We've updated our
Privacy Policy effective December 15. Please read our updated Privacy Policy and tap


Study Guides > College Algebra CoRequisite Course

Introduction to Factoring Polynomials

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify and factor the greatest common factor of a polynomial.
  • Factor a trinomial with leading coefficient 1.
  • Factor by grouping.
  • Factor a perfect square trinomial.
  • Factor a difference of squares.
  • Factor a sum and difference of cubes.
  • Factor an expression with negative or fractional exponents.
Imagine that we are trying to find the area of a lawn so that we can determine how much grass seed to purchase. The lawn is the green portion in the figure below. A large rectangle with smaller squares and a rectangle inside. The length of the outer rectangle is 6x and the width is 10x. The side length of the squares is 4 and the height of the width of the inner rectangle is 4. The area of the entire region can be found using the formula for the area of a rectangle.

[latex]\begin{array}{ccc}\hfill A& =& lw\hfill \\ & =& 10x\cdot 6x\hfill \\ & =& 60{x}^{2}{\text{ units}}^{2}\hfill \end{array}[/latex]

The areas of the portions that do not require grass seed need to be subtracted from the area of the entire region. The two square regions each have an area of [latex]A={s}^{2}={4}^{2}=16[/latex] units2. The other rectangular region has one side of length [latex]10x - 8[/latex] and one side of length [latex]4[/latex], giving an area of [latex]A=lw=4\left(10x - 8\right)=40x - 32[/latex] units2. So the region that must be subtracted has an area of [latex]2\left(16\right)+40x - 32=40x[/latex] units2. The area of the region that requires grass seed is found by subtracting [latex]60{x}^{2}-40x[/latex] units2. This area can also be expressed in factored form as [latex]20x\left(3x - 2\right)[/latex] units2. We can confirm that this is an equivalent expression by multiplying. Many polynomial expressions can be written in simpler forms by factoring. In this section, we will look at a variety of methods that can be used to factor polynomial expressions.

Licenses & Attributions

CC licensed content, Original

CC licensed content, Shared previously

  • College Algebra. Provided by: OpenStax Authored by: Abramson, Jay et al.. License: CC BY: Attribution. License terms: Download for free at http://cnx.org/contents/[email protected].

CC licensed content, Specific attribution