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x2 − 3 x2 + 3

√ x+y+ z √ 2z − 1

Definition A Polynomial in the variable x is an expression of the form an xn + an−1 xn−1 + · · · + a1 x + a0 where a0 , a1 , . . . , an are real numbers and n is a positive integer. If an 6= 0, then we say the polynomial has degree n. (Note n is the highest power of x appearing in the expression. Each ak xk is called a term of the polynomial and ak is called the coefficient of xk To add polynomials, one should combine like terms and to multiply one should use the distributive law. Example Calculate (2x3 + x + 5) + (x5 + x3 + 10)

(x2 − 1)(x + 1)

One should always keep in mind the following product formulas: 1. (A + B)(A − B) = A2 − B 2 2. (A + B)2 = A2 + 2AB + B 2 3. (A − B)2 = A2 − 2AB + B 2 Example Calculate the following (x2 − 1)(x2 + 1)

√ ( x + 1 − 1)2

1

√ ( x + 1 + 1)2

Factoring Sometimes in calculations, we want to simplify expressions by pulling out common factors: Example Factor the following polynomials as much as you can: x4 − 1,

x2 − 9

Example Pull out the common factors in each expression: 4(x − 3)x(x + 2) + (x − 5)(x − 3) + (2x − 6)

x(x + 2) +

√

x(x + 2)

Often, we need to factor polynomials into smaller polynomials. We should keep in mind the basic identities 1, 2 and 3 above to help us recognize factors of this form. Guessing The Factors Sometimes we can guess the factors of a polynomial of degree 2 in the following way: To find the factors of x2 + bx + c (if they exist) we must find factors of the form (x+a1 ) and (x+a2 ) with (x+a1 )(x+a2 ) = x2 +bx+c i.e. x2 + (a1 + a2 )x + a1 a2 = x2 + bx + c. Two polynomials are equal only if their corresponding coefficients are equal, so we must find two numbers a1 and a2 for which a1 + a2 = b and a1 a2 = c. (sometimes two such real numbers do not exist - see below). Example Factor the following degree 2 polynomials: x2 + 6x + 9

x2 − x − 6

x2 − 2x − 8

Later you will be able to use the quadratic formula to factor degree 2 polynomials, when it is possible. Later you will also see the fundamental theorem of Algebra which says that Fact Every polynomial breaks down into factors of the form ax + b or (irreducible) factors of the form cx2 + dx + e where d2 − 4ac < 0.

2

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