As Avril Lavigne would ask: Why do you have to go and make things so complicated, algebra?

Good question, Avril. The truth is that we live in a complicated world, so many of the equations we use are also complicated. We can hardly expect to be able to understand a concept as intricate as nuclear fission with equations as simple as *x* = 3*y*. If it were that easy, we wouldn't just need to worry about Iran's nuclear capabilities...we would also need to keep a wary eye on every middle schooler with an algebra textbook. The world would be a scary place.

The good news is that there are ways of taking seemingly complicated equations and breaking them down into simpler, more manageable parts. Once you've done that, you will be able to remove the fractions, or the parentheses, or whatever else it is that is sticking in your metaphorical, mathematical craw. You just need to learn the tricks.

Lucky for you, we know those tricksâ€”and we are eager and willing to share them with you. We only ask that you exercise caution when thinking about defusing a gravy grenade anywhere. You may be trying to be cool, but you look like a fool to us. (Ah, the early 2000s, when musical lyrics were indistinguishable from Shakespearean poetry.)

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