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## Algebra (all content)

# Intro to the Binomial Theorem

The Binomial theorem tells us how to expand expressions of the form (a+b)ⁿ, for example, (x+y)⁷. The larger the power is, the harder it is to expand expressions like this directly. But with the Binomial theorem, the process is relatively fast! Created by Sal Khan.

## Want to join the conversation?

- Why is 0! = 1 ?

Isn't factorial just a fancy way of saying multiply all the previous numbers together, like 4! = 1*2*3*4 ?(267 votes)- Caleb Joshua's response makes sense. I give him a credit.

My response will be based on the study of patterns that result from factorials of consecutive numbers starting from 1, leaving that of 0! as a task to read from the pattern. Pay a closer attention to the computations inside brackets. I hope you will follow. This is how it goes.

1!=1 ?

2!=2 (2*1!)

3!=6 (3*2!)

4!=24 (4*3!)

5!=120 (5*4!)

6!=720 (6*5!)

7!=5040 (7*6!)

Note: Start reading the brackets from bottom going up to see the pattern.

Would you please check the result for 1!. If you read the pattern of computations in brackets, you would note that 1!=1= 1*0!. Then whats 0!? 1 is a multiplicative identity of integers (from Abstract Algebra). Multiplying a number by 1 equals the same number. So if 1!=1 and 1=1*0!, then 0! equals the one on the left of the equation 1=1*0!. Thus 0!=1.(53 votes)

- At5:20, is that n "choose" k? I've seen this notation before and have wondered what it meant. Is there a video that shows where this comes from?(83 votes)
- Following this message is a link to the beginning of the Khan Academy playlist about "Permutations and Combinations." In particular, the "combination" is what is commonly referred to by "n choose k." Good luck, and happy learning!

https://www.khanacademy.org/math/precalculus/prob_comb/combinatorics_precalc/v/permutations(95 votes)

- Thank you! This video was very helpful... but I do have another question that was not addressed in it. What would I do if I have to expand a binomial with two coefficients?

For example, I've been trying to solve this: (3x + 2y)^5

I've expanded it to this: 3x^5 + 5 * 3x^4 2y + 10 3x^3 2y^2 + 10 3x^2 2y^3 + 5 * 3x 2y^4 + 2y^5

... but, I don't know where to go at this point.

How would I simplify this binomial even further??(13 votes)- I think he probably addresses that in the more detailed videos, as this was just an introduction to this concept.(1 vote)

- At4:30, where did the K come from in (a+b) to the n power?(11 votes)
- This is called Sigma notation, and the K simply represents the starting point of the values you wish to sum together.

Here is a video: https://www.khanacademy.org/math/precalculus/seq_induction/geometric-sequence-series/v/sigma-notation-sum(14 votes)

- Is there any easier, quicker way to do the binomial expression, besides using this long equation? Because the equation is a lot to remember!(8 votes)
- DamianmusK

Try it out! Expand a binomial to the powers 1,2,3,4,etc.

Then verify the numbers and you will be intrigued and may remember it.

Psychological studies show that elaborate memory is better than rote memory( relating STM data to past experiences helps). In this case, you will realise that learning this equation is better than solving binomials as your brain will associate solving with the pain of expanding the terms

Hope this helps!

@Rock11(6 votes)

- At4:43, what does Sal mean by N choose K? Is that a matrix?(5 votes)
- Not really. A matrix would be indicated by multiple columns and/or rows of numbers, all enclosed by brackets ( these -----> [ ] ) that appear to be "stretched" vertically to enclose the entire ends. n choose k is indicated by a number or variable on top of another number or variable, enclosed by parentheses (as opposed to brackets). n is the top, k is the bottom. "n choose k" is a combination, the number of possible distinct ways to choose k objects (order being irrelevant) from a set of n objects. Does that make sense?

Sorry. I think I might have been a little too long-winded.(11 votes)

- What does that E mean? Is it Sigma? I do 't know. It's the first time I've seen it.(7 votes)
- Is there a video where we can learn more about factorials, and how to figure them out?(6 votes)
- The symbol after the equals sign (with n above and k = 0 below) - how does this symbol work? I.e. does the symbol represent an algorithm that sums all of the values gained from iterating between k and n? Hope that makes sense. Basically I can see the way it works but I want to understand the mechanics of it.(4 votes)
- The symbol after the equals sign is called sigma. The symbol is for the summation of a series. The number below the sigma sign shows the value the series starts at (also known as the
**lower limit of summation**) and the number above the sigma sign shows the value at which the series ends (also known as the**upper limit of summation**) while the variable next to it is called the typical element. So basically the sigma sign tells you to add everything starting from the lower limit to the upper limit based on the typical element.

