Math Definitions

 Definition of Mathematical Terms

Below are definitions and formulas that are useful. Review and learn them to help you become more comfortable with the material. More help is available in our Handouts section, and practice is available in our Practice Quizzes section.

 

 Math Definitions  Math Definitions

 Abbreviations for Units of Measurement

U.S. Standard

Metric

Distance

in.
ft.
mi.

inch
foot
mile

m
km
cm
mm

meter
kilometer
centimeter
millimeter

Volume

gal.
qt.

gallon
quart

L
mL
cc

liter
milliliter
cubic centimeter

Weight/Mass

lb.
oz.

pound
ounce

g
kg
mg

gram
kilogram
milligram

Temperature

F

Fahrenheit

C

Celsius

Time

sec.
min.
hr.

second
minute
hour

------- -------

Speed

mph

miles per hour

------- -------

 Translating Words into Algebraic Terms

Words

Example

Meaning

Expression

the sum of a and b; the total of a and b; or words like 'in all' or 'all together'

The sum of two numbers is 45.

Add a to b to equal 45.

a + b = 45 or
b + a = 45

a more than b; a increased by b; a in addition to b. (But be careful: 'more than' in the question part of the problem can mean subtract-described in next entry.)

The sum of two numbers is equal to 45, and the larger number is 13 more than the smaller.

Add a to b to equal 45; then substitute for b the expression a + 13.

a + b = 45,
expanded to
a + (a + 13) = 45

How much more than a is b? or How much less than b is a?

Ben and Kara read a total of 128 pages this weekend. If Ben read 45 pages, how many more pages than Ben did Kara read?

Subtract Ben's total, b, from the overall total to calculate Kara's total, k. Then subtract Ben's total from Kara's.

k = 128 - 45
k = 83
k - b = 83 - 45
k - b = 38

the difference between a and b

The difference between two numbers is 6.

Subtract b from a to equal 6

a - b = 6

a decreased by b, or words indicating a decrease, such as spend, lose, give away, take away, deduct, etc.

The sum of two numbers decreased by 16 is 34.

Subtract 16 from the sum of a and b to equal 34.

(a + b) - 16 = 34

the product of x and y; x times y

The product of two number is 144. The larger number is 4 times the smaller.

Multiply x and y to equal 144; then substitute 4 times the smaller number for the larger number.

xy = 144
x(4x) = 144

the word 'of ' with percents and fractions

Lonnie spends N hours on each drawing. She estimates that she spends a third of that time planning and another 15 percent of the time revising her work. How much time does she spend on these two activities?

Multiply 1/3 times N and 0.15 times N. The add the two result to get the time, T.

1/3(N) + 0.15(N) = T

the quotient of p and r, or words like 'per' and 'each'

In r hours James read p pages. How many pages did he read per hour?

Divide p by r.

P or P/r
r

 Formulas