Algebra has become weirdly controversial. Some math-ed revolutionaries want to strike it from the curriculum completely—because it’s not “relevant.” What??!! Sorry, but I can’t agree. First of all, it’s just plain fun to see abstract patterns in the real world. Second, if you ever want to think about the world quantitatively, it helps to set up and solve simple equations. Third, all math, except maybe Euclidean geometry, uses algebra. If you can’t push symbols around correctly, forget about it!! Algebra is relevant! I’ve known some 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 first-year basics: 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. The book includes many, many, many examples and problems involving MONEY. How’s that for relevance? Solutions to selected problems are included in the back of the book.

Note: Since the book came out, sharp-eyed readers have spotted some errors. A very few of these, mostly trivial, appear in the body of the book, where concepts are explained. Unfortunately, rather more mistakes have popped up in the Solutions section at the back of the book. A corrected edition is on the way, but meanwhile, consult this Errata page for the blunders.