We’ve been looking at the commutative, associative, and distributive properties of operations, starting at an introductory level. But why are these properties important? Why do they have names in the first place? And what other operations have them?
In working on last week’s post, I realized that I haven’t yet covered the general idea of properties, such as commutative, associative, and distributive. Here I’ll collect some introductory answers on that topic. Next week, we’ll dig a little deeper.
(A new question of the week) This week, we’ll look at two recent questions about how parentheses (brackets) are used, how they relate to the properties we use in algebra that let us add or drop them, and the related concept of factoring a polynomial. They are examples of how student questions can touch on …