I've been driven up a wall by the following question: let p be a complex polynomial of degree d. Suppose that |p(z)|≤1 for all z such that |z|=1 and |z-1|≥δ (for some small δ>0). Then what's the best upper bound one can prove on |p(1)|? (I only care about the asymptotic dependence on d and δ, not the constants.)

For the analogous question where p is a degree-d *real* polynomial such that |p(x)|≤1 for all 0≤x≤1-δ, I know that the right upper bound on |p(1)| is |p(1)|≤exp(d√δ). The extremal example here is p(x)=T_{d}((1+δ)x), where T_{d} is the d^{th} Chebyshev polynomial.

Indeed, by using the Chebyshev polynomial, it's not hard to construct a polynomial p in z *as well as its complex conjugate z**, such that

(i) |p(z)|≤1 for all z such that |z|=1 and |z-1|≥δ, and

(ii) p(1) ~ exp(dδ).

One can also show that this is optimal, for polynomials in both z and its complex conjugate.

The question is whether one can get a better upper bound on |p(1)| by exploiting the fact that p is really a polynomial in z. The fastest-growing example I could find has the form p(z)=C_{d,δ}(1+z)^{d}. Here, if we choose the constant C_{d,δ} so that |p(z)|≤1 whenever |z|=1 and |z-1|≥δ, we find that

p(1) ~ exp(dδ^{2})

For my application, the difference between exp(dδ) and exp(dδ^{2}) is all the difference in the world!

I searched about 6 approximation theory books---and as often the case, they answer every conceivable question except the one I want. If anyone versed in approximation theory can give me a pointer, I'd be incredibly grateful.

Thanks so much! --Scott Aaronson

PS. The question is answered below by David Speyer. For anyone who wants to see explicitly the polynomial implied by David's argument, here it is:

p_{d,δ}(z) = z^{d} T_{d}((z+z^{-1})(1+δ)/2+δ),

where T_{d} is the d^{th} Chebyshev polynomial.