1. ## possible factor

"When an expression is to be factored, we should always look first for a possible factor that is common to all terms."

What does "possible factor" above mean?

Source: Algebra and Trigonometry by Keedy/Bittinger.

Thank you.

2. ## Re: possible factor

Originally Posted by RobertJ
Consider:

x + x^2 + x^3 + xsinx + xcosx. It should be clear that x is not only a possible factor, but it IS a factor. Rewrite:

x[1 + x + x^2 + sinx + cosx]
What else word would you natives offer instead of possible used in this way and meaning?

Thank you.

3. ## Re: possible factor

In the example you gave, it's obvious that x is the only common factor.
In more complex equations, you might need to ask "Is this a factor? Is this factor possible?" as you figure out whether (x-3) or (y+6) is a common factor. It's not immediately obvious, perhaps.

Well, hmmm. X-3 might be a common factor... let's see if it works... yup, it works.
That move it from being a "possible common factor" to an actual common factor.

4. ## Re: possible factor

Originally Posted by Barb_D
In the example you gave, it's obvious that x is the only common factor.
In more complex equations, you might need to ask "Is this a factor? Is this factor possible?" as you figure out whether (x-3) or (y+6) is a common factor. It's not immediately obvious, perhaps.

Well, hmmm. X-3 might be a common factor... let's see if it works... yup, it works.
That move it from being a "possible common factor" to an actual common factor.

I think possible is very closed to potential here. Do you members agree?

Thank you.

5. ## Re: possible factor

Originally Posted by hhtt21
I think possible is very closed to potential here. Do you members agree?
You could make that substitution in "possible/potential factor". It doesn't work in "Is this factor possible?"

6. ## Re: possible factor

Originally Posted by GoesStation
You could make that substitution in "possible/potential factor". It doesn't work in "Is this factor possible?"
Instead of it can we say "This might be a potential factor"

Thank you.

7. ## Re: possible factor

Originally Posted by hhtt21
Instead of it can we say "This might be a potential factor"?
"Might" and "potential" are redundant. Say "This is a potential factor" or "This might be​ a factor."

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