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Try Algebra First?

Try Algebra First?

I know! I used the "A" word. Algebra conjures up the horrors of high school and college math classes. However, the benefits of such an analysis will more than compensate for any minor discomfort you may feel.

One of the nice things about algebraic equations is that they can be simplified by identifying and canceling out nonessential variables.

[(3+2-4)N]/N simplifies to 1

A short formula is better than a long one; they are easier to enter into 1-2-3 or Solver equations; they calculate faster; and they use less memory.

Another event that can occur as you simplify an algebraic equation is that related terms will tend to combine.

2N+3N-1N combines to 4N

This will help you identify key subcomponents of an equation.

Algebraic manipulation of equations is an essentially fractional process. Computers and calculators decimalize fractions, and this can hide the true relationship of numbers. To understand this concept, take a look at the following numbers:

0.5

0.3333333

30.416666

0.03287671

The first decimal is pretty obvious. 0.5 = 1/2. Even 0.3333333 is recognizable as (approximately) = 1/3. You may be saying, "Wait a minute, what's the deal?" Consider the third and fourth examples: What does 30.416666* and 0.03287671** represent?

In the first example, the fraction and decimal are exactly equivalent. However, in the remaining examples, the decimal does not express with 100% accuracy the exact fraction.

There is another advantage to thinking fractionally. Often fractions can be entered with many fewer key strokes than their decimal equivalents. For example, using the HP Calculator in RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) mode, keying in 30.416666 and pressing (ENTER) requires 10 key strokes. Keying in 365, pressing (ENTER), and then keying in /12 requires 7 keystrokes. Of course the computer is going to turn the fraction into a decimal, but it will be stated to the maximum accuracy possible of the computer.

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