How to Determine the Distance Between Two Numbers on a Number Line

How to Determine the Distance Between Two Numbers on a Number Line
••• allanswart/iStock/GettyImages

A slow way to calculate the distance between numbers on a number line is to count every number between them. A simpler, faster way is to find the distance through subtraction and absolute values. An absolute value is the positive representation for a number and is symbolized as |a|. For example, the absolute values of 3 and -3, or |3| and |-3|, are both 3. This method of number line distance works for numbers close together and far apart.

    Select two numbers on the number line. For this example, the numbers are -9 and 5.

    Subtract one number on the number line from the other number. For this example, -9 subtracted from 5 is 14. If subtracting 5 from -9, the answer would be -14.

    Obtain the absolute value of the number line difference. For this example, the absolute value for either 14 or -14 -- that is, |14| or |-14| -- is 14. The distance between the two numbers is 14.

Related Articles

How to Calculate Arctan
How to Use a Number Line
How to Calculate the Midpoint Between Two Numbers
How to Find Standard Deviation on a TI 84 Plus
Definition of Mean, Median & Mode
Adding & Subtracting Fractions
What Is a Factor Pair?
How to Divide Rational Numbers
How to Write Math Arrays
How to Solve for Range
How to Multiply Fractions With Negative Numbers
How to Find the Number of Sides of a Polygon
How to Round to the Nearest Ten Thousand
Multiplying Fractions
How to Turn Improper Fractions Into Whole Numbers
What is the Identity Property of Multiplication?
How to Subtract, Add & Simplify Fractions
Preschool Activities for the Number 13
How to Convert a Fraction to a Ratio