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1.7: Words that Describe Patterns

Difficulty Level: Basic Created by: CK-12
Practice Words that Describe Patterns
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Many bicyclists have biking watches that are able to record the time spent biking and the distance traveled. They are able to download the data recorded by their watches to a computer and view a table with times in minutes in one column and distances in miles in another column. How could they use this data to write an English sentence or an algebraic expression? After completing this Concept, you'll be able to answer this question and use the algebraic expression to predict the distance traveled for any time spent biking.


Using Words to Describe Patterns

Sometimes patterns are given in tabular format (meaning presented in a table). An important job of data analysts is to describe a pattern so others can understand it.

Example A

Using the table below, describe the pattern in words.

&& x && -1 && 0 && 1 && 2 && 3 && 4\\&& y && -5 && 0 && 5 && 10 && 15 && 20

Solution: We can see from the table that y is five times bigger than x . Therefore, the pattern is that the “ y value is five times larger than the x value.”

Example B

Zarina has a $100 gift card and has been spending money in small regular amounts. She checks the balance on the card at the end of every week and records the balance in the following table. Using the table, describe the pattern in words and in an expression.

Week #

Balance ($)

1 78
2 56
3 34

Solution: Each week the amount of her gift card is $22 less than the week before. The pattern in words is: “The gift card started at $100 and is decreasing by $22 each week.” As we saw in the last lesson, this sentence can be translated into the algebraic expression 100-22w .

Example C

The expression found in example 2 can be used to answer questions and predict the future. Suppose, for instance, that Zarina wanted to know how much she would have on her gift card after 4 weeks if she used it at the same rate. By substituting the number 4 for the variable w , it can be determined that Zarina would have $12 left on her gift card.



When w = 4 , the expression becomes:


After 4 weeks, Zarina would have $12 left on her gift card.

Video Review


Guided Practice

Jose starts training to be a runner. When he starts, he can run 3 miles per hour. After 5 weeks of training, Jose can run faster. After each week, he records his average speed while running. He summarizes this information in the following table:

Week #

Average Speed (miles per hour)

1 3.25
2 3.5
3 3.75
4 4.0
5 4.25

Write an expression for Jose's increased speed and predict how fast he will be able to run after 6 weeks.


We will use w to represent the number or weeks. Jose's speed starts at 3 mph, and from the table we can see that it increases by 0.25 miles per hour every week. This gives us the expression 3+0.25w . Now we substitute in w=6 and get the following:



If Jose keeps up his training, by the end of the 6th week, he should be able to run 4.5 miles per hour.

Explore More

Sample explanations for some of the practice exercises below are available by viewing the following video. Note that there is not always a match between the number of the practice exercise in the video and the number of the practice exercise listed in the following exercise set. However, the practice exercise is the same in both. CK-12 Basic Algebra: Patterns and Equations (13:18)

In questions 1–3, write the pattern of the table: a) in words and b) with an algebraic expression.

  1. Number of workers and number of video games packaged

&\text{People} && 0 && 1 && 2 && 3 && 4 && 5 && 6\\&\text{Amount} && 0 && 65 && 87 && 109 && 131 && 153 && 175

  1. The number of hours worked and the total pay

&\text{Hours} && 1 && 2 && 3 && 4 && 5 && 6\\&\text{Total Pay} && 15 && 22 && 29 && 36 && 43 && 50

  1. The number of hours of an experiment and the total number of bacteria

&\text{Hours} && 0 && 1 && 2 && 5 && 10\\&\text{Bacteria} && 0 && 2 && 4 && 32 && 1024

  1. With each filled seat, the number of people on a Ferris wheel doubles.
    1. Write an expression to describe this situation.
    2. How many people are on a Ferris wheel with 17 seats filled?
  2. Using the theme park situation from the lesson, how much revenue would be generated by 2,518 people?

Mixed Review

  1. Use parentheses to make the equation true: 10+6 \div 2-3=5 .
  2. Find the value of 5x^2 - 4y for x = -4 and y = 5 .
  3. Find the value of \frac{x^2y^3}{x^3 + y^2} for x = 2 and y=-4 .
  4. Simplify: 2 - (t - 7)^2 \times (u^3 - v) when t = 19, u = 4 , and v = 2 .




Being represented in a table.

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Difficulty Level:



8 , 9

Date Created:

Feb 24, 2012

Last Modified:

Feb 26, 2015
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