factor

factor, in arithmetic, any number that divides a given number evenly, i.e., without any remainder. The factors of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. Similarly in algebra, any one of the algebraic expressions multiplied by another to form a product is a factor of that product, e.g., a + b and a - b are factors of a 2 - b2, since ( a + b )( a - b ) = a 2 - b 2. In general, if r is a root of a polynomial equation f ( x ) = 0, then ( x - r ) is a factor of the polynomial f ( x ).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on factor from Fact Monster:

  • Factors - Factors A whole number that can be divided cleanly into another whole number is called a factor of ...
  • Common Factors - Common Factors Factors that two numbers have in common are called the common factors of those ...
  • Factors and Fractions - Learn more about factors and fractions with topics like multiplication and division, mixed numbers, reducing to lowest terms, prime factors, common factors, and more.
  • Prime Factors - Prime Factors Some numbers can be evenly divided only by 1 and themselves. These are prime numbers. ...
  • Rh factor - Rh factor Rh factor, protein substance present in the red blood cells of most people, capable of ...

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Mathematics