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Absolute Value

Absolute value describes the distance of a number on


the number line from 0 without considering which Now think about |x| > 2. To show x on the number
direction from zero the number lies. The absolute line, you need to show every number whose absolute
value of a number is never negative. value is greater than 2. When you graph on the
number line, an open dot indicates that the number is
The absolute value of 5 is 5. not part of the graph. The > symbol indicates that the
number being compared is not included in the graph.
distance from 0: 5 units

In general, you get two sets of values for


inequalities with |x| > some number or with |x| =
The absolute value of 5 is 5. some number.

distance from 0: 5 units Now think about |x| = 2. You are looking for numbers
whose absolute values are less than or equal to 2. It
turns out that all real numbers from 2 through 2
make the inequality true. When you graph on the
number line, a closed dot indicates that the number is
part of the graph. The = symbol indicates that the
The absolute value of 2 + 7 is 5. number being compared is included in the graph.

distance of sum from 0: 5 units

In general, you get one set of values for


inequalities with|x| < some number or with |x| =
The absolute value of 0 is 0. (This is why we some number. An easy way to write these kinds of
don't say that the absolute value of a inequalities to show that their values fall between
number is positive: Zero is neither negative two numbers is:
nor positive.)
For |x| < 2, 2 < x < 2
The symbol for absolute value is two straight lines For |x| = 4, 4 = x = 4
surrounding the number or expression for which you For |x + 6| < 25, 25 < x + 6 < 25
wish to indicate absolute value.
Of course, with less than inequalities, |x| will never be
|6| = 6 means the absolute value of 6 is 6. less than 0, so even though x can be negative, the
| 6| = 6 means the absolute value of 6 is number you're comparing it to can't be (or there won't
6. be any points graphed on your number line).
| 2 - x| means the absolute value of 2
minus x.
|x| means the negative of the absolute
value of x.

The number line is not just a way to show distance


from zero, it's also a good way to graph absolute
value.

Consider |x| = 2. To show x on the number line, you


need to show every number whose absolute value is
2.