Understanding Algebra

James W. Brennan




Addition and Subtraction of Polynomials

Adding (or subtracting) polynomials is really just an exercise in collecting like terms. For example, if we want to add the polynomial

2x2 + 4x  3 

to the polynomial

6x + 4,

we would just put them together and collect like terms:

Notice that the parentheses in the first line are only there to distinguish the two polynomials.

Although this is basically just a bookkeeping activity, it can get a little messy when there are many terms. One way to help keep things straight is to use the column format for addition, keeping like terms lined up in columns:

This method is particularly helpful in the case of subtraction, because it is too easy to make a mistake distributing the minus sign when you write it all in one row.




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copyright 1998-2002
James W. Brennan