What does "partition" mean in terms of math?

Mathematician Leonhard Euler described partition as "a representation of an integer as a sum of positive integers." For example, the number 3 has three partitions: 3, 2+1 and 1+1+1. As the name suggests, a partition is a number split into parts.

Partitioning is a way of working out math problems that involve large numbers by splitting them into smaller units.

So, instead of adding numbers in a column:

54
+ 25
_____
79

Students will separate each of these numbers into units, like this: 50 + 4 + 20 + 5

They can add these smaller parts together. For example, they can pick out all the tens and work down to single units, making the problem more manageable, like this: 50 + 20 + 4 + 5 = 70 + 9 = 79.

Get the top-ten list of strategies for improving your math grades at MathGoodies.com.

Of interest, contrary to popular opinion, a natural ability in math will only get you so far in studies of the subject. Research published in Child Development found that hard work and good study habits were the most important factor in improving math ability over time.

But bad attitudes about math are holding us back. Read more at Business Insider.

Updated on Tuesday, November 25 2014 at 11:10AM EST
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