It should be obvious from the question that I am not any kind of algebraic geometer, so if there are definitions of hom-polys as comonoidal dyadic functors or whatnot, let's leave that to one side for the purposes of this question. I really mean hom-polys in the most pedestrian sense possible.

From the outside, it seems that homogeneous polynomials get a lot of attention in alg-geom. (Perhaps in other areas as well?) I know that they are, well, homogeneous with respect to dilations, and that this allows one to look at their zeros in projective space in a natural way.

I usually like to keep a safe distance between myself and projective space, and have always looked at hom-polys as "merely" a technical tool. But, just the other day, I was able to quickly solve a small, elementary number-theoretic problem by converting it into "homogeneous" form. (Some vague memories of homogeneous problem-solving heuristics prompted this.) To be precise, the problem was that of computing how many solutions there are to m^2 + n^2 = 1 in Z_p, where p is a prime congruent to 3 mod 4. (Of course this is trivial by a change of variables when p = 1 mod 4.) The problem seemed unfriendly at first, but passing to the related question of the solutions to m^2 + n^2 - t^2 = 0 revealed a lot of symmetry and made it quite trivial. (Of course, solving small cases of the first problem showed a lot of symmetry, but it wasn't obvious how to get a handle on it.)

My question is: do hom-polys help to solve a lot of seemingly unrelated problems via some process of homogeneization of the problem? Do you have examples? Is this one reason for their popularity? I'm looking for heuristics mostly, but if you think an actual theorem makes precise or helps formulate a heuristic, go nuts.