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Comparing Values

Comparing Values

There are six symbols used to compare numbers.

Equal to is shown by = and is used when two expressions are the same, such as 3 = 2 + 1;

Not Equal To is shown by  (an equal sign with a line through it), and is used when expressions are not the same: for example, 2 + 2 ≠ 3;

Less Than, <, is used to indicate the first number is worth less than the second number. An example would be 6 < 7;

The less than sign can be combined with an equal sign, , which means the first number is Less than or Equal to the second number;

The Greater Than sign, >, shows that the first number is greater than the second, eg 7 > 3;

The greater than sign can also be combined with an equal sign, , to mean Greater Than or Equal to.

A number line can be used to check the relationship of numbers to each other, especially when there are a mixture of positive and negative numbers, or fractions.

Example 1

Indicate which value is a, and which value is b, for these two statements:

a) a < b, if the numbers are 3 and 11;

b) a ≥ b, if the numbers are -6 and 15.

a) The < symbol means less than, and 3 is less than 11.

b) The symbol ≥ is greater than or equal to, and 15 is greater than -6.

Answer: a) a=3, b=11 b) a=15, b=-6

Example 2

Rewrite fourteen is greater than twelve and less than twenty using numbers and one or more of these symbols: =, <, >, ≤ or ≥ in one statement.

Arrange the numbers in order; then use the less than symbol: 12 < 14 < 20.

It can also be written as: 20 > 14 > 12, using the greater than symbol.

Answer: 12 < 14 < 20 (or 20 > 14 > 12)

See also Calculating Exactly with Fractions