Multiplicity (mathematics)

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In mathematics, multiplicity is a general term meaning "the number of values for which a given condition holds." For example, the term is used to refer to the value of the totient valence function, or the number of times a given polynomial equation has a root at a given point.

Multiplicity of a root of a polynomial

A number is called a root of multiplicity k of a polynomial p if there exists a polynomial s with:


p(x) = (x - a)ks(x).

If k equals 1, then a is a simple root.


The following polynomial p:

p(x) = x3 - x2 - x + 1

has 1 and −1 as roots, and can be written as:

p(x) = (x + 1)(x - 1)2

This means that x = 1 is a root of multiplicity 2, and x = −1 is a 'normal' root (multiplicity 1).

See also Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, separable polynomial, intersection number.

In complex analysis

Let be a root of a function f, and let n be the least positive integer m such that


Then the power series of about begins with the th term, and is said to have a root of multiplicity (or "order") . If , the root is called a simple root (Krantz 1999, p. 70).

External link

"Multiplicity" on MathWorld