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cbarker1

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*Abstract Algebra*by Dummit and Foote (2nd ed):

Let $R$ be a commutative ring with 1.

Let $p(x)=a_nx^n+a_{n-1}x^{n-1}+\cdots+a_1x+a_0$ be an element of the polynomial ring $R[x]$. Prove that $p(x)$ is a zero divisor in $R[x]$ if and only if there is a nonzero $b\in R$ such that $bp(x)=0$.

Hint: Let $g(x)=b_mx^m+b_{m-1}x^{m-1}+\cdots+b_0$ be a nonzero polynomial of minimal degree of such that $g(x)p(x)=0$. Show that $b_ma_n=0$ and so $a_ng(x)$ is a polynomial of degree than $m$ that gives 0 when multiplied by $p(x)$. Conclude that $a_ng(x)=0$. Apply a similar argument to show by induction on $i$ that $a_{n-i}g(x)=0$ for $i=0,1,\cdots,n$ and show that implies $b_mp(x)=0$.

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CBarker1