### Video Transcript

In this video, weβll learn how to
identify, write, and evaluate a one-variable polynomial function and state its
degree and leading coefficient.

We read this as π of π₯, where π
is the function of the single variable π₯. The degree, or order, of π is π,
which is the highest power of the variable π₯ and must be a nonnegative integer. And the coefficients π sub π,
where π goes from zero to π, are real constants. Up to now, youβll already have been
working with some polynomial functions, perhaps without even realizing it. For example, the area of a square,
which we can call π΄ of π₯, so π΄ is a function of π₯, is the square of its side
length. And this is a polynomial function
of degree two. A polynomial of degree two is
called a quadratic, and this one, π΄ of π₯, has leading coefficient equal to
one.

The volume of a cube, which we can
call π of π₯, is equal to the side length cubed and this is a polynomial of degree
or order three. We call this a cubic polynomial,
and again, in this case, its leading coefficient is equal to one. Other examples of polynomials
include linear functions, which have degree one. So, π is equal to one, and a
linear function has the form π of π₯ equals π sub one times π₯ plus π sub
zero. And in the example shown, the
leading coefficient, π sub one, is equal to three and the constant, π sub zero, is
equal to seven. For a linear function, since
anything to the power of one is itself, we can leave out the power π equal to one
of π₯.

Itβs also worth pointing out that
since the powers of π₯ range from zero to π, we are including π₯ to the power zero
in polynomial functions. Itβs just that since anything to
the power of zero is equal to one and anything multiplied by one is itself, we donβt
have to explicitly write π₯ to the power zero. A polynomial function of order or
degree π doesnβt necessarily include every nonnegative integer power of π₯ less
than π. So, for example, π of π₯ as shown
has degree four but only includes π₯ to the powers four, two, and zero, not π₯ to
the power three or one.

Now remember, the degree π must be
a nonnegative integer, thatβs a positive whole number or zero. So functions like π of π₯ is equal
to the square root of π₯ are not polynomial functions. And thatβs because the square root
of an expression means the expression to the power of a half, so the power or
exponent of π₯ is not a nonnegative integer. Similarly, functions like π of π₯
equals one over π₯ plus two are not polynomial functions. Because one over an expression is
that expression to the power negative one, which is a negative integer.

On the other hand, the two
functions shown of degrees two and three, respectively, are polynomial
functions. The function π of π₯ equals two π₯
squared plus 11π₯ minus one is another example of a quadratic function. And π of π₯ equals four minus π₯
to the power three, or π₯ cubed, plus two π₯ squared is another example of a cubic
function. In fact, we can have polynomials
where π is any nonnegative integer. So, our degree could be, for
example, 42, or seven, as in the final two examples, respectively.

To make our definition of a
polynomial function a little more formal, we define monomials, which are the
building blocks of polynomials, as the product of constants and variables where the
variables may have only nonnegative integer exponents. Consider the list of expressions
(a) to (g). Letβs see which of these are
monomials.

Expression (a) can be rewritten as
π₯ to the power one. And since one is a nonnegative
integer exponent, this is a monomial. Expression (b) consists of a
variable π‘ to the power positive six, so this too is a monomial since the exponent
six is a positive integer. Expression (c), on the other hand,
can be rewritten as π₯ raised to the power one-third, which is not a nonnegative
integer. So, this expression is not a
monomial.

For (d), zero is actually a
monomial, since zero can be written as zero times π₯, or any other power of π₯. In fact, as was indicated
previously, any constant π is a monomial, since π can be written as π times π₯ to
the power zero. Thatβs π times one. Now for expression (e), this is not
a monomial since it contains more than one term, although it is actually the sum of
monomials π₯ squared and one. Expression (f) is also not a
monomial, because negative two, which is the exponent of π¦, is a negative
integer.

And finally, expression (g) is a
monomial. Itβs a single term and every
variable in that term is raised to a nonnegative integer exponent. We can rewrite this as shown. And the fact that the constant
three over two is not an integer doesnβt matter, since itβs only the exponents of
the variables that must be nonnegative integers. Note also that this is a
multivariable monomial since there are three variables, π₯, π¦, and π§.

So, expressions (a), (b), (d), and
(g) are monomials.

We define a polynomial as an
expression that is the sum of monomials, where each term is called a monomial
term. A function that is polynomial is
called a polynomial function. And we see that each term in our
polynomial function π of π₯ is a monomial. Letβs look at an example where we
identify which functions are polynomial functions.

