What is a coefficient?

A coefficient is any constant number or measure that is multiplied by a variable. It is primarily used in mathematics, physics, and engineering.

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The term coefficient has a number of definitions relating to mathematics, physics, and engineering. Understanding the standard uses of coefficients in these fields will help contextualize its use in business.

In mathematics, variables are multiplied by constants known as coefficients. Here are two examples:

10x + 4x – 2 =...

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The term coefficient has a number of definitions relating to mathematics, physics, and engineering. Understanding the standard uses of coefficients in these fields will help contextualize its use in business.

In mathematics, variables are multiplied by constants known as coefficients. Here are two examples:

10x + 4x – 2 = 30

In this example, 10 and 5 are constants, and they are the coefficients of x, which is the variable.

ax + by = z

This example is a little more complex: a and b are the constants, and they are the coefficients of x and y, which are the variables. Generally speaking, constants (and coefficients) will be italicized letters from the first half of the alphabet, and variables will be italicized letters from the second half of the alphabet.

In physics and engineering, coefficients are defined as any number/measure that characterizes a specific physical property of a scientific material, process, or phenomenon. For example, in ballistics, the measure of an object’s ability to overcome air resistance during flight is referred to as the ballistic coefficient.

In business, coefficients as described above can be used to chart data and create trending slopes. You can also use a product as a coefficient to multiply by number of customers to determine how much of the product to order or to determine how much of a profit will be made.

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