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What Is an Integer in Algebra Math?

by Scott Levin, Demand Media

    In algebra, students use letters and symbols in place of numbers in order to solve mathematical equations. In this branch of math, the term "integer" is frequently used. An integer is any whole number, whether that number is positive or negative. Fractions are not whole numbers and, thus, are not integers. Integers come in multiple forms and are applied in algebraic problems and equations.

    Positive Integers

    Commonly, integers come in the form of a positive whole number. This means that any number in the following set (1, 2, 3, 4...) is a positive integer. The three dots signify a continuing chain of integers after four. Numbers such as 1.25, 4.003 and Pi are positive numbers, but because they are not whole, they are not integers.

    Negative Integers

    Integers can also be negative whole numbers. Any number in this set (...-4, -3, -2, -1) is a negative integer. Similar to positive integers, numbers such as -3.5 and -10 are not integers because they are not whole.

    Zero

    Another way to look at integers is to say that an integer must be even or odd. Using this logic, zero is an integer, as it is an even whole number. Zero is not classified as a positive or negative number or integer.

    Algebra Word Problems

    In algebra, you may be asked to solve an equation by providing the missing integer. For example, a word problem may say that the sum of two consecutive integers is 29. What are the integers? To solve, set up an algebraic equation -- X + (X+1) = 29 -- and solve for X. This simplifies to 2X + 1 = 29 and then 2X = 28. This means that X = 14 and the two consecutive integers in question are 14 and 15.

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    About the Author

    Based in California, Scott Levin has served as a writer and copy editor since 2000. His articles have appeared in the "Chico News & Review," "Wildcat Illustrated," the "Chico Enterprise-Record" and on websites such as The Sports Informant. Levin earned his Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University, Chico.

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