Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

1) In a mathematical equation, a coefficient is a constant by which a variable is multiplied. Consider the following equations:

3 x 2 + 5 x - 3 = 0
ax 3 + by 2 = z

The values 3 and 5 in the first equation are coefficients of x , a variable. In the second equation, if a and b are constants, then a is a coefficient of x 3 , and b is a coefficient of y 2 . It is customary to use lower-case, italic letters from the first half of the alphabet to represent constants whose values are not specified numerically. Lower-case, italic letters from the second half of the alphabet generally represent variables.

2) In physics and engineering, a coefficient is a quantitative expression of a specific property of matter, or of a phenomenon. Consider an electronic component whose value changes with temperature. It is tested and found to have a resistance of 100 ohm s at a temperature of +20 degrees Celsius (°C), and a resistance of 101 ohms at a temperature of +70 °C. This is the equivalent of a change in resistance of +1 ohm for a temperature change of +50 °C, or +0.02 ohm per degree Celsius. Between temperatures of +20 °C and +70 °C, therefore, this component has a temperature coefficient of +0.02 ohm per degree Celsius, assuming the resistance-versus-temperature function is linear over that range of temperatures.

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • Schrodinger's cat

    - Schrodinger's cat explained: This definition describes Schrodinger's famous thought experiment and its place in quantum theory. (WhatIs.com)

  • flash storage

    - Flash storage, based on flash memory, is used for data repositories, storage systems and consumer devices, such as USB drives, smartphones and solid-state drives. Flash-based storage is faster than... (WhatIs.com)

  • six degrees of separation

    - Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries. (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Computing fundamentals

    - Terms related to computer fundamentals, including computer hardware definitions and words and phrases about software, operating systems, peripherals and troubleshooting.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.