This website can explain a lot better: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/sipa/math/summation.html(5 votes)

- since when did we cover combinatorics?? isnt that precalc? this is alg2!(5 votes)
- pre calc but many people wont end up seeing it until college(1 vote)

## Video transcript

Voiceover:It doesn't take long to realize that taking higher and
higher powers of binomials can get painful, but let's just work through a few just to realize how
quickly they get painful. If we take the binomial a plus b, it's a binomial because it
has two terms right over here, let's take that to the 0 power. Anything that's non-zero to the 0 power, that's just going to be equal to 1. That wasn't too bad. Now what about a plus b to the 1st power? That's just going to be a plus b. Now what about a plus b squared? Now, if you haven't been practicing taking powers of binomials, you might have been tempted to say a squared plus b squared, but that would be incorrect. If you did that, you should give yourself a very gentle but not overly discouraging slap on the wrist or
the brain or something. a plus b squared is not
a squared plus b squared. It is a plus b times a plus b. Then if you do this, it will be a times a, which is a squared, plus a times b, which is ab, plus b times a, which is another ab, plus b times b, which is b squared. You have two ab's here, so
you could add them together, so it's equal to a squared
plus 2ab plus b squared. Now things are going to get a
little bit more interesting. What is a plus b to the 3rd
power going to be equal to? I encourage you to pause this video and try to figure that out on your own. Well, we know that a
plus b to the 3rd power is just a plus b to the 2nd
power times another a plus b. Let's just multiply this times a plus b to figure out what it is. I'll do this. Let's see. Let's multiply that times a plus b. I'm just going to multiply it this way. First, I'll multiply b
times all of these things. I'll do it in this green color. b times b squared is b to the 3rd power. b times 2ab is 2a squared, so 2ab squared, and then b times a squared is ba squared, or a squared b, a squared b. I'll multiply b times all of this stuff. Now let's multiply a times all this stuff. a times b squared is ab squared, ab squared. a times 2ab is 2a squared b, 2a squared b, and then a times a squared
is a to the 3rd power. Now when we add all of
these things together, we get, we get a to the 3rd power plus, let's see, we have 1 a squared b plus another, plus 2 more a squared b's. That's going to be 3a squared b plus 3ab squared. 2ab squared plus another ab squared is going to be 3ab squared plus b to the 3rd power. Just taking some of the 3rd power, this already took us a little
reasonable amount of time, and so you can imagine
how painful it might get to do something like a
plus b to the 4th power, or even worse, if you're trying to find a
plus b to the 10th power, or to the 20th power. This would take you all day or maybe even longer than that. It would be incredibly,
incredibly painful. That's where the binomial
theorem becomes useful. What is the binomial theorem? The binomial theorem tells us, let me write this down, binomial theorem. Binomial theorem, it tells us that if we have a binomial, and I'll just stick with
the a plus b for now, if I have, and I'm going to try to color code this a little bit, if I have the binomial a plus b, a plus b, and I'm going to raise it the nth power, I'm going to raise this to the nth power, the binomial theorem tells us that this is going to be equal to, and the notation is going to look a little bit complicated at first, but then we'll work
through an actual example, is going to be equal to
the sum from k equals 0, k equals 0 to n, this n and this n are the same number, of ... I don't want to ... that's kind of a garish color ... of n choose k, n choose k, and we'll review that in a second; this comes straight out of combinatorics; n choose k times a to the n minus k, n minus k, times b, times b to the k, b to the k power. Now this seems a little bit unwieldy. Let's just review, remind ourselves what n choose k actually means. If we say n choose k, I'll do the same colors, n choose k, we remember from combinatorics
this would be equal to n factorial, n factorial over k factorial, over k factorial times
n minus k factorial, n minus k factorial, so n minus k minus k factorial, let me color code this, n minus k factorial. Let's try to apply this. Let's just start applying it to the thing that started to intimidate us, say, a plus b to the 4th power. Let's figure out what that's going to be. Let's try this. So a, and I'm going to
try to keep it color-coded so you know what's going on, a plus b, although it takes me
a little bit more time to keep switching colors, but hopefully it's worth it, a plus b. Let's take that to the 4th power. The binomial theorem tells us this is going to be equal to, and I'm just going to
use this exact notation, this is going to be the
