Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

### Degree of Zero

```Date: 02/25/2003 at 13:02:28
From: Kristi
Subject: Degree of zero

Dear Dr. Math,

I just wanted to know what the degree of zero was.

Thank you.
```

```
Date: 02/25/2003 at 20:19:28
From: Doctor Rick
Subject: Re: Degree of zero

Hi, Kristi.

That's an interesting question. I assume you're asking for the degree
of the function f(x) = 0 regarded as a polynomial. In general, a
constant function is regarded as a polynomial of degree zero, as we
discuss here:

Degree of a Constant
http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/61845.html

Degree of Constant Function
http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/54602.html

This is true because a constant such as 2 can be regarded as 2*x^0,
and the degree of a polynomial is the highest power of the variable
that has a non-zero coefficient.

I presume this is why you asked the question - there is no term in
f(x) = 0 that has a non-zero coefficient. So do we say that this
function has no degree?

To me, yes, this is the most sensible answer. Think about degree
another way: a polynomial has (at most) as many zeros as its degree.
(It has exactly as many zeros as its degree if we count the
multiplicities of the zeros, for instance, x^3-10x^2+33x-36 =
(x-3)^2(x-4) has 3 zeros: 3, of multiplicity 2, and 4, of multiplicity
1.)

A non-zero constant function like f(x) = 5 has zero zeros, in keeping
with its degree of zero. But f(x) = 0 has an infinite number of zeros:
every value of x is a zero of the function. Thus it makes sense to say
that the degree of f(x) = 0 is undefined.

- Doctor Rick, The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
Associated Topics:
High School Polynomials

Search the Dr. Math Library:

 Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):   Click only once for faster results: [ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.] all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math
Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search