Math Explorer's Club


Introduction Lesson 1: Addition Lesson 2: Subtraction Lesson 3: Multiplication Lesson 4: Division Lesson 5: Calendar computations Lesson 6: Guessing a number and other tricks 
Subtraction tipsFrom left to rightJust as in addition, it may prove helpful to do mental subtraction from left to right. For instance, to dowe can subtract 3 from 9 (which is the equivalent of doing 92 &minus 30) and then from 62 (92 &minus 30) we subtract 6 to obtain 56. Notice that the when subtracting two digits in x &minus y that are in the same position (for instance 9 and 3 in our example) we need to subtract one more if the following digit of x (2 in our example) is smaller than the following digit of y (6 in our example). Let's do the following example, 274 &minus 100 = 174, 174 &minus 50 = 124, and 124 &minus 2 = 122. Thus 274 &minus 152 = 122. Combine it with additionA simple way of subtracting x, specially if x ends with 7, 8, or 9, is to subtract the closest multiple of 10 that is bigger than x and then add the difference. For instance, to subtract 48, subtract 50 and then add 2; since 48 = 50 &minus 2, we obtain the same result.The same idea can be generalized to do more complicated examples. For instance, since 500 &minus 26 = 474, we can get the answer to 1892 &minus 474 by subtracting 500 and then adding 26. In other words, 1892 &minus 474 is
Activity: Mental subtraction
x &minus y, when (b &minus 1) × 100 &le y &le b × 100 and b × 100 &le x &le (b + 1) × 100ConsiderThe answer 156 can be obtained very easily by subtracting from left to right. However, we can solve the problem by simply adding two numbers. In our case, the numbers to add are 100 &minus 36 = 64 and 192 &minus 100 = 92. Notice that 64 + 92 = 156, which is indeed 192 &minus 36. In general, we can obtain x &minus y, when (b &minus 1) × 100 &le y &le b × 100 and b × 100 &le x &le (b + 1) × 100 very easily: the answer is the sum of the difference between y and b × 100 (the closest hundred to y rounding up) and the number obtained by subtracting b × 100 from x. For instance, In the above example, b = 11, so the numbers to add are 11 × 100 &minus 1046 = 54 and 1127 &minus 11 × 100 = 27. Indeed, we can easily check that 1127 &minus 1046 = 81 = 27 + 54. The proof of the validity of this method is incredibly simple, and we leave it as an activity.
Activity: x &minus y, when (b &minus 1) × 100 &le y &le b × 100 and b × 100 &le x &le (b + 1) × 100
Subtracting without borrowingSometimes one can avoid "borrowing" if we subtract a pair (or more) of digits instead of just one digit. For instance, consider 4261 &minus 3929. If we were to solve this problem in the traditional way, we would have to "borrow" 1 from 6 to do 11 &minus 9. However, notice that if we do 61 &minus 29 = 32 there is no need to borrow. Now we do 42 &minus 39 = 3 to obtain the answer 332.Let's look at a different example: Notice that in either 6 &minus 3 and 26 &minus 73 we would have to borrow. So we do 826 &minus 73 = 753 instead. To get the answer, we concatenate 7 &minus 1 = 6 to 753 to obtain 6753.
Activity: Subtraction without borrowing

