiply the exponents.


Zero Exponent Rule: Any non-zero base raised to the zero power is equal to one.


Negative Exponent Rule: A negative exponent indicates division by the base raised to the corresponding positive exponent.


Power of a Product Rule: When raising a product to an exponent, each factor in the product is raised to the exponent.


Power of a Quotient Rule: When raising a quotient to an exponent, both the numerator and the denominator are raised to the exponent.



A logarithm answers the question: “To what exponent must the base b be raised, to produce a certain number y?” Mathematically, this is written as: log⁑𝑏(𝑦)=π‘₯logb​(y)=x which means 𝑏π‘₯=𝑦. In this expression:

  • b is the base of the logarithm,
  • y is the number you want to find the logarithm of, often called the argument of the logarithm,
  • x is the value of the logarithm, indicating the power to which the base must be raised to yield y.

Common Bases

  • Base 10 (Common Logarithm): Denoted as log(y) without a base, implying base 10. It’s widely used in scientific calculations.
  • Base e (Natural Logarithm): Denoted as ln(y), where 𝑒e (approximately 2.71828) is the base. Natural logarithms are crucial in calculus and modeling natural processes like growth and decay.

Key Properties of Logarithms

  1. Product Rule: The logarithm of a product is the sum of the logarithms of the numbers being multiplied. logb​(π‘₯𝑦)=logb(π‘₯)+logb(𝑦)
  2. Quotient Rule: The logarithm of a quotient is the difference between the logarithm of the numerator and the logarithm of the denominator. log⁑𝑏(π‘₯𝑦)=log⁑𝑏(π‘₯)βˆ’log⁑𝑏(𝑦)
  3. Power Rule: The logarithm of a power is the exponent times the logarithm of the base. log⁑𝑏(π‘₯𝑛)=𝑛⋅log⁑𝑏(π‘₯)
  4. Change of Base Formula: Allows the calculation of logarithms with one base in terms of logarithms with another base, particularly useful when calculators or software primarily support one base (usually 10 or e). log⁑𝑏(π‘₯)=logβ‘π‘˜(π‘₯)logβ‘π‘˜(𝑏) where k is any positive number different from 1.

Algebraic Formulas

Algebraic Formulas are equations that hold true for all values of the variables involved. These Formulas can simplify complex algebraic expressions quickly, making them invaluable in solving mathematical problems.

Square of a Sum: (a+b)Β²=aΒ²+2ab+bΒ²

Square of a Difference: (aβˆ’b)Β²=aΒ²βˆ’2ab+bΒ²

Difference of Squares: (a+b)(aβˆ’b)=aΒ²βˆ’bΒ²

Square of a Trinomial: (a+b+c)Β²=aΒ²+bΒ²+cΒ²+2ab+2bc+2ca

Cube of a Sum: (a+b)Β³=aΒ³+3aΒ²b+3abΒ²+bΒ³

Cube of a Difference: (aβˆ’b)Β³=aΒ³βˆ’3aΒ²b+3abΒ²βˆ’bΒ³

Example Application

Problem: Calculate the square of 101 using the identity for the square of a sum.

We start by recognizing that 101 can be expressed as 100 + 1.

Given: (101)Β²=(100+1)Β²

Using the identity for the square of a sum (π‘Ž+𝑏)Β²=π‘ŽΒ²+2π‘Žπ‘+𝑏²(a+b)Β²=aΒ²+2ab+bΒ²

Algebraic Operations: A Concise Overview

Algebraic operations are fundamental techniques used to manipulate expressions and solve equations in algebra. Here’s a short and straightforward explanation of the primary operations:

Addition (+)

  • Function: Combines numbers or variables.
  • Example: π‘Ž+𝑏

Subtraction (βˆ’)

  • Function: Removes one quantity from another.
  • Example: π‘Žβˆ’π‘

Multiplication (Γ—)

  • Function: Multiplies numbers or variables to increase value exponentially.
  • Example: π‘ŽΓ—π‘

Division (Γ·)

  • Function: Splits a number into specified parts.
  • Example: π‘Ž/𝑏

Basic Rules and Properties of Algebra

The basic rules or properties of algebra for variables, algebraic expressions, or real numbers a, b and c are as given below,

