Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Introduction to operators

Watch Dr. Yossi Elran explain about operators.
Math is all about numbers, at least that’s what most people think. When we look at an exercise, like 1+1=2, we are usually interested only in the numbers. We usually take the math signs, like the “+” sign, for granted! This week, however, we’ll focus on the various operations that can be done with numbers rather than the numbers themselves. These operations are called operators. An operator describes an action performed on numbers or on other elements, like figures or even words and sentences.
The most well-known operators are the mathematical operators: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division that operate on numbers. The text operator “concatenate” - joining two operands operates on text. A concatenate B equals AB. The symmetry operators, rotate, flip etc. operate on shapes. This week we’ll take a look at operator puzzles. We will focus on two kinds of puzzles. The first genre is puzzles where expressions are given without the operator and your job is to guess the correct operator. For example, here are three expressions. In all three, the same operator, denoted by a question mark, and we have to try and guess what this operator is. 34 something 12 is 46, 1 something 43 equals 44, minus 7 something 7 equals zero.
This is easy - it is of course addition. 34 + 12 = 46, 1 +43 = 44 and -7 + 7 =0. The second kind of puzzles is operator crosswords like this. Towards the end of the week we’ll take a peek at secret codes and we’ll see the connection between them and operators. Have a good week!

This week we’ll move away from number symbologies and take a look at operators and operator puzzles. An operator describes an action performed on numbers or on other elements, like figures or even words and sentences. Examples of some well-known operators include: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and more.


Suggest some operators in the comments below!

This article is from the free online

Maths Puzzles: Cryptarithms, Symbologies and Secret Codes

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education