### Division of Polynomials

A **rational expression** is formed by taking the quotient of two polynomials.

Some examples of rational expressions are

Just as with rational numbers, the expression on the top is called the **numerator** and the expression on the bottom is called the **denominator**. In special cases we can simplify a rational expression by dividing the numerator by the denominator.

**Divide a Polynomial by a Monomial**

We’ll start by dividing a polynomial by a monomial. To do this, we divide each term of the polynomial by the monomial. When the numerator has more than one term, the monomial on the bottom of the fraction serves as the **common** denominator to all the terms in the numerator.

Divide:

a)

b)

c)

A common error is to cancel the denominator with just one term in the numerator.

Consider the quotient .

Remember that the denominator of 4 is common to both the terms in the numerator. In other words we are dividing both of the terms in the numerator by the number 4.

The correct way to simplify is:

A common mistake is to cross out the number 4 from the numerator and the denominator, leaving just . This is incorrect, because the entire numerator needs to be divided by 4.

#### Dividing Polynomials by Monomials

Divide .

The negative sign in the denominator changes all the signs of the fractions:

**Divide a Polynomial by a Binomial**

We divide polynomials using a method that’s a lot like long division with numbers. We’ll explain the method by doing an example.

Divide :

When we perform division, the expression in the numerator is called the **dividend** and the expression in the denominator is called the **divisor**.

To start the division we rewrite the problem in the following form:

We start by dividing the first term in the dividend by the first term in the divisor: .

We place the answer on the line above the term:

Next, we multiply the term in the answer by the divisor, , and place the result under the dividend, matching like terms. times is , so we put that under the divisor:

Now we subtract from . It is useful to change the signs of the terms of to and add like terms vertically:

Now, we bring down the 5, the next term in the dividend.

And now we go through that procedure once more. First we divide the first term of by the first term of the divisor. divided by is 1, so we place this answer on the line above the constant term of the dividend:

Multiply 1 by the divisor, , and write the answer below , matching like terms.

Subtract from by changing the signs of to and adding like terms:

Since there are no more terms from the dividend to bring down, we are done. The quotient is and the remainder is 2.

Remember that for a division with a remainder the answer is . So the answer to this division problem is .

**Check**

To check the answer to a long division problem we use the fact that

For the problem above, here’s how we apply that fact to check our solution:

**The answer checks out.**

### Example

#### Example 1

Divide .

When we perform division, the expression in the numerator is called the **dividend** and the expression in the denominator is called the **divisor**.

To start the division we rewrite the problem in the following form:

We start by dividing the first term in the dividend by the first term in the divisor: .

We place the answer on the line above the term:

Next, we multiply the term in the answer by the divisor, , and place the result under the dividend, matching like terms. times is , so we put that under the divisor:

Now we subtract from . It is useful to change the signs of the terms of to and add like terms vertically:

Now, we bring down the 17, the next term in the dividend.

And now we go through that procedure once more. First we divide the first term of by the first term of the divisor. divided by is 4, so we place this answer on the line above the constant term of the dividend:

Multiply 4 by the divisor, , and write the answer below , matching like terms.

Subtract from by changing the signs of to and adding like terms:

Since there are no more terms from the dividend to bring down, we are done. The quotient is and the remainder is 1.

Remember that for a division with a remainder the answer is . So the answer to this division problem is .

**Check**

To check the answer to a long division problem we use the fact that

For the problem above, here’s how we apply that fact to check our solution:

**The answer checks out.**

### Review

Divide the following polynomials:

### Review (Answers)

To view the Review answers, open this PDF file and look for section 12.5.