# What is multiplication in math?

Multiplication is one of the basic operations in arithmetic and algebra. It refers to repeatedly adding a number to itself a certain number of times. For example, 5 x 3 means adding 5 three times: 5 + 5 + 5 = 15. Multiplication builds on repeated addition and leads into more complex operations like exponentiation. Understanding multiplication concepts and skills is fundamental to higher math and success in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

## Definition of Multiplication

The formal definition of multiplication is:

• The operation of multiplying two numbers together to get a product.
• Repeated addition of one number by another number.

For example:

• 5 x 3 = 15 means adding 5 three times: 5 + 5 + 5 = 15
• 4 x 7 = 28 means adding 4 seven times: 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 28

The numbers being multiplied are called the factors or terms. The result is called the product.

## Important Multiplication Concepts

Here are some key concepts related to multiplication that students need to understand:

• Commutative property – The order of the factors does not change the product. For example, 5 x 3 = 3 x 5.
• Associative property – When multiplying more than two numbers, you can group them in any order. For example, (5 x 3) x 2 = 5 x (3 x 2).
• Identity property – Multiplying any number by 1 results in the original number. For example, 5 x 1 = 5.
• Zero property – Multiplying any number by 0 results in 0. For example, 5 x 0 = 0.
• Distributive property – Multiplying a sum by a number gives the same result as multiplying each addend separately. For example, 5 x (3 + 2) = (5 x 3) + (5 x 2).
• Multiplicative inverse – Every number has a reciprocal such that their product is 1. For example, the reciprocal of 5 is 1/5 because 5 x (1/5) = 1.

## Multiplication Tables

Memorizing multiplication tables or times tables is essential for developing fluency in multiplication. Knowing the tables eliminates the need for repeated addition or counting to find the products. Here is a multiplication table for numbers 1-10:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
3 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
4 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40
5 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50
6 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60
7 7 14 21 28 35 42 49 56 63 70
8 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80
9 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90
10 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

## Multiplication Properties

Understanding the properties of multiplication is key to developing flexibility and fluency in operating with numbers. The main multiplication properties are:

• Commutative property – The order of factors does not affect the product. For example, 2 x 5 = 5 x 2 = 10.
• Associative property – Factors can be grouped together in any order. For example, 2 x (3 x 5) = (2 x 3) x 5 = 30.
• Distributive property – Multiplying a sum by a number gives the same result as multiplying each addend separately. For example, 3 x (4 + 2) = (3 x 4) + (3 x 2) = 18.
• Identity property – Multiplying any number by 1 results in the original number. For example, 5 x 1 = 5.
• Zero property – Multiplying any number by 0 results in 0. For example, 5 x 0 = 0.

Understanding these properties helps simplify complex multiplication problems by rearranging and regrouping terms in an equivalent expression. Mastering the properties builds a foundation for more advanced math concepts.

## Multiplication Methods

There are various strategies and algorithms for performing multiplication computations:

• Repeated addition – Adding a number to itself a specified number of times. For example, 4 x 3 = 4 + 4 + 4.
• Doubling/halving – Multiplying by 2 doubles a number; dividing by 2 halves it. This makes some products easy to compute. For example, 6 x 4 = (6 x 2) x 2 = 12 x 2 = 24.
• skip counting – Counting up multiples of a number. For example, to find 5 x 3, count up by 5s: 5, 10, 15.
• Multiplication tables – Recalling products from memorized tables. For example, from the table, 7 x 8 = 56.
• Standard algorithm – The traditional “carry the one” vertical method for multiplying larger numbers.
• Lattice method – A grid-based method of breaking down factors into place values when multiplying larger numbers.
• Box method – Breaking down factors into place values and writing out the partial products in boxes.

Different methods work better for different scenarios. Developing fluency with various methods ensures students can efficiently handle diverse multiplication problems.

## Multiplying Large Numbers

Several methods can be used to multiply large numbers with more than one digit:

• Standard vertical algorithm – The traditional “stacking” method where each place value is multiplied separately, carrying over sums greater than 10. For example:
 123 x 45 615 492
• Lattice method – Breaking numbers into place values and multiplying in a grid format:
 1 2 3 4 5 4 60 20 615
• Box method – Writing out place values in boxes and adding partial products:
 100 20 3 x 40 5 4000 800 60 615 5540

These methods help break down complex multi-digit computations step-by-step to get the accurate product.

## Multiplying Decimals

To multiply decimals, each factor is multiplied as usual, then the decimal points are counted to determine product placement:

• Multiply factors normally.
• Count total decimal places in factors.
• Place decimal in product by allotting that many places.

For example:

 1.2 x 4.5 5.4 0.6 6.0

The factors have 2 and 1 decimal places respectively, so the product has 2 + 1 = 3 decimal places.

## Multiplying Fractions

To multiply fractions, multiply the numerators together for the new numerator, then multiply the denominators together for the new denominator:

• Multiply numerators.
• Multiply denominators.
• Simplify fraction if possible.

For example:

 2/3 x 5/4 10/12 = 5/6

The numerator 2 x 5 = 10. The denominator 3 x 4 = 12. This can be simplified to 5/6.

## Multiplication Word Problems

Multiplication is useful for solving word problems involving equal groups, arrays, area, and comparisons:

• Equal groups – For example, if each pack has 3 candy bars and there are 5 packs, how many candy bars are there? 3 x 5 = 15 bars.
• Arrays – For example, if there is a 4 x 6 array of chairs, how many chairs are there? 4 x 6 = 24 chairs.
• Area – For example, what is the area of a rectangle with sides of 3 cm and 8 cm? Area = 3 x 8 = 24 sq cm.
• Comparison – For example, if John can paint 3 rooms in an hour, how many rooms can he paint in 5 hours? 3 x 5 = 15 rooms.

Translating word problems into multiplication allows mathematical computation of real-world scenarios.

## Multiplying Expressions and Polynomials

When multiplying algebraic expressions or polynomials, each term is multiplied separately then combined using the distributive property:

• Multiply the first terms of each polynomial.
• Multiply the outer and inner terms separately.
• Multiply the last terms.
• Combine like terms in the resulting polynomial.

For example:

 (3x + 2)(5x – 4) = 3x(5x) + 3x(-4) + 2(5x) + 2(-4) = 15x2 – 12x + 10x – 8 = 15x2 – 2x – 8

Using the distributive property allows complex expressions to be multiplied out correctly.

## Multiplying Matrices

To multiply two matrices, the number of columns in the first matrix must equal the number of rows in the second matrix. Each entry is computed by multiplying rows and columns then summing:

• Matrix sizes must match (# of columns in 1st = # of rows in 2nd).
• Multiply corresponding rows and columns.
• Sum the products within each entry.

For example:

 [ 2 1 ] [ 3 4 ] = [11 16] [0 3 ] [1 2 ] [ 3 10]

2(3) + 1(1) = 11, 2(4) + 1(2) = 16, etc. Matrix multiplication has important applications in linear algebra, computer science, physics, and economics.

## Division as Inverse Multiplication

Division is the inverse operation of multiplication. Dividing is equivalent to multiplying by the reciprocal fraction:

• Division undoes multiplication.
• a ÷ b = a x (1/b)
• Finding an unknown factor means dividing.

For example:

 12 ÷ 4 = 12 x (1/4) = 3