Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Brenda, a student:

what is GCF????? =c

Hi Brenda,

The acronym GCF stands for "Greatest Common Factor" and it refers to the largest number that divides evenly into two or more numbers for which you are trying to determine the GCF for.

As an example, the GCF of 36 and 24 is 12 as 12 is the largest number that divides evenly into both 36 and 24.

This can be extended to situations involving variable expressions and polynomials. Now the GCF of two or more variable expressions is not simply a number, but the variable expression that divides evenly into the given variable expressions.

As an example, the GCF of 40a2 and 16a3 is 8a2. The "8" comes from the GCF of 40 and 16 and the "a2" is the largest power of the variable "a" that is found in both terms.

Hope this helps,

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