Algebra, a branch of mathematics in which arithmetical operations and formal manipulations are applied to abstract symbols rather than specific numbers. The notion that there exists such a distinct subdiscipline of mathematics, as well as the term algebra to denote it, resulted from a slow historical development. This article presents that history, tracing the evolution over time of the concept of the equation, number systems, symbols for conveying and manipulating mathematical statements, and the modern abstract structural view of algebra.


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