Subtraction is the arithmetic operation for finding the difference between two numbers, though it can also be generalized to other mathematical objects such as vectors and matrices. The names of the numbers in a subtraction expression are: . For example, the expression can be read as "seven minus four equals three", "seven take away four leaves three", or "four from seven leaves three".
If the minuend is less than the subtrahend, the difference will be a negative number. For example, . This can be read as "seventeen minus twenty-five equals negative eight".
Subtraction is 'not' associative, which comes up when one tries to define repeated subtraction. In general, the expression
means or , but these two possibilities lead to different answers. To resolve this issue, one must establish an order of operations, with different orders yielding different results.
Algebraic subtraction change
Subtraction in algebra is different than normal arithmetic because you add negative numbers to a value instead of simply subtracting two positive numbers. Both numbers can also be placed inside parentheses. This is usually to make reading the equation easier.
In the context of integers, subtraction of one also plays a special role: for any integer , the integer is the largest integer that is smaller than , also known as the predecessor of .