Which of the following is a
polynomial function? Option (A) π of π₯ equals the
square root of π₯ plus four. Option (B) π of π₯ equals π₯
raised to the power negative two plus two π₯ plus four. Option (C) π of π₯ equals one
over π₯. Option (D) π of π₯ equals two
times π₯ raised to the power negative two. Or option (E) π of π₯ equals
π₯ squared plus two π₯ plus four.

To answer this question, we
recall that, by definition, every term of a single-variable polynomial function
must be a monomial. That is a product of constants
and a single variable with only nonnegative integer exponents. Letβs go through each option
one by one to see if they match this definition.

First, we see that option (A)
contains the term root π₯, which is equivalent to π₯ raised to the power of
one-half. Since this is a noninteger
power of the variable, option (A) cannot be a polynomial function. Now, if we consider option (B),
this time the function contains a negative integer power of π₯, that is,
negative two. So, option (B) cannot be a
polynomial function. And in fact, option (D)
contains the same power of π₯. So, we can discount option (D)
for the same reason.

Now, letβs look at option
(C). By the laws of exponents, we
know that one over π₯ can be written as π₯ raised to the power negative one. And since this is π₯ to a
negative integer, option (C) cannot be a polynomial function. This leaves option (E).

Going through each term in
option (E), we see that, first, π₯ squared is the variable π₯ raised to a
positive integer exponent. Two π₯ can be written as two
times π₯ raised to the power one, so this term is the product of a constant,
two, and the single variable π₯ raised to a positive integer exponent. And the final term, four, is a
constant, which can be written as four times π₯ raised to the power zero. Since this term is a monomial,
the function π of π₯ equals π₯ squared plus two π₯ plus four is a sum of
monomials. So, only option (E) is a
polynomial function.

Now, letβs see how we can construct
a polynomial function from given information about a real-world problem.

A bus service charges a fixed
fee of five pounds and an additional two pounds for every bus stop passed. Write a polynomial function to
represent the cost of a ride.

To construct a polynomial
function representing the cost of a ride on the bus, we first need to extract
the relevant information from the question. Weβre told that thereβs a fixed
fee of five pounds. This five pounds will be a
constant in our function. Next, weβre told that there is
an additional fee of two pounds for every bus stop passed.

The number of bus stops passed
is a variable quantity, so letβs call this π₯. And itβs worth noting that π₯
must be a positive integer since it represents the number of bus stops
passed. This means that if we pass π₯
number of bus stops, we need to pay two π₯ pounds plus the fixed fee of five
pounds. This is the total cost of the
bus ride. And writing this as a function
of π₯, we have π of π₯ is equal to two π₯ plus five. Our answer is therefore π of
π₯ is equal to two π₯ plus five.

Itβs worth just checking that
this function is actually a polynomial, since the question explicitly asks for a
polynomial function. To do this, we recall a couple
of definitions. The first is a monomial. This is a product of constants
and variables, where the exponents of the variables can only be nonnegative
integers. The second definition is that
of a polynomial function. This is a function that is a
sum of monomials.

In our case, our first term is
two π₯. Now, two π₯ is actually two
times π₯ raised to the power one. So, we have the product of a
constant, two, and π₯ raised to a positive integer exponent, one. This term is therefore a
monomial. Our second term is the constant
five. And this can be written as five
times π₯ to the power zero, recalling that π₯ to the power zero is equal to
one. So, the second term five is
also a monomial, and our function π of π₯ is the sum of monomials.

Hence, the cost of the bus
journey, where π₯ is the number of bus stops passed, can be represented as the
polynomial function π of π₯ is equal to two π₯ plus five. Recall that to evaluate a
function at a specific value of the variable, π₯, say π₯ is equal to π, we
substitute π₯ equals π into π of π₯ wherever π₯ occurs and then evaluate the
result. For example, if weβre asked to
evaluate π of π₯ equals seven π₯ cubed minus four π₯ squared plus three at π₯
equals two, wherever we have an π₯ in π of π₯, we substitute the value π₯
equals two. And since two raised to the
power three, or cubed, is eight, and two squared is four, this gives 56 minus 16
plus three, which is 43.

Letβs see another example of
this.

If π of π₯ is equal to
negative eight π₯ squared minus three π₯ plus four, find π of negative
three.

