Standard Algorithm for Addition

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  • 0:03 What Is a Standard Algorithm?
  • 0:34 Adding Multi-Digit Numbers
  • 1:22 Practice Problem
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Audrey Akins

Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.

When you start adding multi-digit numbers together, the easiest and most common way to do this is through the use of the standard algorithm for addition. In this lesson, we will learn what that algorithm is and look at several examples.

What Is a Standard Algorithm?

Wait! Stop! Don't run away - it's not really as bad as it sounds! I know what happened. You heard the word algorithm and wanted nothing more to do with this lesson. Well, algorithm is just a fancy word for talking about a process used to solve problems. And standard just means something that is normally used. So, putting it all together, standard algorithm for addition simply means a normally used process to solve addition problems! Why can't we just say that in the first place, right?

Adding Multi-Digit Numbers

The standard algorithm for addition has three simple rules:

Rule 1: Line up the numbers vertically by matching the place values - and start with the ones place.

To explain: When you add multi-digit numbers, the problem is typically written vertically - meaning one set of numbers is on top of the other. But, you can't just place the numbers anywhere - there is a proper placement of the numbers based upon place value. Place value is the place a number represents when a number is written in standard form. We will look at an example after we review the rest of the rules.

Rule 2: Add together the numbers that share the same place value - again, start with the ones place.

Rule 3: Regroup, if necessary.

OK. Now that we have the rules, let's practice!

Practice Problem

Let's add 269 + 148.

Rule 1 tells us that you must line the numbers up starting with the digits in the ones place and then continue for the tens place and the hundreds place. For this problem, the numbers 9 and 8 are in the ones place, so we will put them one on top of the other, and the other place values will follow.

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