Term (mathematics)

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A term is a mathematical expression which may form a separable part of an equation, a series, or another expression.

Definition[change | change source]

In elementary mathematics, a term is either a single number or variable, or the product of several numbers or variables. Terms are separated by a + or - sign in an overall expression. For example, in

3 + 4x + 5yzw

3, 4x, and 5yzw are three separate terms.

In the context of polynomials, term can mean a monomial with a coefficient. To 'collect like terms' in a polynomial is the basic operation of making it a linear combination of distinct monomials. For example,

3x + 2x2 + 5x + 1 = 2x2 + (3+5)x + 1 = 2x2 + 8x + 1, with like terms collected.

A series is often represented as the sum of a sequence of terms.

In general mathematical use, however, term is not limited to additive expressions. Individual factors in an expression representing a product are multiplicative terms. Indeed, individual elements of any mathematical expression may be referred to as "terms".

Terms also appear in logic.

Specific names for terms[change | change source]

addition and subtraction
multiplication
Factor. In a multiplication of two factors, the first is called the multiplicand and the second is called the multiplier.
divisions and fractions
The top of a division is called the numerator (or dividend), and the bottom is called the denominator (or divisor).
term value
the value of the term such as the term value of 8a, if a=1, is 8.

Other pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  • Schwartzman, Steven (1994). The words of mathematics: An etymological dictionary of mathematical terms used in English. The Mathematical Association of America. pp. 219. ISBN 0-88385-511-9
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