Monday, February 13, 2012
Today I was working on a problem with a student using the rational root theorem to find the zeros of a function. The function was something along the lines of f(x) = 5x^5 + 3x^2 + 2x + 5. When testing the possible roots using synthetic division, remember to place 0's as the coefficients of the missing terms. Notice there are no x^4 or x^3 terms in f(x). So when writing the coefficients to use with the synthetic division, write 5 0 0 3 2 5. My student omitted these 0's and it completely threw off the problem. Hope this tip is helpful for those who have struggled with a similar problem.