Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The traditional names for the terms of the subtraction
- c − b = a
are difference (a), minuend (c) and subtrahend (b).
Starting from position a, it takes you b steps to the right to reach position c. This movement to the right, called addition, can be stated as:
- a + b = c
From position c, it takes you b steps to the left to get back to a. This movement to the left, called subtraction, can be stated as:
- c − b = a
From position 3, it takes no steps to the left to stay at position 3, so
- 3 − 0 = 3
From position 3, it only takes 1 step to the left to get to position 2, so
- 3 − 1 = 2
From position 3, it takes you 2 steps to the left to get to position 1, so
- 3 − 2 = 1
What would happen if you continued the process by going 3 steps to the left of position 3? For our example, you would walk off the end of the line which is not allowed. So, for this operation to be valid, the line must be extended.
For subtraction of natural numbers, the line would have every natural number (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ...) on it.
Using the natural number line, from position 3, it takes you 3 steps to the left to get to position 0, so
- 3 − 3 = 0
But, for natural numbers, 3 − 4 is invalid since it leaves the line. So, for this operation to be valid, the line must be extended.
Using the integer number line (…, −3, −2, −1, 0, 1, 2, 3, …), from position 3, it takes you 4 steps to the left to get to position −1, so
- 3 − 4 = −1
Algorithms for subtraction
- Elementary arithmetic
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