polynomial

polynomial, mathematical expression which is a finite sum, each term being a constant times a product of one or more variables raised to powers. With only one variable the general form of a polynomial is a0xn+a1xn−1+a2xn−2+…+an−1x+an where n is a positive integer and a0, a1, a2, … , an are any numbers. An example of a polynomial in one variable is 11x4−3x3+7x2+x−8. The degree of a polynomial in one variable is the highest power of the variable appearing with a nonzero coefficient; in the example given above, the degree is 4.

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

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