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How do variables help you model real-world situations?
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A variable stands in place of an unknown amount, and then you can write an equation, or a rule, or a formula, about how that unknown amount can be used.
For example, let's say a store gives you a 10% discount on any item you buy. Also, you must pay sales tax of 5% on the discounted item. With a variable, you can create a formula that once you plug in any item's price into it, you get the final cost including the discount and the sales tax.
In this example, if an item has a price, p, then a 10% discount means the discounted price becomes 0.9p before tax. After the 5% tax, the final price is
1.05 * 0.9p = 0.945p.
c = 0.945p
is now a formula that can be used to find the final cost of any item in the store that has an original price, p.
For example, if an item has an original price of $100, the final cost is
c = 0.945p
c = 0.945 * $100
c = $94.50
The final price is $94.50
Using a variable in a formula allows you to find the discounted price with sales tax added with a simple multiplication.