Polynomials are things like 2*x*^{2} −
3*x* + *x*^{3} − 3. There are three basic
questions you can be asked about a polynomial. (There are lots of
other harder questions, too, but we'll start with these.)

- The
*number of terms*is just the number of pieces separated by plus or minus signs. So, in our example, 2*x*^{2}is one term, 3*x*is a second term,*x*^{3}is a third term and 3 is a fourth term. So there are 4 terms. - The
*degree*means the biggest exponent of*x*. (Of course, it could be some other letter besides*x*.) Here that's 3. But there are two special cases to remember. First, if*x*is never raised to a power, then the degree is 1. (Then it's a linear function, like the ones in earlier sections.) Second, if*x*doesn't appear*at all*(that is all we have is a number, like −3), then the degree is 0. - The
*leading coefficient*means the number in front of whatever term the degree came from. In this case, the degree came from the term*x*^{3}, which is the same as 1*x*^{3}, so the leading coefficient is 1. If there's a minus sign in front of that term, then it counts as part of the leading coefficient.