## Abstract

The rules of indices, e.g.

justified. The difference between computational rules for practical algebraic manipulation and a formal definition was often blurred.

*a*= (^{n}b^{n}*ab*)^{n}, are a particularly important part of elementary algebra. This paper reports results from a textbook analysis which examined how the shift from integer to rational exponents in the rules of indices is discussed in school textbooks. The analysis also considered related issues, such as notation and the introduction of complex numbers. A selection of popular textbooks from the period 1800–2000 was examined and the nature of the justification given for the extension of meaning to rational indices considered. In both the definition and computational rules, when extending the domain of*n*in*a*to rational numbers the (potential) contraction of the domain of^{n}*a*to positive numbers was often quietly ignored. A wide variety of approaches are used in choosing what is to be a definition, what is to follow, and how this isjustified. The difference between computational rules for practical algebraic manipulation and a formal definition was often blurred.

Original language | English |
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Pages (from-to) | 1191-1209 |

Number of pages | 20 |

Journal | International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology |

Volume | 50 |

Issue number | 8 |

Early online date | 14 Apr 2019 |

DOIs | |

Publication status | E-pub ahead of print - 14 Apr 2019 |