Weβre asked to find the value
of π of negative three. And we recall that this is
function notation for the value of π of π₯ when π₯ is equal to negative
three. This means in our function π
of π₯, wherever we have an π₯, we substitute negative three. So, we have π of negative
three is equal to negative eight times negative three squared minus three times
negative three plus four. That is negative eight times
nine plus nine plus four, which evaluates to negative 59. Hence, π of negative three is
equal to negative 59.

Before moving on to some more
examples, letβs remind ourselves of some of the terminology that will help us
describe the type of polynomial function weβre working with. Remember, for a single-variable
polynomial, the largest exponent of a variable in any nonzero term is called the
degree or order of a polynomial. The term in a polynomial with the
highest degree is called the leading term of the polynomial, and the constant factor
of the leading term in a polynomial is called the leading coefficient. Letβs look at an example.

Find the degree and leading
coefficient of the polynomial function π of π₯ is equal to three π₯ to the
fourth power plus two π₯ cubed plus five π₯ squared plus seven.

To answer this, we recall that
for a single-variable polynomial function, the degree of the polynomial is the
largest exponent of a variable in any nonzero term. To find the degree of the given
polynomial function, we note that the only variable is π₯. And we can rewrite the final
term to include π₯ to the power of zero, since π₯ to the power zero is equal to
one. The variable then appears in
each nonzero term. We can then see that π₯ has
exponents four, three, two, and zero. And the largest of these
exponents is equal to four. The degree of the function is
therefore four.

We note further that the term
in a polynomial with the highest degree is called the leading term of the
polynomial. And in our case, the term with
the highest degree is the term where the exponent of π₯ is four. That is three times π₯ to the
power four. So, this is our leading
term. But weβre not asked for the
leading term of the polynomial function; weβre asked for the leading
coefficient. That is the constant factor of
the leading term, and thatβs equal to three. Hence, the degree of the given
polynomial function is four and its leading coefficient is three.

We can gain information about the
shape and complexity of a polynomial from its degree. And we give specific names to some
families of polynomials based on their degree. We saw some of these at the
beginning of this video. A polynomial function of degree
zero is called a constant function. A polynomial function of degree one
is called a linear function. A polynomial function of degree two
is called a quadratic function. One of degree three is called a
cubic function. A polynomial function of degree
four is called a quartic function. And one of degree five is a quintic
function.

As weβve seen, a constant function
has the form π of π₯ equals π for some real number π. We can write this as π times π₯ to
the power zero, since π₯ to the power zero is equal to one. Hence, the degree is zero. Itβs worth noting, however, that
for the special case where π is equal to zero, this is called the zero
polynomial. And recalling the definition of
degree, the largest exponent of a variable in any nonzero term, in this special
function, every term is zero. Hence, we leave the degree of the
zero polynomial as undefined. There are names for polynomials of
degree higher than five, but we donβt commonly use these. Letβs look at an example of
determining the type of a polynomial function.

Identify the name of the
polynomial function π of π₯ equals two π₯ squared plus four π₯ cubed plus three
π₯ plus five.

Now we might be tempted to name
our polynomial function something like Fred or Philomena. But that would be silly. Instead, we recall that we name
polynomial functions based on their degree. That is, in a single-variable
polynomial, the degree is the largest exponent of a variable in any nonzero
term. We can rewrite the given
function as shown so that every term is a product of a constant and a variable
to a power. Hence, the final term is
actually five π₯ to the power zero and the term before that is three π₯ to the
power one.

We see now that the largest
exponent of the variable π₯ is three in the second term. So, this is the degree of the
polynomial. Finally, we recall that
single-variable polynomials of degree three are called cubic functions. Hence, π of π₯ is a cubic
function.

Letβs now complete this video by
recapping some of the important points weβve covered.

First, a monomial is a product of
constants and variables where the variables can have only nonnegative integer
exponents. A polynomial is an expression that
is a sum of monomials. A single-variable polynomial is a
polynomial containing a single variable. The degree of a polynomial is the
largest exponent of the variable in any nonzero term. The leading term of a polynomial is
the term with the highest degree. The leading coefficient is the
constant factor of the leading term.

And finally, certain types of
polynomial functions have specific names based on their degree. A polynomial of degree zero is
called a constant function. Degree one is a linear
function. Degree two is a quadratic
function. Degree three is a cubic. Degree four is called a quartic
function. And a degree five polynomial is
called a quintic function.