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Henrico County Public Schools, Virginia
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Module - Solving Equations
Introduction - History of Algebra



Solving Equations by Addition or Subtraction


Solving Equations by Multiplication or Division


Solving Multi-Step Equations


Solving Equations with Variables on Both Sides


Solving Equations and Formula


Direct & Inverse Variation


Module Review



Algebra. What is it? "Algebra" is derived from an Arabic expression {em al-jabr wa’l muqabala} which occurs in the title of the first Arabic text on algebra written by Al-Khwarizmi. To him, "Algebra" is the art of reducing and solving equations.

Algebra has been used for over 4500 years dating back to ancient Babylon, where assignments were written on clay tablets using the ends of little sticks to make wedge-shaped marks. About 1000 years later, Egyptian students wrote their assignments on papyrus, a parchment-like material that was easier to write on than a clay tablet. They may not have had compact disks or VCRs but they did have homework!!

If you could read any of these assignments today, you might not recognize them as algebra assignments. Letters were not used for unknown values in their equations because the alphabet of today had not yet been invented! So, instead of letters, they made little pictures that stood for the unknowns. Algebraic symbolism using letters did not gain wide acceptance until the Greek mathematician, Diophantus, introduced his style of writing equations.

Upon completion of the activities in this unit, you should be able to:

  • Solve equations using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Solve equations involving more than one operation.
  • Solve equations with the variable on both sides.
  • Solve equations containing grouping symbols.
  • Solve literal equations (formulas) for a specified variable.
HCPS 2002-