Revision of Basic Algebra
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The use of symbols is an integral part of any scientific work, since without them we would not have advanced beyond the sophisticated arithmetic of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. To study symbols and the relationships between them requires the application of logic. When the symbols represent quantitative concepts, we must use that branch of logic called mathematics. In areas such as economics, accountancy and business studies, the symbols represent various aspects of the real world, e.g. wages, profits, interest rates, etc. Once they are empirically determined and assumptions made about the relationship between them, mathematics can be used to form a framework within which analysis can take place and conclusions derived. In order to use this vehicle of analysis to any effect, we must first understand how to control it. This will involve learning some basic rules and once they are mastered, progress can then be made. This progress can be made extremely rapid indeed if we acquire the skill to apply more sophisticated mathematics. The use of these mathematical tools can be viewed much in the same way as we would view a mode of transport. If we have no transportation we will have to walk. However, by acquiring a little skill we will be able to ride a bicycle or moped. If we persevere, we can progress to driving a car or even learn how to fly a plane. As each mode of transport has its own requirements in terms of driving skills, so mathematics has various levels of manipulative skills. This chapter is concerned with ensuring that the basic tools of mathematics are known and understood, for without them, we will all be doomed to walking.
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