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By John Davis

It’s a pity that algebra often has such a ‘bad press’ in primary school mathematics for it gives pupils an early introduction to how mathematicians express relationships and use numbers and symbols like a shorthand version of words.



  1. The history of algebra
  2. Word problems
  3. Formulae and expressions
  4. Equations
  5. Variable unknowns
  6. Simultaneous equations
  7. Factorising and expanding

The history of algebra

Ancient mathematician
  • The word algebra has deep historical roots. It comes from the word al-jabr that is contained in the title of the most famous book written by Muhammed Al-Khwarizmi, an Arab scholar who lived in the country we now call Iraq around 800 AD.
  • The book, called Hisab al-jabr w’al muqabala (Calculation by Restoration and Reduction), contains rules to find solutions to equations but was also intended to be a highly practical document that would illustrate how algebra can be used to solve real life practical problems.
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