Solving a math problem results in a numerical answer of equal value to the problem's equation. Most math problems require the solver to find the value of an unknown variable. In the algebraic math problem x - 4 = 10, the answer is the value of "x." Answers may also equal the simplified value of a problem: 6a + 5b + 4a = 15a.
A math word problem asks for the numerical answer to question about a story or situation. These problems also require calculation. To find how many Lego pieces John has after losing 17 of his 2,080 pieces, the solver must recognize that the word "losing" refers to subtraction. The answer equals 2,064, the value of 2,080 - 17.
Solving a problem with two numbers and no variables requires only one step: 2 + 3 = 5. Algebraic problems contain variables, and finding their solutions involves a series of mathematical steps. The goal is to have the variable or variables on one side of the equation and the numerical value they equal on the other. To find the answer to the algebraic expression x - 4 = 10, four is added to both sides: x - 4 + 4 = 10 + 4. Simplifying this equation results in the solution x = 14.