sum from k equals 0, k equals 0 to 4, to 4 of 4 choose k, 4 choose k, 4 choose ... let me do that k in that purple color, 4 choose k of a to the 4 minus k power, 4 minus k power times b to the k power, b to the k power. Now what is that going to be equal to? Well, let's just actually just do the sum. This is going to be equal to, so we're going to start at k equals 0, so when k equals 0, it's
going to be 4 choose 0, 4 choose 0, times a to the 4 minus 0 power, well, that's just going
to be a to the 4th power, times b to the 0 power. b to the 0 power is just
going to be equal to 1, so we could just put a
1 here if we want to, or we could just leave it like that. This is what we get when k equals 0. Then to that, we're going
to add when k equals 1. k equals 1 is going to be, the coefficient is going to be 4 choose 1, and it's going to be times
a to the 4 minus 1 power, so a to the 3rd power, and I'll just stick with that color, times b to the k power. Well, now, k is 1b to the 1st power. Then to that, we're going to add, we're going to add 4 choose 2, 4 choose 2 times a to the ... well, now k is 2. 4 minus 2 is 2. a squared. I think you see a pattern here. a to the 4th, a to the 3rd, a squared, and then times b to the k. Well, k is 2 now, so b squared, and you see a pattern again. You could say b to the
0, b to the 1, b squared, and we only have two
more terms to add here, plus 4 choose 3, 4 choose 3 times 4 minus 3 is 1, times a, or a to the 1st,
I guess we could say, and then b to the 3rd power, times a to the 1st b to the third, and then only one more term, plus 4 choose, 4 choose 4. k is now 4. This is going to be our
last term right now. We're getting k goes
from 0 all the way to 4, 4 choose 4. a to the 4 minus 4,
that's just going to be 1, a to the 0, that's just 1, so we're going to be left
with just b to the k power, and b is 4 right over here. We're almost done. We've expanded it out. We just need it figure
out what 4 choose 0, 4 choose 1, 4 choose 2,
et cetera, et cetera are, so let's figure that out. We could just apply this
over and over again. So 4 choose 0, 4 choose 0 is equal to 4
factorial over 0 factorial times 4 minus 0 factorial. That's just going to be 4 factorial again. 0 factorial, at least for these purposes, we are defining to be equal to 1, so this whole thing is
going to be equal to 1, so this coefficient is 1. Let's see. Let's keep going here. So 4 choose 1 is going to be
4 factorial over 1 factorial times 4 minus 1 factorial, 4 minus 1 factorial, so 3 factorial. What's this going to be? 1 factorial is just going to be 1. 4 factorial is 4 times 3 times 2 times 1. 3 factorial is 3 times 2 times 1. Let me make that clear. 4 times 3 times 2 times 1 over 3 times 2 times 1 is just going to leave us with 4. This right over here
is just going to be 4. Then we need to figure
out what 4 choose 2 is. 4 choose 2 is going to be 4
factorial over 2 factorial times what's 4 minus ... this is going to be n minus k, 4 minus 2 over 2 factorial. So what is this going to be? Let me scroll over to
the right a little bit. This is going to be 4
times 3 times 2 times 1 over 2 factorial is 2, over 2 times 2. This is 2, this is 2, so 2 times 2 is same thing as 4. We're left with 3 times 2 times 1, which is equal to 6. That's equal to 6. Then what is 4 choose 3? I'll use some space down here. So 4 choose 3, 4 choose 3 is equal to 4 factorial over, over 3 factorial times
4 minus 3 factorial, so that's just going to be 1 factorial. Well, we already figured out what that is. That's the same thing
as this right over here. You just swap the 1 factorial
and the 3 factorial. We already figured out that
this is going to be equal to 4. That is equal to 4. 4 choose 4? Well, this is just going to be, let me just do it over here, 4 choose 4 is 4 factorial over 4 factorial times 0 factorial, which is the exact thing we had here, which we figured out was 1. Just like that, we're done. We were able to figure out what a plus b to the 4th power is. It's 1a to the 4th plus
4a to the 3rd b to the 1st plus 6a squared b squared plus 4ab cubed plus b to the 4th. Actually, let me just write that down, since we did all that work. This is equal to a to the 4th plus, plus 4, plus 4a to the 3rd, a to the 3rd b plus, plus 6, plus 6a squared b squared, a squared b squared, plus, plus, plus 4, I think you see a pattern here, plus 4a times b to the 3rd power plus b to the 4th power, plus b to the 4th power. There is an interesting pattern here. There is a symmetry where
you have the coefficient, you go 1, 4, 6 for the middle term, and then you go back to 4, and then you go back to 1. Then you also see that pattern, is that you start at a
to the 4th, a to the 3rd, a squared, a, and then you could say
there is an a to the 0 here, and then you started b to the 0, which we didn't write
it, but that's just 1, then b to the 1st, b
squared, b to the 3rd, b to the 4th. This is just one
application or one example. In future videos, we'll do more examples of the binomial theorem and also try to understand why it works.