Its really not that different form regular long division. Of course, it only applies to division by "x- a" while with regular division, you can divide any polynomial by any polynomial.
To divide, say, by x- 1, you would think " divides times". So your first term in the quotient is "2x" and you multiply x- 1 by that: and subtract: that leaves . Notice that the coefficient in the quotient, 2, is exactly the coefficent of in the dividend precisely because the coefficient of x in the divisor is 1.
Now divide by x- 1. Again, because the coefficient of x in the divisor is 1, we get precisely as quotient. And then we subtract from to get . Finally, of course, x divides into 3x 3 times so the entire quotient is and [maht]3x+ 1- 3(x-1)= 3x+ 1- 3x+ 3= 4[/tex] is the remainder.
Now look at what we do with "synthetic division". Since we are [b]always[b] dividing by x- a the only thing that changes from one division to another is the "a" that's all we need to write. Because we always have the dividend written in descending powers of x, we don't need to write the "x"s, just the coefficients. And, because the coefficient of x in "x- a" is always 1, the coefficient in the quotient is always the coefficient of the first term in the dividend- we can just bring that down. Oh, and because it is alway -a, we can reverse the sign on a and add rather than subtract!
Compare that with the "long division" and you will see what I mean.