Data-driven 4IR skills development

Linear Equations

 Equations and Expressions are closely related. The primary difference between the two is an equals sign. An “equation” has a left side, a right side and an equals sign separating the sides. An “expression,” by contrast, doesn’t have any “sides” and is simply what the name suggests: An algebraic “expression.” Though sometimes it is possible to combine like terms, we are generally not expected to “do” or “solve” anything regarding expressions.


For example:

$$3x – 7 = 2$$

This is an EQUATION, because it has a left side, a right side, and an = sign separating the two.

$$3x – 7$$

This is an EXPRESSION, because there are no “sides” and no = sign.

Solving an equation implies finding the value of the unknown which is represented by a letter.

Linear equations

Linear equations have a degree of 1, meaning that the highest degree of the unknown is 1 e.g. $x+1=0$ is the same as saying $x^1 +1=0$, the power of $x$ determines the degree.


The general form of a linear equation is as follows:


where $y$ is the dependent variable (vertical axis), $x$ is the independent variable (horizontal axis),  $m$ is the slope (gradient) and $c$ is the y-intercept (point when $x=0$)

The gradient is the rate of change of $y$ compared to the rate of change of $x$.

$m=\frac{y_2 – y_1}{x_2 – x_1}$


Solve the following linear equations:



  1.                  $x-3=17$
  2.                  $2x+5 =7$
  3.                  $ x+2 = 5 + 2x$
  4.                  $x +5x + 35 = 10 – 3x+ 4 -20x$
  5.                  $2x-14 = 5+x$
  6.                  $3(z+2) = 3(z-1)$
  7.                  $2(x-2) – (x-1) =2x-2$



Straight-Line Equations: Parallel and Perpendicular Lines


Parallel lines have the same slope (gradient) — and lines with the same slope are parallel.


Perpendicular slopes have opposite signs. The other$\mathit{ opposite}$ thing with perpendicular slopes is that their values are reciprocals; that is, you take the one slope value, and flip it upside down. Put this together with the sign change, and you get that the slope of the perpendicular line is the negative reciprocal of the slope of the original line — and two lines with slopes that are negative reciprocals of each other are perpendicular to each other. In numbers, if the one line’s slope is$ m = \frac{4}{5}$, then the perpendicular line’s slope will be $m = \frac{-5}{4}$. If the one line’s slope is $m = {–2}$, then the perpendicular line’s slope will be $m = \frac{1}{2}$.


Calculate the slopes and compare them.

One line passes through the points $(–1, {-2})$ and $(1, 2)$; another line passes through the points $({-2}, 0)$ and $(0, 4)$.

Are these lines parallel, perpendicular, or neither?

One line passes through the points $(0, -4)$ and $(-1, -7)$; another line passes through the points $(3, 0)$ and $(–3, 2)$. Are these lines parallel, perpendicular, or neither?

One line passes through the points $(-4, 2)$ and $(0, 3)$; another line passes through the points $(-3, –2)$ and $(3, 2)$. Are these lines parallel, perpendicular, or neither?

Determine whether $y=\frac{-1}{2x+1}$, $y=2x+1$ are parallel, perpendicular, or neither.

Tell whether the line for each pair of equations are parallel,perpendicular,or neither. $$y={-1}{2x-11}$$ and $ 16x-8y=-8 $

Line joining two points

Consider two points $AB$ with coordinates:

$A(1234.56;2345.67)$$ and $$B(1296.32;2417.38)$ then

$m_1=\frac{(y_A – y_B)}{x_A – x_B)}$

$=\frac{(2345.67 – 2417.38)}{(1234.56 – 1296.32)}$




$c_1 = y_A -m_1x_A = 2345.67 – 1.161108 * 1234.56$


$c_1=y_B-m_1x_B = 2417.38 – 1.161108 * 1296.32$


Both cases, this gives $c_1 = 912.21$ hence the line joining $A$ to $B$ is $y=1.161108x + 912.21$


The point of intersection of two lines

Following on from the example in Example 3.1, for two points $CD$ with:

$C(1300.24, 2351.77)$    and   $D(1212.45, 2431.78)$ we have

$m_2 = \frac{(-80.01)}{(87.79)} = -0.9113794 $$   and   $$ c_2 = 3536.78 $

Or for the line $CD, y = -0.9113794 x + 3536.78$

The point of intersection between the lines $AB$ and $CD$ must satisfy both these conditions. Then,

For $AB: y = 1.161108 x + 912.21$

For $CD: y = -0.9113794 x + 3536.78 $

Hence, at point $P$:

$1.161108 * x + 912.21 = -0.9113794 * x + 3536.78$

Adding $0.9113794 * x $ to both sides of the equation and taking $912.21$ away from both sides gives:

$1.161108 * x + 0.9113794 * x + 912.21 – 912.21$

$= -0.9113794 * x + 0.9113794 * x + 3536.78 – 912.21$ which results in

$2.072487 * x = 2624.57$

Dividing both sides by $$2.072487$$

$x = 1266.39$

Hence, $y = 1.161108 * 1266.39 + 912.21 $ or $y = 2382.62$

The coordinates of P are therefore $(1266.39, 2382.62)$. Thus, using the principles of arithmetic, we have found the coordinates of the point of intersection of two lines.

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Edzai Conilias Zvobwo is passionate about empowering Africans through mathematics, problem-solving techniques and media. As such, he founded MathsGee. Through this organisation, he has helped create an ecosystem for disseminating information, training, and supporting STEM education to all African people. A maths evangelist who teaches mathematical thinking as a life skill, Edzai’s quest has seen him being named the SABC Ambassador for STEM; he has been invited to address Fortune 500 C-suite executives at the Mobile 360 North America; was nominated to represent Southern Africa at the inaugural United Nations Youth Skills Day in New York; was invited to be a contributor to the World Bank Group Youth Summit in 2016; has won the 2014 SADC Protocol on Gender and Development award for his contribution to women’s empowerment in education; and has partnered with local and global firms in STEM interventions.

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