# Find zeros of a polynomial function

The Rational Zero Theorem helps us to narrow down the list of possible rational zeros for a polynomial function. Once we have done this, we can use synthetic division repeatedly to determine all of the zeros of a polynomial function.

### How To: Given a polynomial function [latex]f[/latex], use synthetic division to find its zeros.

- Use the Rational Zero Theorem to list all possible rational zeros of the function.
- Use synthetic division to evaluate a given possible zero by synthetically dividing the candidate into the polynomial. If the remainder is 0, the candidate is a zero. If the remainder is not zero, discard the candidate.
- Repeat step two using the quotient found with synthetic division. If possible, continue until the quotient is a quadratic.
- Find the zeros of the quadratic function. Two possible methods for solving quadratics are factoring and using the quadratic formula.

### Example 5: Finding the Zeros of a Polynomial Function with Repeated Real Zeros

Find the zeros of [latex]f\left(x\right)=4{x}^{3}-3x - 1[/latex].

### Solution

The Rational Zero Theorem tells us that if [latex]\frac{p}{q}[/latex] is a zero of [latex]f\left(x\right)[/latex], then *p *is a factor of –1 and *q* is a factor of 4.

The factors of –1 are [latex]\pm 1[/latex] and the factors of 4 are [latex]\pm 1,\pm 2[/latex], and [latex]\pm 4[/latex]. The possible values for [latex]\frac{p}{q}[/latex] are [latex]\pm 1,\pm \frac{1}{2}[/latex], and [latex]\pm \frac{1}{4}[/latex]. These are the possible rational zeros for the function. We will use synthetic division to evaluate each possible zero until we find one that gives a remainder of 0. Let’s begin with 1.

Dividing by [latex]\left(x - 1\right)[/latex] gives a remainder of 0, so 1 is a zero of the function. The polynomial can be written as

The quadratic is a perfect square. [latex]f\left(x\right)[/latex] can be written as

We already know that 1 is a zero. The other zero will have a multiplicity of 2 because the factor is squared. To find the other zero, we can set the factor equal to 0.

The zeros of the function are 1 and [latex]-\frac{1}{2}[/latex] with multiplicity 2.

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## Analysis of the Solution

Look at the graph of the functionfin Figure 1. Notice, at [latex]x=-0.5[/latex], the graph bounces off thex-axis, indicating the even multiplicity (2,4,6…) for the zero –0.5. At [latex]x=1[/latex], the graph crosses thex-axis, indicating the odd multiplicity (1,3,5…) for the zero [latex]x=1[/latex].Figure 1