By the end of this section, you will be able to:
You have learned that a term is a constant or the product of a constant and one or more variables. When it is of the form axm, where a is a constant and m is a whole number, it is called a monomial. Some examples of monomial are 8,−2x2,4y3,and11z7.
A monomial, or two or more monomials combined by addition or subtraction, is a polynomial. Some polynomials have special names, based on the number of terms. A monomial is a polynomial with exactly one term. A binomial has exactly two terms, and a trinomial has exactly three terms. There are no special names for polynomials with more than three terms.
polynomial—A monomial, or two or more monomials combined by addition or subtraction, is a polynomial.
Here are some examples of polynomials.
Notice that every monomial, binomial, and trinomial is also a polynomial. They are just special members of the “family” of polynomials and so they have special names. We use the words monomial, binomial, and trinomial when referring to these special polynomials and just call all the rest polynomials.
The degree of a polynomial and the degree of its terms are determined by the exponents of the variable.
A monomial that has no variable, just a constant, is a special case. The degree of a constant is 0—it has no variable.
The degree of a term is the sum of the exponents of its variables.
The degree of a constant is 0.
The degree of a polynomial is the highest degree of all its terms.
Let’s see how this works by looking at several polynomials. We’ll take it step by step, starting with monomials, and then progressing to polynomials with more terms.
A polynomial is in standard form when the terms of a polynomial are written in descending order of degrees. Get in the habit of writing the term with the highest degree first.
You have learned how to simplify expressions by combining like terms. Remember, like terms must have the same variables with the same exponent. Since monomials are terms, adding and subtracting monomials is the same as combining like terms. If the monomials are like terms, we just combine them by adding or subtracting the coefficient.
Remember that like terms must have the same variables with the same exponents.
We can think of adding and subtracting polynomials as just adding and subtracting a series of monomials. Look for the like terms—those with the same variables and the same exponent. The Commutative Property allows us to rearrange the terms to put like terms together.
We have already learned how to evaluate expressions. Since polynomials are expressions, we’ll follow the same procedures to evaluate a polynomial. We will substitute the given value for the variable and then simplify using the order of operations.
Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with adding and subtracting polynomials.
Identify Polynomials, Monomials, Binomials, and Trinomials
In the following exercises, determine if each of the following polynomials is a monomial, binomial, trinomial, or other polynomial.
Determine the Degree of Polynomials
In the following exercises, determine the degree of each polynomial.
Add and Subtract Monomials
In the following exercises, add or subtract the monomials.
Add and Subtract Polynomials
In the following exercises, add or subtract the polynomials.
Evaluate a Polynomial for a Given Value
In the following exercises, evaluate each polynomial for the given value.
ⓐ After completing the exercises, use this checklist to evaluate your mastery of the objectives of this section.
ⓑ If most of your checks were:
…confidently. Congratulations! You have achieved the objectives in this section. Reflect on the study skills you used so that you can continue to use them. What did you do to become confident of your ability to do these things? Be specific.
…with some help. This must be addressed quickly because topics you do not master become potholes in your road to success. In math every topic builds upon previous work. It is important to make sure you have a strong foundation before you move on. Whom can you ask for help? Your fellow classmates and instructor are good resources. Is there a place on campus where math tutors are available? Can your study skills be improved?
…no – I don’t get it! This is a warning sign and you must not ignore it. You should get help right away or you will quickly be overwhelmed. See your instructor as soon as you can to discuss your situation. Together you can come up with a plan to get you the help you need.