Absolute Value

Absolute Value means ...

... only how far a number is from zero:

"6" is 6 away from zero,
and "-6" is also 6 away from zero.

So the absolute value of 6 is 6,
and the absolute value of -6 is also 6

More Examples:

  • The absolute value of -9 is 9
  • The absolute value of 3 is 3
  • The absolute value of 0 is 0
  • The absolute value of -156 is 156

No Negatives!

So in practice "absolute value" means to remove any negative sign in front of a number, and to think of all numbers as positive (or zero).

Absolute Value Symbol

To show that you want the absolute value of something, you put "|" marks either side (they are called "bars" and are found on the right side of your keyboard), like these examples:

|-5| = 5 |7| = 7

Sometimes absolute value is also written as "abs()", so abs(-1) = 1 is the same as |-1| = 1

Subtract Either Way Around

And it doesn't matter which way around you do a subtraction, the absolute value will always be the same:

|8-3| = 5 |3-8| = 5
(8-3 = 5) (3-8 = -5, and |-5| = 5)

 

More Examples

Here are some more examples of how to handle absolute values:

|-3×6| = 18 -|-12| = -12
(-3×6 = -18, and |-18| = 18) (|-12| = 12 and then the
first minus gets you -12)

 

Learn more at Absolute Value in Algebra