Yesterday I wrote a post that looked at the hyperbolic tangent sum

for *x* and *y* strictly between −1 and 1. This sum arises when adding velocities in special relativity. The post ended with a description of the expression for

in terms of elementary symmetric polynomials but did not offer a proof. This post will give a proof and show why elementary symmetric polynomials arise naturally.

We start by noting

and

Then

Now

where

are the elementary symmetric polynomials.

We get *e*_{0} by choosing the 1 term from each binomial in the product. We get *e*_{1} by choosing the 1 term from all but one of the binomials and choosing an *x* as the remaining term. We get *e*_{2} by choosing the 1 term from *n* − 2 of the binomials and choosing *x*‘s from the two remaining terms, and so on. Finally, we get *e*_{n} by choosing an *x* from each binomial.

Similarly

Therefore

because the even terms cancel out in the numerator and the odd terms cancel out in the denominator.

In words, the hyperbolic tangent sum of multiple arguments is the ratio of the sums of the odd and even elementary symmetric polynomials in the arguments.

Elementary symmetric polynomials enter the derivation because they are what you get when you expand products of (1 + *x*_{i}).