Commutative Property of Addition: a + b = b + a
Commutative Property of Multiplication: a Γ— b = b Γ— a
Associative Property of Addition: a + (b + c) = (a + b) + c
Associative Property of Multiplication: a Γ— (b Γ— c) = (a Γ— b) Γ— c
Distributive Property: a Γ— (b + c) = (a Γ— b) + (a Γ— c), or, a Γ— (b – c) = (a Γ— b) – (a Γ— c)
Reciprocal: Reciprocal of a = 1/a
Additive Identity Property: a + 0 = 0 + a = a
Multiplicative Identity Property: a Γ— 1 = 1 Γ— a = a
Additive Inverse: a + (-a) = 0

Solved Examples on Algebra

Problem: Solve the equation 2π‘₯+3=11 , Find the value of x?


Question 2: Factor and solve the quadratic equation π‘₯Β²+6π‘₯+9=0


  1. Factor the quadratic: Look for two numbers that multiply to and add to .

    or more simply,

  2. Solve for π‘₯:

Answer: π‘₯=βˆ’3.

Answer: π‘₯=4

Question 3: Solve the system of equations 2π‘₯+3𝑦=6 and 4π‘₯βˆ’π‘¦=5


  1. Isolate in the second equation:
  2. Substitute in the first equation:
  3. Solve for :
  4. Find using the value of :

Answer: π‘₯=1.5,𝑦=1.

Question 4: Solve the equation (5π‘₯βˆ’3)/4=(3π‘₯+9)/2


  1. Eliminate the fractions: Multiply each term by the least common multiple of the denominators, which is 4.
  2. Expand and simplify: Distribute and bring all terms involving to one side.
  3. Solve for : Divide by -1.

Answer: π‘₯=βˆ’21x=βˆ’21.

Short Algebra Questions with Answers

  1. Question: Solve for in the equation π‘₯+5=12

    • Answer: π‘₯=7
  2. Question: What is the value of 𝑦 when 2π‘¦βˆ’4=6?

    • Answer: 𝑦=5
  3. Question: If 3π‘₯=9, what is π‘₯?

    • Answer: π‘₯=9/3=3
  4. Question: Calculate π‘₯Β if 7π‘₯βˆ’14=0

    • Answer: π‘₯=14/7=2
  5. Question: What is the coefficient of π‘₯Β in the expression 4π‘₯+6?

    • Answer: 4
  6. Question: Simplify the expression 5(3π‘₯+4).

    • Answer: 15π‘₯+20
  7. Question: Find the constant term in the polynomial 6π‘₯Β²+3π‘₯+7

    • Answer: 7
  8. Question: If π‘₯βˆ’3=10, what is π‘₯?

    • Answer: π‘₯=13
  9. Question: What is the product of and 𝑦 if π‘₯=3Β and 𝑦=4?

    • Answer: 12
  10. Question: Solve for 𝑦 in the equation 4𝑦+1=9.

    • Answer: 𝑦=2


Is Algebra Harder or Calculus?

Algebra and calculus both have unique challenges. Algebra focuses on solving equations and understanding functions, while calculus deals with concepts of change like derivatives and integrals. Typically, calculus is considered harder as it builds on algebraic principles and introduces more complex ideas.

Is Algebra Hard Math?

Algebra can be challenging for many students as it involves abstract thinking and problem-solving skills. It marks a transition from arithmetic to more concept-oriented mathematical studies. How hard it is can depend greatly on the student’s foundation in earlier math concepts.

What Are the Four Types of Algebra?

The four main branches of algebra are: Elementary Algebra, which deals with the basic rules of algebra involving variables and constants; Abstract Algebra, focused on algebraic structures like groups, rings, and fields; Linear Algebra, which involves vector spaces and linear mappings; and Boolean Algebra, which deals with truth values and binary variables.

What is the Hardest Math Algebra?

Among the different types of algebra, Abstract Algebra is often considered the hardest. It dives into advanced topics like groups, rings, and fields, which are more abstract and theoretical compared to the concrete numbers and operations found in elementary algebra.

How Many Levels of Algebra Are There?

There are typically three main levels of algebra taught in educational settings: Algebra 1, which covers fundamental algebraic concepts; Algebra 2, which dives deeper into complex equations and functions; and Advanced Algebra, which includes topics such as complex numbers and polynomial division. These levels progressively build depth and complexity


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