Elementary algebra is a fundamental and relatively basic form of algebra taught to students who are presumed to have little or no formal knowledge of mathematics beyond arithmetic. The major difference between algebra and arithmetic is the inclusion of variables. While in arithmetic only numbers and their arithmetical operations (such as +, −, ×, ÷) occur, in algebra, one also uses symbols such as x and y, or a and b to denote variables.

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The purpose of using variables, symbols that denote numbers, is to allow the making of generalizations in mathematics.
It allows reference to numbers which are not known. It allows the exploration of mathematical relationships between quantities (such as "if you sell x tickets, then your profit will be 3x − 10 dollars").


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