Who is asking: Student
Thank you very much!Hi Mary,
I am not surprised that this is difficult to understand. Negative numbers have not always been well accepted. In fact they were not always called negative numbers. They have been called fictitious numbers, defective numbers and even absurd numbers.
I think that the difficulty with understanding a negative times a negative is that this is not something we do in our everyday lives. We multiply positives times positives and even positives times negatives. (If you are keeping track of your expenses then you might treat money you earn as positive and money you spend as negative. If so and you buy 3 items, each for $2, then in your records you would enter 3 times -$2 or -$6).
The reason that, for example, -5 times -3 is +15 rather than -15 is that the choice of +15 makes arithmetic work the way we think it should. To show you what I mean let me do +5 times -3 first.
Start with the true fact that
Now, start again with