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# Reality Sticks

The idea of absolute value is simple enough: distances must be positive values therefore we are only concerned with distance from zero. Blah, blah, blah. I call this idea Reality Sticks for some simple reasons. First, absolute value symbols look like sticks. Simple enough. Second, the reality part is the difference between positive and negative numbers. Think of it as the difference between non-fiction and fiction books. Fiction books and negative numbers aren’t real. They may appear similar to something real and maybe have some real parts to them but they are ultimately fake (don’t say imaginary here for risk of confusing this with the math term "imaginary" which you learn in algebra). Non-fiction books and positive numbers can, and do, exist in the real world. So, here’s the skinny: absolute value is called "reality sticks" because it changes "fake" numbers into real ones BUT it doesn’t affect numbers that are already "real". Here’s an example:

|-5| = 5
|5| = 5

You see? The absolute value of a "fake" number like -5 is 5 because it is five spaces from zero. However, the absolute value of +5 is also 5 because it, too, is five spaces from zero. In other words, absolute value changes fake numbers into real ones but leaves real numbers alone. That’s all it is! Bear in mind, though, that this is only a basic understanding and does not cover trickier expressions. Here’s a few examples. Try to figure out how the answer is determined but don’t sweat it if you don’t. Check other articles of mine for more specifics on absolute value.

-|-4| = -4
|-(-3)| = 3
-|-(-8)| = -8

Math rocks!

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Jeffrey K.