# At a Glance - Absolute Value

The absolute value of a number is the number's distance from zero on a number line.

Since we never talk about distance as being negative, the absolute value of a number is always positive. Think of it as the number of jumps it would take to get to zero from a number.

• It would take five jumps to get to zero from -5, so the absolute value of -5 is 5.
• It would also take five jumps to get to zero from +5, so the absolute value of +5 is also 5.

We use bars (vertical lines) on either side of a number absolute to mean absolute value.

|-4| = the absolute value of -4 = 4

Pretty simple. If the number is negative, make it positive. If the number is already positive, leave it alone.

#### Example 1

 Treat absolute value bars as parentheses; do what is inside first.  Take the absolute value of (-3) and add to that the absolute value of (+2).

#### Example 2

 Treat absolute value bars as parentheses; do what is inside first. Take the absolute value of -6, then take the negative of that number.

#### Example 3

 Again, treat absolute value bars as parentheses, do what is inside first, then take the absolute value.

#### Example 4

 Treat each set of absolute value bars as a set of parentheses. Simplify each separately, then subtract.