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Discriminants

Math is filled with all kinds of interesting and complex-sounding vocabulary. A classic example of one of these terms is "discriminant." So what exactly is a discriminant? When do we use it? And how can it help us on our math journey? Let''s find out:

The discriminant explained

The discriminant is an important term to know when dealing with quadratic equations.

Essentially, the discriminant is simply this expression:

b2-4ac


This expression tends to pop up when we rewrite the quadratic formula:
0 = ax2+bx+c

to solve for x:

x = ((-b)±√(b2-4ac))/(2a)


We can see the discriminant contained within the radical sign.

So what''s the big deal? Why does this specific expression get its own special name? There are a number of important things to remember about the discriminant:

  • If it is positive, we are left with two real solutions
  • If it is zero, we get one and only one real solution because both answers are identical
  • If it is negative, we are left with two complex solutions


In other words, the discriminate can "discriminate" or "choose" different solutions based on its own "bias" or inherent qualities.

Topics related to the Discriminants

Quadratic Equations

Quadratic Formula

Solving Quadratic Equations using Factoring

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Practice tests covering the Discriminants

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College Algebra Diagnostic Tests

Pair your student with a tutor who understands discriminants

Keeping track of complex math vocabulary can be difficult for students, especially when they are confronted with many new concepts during a single classroom session. It makes sense to supplement these classroom sessions with 1-on-1 tutoring, as tutors can help them reinforce their understanding of new concepts. Tutors can also use teaching methods that match your student''s learning style. For example, they can help visual learners memorize new terms by using flashcards. Speak with our Educational Directors today to learn more about tutoring. Varsity Tutors will pair your student with a qualified tutor.

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