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Rooted zeroes

  1. Nov 12, 2007 #1
    What's the difference between a zero and a root?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2007 #2


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    For a function, there is none. Basically talking about the roots of a function is a fancy way of speaking about the set of points in the domain where the function takes on the value zero. Though, in other contexts, the word root can make sense whereas zero doesn't (e.g. square root, root system, etc.) -- you'll recognize them when you come across them.
  4. Nov 12, 2007 #3


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    Technically, an equation has a root while a function has a zero (a "zero" of the function f is a "root" of the equation f(x)= 0). Compuchip is correct that the distinction is not maintained very much but I think it is a shame. The "root" of an equation does not always mean the right side of the equation is "0" and that is the impression that using "root" to mean "zero" of a function gives!
  5. Nov 12, 2007 #4
    Thanks. By root I mean (x-3)(x+4)=0 =>x=3,-4. Not square roots or anything.

    I just remembered something being said like (x-2)^3 has three roots but only 1 x-intercept, and then another question which I can't find seemed to imply it was the same case with zeroes and roots.
  6. Nov 12, 2007 #5
    Just had me algebra exam and that was a question!

    I pretty much put what HallsofIvy said. I asked the lecturer after and he said that zeroes were to do with the function and roots were an algebraic property.

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