Energyequations, such as the above, may be operated with precisely as if they were algebraic equations, a property which is of great advantage in calculation.
Often assumptions are made which lead to equations in x which cannot be solved "rationally," i.e.
Among the great variety of problems solved are problems leading to determinate equations of the first degree in one, two, three or four variables, to determinate quadratic equations, and to indeterminate equations of the first degree in one or more variables, which are, however, transformed into determinate equations by arbitrarily assuming a value for one of the required numbers, Diophantus being always satisfied with a rational, even if fractional, result and not requiring a solution in integers.
The distribution of weight in chemical change is readily expressed in the form of equations by the aid of these symbols; the equation 2HC1+Zn =ZnCl2+H2, for example, is to be read as meaning that from 73 parts of hydrochloric acid and 65 parts of zinc, 136 parts of zinc chloride and 2 parts of hydrogen are produced.
The combination, as it is ordinarily termed, of chlorine with hydrogen, and the displacement of iodine in potassium iodide by the action of chlorine, may be cited as examples; if these reactions are represented, as such reactions very commonly are, by equations which merely express the relative weights of the bodies which enter into reaction, and of the products, thus Cl = HC1 Hydrogen.