Zeros and Multiplicities of Factored Polynomials

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This Demonstration explores the zeros of polynomials and their multiplicities on a graph. The zeros of a function are those values of for which . On the graph, the zeros give the locations of the intercepts.

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The factor theorem states that is a zero of a polynomial if and only if is a factor of that polynomial, i.e. if and only if for some other polynomial . With that in mind, the multiplicity of a zero denotes the number of times that appears as a factor. For example, has a zero at of multiplicity 6. On the graph, the multiplicity of a zero tells you whether the function crosses the axis (in the case that the multiplicity is odd) or simply touches the axis (in the case that the multiplicity is even).

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Contributed by: Laura R. Lynch (June 2014)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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