Arithmetic is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics. It consists of the study of numbers, especially the properties of the traditional operations  between them—addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

Arithmetic operations

The basic arithmetic operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, although this subject also includes more advanced operations, such as manipulations of  percentages, Square Root, exponents, and logarithm functions. Arithmetic is performed according to an order of operations. Any set of objects upon which all four arithmetic operations (except division by 0) can be performed, and where these four operations obey the usual laws, is called a field.

Addition (+)

Addition is the basic operation of arithmetic. In its simplest form, addition combines two numbers, the addends or summand, into a single number, the sum of the numbers (Such as 2 + 3 =  5 or 2 + 5 = 7).

Adding more than two numbers can be viewed as repeated addition; this procedure is known as summation and includes ways to add infinitely many numbers in an infinite series; repeated addition of the number 1 is the most basic form of counting.

Addition properties are commutative and associative so the order the terms are added in does not matter. The identity element of addition (the additive identity) is 0, that is adding o to any number yields that same number. Also, the inverse element of addition (the additive inverse) is the opposite of any number, that is, adding the opposite of any number to the number itself yields the additive identity,0. For example, the opposite of 7 is −7, so 7 + (−7) = 0.

Refer: Number Properties & Sign Rules

Subtraction (−)

Subtraction is the inverse of addition. Subtraction finds the difference between two numbers, the minuend minus the subtrahend. If the minuend is larger than the subtrahend, the difference is positive; if the minuend is smaller than the subtrahend, the difference is negative; if they are equal, the difference is 0.

Subtraction is neither commutative nor associative. For that reason, it is often helpful to look at subtraction as addition of the minuend and the opposite of the subtrahend, that is ab = a + (−b). When written as a sum, all the properties of addition hold.

Refer: Number Properties & Sign Rules

Multiplication (× or · or *)

Multiplication is the second basic operation of arithmetic. Multiplication also combines two numbers into a single number, the product. The two original numbers are called the multiplier and the multiplicand, sometimes both simply called factors.

Multiplication may be viewed as a scaling operation. If the numbers are imagined as lying in a line, multiplication by a number, say x, greater than 1 is the same as stretching everything away from 0 uniformly, in such a way that the number 1 itself is stretched to where x was. Similarly, multiplying by a number less than 1 can be imagined as squeezing towards 0. (Again, in such a way that 1 goes to the multiplicand.)

Multiplication is commutative and associative; further it is distributive over addition and subtraction. The multiplicative identity is 1, that is, multiplying any number by 1 yields that same number. Also, the multiplicative inverse is the reciprocal of any number (except 0; 0 is the only number without a multiplicative inverse), that is, multiplying the reciprocal of any number by the number itself yields the multiplicative identity.

The product of a and b is written as a × b or a·b. When a or b are expressions not written simply with digits, it is also written by simple juxtaposition: ab. In computer programming languages and software packages in which one can only use characters normally found on a keyboard, it is often written with an asterisk: a * b.

Refer: Number Properties & Sign Rules

Division (÷ or /)

Division is essentially the inverse of multiplication. Division finds the quotient of two numbers, the dividend divided by the divisor. Any dividend divided by 0 is undefined. For distinct positive numbers, if the dividend is larger than the divisor, the quotient is greater than 1, otherwise it is less than 1 (a similar rule applies for negative numbers). The quotient multiplied by the divisor always yields the dividend.

Division is neither commutative nor associative. As it is helpful to look at subtraction as addition, it is helpful to look at division as multiplication of the dividend times the reciprocal of the divisor, that is a ÷ b = a × 1b. When written as a product, it obeys all the properties of multiplication.

Refer:  Sign Rules

Arithmetic & education

Elementary education in mathematics often places a strong focus on algorithms for the arithmetic of natural numbers, integers, fractions and decimals (using the decimal place-value system). This study is sometimes known as algorithm. It involves set theory, an echo of the prevailing trend in higher mathematics.

Also, arithmetic was used by Islamic scholars in order to teach application of the rulings related to Zakat and Irth. This was done in a book entitled The Best of Arithmetic by Abd-al-Fattah-al-Dumyati.The book begins with the foundations of mathematics and proceeds to its application in the later chapters.


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