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TJAIME Polynomials

Allen Cheng
September 22, 2014

Introduction to TJAIME

Hello everyone, and welcome to the first TJAIME lecture! Before getting down to the main lecture, lets go
over what usually happens.
The idea of TJAIME and TJUSAMO is to provide all of you with a setting where you can best achieve your
goals. Keeping this in mind:
Feel free to pay attention to the lecture as you please: if you find it boring, feel free to skip to the
problems or do something else mathy.
However, dont be a distraction, or else our esteemed sponsor Mrs. Coffey will not hesitate to kick you
out. These include:
Playing games.
Loud talking (especially not about math).
Doing homework.
Feel free to talk quietly to other people about anything math-related.
Please interact with me during the lecture. Theres a reason Im here instead of a recording of Robin
Once the lecture is over, Ill walk around asking people if they have questions. Ask me stuff!
Even if Im not walking around, still ask me stuff if you have questions.
Talk to the people sitting next to you! Youll be stuck with them for a while, so you might as well
make the most of it.
Remember that youre only going to get our as much youre willing to put in.
Lets start doing math.


A polynomial is a sum of nonnegative, integer exponents of a variable (or hypothetically multiple variables,
but thats not really a concern right now). Mathematically, we can write this as
P (x) =


ai xi = an xn + an1 xn1 + + a1 x + a0


The sequence {ai } makes up the coefficients of the polynomial P , and the highest i for which ai is
nonzero is called the degree of P . We call an the leading coefficient of P ; if an = 1, we call P monic. We
also sometimes call a0 the constant term, a1 the linear term, a2 the quadratic term, and so on. A root of
P is a value r such that P (r) = 0. The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic states that a polynomial of
degree n has exactly n (possibly non-unique) complex roots.

Roots and Factoring



Nonrigorously, the reason the Fundamental Theorem is true is that any given polynomial P of degree n, we
can write it as
P (x) = an

x ri = an (x r1 )(x r2 ) (x rn )

where {ri } is the set of complex roots of P . Clearly, each ri satisifies the conditions P (ri ) = 0. Factoring
is the process of writing a polynomial P as this product. You should learn or be able to recognize certain
factorizations, including:

X n

xni y i = (x + y)n

(Binomial Theorem)

(x y)(xn1 + xn2 y + + xy n2 + y n1 ) = xn y n
(x + y)(xn1 xn2 y + xy n2 + y n1 ) = xn + y n

x + y + z + 2(xy + xz + yz) = (x + y + z)

(for odd n)

(x + y + z)(x2 + y 2 + z 2 xy xz yz) = x2 + y 2 + z 2 3xyz

(x + y)(x + z)(y + z) + xyz = (x + y + z)(xy + xz + yz)
xy + x + y + 1 = (x + 1)(y + 1)
x2 + y 2 + z 2 xy xz yz = ((x y)2 + (y x)2 + (z x)2 )
Note that a symmetric expression should have a symmetric factorization, and that the number of terms
on both sides should be equal. If youre interested in multivarialbe polynomials, there is something called
the Factor Theorem that I will not cover in this lecture.


Helpful Theorems

If we wish to find factor a given polynomial P , there are several guidelines to help:
Remainder Theorem: The remainder when P (x) is divided by (x a) equals P (a). This generalizes
the fact that for a root r of P , P (r) = 0.
Intermediate Value Theorem: Because P is continuous, if P (a) < 0 and P (b) > 0 for real a, b,
then there exists c between a and b such that P (c) = 0.
Rational Root Theorem: If an is the leading coefficient of P and a0 is the constant term of P , then
all rational roots of P can be written as pq , where p divides a0 and q divides an .

Descartes Rule of Signs: The number of times the coefficients of P (x) change sign is congruent
(mod 2) to the number of positive roots, and the number of times the coefficients of P (x) change
sign is congruent (mod 2) to the number of negative roots.

Vietas Formulas

Vietas formulas are extremely powerful in most AIME-style questions. They are defined as follows for a
polynomial P with coefficients {ai } and roots {ri }:
ck = (1)j

where Cj is the set of all subsets C of {ri } containing j elements. For example, taking n = 4, we have
r1 r2 + r1 r3 + r1 r4 + r2 r3 + r2 r4 + r3 r4 = aa24 .
Example 1: (AoPS) Let r, s, and t be the solutions to the equation 3x3 4x2 + 5x + 7. Find r + s + t,
r2 + s2 + t2 , and 1r + 1s + 1t .
Example 2: (AoPS) Evaluate (2 r)(2 s)(2 t) if r, s, and t are the roots of f (x) = 2x3 4x2 + 3x 9.
If youd like to know a bit more about this, theres a method called Newtons Sums that generalizes Vieta
that you can look up. Im not a fan of it because its a tad cumbersome to memorize and it only comes up

1. (AMC) Find the sum of the reciprocals of the roots of the equation

x + 1 + = 0.

2. (AoPS) Let f (x) = xn + a1 xn1 + a2 xn2 + 4x + 7 for constant reals a1 and a2 . Prove that the sum
of the squares of the roots of f (x) is the same for all integers n 4.
3. (AIME) The equation 2000x6 + 100x5 + 10x3 + x 2 = 0 has two real roots. Find both of them.
4. (Mandelbrot) Determine (r+s)(s+t)(t+r) if r, s, and t are the roots of the polynomial x3 +9x2 9x8.
5. (AIME) Let C be the coefficient of x2 in the expansion of the product (1 x)(1 + 2x) (1 15x).
Find C.
6. (Mandelbrot) Prove that

ck ) = 1, where where Cj is the set of all subsets C of


{1, 2, n} containing j elements.

7. (PUMaC) Find all values of a such that x6 6x5 + 12x4 + ax3 + 12x2 6x + 1 is nonnegative for all
real x.
8. (PUMaC) Find the real root of x5 + 5x3 + 5x 1 = 0.
9. (HMMT) Let a and b be real, and let r, s, and t be the roots of f (x) = x3 + ax2 + bx 1. Also, let
g(x) = x3 + mx2 + nx + p have roots r2 , s2 , and t2 . If g(1) = 5, find the maximum possible value
for b.

10. (HMMT) Let a, b, c be the roots of x3 9x2 + 11x 1 = 0, and let s =

s4 18s2 8s.


b + sqrtc. Find

11. (AoPS) Let be a root of x3 21x + 35 = 0. Prove that 2 + 2 + 14 is also a root.

12. (USAMO) Prove that if a and b are two of the roots of x4 + x3 1 = 0, then ab is a root of x6 + x4 +
x3 x2 1 = 0.
13. (HMMT) The complex numbers 1 , 2 , 3 , and 4 are the four distinct roots of x4 + 2x3 + 2 = 0.
Determine the unordered set {1 2 + 3 4 , 1 3 + 2 4 , 1 4 + 2 3 }.
14. BONUS: http://activities.tjhsst.edu/sct/grader/text/ryan/ryan.pdf