Multiplying polynomials

Multiplying polynomials with the following examples will help you master this topic once and for all. It could be very useful though to review the multiplication of binomials. Then, study carefully the example in the figure below.

Multiplication of polynomials

More examples about multiplying polynomials


Example #1:


Multiply 4x3 + 2x + 5 by 3x4 + x + 6

(4x3 + 2x + 5) × (3x4 + x + 6)

Important concept

You must know what a term is when multiplying polynomials. It is because the goal is to multiply each term of the polynomial on the left by each term of the polynomial on the right and then adding the whole thing!

The result of each multiplication or whatever will be added together is shown in bold.

The polynomial on the left is 4x3 + 2x + 5

Each term is separated by an addition sign.

  • The first term is 4x3
  • The second term is 2x
  • The third term is 5

The polynomial on the right is 3x4 + x + 6

Each term is separated by an addition sign.

  • The first term is 3x4
  • The second term is x
  • The third term is 6

Now multiply the first term of the polynomial on the left that is 4x3 by each term of the polynomial on the right and these are 3x4, x , and 6.

4x3 × 3x4 = 4 × 3 × x3 × x4 = 12x 3 + 4 = 12x7

4x3 × x = 4 × x3 × x = 4 × x3 × x1 = 4x 3 + 1 = 4x4

4x3 × 6 = 4 × 6x3 = 24x3

Next, multiply the second term of the polynomial on the left that is 2x by each term of the polynomial on the right and these are 3x4, x , and 6.

2x × 3x4 = 2 × 3 × x × x4 = 2 × 3 × x1 × x4 = 6x 1 + 4 = 6x5

2x × x = 2 × x × x = 2 × x1 × x1 = 2x 1 + 1 = 2x2

2x × 6 = 2 × 6x = 12x

Finally, multiply the third term of the polynomial on the left that is 5 by each term of the polynomial on the right and these are 3x4, x , and 6.

5 × 3x4 = 15x4

5 × x = 5x

5 × 6 = 30

Adding the result in bold together, we get:

12x7 + 4x4 + 24x3 + 6x5 + 2x2 + 12x + 15x4 + 5x + 30

Combine like terms

12x7 + (4x4 + 15x4) + 24x3 + 6x5 + 2x2 + (12x + 5x) + 30

12x7 + 19x4 + 24x3 + 6x5 + 2x2 + 17x + 30

Example #2:

Multiply 4x3 − 2x + 5 by 3x4 + x − 6

Example #2 is almost the same as example #1. We just incorporated a couple of subtraction signs.

My teaching experience has taught me that when multiplying polynomials, it is best to say to students to replace minus with + -

Then, do the exact same thing you did in example #1

(4x3 − 2x + 5) × (3x4 + x − 6) = (4x3 + -2x + 5) × (3x4 + x + -6)

4x3 × 3x4 = 12x7

4x3 × x = 4x4

4x3 × -6 = 4 × -6x3 = -24x3

Notice this time that the second term of the polynomial on the left has a negative next to it! Same thing for the third term of the polynomial on the right.

-2x × 3x4 = -2 × 3 × x × x4 = -2 × 3 × x1 × x4 = -6x1 + 4 = -6x5

-2x × x = -2 × x × x = -2 × x1 × x1 = -2x1 + 1 = -2x2

-2x × -6 = -2 × -6x = 12x

5 × 3x4 = 15x4

5 × x = 5x

5 × -6 = -30

We get 12x7 + 4x4 + -24x3 + -6x5 + -2x2 + 12x + 15x4 + 5x + -30

Combine like terms

12x7 + (4x4 + 15x4) + -24x3 + -6x5 + -2x2 + (12x + 5x) + -30

12x7 + 19x4 + -24x3 + -6x5 + -2x2 + 17x + -30

Multiplying polynomials should be a breeze if you really understand the three examples above. 

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