Consider what happens when you provide someone with directions to a given destination. You might receive instructions that indicate distances without necessarily providing you with the direction in which you are traveling. Consider, for example, an instruction that reads,
“After you turn onto Highway 36, proceed 7 miles.”
Given this instruction, Figure 3.2 illustrates two scenarios. Starting at a given point, you can then proceed in one of two directions. The distance you travel involves real movement regardless of whether it takes you nearer to or farther from your destination. The distance you travel, then, has an absolute value.
Absolute value is the value ...