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Helping students grasp the why of algebra through patient explanations, Hirsch and Goodman gradually build students' confidence without sacrificing rigor. To help students move beyond the how of algebra (computational proficiency) to the why (conceptual understanding), the authors introduce topics at an elementary level and return to them at increasing levels of complexity. Their gradual introduction of concepts, rules, and definitions through a wealth of illustrative examples-both numerical and algebraic-helps students compare and contrast related ideas and understand the sometimes-subtle distinctions among a wide variety of situations. This author team carefully prepares students to succeed in higher level mathematics.