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Emmy1234's avatar

What does the little number to the bottom right of a number mean in algebraic expressions?

Asked by Emmy1234 (878points) January 31st, 2014

I am trying to do programming homework and I have to convert an algebraic expression into java speak. This class had no algebra prerequisite and I think it should have because I don’t remember Algebra. If I knew what that little number was called I could look it up and figure it out on my own but I have no clue! Help please! One portion of it is x (0)<———-0 is the little number on the bottom right.

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8 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Date: 09/30/2002 at 23:37:35
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: Subscript vs. Superscipt

Hi, Kevin.

A subscript is just a letter or number written to the right of
something and below it. There’s no reason it has to have any meaning;
the superscript used for an exponent is just the notation someone
chose long ago to use for powers, and has no inherent significance
apart from that arbitrary choice.

Subscripts are used in various ways, not as specifically as exponents.
For example, if we have a sequence of numbers and want to use a
variable to represent them, we often use a subscript to indicate the
index in the sequence. That is, if the sequence is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ...

a = 1, a = 2, a = 3, a = 5, a = 8
1 2 3 4 5

This notation lets us talk about


meaning the nth term in the sequence, so we can write statements like

a = a + a
n n-1 n-2

We also use subscripts just to label variables:

v = new velocity, v = old velocity
n o

You will see both of these usages later in algebra, or in physics.

I can’t think of any reason to write something like


since subscripts do not denote an operation between two numbers. Ah!
I take that back! We also use subscripts to indicate a base; often,
to avoid confusion, we write out the name of the base, as in

10110 = 22
two ten

Even here, it’s not an operation, like exponentiation, but just a
notation where the subscript is sort of an adjective, as in the other

If you have any further questions, feel free to write back.

- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum

LostInParadise's avatar

It is hard to answer your question without seeing the specific problem. Basically, subscripts are used as part of the name of a variable. It is a helpful device if the variables are of the same type. For example, in geometry you might designate two points as p1 and p2 or two lines as L1 and L2.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We often use it to denote the initial state of the variable. X sub 0 would mean the spot where the object started. V sub 0 is the initial velocity.

Emmy1234's avatar

It is s= s sub 0 *v + v sub 0 t. I don’t know, this stuff is beyond me. I’m just in the beginning of class. We haven’t gone over this at all I don’t know why we are having problems like this.

Emmy1234's avatar

I don’t have to work out the problem I just have to convert from algebraic expression to a java expression

Emmy1234's avatar

it has more to it than that but I know how to do the other portion of the problem

LostInParadise's avatar

The equation that you wrote does not quite make sense to me. A slight variation would be to write s = s sub 0 + v sub 0 t

In words, the final position equals the initial position plus the initial velocity times the elapsed time.

As @LuckyGuy mentioned, the 0 in this case indicates an initial value. In Java, this would be s = s0 + v0 * t. Typically, in programming the subscript is just added to the end of the name of a variable.

LuckyGuy's avatar

That equation is the one of the laws of motion. It tells you where an object is located by looking at how far away it was when you started looking and then adding its velocity times the time .
S stands for displacement or how much something moved from a spot . x sub 0 means its initial position and v sub 0 means velocity, t means time. (The next problem you might have will likely include a ½ a sub 0 multiplied by t sub 0 squared. or 0.5*a sub 0 ^ 2 where a is acceleration.

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