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I am confused about what is meant in the mathematical definition for the energy of a signal. Why is it the integral of the magnitude of the signal squared?

∫(|f(t)|^2)

How do I deal with the absolute value sign? I do not have much experience with absolute value signs in integrals. I did do a search but am still confused. How do I even know if a function will need to be readjusted according to the absolute value sign and, if so, how do I rewrite the function so that it obeys the absolute value condition?