# Feedback Q&A on Algebra

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 66 comments and questions on Algebra issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

## List of most recent 10 letters

### Country

Multiplication with Exponents Multiply terms with different base USA

Division with Exponents Raise number to the zero power Canada

Variables and Constants Solving a problem USA

Purpose Why are letters used in equations? Nigeria

Variables and Constants Formula without constant and variable UAE

Variables and Constants Is zero a variable? India

Multiplication with Exponents 5^6 times 8^6 USA

Variables and Constants Where did naming conventions come from? Australia

Variables and Constants Is number 4 is variable term? India

Variables and Constants What is a value? USA

Next 10

## Multiply terms with different base

Topic: Multiplication with Exponents

### Question

November 3, 2017

I need to find out how to multiply terms with different base and exponents but i looked online and nothing shows up something like this. XY* in a radical multiplied by x*y to the third power inside a radical. Please help it feels hopeless right now

Lester - USA

28307

### Answer

I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to do. Are you trying to multiply something like (2^3)(5^2)?

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## Raise number to the zero power

Topic: Division with Exponents

### Question

October 16, 2017

(3x^-3)^0

Does the exponent -3 x 0 = 0?

Jonathan - Canada

28290

### Answer

Any number raised to the zero power equals 1. For example x^0 = 1.

Thus (3x^-3)^0 = 1

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## Solving a problem

Topic: Variables and Constants

### Question

March 28, 2017

kindly solve for me an algebra problem that is similar to the problem below and give me a step by step procedures:
b=ka+3, k is a constant, if the possible solutions are in the forms (a, b) is (2,3) a solution to the equation?

moifee - USA

27967

### Answer

What are you trying to find a solution for? a, b, or k?

If a = 2 and b = 3, then 3 = 2k + 3, and k = 0. But I don't think that is what you are looking for.

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## Why are letters used in equations?

Topic: Purpose

### Question

March 11, 2017

why did they choose to use letter of alphabets or other symbols as a subject of the formular when numbers can still serve and is even easier to be used in rounding up calculation?

Chidi - Nigeria

27935

### Answer

Numbers are used in specific cases. The letters of the alphabet are considered variables, such that the equation or formula can be used with any numbers.

See Variables and Constants in Algebra for an explanation.

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## Formula without constant and variable

Topic: Variables and Constants

### Question

March 1, 2017

Using formula without constant and Variable is right or wrong.(4-9/2)square 2 please clear it.thanks

Jamil - UAE

27918

### Answer

Just having numbers in the expression is simply an arithmetic exercise. What you have written is (4 - 9/2)^2, which would be (-1/2)^2 = 1/4.

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## Is zero a variable?

Topic: Variables and Constants

### Question

February 13, 2017

0 is variable or constant

Chandra - India

27877

### Answer

Since zero (0) does not change, it is a constant and part of the number system.

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## 5^6 times 8^6

Topic: Multiplication with Exponents

### Question

January 31, 2017

hi, i have a question that is 5 to the 6th power times, 8 to the 6th power... how do i do this i asked everyone and they don't know how
thank you

noelle - USA

27847

### Answer

5^6 (5 to the 6th power) times 8^6 = 40^6 (40 to the 6th power).

(5^6)*(8^6) = (5*5*5*5*5*5)*(8*8*8*8*8*8) = 40*40*40*40*40*40 = 40^6

In general, (x^a)*(y^a) = (xy)^a

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## Where did naming conventions come from?

Topic: Variables and Constants

### Question

August 9, 2016

Ron - from this abc usually constants and xyz variables, but any idea why linear algebra use ith and jth for row and column and then refers to a 2x3 matrix as an mxn matrix. Was wondering if ijkmn arent used so much - or could it be m for myrian and n for numberth nth - even non maths people know what to the nth degreee means? But I is often used for interest as is r for rate. K is most often a specific constant. n I can understand to the last n number but m has me stuck - unless it is like a-z m to n?

TIMOTHY - Australia

27199

### Answer

That is a puzzler. I haven't been able to find where the conventions for naming constants, variables, table rows and columns, and nth degree come from.

There must be some rationale hidden in the archives of mathematical history.

If you ever find out, let me know.

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## Is number 4 is variable term?

Topic: Variables and Constants

### Question

April 27, 2016

1. Is number 4 is variable term? If yes, how?
2. Are all constants are variables? if yes, how?

srilata - India

26968

### Answer

The number 4 is a constant value. "Constant" means the item does not vary. "Variable" means that it can change. Usually, variables are designated by letters.

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## What is a value?

Topic: Variables and Constants

### Question

April 17, 2016

Hi:

I have a question which constantly troubles me.
what is a value ? I found many definitions for the term "value" in Math., i.e. the number represented by a symbol(which is called variable); number represented by a figure, symbol or alike; results of a function or calculation; a particular number; the magnitude(size or amount) of a number; an assigned or calculated numerical quantity (i.e. 3m/sec); etc.

So, what does "value" mean in engineering when we say a physical quantity(i.e. the pressure of the gas) assumes a set of values and when you say" a fixed or constant value of k = 1.38*10-23" ? Here, I think we mean " assigned or calculated numerical quantity" or "number represented by a figure ". We are not talking about numbers assigned to letters (variables in algebra) here, right ? Given many definitions of the term "value" in the math and engineering, I got confused what it means when it appears in a sentence.

Please help me to clear my mind and resolve the confusion I have had for a long time. If my question is not clear, please let me know.

Thanks,

Wei - USA

26938

### Answer

Some of these terms can be confusion, either because they are carelessly used or are different in other disciples.

If you have an Algebraic symbol that can vary, it is called a variable. Otherwise it is a constant. In either case, you can assign a number or value to it, such as a = 5.

But note that the Algebraic symbol can represent a physical entity, like is used in engineering. But typically, values in engineering or physics have units attached to them, such as a = 5 m/s.

Looking at examples and applications is probably the best way to get a feel for the definition.

I hope this helps.

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Next 10

## Summary

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