Writing expressions using algebra
We can use algebra to shorten or generalise calculations written out in words. We can replace "any number" with a letter, usually n or x. So for the operation "any number x 3", which generates the 3 x table, we could write "n x 3" or simply "3n" (see Algebraic notation).
Addition and multiplication are commutative, which is a fancy word that means that the order you write it in doesn't matter. For example, 2 + 3 gives the same result as 3 + 2. Subtraction and division are not commutative. 6  3 gives a different result to 3  6. Because of this, we have to be really careful when writing subtractions or divisions and make sure that the calculation is the correct way round. We can also use powers and roots in algebra. Squares and cubes in particular are very useful, because they relate to the space we experience around us (two dimensions  a flat area, and three dimensions  our world). 
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