In What Real-Life Situations Would You Use Polynomials?

Rich Lasalle/age fotostock/Getty Images

Polynomials are often used to find the displacement of an object under the influence of gravity. They can also be used in real-life situations from financial planning to meteorology.

Newtonian mechanics demonstrates that the displacement of an object in free fall is given by the relation

D = v?i*t + ½ *a*t^2 , where D is the displacement, vi is the initial velocity, a is the acceleration, and t is the time. This displacement equation is a polynomial expression. Polynomials enable people to describe the physical world. For example, assume that a ball is released from rest at the top of a building measuring 8.52 meters tall. How long does it take for that ball to reach the ground? Using the displacement equation above and solving for t, where D = 8.52 meters and a = -9.8 m/s/s (this is a known constant on earth), the time is 1.32 seconds.

Polynomials are used in economics to represent cost functions; they are also used to interpret and forecast market trends. Statisticians used mathematical models, which include polynomials, to analyze and interpret data and draw conclusions. In financial planning, polynomials are used to calculate interest rate problems that determine how much money a person accumulates after a given number of years with a specified initial investment. Polynomials are also used in meteorology to create mathematical models to represent weather patterns; these weather patterns are then analyzed to make weather predictions.