Everyday Mathematics The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project
About Everyday Mathematics

Alternative Algorithms

What are the alternative algorithms? Why are these part of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum?

For decades, all American schoolchildren have been taught one standard procedure for each of the four basic operations of arithmetic. These "standard" algorithms, like the regrouping ("borrowing") algorithm for multi-digit subtraction and the long division algorithm, are not the only ways to perform these operations. There are many alternative algorithms taught in other countries. Compared to the standard U.S. algorithms, many of these alternative algorithms are more efficient and easier to learn.

Research has shown that teaching the standard U.S. algorithms fails with large numbers of children, and that alternative algorithms are often easier for children to understand and learn. For this reason, Everyday Mathematics introduces children to a variety of alternative procedures in addition to the customary algorithms. Examples of a couple alternative algorithms are below:

Examples of Alternative Algorithms

Partial-Sums Algorithm

                       2 6 8
                     + 4 8 3
                     _______
                       6 0 0
1. Add 100s            1 4 0
2. Add 10s               1 1
3. Add 1s            _______
4. Add partial sums    7 5 1

Partial Product Algorithm

          67
        x 53
     _______
50 x 60 3000
50 x 7   350
3 x 60   180
3 x 7     21
     _______
        3551

Learn More

Visit our Algorithms / Computation page for worked examples and practice exercises.

Related Links

Everyday Mathematics Online

With a login provided by your child's teacher, access resources to help your child with homework or brush up on your math skills.

Parent Connections on Publisher's site

McGraw-Hill Education offers many resources for parents, including tips, activities, and helpful links.

Parent Resources on EverydayMath.com

EverydayMath.com features activity ideas, literature lists, and family resources for the EM curriculum.

Understanding Everyday Mathematics for Parents

Learn more about the EM curriculum and how to assist your child.