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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 problem was to find the roots by adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and taking roots of expressions in the coefficients.’
‘The coefficients on the age variable in the models of organization-environment fit may then approach zero.’
‘Hermite had posed the problem of finding the minimal values of quadratic forms in n variables whose coefficients were real.’
‘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.’
2Physics A multiplier or factor that measures some property.
‘the drag coefficient’
‘coefficients of elasticity’
‘Where can I get a list of friction coefficients for different materials?’
‘The shading coefficient is the measure of solar heat gain through the window.’
‘The drag coefficient combines several ballistic properties of typical projectiles.’
‘This measure of a material's elasticity is called its coefficient of restitution.’
‘It follows that hydrophobic organic compounds have high adsorption coefficients and high bioaccumulation factors.’
Origin
Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘cooperating to produce a result’): from modern Latin coefficient-, from com- ‘together’ + efficient- ‘accomplishing’ (see efficient).