A polynomial can be defined iteratively as follows:
Constants are polynomials.
Variables (such as ) are polynomials.
Adding, subtracting, or multiplying two polynomials always yields a polynomial.
The above process always yields expressions in which variables only have exponents that are positive (or nonnegative) and in which variables never occur in denominators or within functions such as under radicals or inside absolute values.
It should be mentioned that, if the above process is used to create a polynomial, then the process must terminate since polynomials are not infinitely long.
For example, is a polynomial. Note that fractions, radicals, and the like can occur in polynomials. It is only stipulated that no variables appear in denominators, under radicals, etc.
A monomial is a polynomial in which variables are being multiplied only. Within a polynomial, a monomial that is as large as possible is called a term of the polynomial. In the example above, , , and are the terms of the polynomial. As alluded to earlier, every polynomial has a finite number of terms.
Terms of a polynomial are like if their variable expressions match. In the example above, and are like terms.
When students are first learning about polynomials, it is advisable to teach them to alphabetize the variables in each term. That way, students can more easily detect like terms.
Like terms can be combined by using the distributive property. For example,
A polynomial is expanded if no variable occurs within parentheses. For example, is a polynomial since both and are polynomials. Expanding and combining like terms yields
In an expanded polynomial in which all like terms have been combined, the constant term is the term in which no variable appears (or all variables occur to the zero power). For example, is the constant term of . If no constant term appears, then the constant term is .
The degree of a (nonzero) monomial is the sum of the exponents of its variables. Since , the degree of a (nonzero) constant is . Most do not define the degree of the polynomial ; some define the degree of the polynomial to be .
The degree of a polynomial is the maximum of the degrees of its terms after the polynomial has been expanded. For example, the polynomial has degree .
The coefficient of a monomial is the numerical (non-variable) portion of the monomial. For example, the coefficient of is .
Occasionally, it may be stipulated that all of the coefficients of a polynomial be in a certain set. For example, most textbooks on elementary mathematics deal with polynomials with integer coefficients almost exclusively. Other sets that are commonly used as the coefficients of polynomials include the rational numbers, the real numbers, and the complex numbers.
For the of this entry, only polynomials in one variable will be discussed.
An expanded polynomial is in descending order if the degrees of the terms of the polynomial are strictly decreasing as the polynomial is read from left to right. Note that, for a polynomial to be written in descending order, all like terms have to be combined. For example, is in descending order. Since , the constant term always occurs last in a polynomial written in descending order. Note that an expanded polynomial is in ascending order if the degrees of the terms of the polynomial are strictly increasing as the polynomial is read from left to right.
In an expanded polynomial in which all like terms have been combined, the leading coefficient is the coefficient of the term that determines the degree of the polynomial. Therefore, if a polynomial is written in descending order, then the leading coefficient will be the leftmost coefficient.
More to come…
|Date of creation||2013-03-22 17:53:38|
|Last modified on||2013-03-22 17:53:38|
|Last modified by||Wkbj79 (1863)|
|Defines||combine like terms|
|Defines||combined like terms|
|Defines||combining like terms|