In this work we show that that many of the basic results concerning the theory of the characteristic polynomial of a graph can be derived as easy consequences of a determinantal identity due to Jacobi. As well as improving known results, we are also able to derive a number of new ones. A combinatorial interpretation of the Christoffel-Darboux identity from the theory of orthogonal polynomials is also presented. Finally, we extend some work of Tutte on the reconstructibility of graphs with irreducible characteristic polynomials.
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