Algebra has become a hot topic in the math-ed community lately. Some revolutionaries want to strike it from the curriculum completely—because it’s not “relevant.” Sorry, but I can’t agree. In the first place, it’s just plain fun to see abstract patterns in the real world. In the second, algebra really is relevant. If you want to think about the world quantitatively at all, it’s a great help to be able to set up and solve simple equations. Then there’s the fact that all math, except Euclidean geometry, depends on some facility with algebra. If you can’t push symbols around according to the rules, forget about it! In other words, algebra is worth learning. I’ve known lawyers who could have used a little more algebra. So let’s get into those equations and push ’em around.

This Cartoon Guide covers the basics of first-year algebra: numbers for counting and measurement, negative numbers, laws of sums, products, and powers, variables, numerical and algebraic expressions, linear equations in one variable, systems of equations, graphing and the analysis of lines, rational expressions, rates of change, exponents, roots, and quadratic equations. With a hat-tip to relevance, I’ve put in many, many, many examples and problems involving MONEY. Solutions to selected problems are included in the back of the book.

Available, as of Jan. 20, 2015, in print or as an ebook for either Kindle or iPad.