<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
In this section students will:
  • Classify a real number as a natural, whole, integer, rational, or irrational number.
  • Perform calculations using order of operations.
  • Use the following properties of real numbers: commutative, associative, distributive, inverse, and identity.
  • Evaluate algebraic expressions.
  • Simplify algebraic expressions.

It is often said that mathematics is the language of science. If this is true, then an essential part of the language of mathematics is numbers. The earliest use of numbers occurred 100 centuries ago in the Middle East to count, or enumerate items. Farmers, cattlemen, and tradesmen used tokens, stones, or markers to signify a single quantity—a sheaf of grain, a head of livestock, or a fixed length of cloth, for example. Doing so made commerce possible, leading to improved communications and the spread of civilization.

Three to four thousand years ago, Egyptians introduced fractions. They first used them to show reciprocals. Later, they used them to represent the amount when a quantity was divided into equal parts.

But what if there were no cattle to trade or an entire crop of grain was lost in a flood? How could someone indicate the existence of nothing? From earliest times, people had thought of a “base state” while counting and used various symbols to represent this null condition. However, it was not until about the fifth century A.D. in India that zero was added to the number system and used as a numeral in calculations.

Clearly, there was also a need for numbers to represent loss or debt. In India, in the seventh century A.D., negative numbers were used as solutions to mathematical equations and commercial debts. The opposites of the counting numbers expanded the number system even further.

Because of the evolution of the number system, we can now perform complex calculations using these and other categories of real numbers. In this section, we will explore sets of numbers, calculations with different kinds of numbers, and the use of numbers in expressions.

Classifying a real number

The numbers we use for counting, or enumerating items, are the natural numbers    : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. We describe them in set notation as { 1 , 2 , 3 , ... } where the ellipsis (…) indicates that the numbers continue to infinity. The natural numbers are, of course, also called the counting numbers . Any time we enumerate the members of a team, count the coins in a collection, or tally the trees in a grove, we are using the set of natural numbers. The set of whole numbers    is the set of natural numbers plus zero: { 0 , 1 , 2 , 3 , ... } .

The set of integers    adds the opposites of the natural numbers to the set of whole numbers: { ... , −3 , −2 , −1 , 0 , 1 , 2 , 3 , ... } . It is useful to note that the set of integers is made up of three distinct subsets: negative integers, zero, and positive integers. In this sense, the positive integers are just the natural numbers. Another way to think about it is that the natural numbers are a subset of the integers.

, −3 , −2 , −1 , negative integers 0 , zero 1 , 2 , 3 , positive integers

Questions & Answers

sinx sin2x is linearly dependent
cr Reply
what is a reciprocal
Ajibola Reply
The reciprocal of a number is 1 divided by a number. eg the reciprocal of 10 is 1/10 which is 0.1
 Reciprocal is a pair of numbers that, when multiplied together, equal to 1. Example; the reciprocal of 3 is ⅓, because 3 multiplied by ⅓ is equal to 1
each term in a sequence below is five times the previous term what is the eighth term in the sequence
Funmilola Reply
I don't understand how radicals works pls
Kenny Reply
How look for the general solution of a trig function
collins Reply
stock therom F=(x2+y2) i-2xy J jaha x=a y=o y=b
Saurabh Reply
sinx sin2x is linearly dependent
root under 3-root under 2 by 5 y square
Himanshu Reply
The sum of the first n terms of a certain series is 2^n-1, Show that , this series is Geometric and Find the formula of the n^th
amani Reply
Aasik Reply
Wrong question
why two x + seven is equal to nineteen.
Kingsley Reply
The numbers cannot be combined with the x
2x + 7 =19
2x +7=19. 2x=19 - 7 2x=12 x=6
because x is 6
what is the best practice that will address the issue on this topic? anyone who can help me. i'm working on my action research.
Melanie Reply
simplify each radical by removing as many factors as possible (a) √75
Jason Reply
how is infinity bidder from undefined?
Karl Reply
what is the value of x in 4x-2+3
Vishal Reply
give the complete question
4x=3-2 4x=1 x=1+4 x=5 5x
hi can you give another equation I'd like to solve it
what is the value of x in 4x-2+3
if 4x-2+3 = 0 then 4x = 2-3 4x = -1 x = -(1÷4) is the answer.
4x-2+3 4x=-3+2 4×=-1 4×/4=-1/4
then x=-1/4
4x-2+3 4x=-3+2 4x=-1 4x÷4=-1÷4 x=-1÷4
A research student is working with a culture of bacteria that doubles in size every twenty minutes. The initial population count was  1350  bacteria. Rounding to five significant digits, write an exponential equation representing this situation. To the nearest whole number, what is the population size after  3  hours?
David Reply
f(x)= 1350. 2^(t/20); where t is in hours.

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Algebra and trigonometry' conversation and receive update notifications?