Algebra is about finding the unknown or putting real life variables into equations and then solving them. Unfortunately, many textbooks go straight to the rules, procedures, and formulas, forgetting that these are real life problems being solved and skipping the explanation of algebra at its core: using symbols to represent variables and missing factors in equations and manipulating them in such a way to arrive at a solution.
Algebra is a branch of mathematics that substitutes letters for numbers, and an algebraic equation represents a scale where what is done on one side of the scale is also done to the other side of the scale and the numbers act as constants. Algebra can include real numbers, complex numbers, matrices, vectors, and many more forms of mathematic representation.
The field of algebra can be further broken into basic concepts known as elementary algebra or the more abstract study of numbers and equations known as abstract algebra, where the former is used in most mathematics, science, economics, medicine, and engineering while the latter is mostly used only in advanced mathematics.