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In this section students will:
  • Factor the greatest common factor of a polynomial.
  • Factor a trinomial.
  • Factor by grouping.
  • Factor a perfect square trinomial.
  • Factor a difference of squares.
  • Factor the sum and difference of cubes.
  • Factor expressions using fractional or negative exponents.

Imagine that we are trying to find the area of a lawn so that we can determine how much grass seed to purchase. The lawn is the green portion in [link] .

A large rectangle with smaller squares and a rectangle inside. The length of the outer rectangle is 6x and the width is 10x. The side length of the squares is 4 and the height of the width of the inner rectangle is 4.

The area of the entire region can be found using the formula for the area of a rectangle.

A = l w = 10 x 6 x = 60 x 2  units 2

The areas of the portions that do not require grass seed need to be subtracted from the area of the entire region. The two square regions each have an area of A = s 2 = 4 2 = 16 units 2 . The other rectangular region has one side of length 10 x 8 and one side of length 4 , giving an area of A = l w = 4 ( 10 x 8 ) = 40 x 32 units 2 . So the region that must be subtracted has an area of 2 ( 16 ) + 40 x 32 = 40 x units 2 .

The area of the region that requires grass seed is found by subtracting 60 x 2 40 x units 2 . This area can also be expressed in factored form as 20 x ( 3 x 2 ) units 2 . We can confirm that this is an equivalent expression by multiplying.

Many polynomial expressions can be written in simpler forms by factoring. In this section, we will look at a variety of methods that can be used to factor polynomial expressions.

Factoring the greatest common factor of a polynomial

When we study fractions, we learn that the greatest common factor    (GCF) of two numbers is the largest number that divides evenly into both numbers. For instance, 4 is the GCF of 16 and 20 because it is the largest number that divides evenly into both 16 and 20 The GCF of polynomials works the same way: 4 x is the GCF of 16 x and 20 x 2 because it is the largest polynomial that divides evenly into both 16 x and 20 x 2 .

When factoring a polynomial expression, our first step should be to check for a GCF. Look for the GCF of the coefficients, and then look for the GCF of the variables.

Greatest common factor

The greatest common factor    (GCF) of polynomials is the largest polynomial that divides evenly into the polynomials.

Given a polynomial expression, factor out the greatest common factor.

  1. Identify the GCF of the coefficients.
  2. Identify the GCF of the variables.
  3. Combine to find the GCF of the expression.
  4. Determine what the GCF needs to be multiplied by to obtain each term in the expression.
  5. Write the factored expression as the product of the GCF and the sum of the terms we need to multiply by.

Factoring the greatest common factor

Factor 6 x 3 y 3 + 45 x 2 y 2 + 21 x y .

First, find the GCF of the expression. The GCF of 6 , 45 , and 21 is 3. The GCF of x 3 , x 2 , and x is x . (Note that the GCF of a set of expressions in the form x n will always be the exponent of lowest degree.) And the GCF of y 3 , y 2 , and y is y . Combine these to find the GCF of the polynomial, 3 x y .

Next, determine what the GCF needs to be multiplied by to obtain each term of the polynomial. We find that 3 x y ( 2 x 2 y 2 ) = 6 x 3 y 3 , 3 x y ( 15 x y ) = 45 x 2 y 2 , and 3 x y ( 7 ) = 21 x y .

Finally, write the factored expression as the product of the GCF and the sum of the terms we needed to multiply by.

( 3 x y ) ( 2 x 2 y 2 + 15 x y + 7 )
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Questions & Answers

find general solution of the Tanx=-1/root3,secx=2/root3
Nani Reply
find general solution of the following equation
Nani
the value of 2 sin square 60 Cos 60
Sanjay Reply
0.75
Lynne
0.75
Inkoom
when can I use sin, cos tan in a giving question
duru Reply
depending on the question
Nicholas
I am a carpenter and I have to cut and assemble a conventional roof line for a new home. The dimensions are: width 30'6" length 40'6". I want a 6 and 12 pitch. The roof is a full hip construction. Give me the L,W and height of rafters for the hip, hip jacks also the length of common jacks.
John
I want to learn the calculations
Koru Reply
where can I get indices
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I need matrices
Nasasira
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Raihany
Hi
Solomon
need help
Raihany
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Nasasira
about complex fraction
Raihany
Hello
Cromwell
a
Amie
What do you mean by a
Cromwell
nothing. I accidentally press it
Amie
you guys know any app with matrices?
Khay
Ok
Cromwell
Solve the x? x=18+(24-3)=72
Leizel Reply
x-39=72 x=111
Suraj
Solve the formula for the indicated variable P=b+4a+2c, for b
Deadra Reply
Need help with this question please
Deadra
b=-4ac-2c+P
Denisse
b=p-4a-2c
Suddhen
b= p - 4a - 2c
Snr
p=2(2a+C)+b
Suraj
b=p-2(2a+c)
Tapiwa
P=4a+b+2C
COLEMAN
b=P-4a-2c
COLEMAN
like Deadra, show me the step by step order of operation to alive for b
John
A laser rangefinder is locked on a comet approaching Earth. The distance g(x), in kilometers, of the comet after x days, for x in the interval 0 to 30 days, is given by g(x)=250,000csc(π30x). Graph g(x) on the interval [0, 35]. Evaluate g(5)  and interpret the information. What is the minimum distance between the comet and Earth? When does this occur? To which constant in the equation does this correspond? Find and discuss the meaning of any vertical asymptotes.
Kaitlyn Reply
The sequence is {1,-1,1-1.....} has
amit Reply
circular region of radious
Kainat Reply
how can we solve this problem
Joel Reply
Sin(A+B) = sinBcosA+cosBsinA
Eseka Reply
Prove it
Eseka
Please prove it
Eseka
hi
Joel
yah
immy
June needs 45 gallons of punch. 2 different coolers. Bigger cooler is 5 times as large as smaller cooler. How many gallons in each cooler?
Arleathia Reply
7.5 and 37.5
Nando
how would this look as an equation?
Hayden
5x+x=45
Khay
find the sum of 28th term of the AP 3+10+17+---------
Prince Reply
I think you should say "28 terms" instead of "28th term"
Vedant
the 28th term is 175
Nando
192
Kenneth
if sequence sn is a such that sn>0 for all n and lim sn=0than prove that lim (s1 s2............ sn) ke hole power n =n
SANDESH Reply
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
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