Fundamentals of Social Statistics by Adam J. McKee

An equation is a math statement that indicates that two things are identical.  That is, they have the exact same value.  We are all familiar with the general form of an equation:

Examples:  12 = 4 + 8 and 1 + 1 = 2

Note that an equation will always have an equal sign.  The equal sign is like the center point of a balance.  The equation will remain “true” so long as you do the same thing to both sides.  If I subtract 1 from the left side of the equation, I must also subtract one from the right side in order for it to stay balanced.  We can use this idea of doing the same thing to both sides of the equation to solve for an unknown quantity.

Finding the value of an unknown quantity is often called solving the equation.  Anytime we are solving for X (as a single quantity!) we must remember that our goal is to have the unknown quantity by itself on one side of the equal sign.  We accomplish this by removing all the other numbers that are on the same side as X.  What this means is that we are searching for a math operation that “gets rid of” all the terms that are not the variable we are interested in solving for.

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Last Modified:  02/15/2019

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