BASIC ALGEBRA GLOSSARY
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Title  Description  

Abscissa  The horizontal axis, or the first coordinate in an ordered pair. 

Absolute Maximum  The highest point on a graph, especially over a specified domain. It is the greatest value of f(x) over a defined interval of x, provided y=f(x). 

Absolute Minimum  The lowest point on a graph, especially over a specified domain. It is the least value of f(x) over a defined interval of x, provided y=f(x). 

Absolute Value  The distance on the real number line between a value and zero. It applies best to things for which negative values have no meaning, such as mass or length. 

Accuracy  The quality of approaching an exact value. Distinct from precision, accuracy means to approach correctness, to tend toward an established value. 

Addition  The process of finding a sum or determining a total by joining values together. Values are summed in the process to result in a total. Matrix addition adds elements of matrices of the same order (or dimension). Vector addition results in the diagonal of a parallelogram (if in two dimensions). 

Algebra  The branch of mathematics that allows manipulation of symbols and values to determine quantities that are not always fixed. Variables are essential to algebra. 

Algorithm  A sequence of steps to accomplish a familiar task; a recipe.  
Alpha  The first letter of the Greek alphabet.  
Argument of a Function  The term or expression upon which a function operates. In y=f(x), the argument of the function is x. 

Arithmetic  A branch of mathematics built upon the basic operations of addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Powers, roots, and logarithms are often considered arithmetic in nature. 

Arithmetic Mean  What we generally consider to be the average. The sum of a set of values divided by the cardinal number of the set of values. 

Arithmetic Progression  Also Arithmetic Sequence. A series of terms where successive terms are obtained by addition of a constant. 

Arithmetic Sequence  Also Arithmetic Sequence. A series of terms where successive terms are obtained by addition of a constant. 

Arithmetic Series  Akin to Arithmetic Progressions and Arithmetic Sequences, the series typically reflects an addition operator between terms, as a sum.  
Associative Law of Addition  Provides that addition of groups of terms or values is indifferent to the order of grouping. We may add terms in any order, or group them in any order. 

Associative Law of Multiplication  Provides that multiplication of groups of terms or factors is indifferent to the order of grouping. We may multiply factors in any order, or group them in any order. 

Average  Most commonly, average means the arithmetic mean; we sum the values and divide that sum by the number of numbers. The average between two real values is the midpoint between those values. 

Average Rate of Change  The change in value divided by elapsed time.  
Axes  Most simply, the plural of axis. More generally, the horizontal xaxis and the vertical yaxis that comprise the skeleton of Cartesian Coordinates. 

Axiom  Accepted without proof (unlike a theorem), an axiom is readily understood and regarded as fact.  
Axis  In physics, a line about which a body rotates. In mathematics, a line that divides a plane or space into two equal halves, typically demarcated in units. 
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