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1Mathematics A numerical or constant quantity placed before and multiplying the variable in an algebraic expression (e.g. 4 in 4xy).
‘The coefficients on the age variable in the models of organization-environment fit may then approach zero.’
‘The problem was to find the roots by adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and taking roots of expressions in the coefficients.’
‘Montel also investigated the relation between the coefficients of a polynomial and the location of its zeros in the complex plane.’
‘He extended the applications of the operational method to linear ordinary differential equations with variable coefficients.’
‘Hermite had posed the problem of finding the minimal values of quadratic forms in n variables whose coefficients were real.’
2Physics A multiplier or factor that measures a particular property.
‘the drag coefficient’
‘The shading coefficient is the measure of solar heat gain through the window.’
‘Where can I get a list of friction coefficients for different materials?’
‘The drag coefficient combines several ballistic properties of typical projectiles.’
‘It follows that hydrophobic organic compounds have high adsorption coefficients and high bioaccumulation factors.’
‘This measure of a material's elasticity is called its coefficient of restitution.’
Origin
Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘cooperating to produce a result’): from modern Latin coefficient-, from com- ‘together’ + efficient- ‘accomplishing’ (see efficient).