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Seeing Structure in Expressions
Interpret the structure of expressions
Write expressions in equivalent forms to solve problems
An expression is a record of a computation with numbers, symbols that represent numbers, arithmetic operations, exponentiation, and, at more advanced levels, the operation of evaluating a function. Conventions about the use of parentheses and the order of operations assure that each expression is unambiguous. Creating an expression that describes a computation involving a general quantity requires the ability to express the computation in general terms, abstracting from specific instances.
Reading an expression with comprehension involves analysis of its underlying structure. This may suggest a different but equivalent way of writing the expression that exhibits some different aspect of its meaning. For example, p + 0.05p can be interpreted as the addition of a 5% tax to a price p. Rewriting p + 0.05p as 1.05p shows that adding a tax is the same as multiplying the price by a constant factor.
Algebraic manipulations are governed by the properties of operations and exponents, and the conventions of algebraic notation. At times, an expression is the result of applying operations to simpler expressions. For example, p + 0.05p is the sum of the simpler expressions p and 0.05p. Viewing an expression as the result of operation on simpler expressions can sometimes clarify its underlying structure.
A spreadsheet or a computer algebra system (CAS) can be used to experiment with algebraic expressions, perform complicated algebraic manipulations, and understand how algebraic manipulations behave.
Standards in this Domain
MAT-HS.A-SSE.01 - Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.
MAT-HS.A-SSE.02 - Use the structure of an expression to identify ways to rewrite it. For example, see x4 - y4 as (x2)2 - (y2)2, thus recognizing it as a difference of squares that can be factored as (x2 - y2)(x2 + y2).
MAT-HS.A-SSE.03 - Choose and produce an equivalent form of an expression to reveal and explain properties of the quantity represented by the expression.
MAT-HS.A-SSE.04 - Derive the formula for the sum of a finite geometric series (when the common ratio is not 1), and use the formula to solve problems. For example, calculate mortgage payments.