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  • Definition: A mathematical expression that is a sum of terms, each term being a product of a constant and a non-negative (or zero) power of a variable or variables. For one variable, the general form is a_0 + ((a_1)*x)) + ((a_2)*(x^2)) + … + ((a_n)*(x^n)) The highest power (n) of the polynomial is its degree or order. Polynomials are described as linear, quadratic, cubic, quartic, quintic, etc., according to their degree (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.). The constants a_i are the coefficients of the polynomial: a_0 is the constant term and a_n is the leading coefficient. They may be real or complex. A polynomial function is a function whose values are given by a polynomial. A polynomial equation is an equation obtained by setting a polynomial equal to zero. A polynomial in several variables is a sum of terms which are multiples of products of non-negative (or zero) powers of the variables. For example, 5x^2 y^2 + 2z - 1 is a polynomial in x, y, and z of degree four.

    Source: "polynomial." The Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics. London: Penguin, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 13 August 2012.

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