Algebra vs. Calculus – The Difference Between

Similarities and differences between algebra and calculus? There are different branches of mathematics of which calculus and algebra…

Similarities and differences between algebra and calculus?

There are different branches of mathematics of which calculus and algebra are only two. Those who are not familiar with both of these often think they are very similar, but they have different rules and applications. Algebra is the easier of the two and is commonly used every day, but calculus is more difficult and is generally used only in professional fields.

What is algebra?

Algebra is a field of pure mathematics that deals with the operations of numbers and the relationships between them as well as the rules for these operations and relationships. Its primary focus is on the rules and the result that occurs when you construct various combinations of numbers using different rules of operation. Algebra is an umbrella term under which there are different branches of this field. For example, some of the branches of algebra include elementary algebra, linear algebra, and abstract algebra.

The most basic of these branches is elementary algebra and it is the type of algebra that students start learning in school. It assumes that those who use it have no other knowledge of numbers and the rules of operations beyond the four basic applications of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In this form of algebra, numbers are expressed by using letters, usually x and y. This makes it very easy to help students formulate and understand the rules of operation.

What is calculus?

Calculus deals with more complicated aspects of mathematics, such as derivatives, limits and functions of numbers. It, too, has different branches associated with it, such as integral calculus and differential calculus. Because it studies change, it is most often seen as the mathematical language of engineering, economics and science.

The rate of change and the effect that one variable has on another one is the primary rule on which calculus operates. It involves analysis of numbers within parameters, which is why it is of particular importance in biological and physical sciences.

Summary of the similarities and differences

  • Algebra and calculus are fields of pure mathematics that can be used together or individually depending on the application and the purpose.
  • Algebra is a much older branch than calculus.
  • Algebra is commonly used on a daily basis, but calculus is mainly used in complicated and scientific applications.
  • Algebra is taught very early in a student’s school years, but since there is no elementary or basic form of calculus students do not encounter it until they reach high school or beyond.
  • Algebra is much easier to understand than calculus.
  • Algebra deals with the relationship between numbers, but calculus deals with the rate of change between numbers.


Algebra and calculus are two completely different branches of mathematics, but there are times when they are interrelated and can be used in conjunction with each other to solve mathematical problems.

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