Questions in which polynomials (single or several variables) play a key role. It is typically important that this tag is combined with other tags; polynomials appear in very different contexts. Please, use at least one of the top-level tags, such as nt.number-theory, co.combinatorics, ...

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64
votes
11answers
3k views

Can a non-surjective polynomial map from an infinite field to itself miss only finitely many points?

Is there an infinite field $k$ together with a polynomial $f \in k[x]$ such that the associated map $f \colon k \to k$ is not surjective but misses only finitely many elements in $k$ (i.e. only ...
56
votes
5answers
2k views

Roots of truncations of e^x - 1

During a talk I was at today, the speaker mentioned that if you truncate the Taylor series for $e^x - 1$, you'll get lots of roots with nonzero real part, even though the full Taylor series only has ...
43
votes
4answers
3k views

Degree of sum of algebraic numbers

This is an elementary question (coming from an undergraduate student) about algebraic numbers, to which I don't have a complete answer. Let $a$ and $b$ be algebraic numbers, with respective degrees ...
42
votes
2answers
3k views

Polynomials having a common root with their derivatives

Here is a question someone asked me a couple of years ago. I remember having spent a day or two thinking about it but did not manage to solve it. This may be an open problem, in which case I'd be ...
42
votes
5answers
2k views

Bizarre operation on polynomials

There I was, innocently doing some category theory, when up popped a totally outlandish operation on polynomials. It seems outlandish to me, anyway. I'd like to know if anyone has seen this ...
35
votes
4answers
2k views

Polynomial roots and convexity

A couple of years ago, I came up with the following question, to which I have no answer to this day. I have asked a few people about this, most of my teachers and some friends, but noone had ever ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

The maximum of a polynomial on the unit circle

Encouraged by the progress made in a recently posted MO problem, here is a "conceptually related" problem originating from a 2003 joint paper of Sergei Konyagin and myself. Suppose we are given $n$ ...
34
votes
2answers
768 views

A curious identity related to finite fields

To three elements $a_1$, $a_2$, $a_3$ in the finite field $\mathbb F_q$ of $q$ elements we associate the number $N(a_1,a_2,a_3)$ of elements $a_0\in \mathbb F_q$ such that the polynomial ...
31
votes
9answers
7k views

Irreducibility of polynomials in two variables

Let $k$ be a field. I am interested in sufficient criteria for $f \in k[x,y]$ to be irreducible. An example is Theorem A of this paper. Does anyone know of similar results in the same vein? How about ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

Polynomial with the primes as coefficients irreducible?

If $p_n$ is the $n$'th prime, let $A_n(x) = x^n + p_1x^{n-1}+\cdots + p_{n-1}x+p_n$. Is $A_n$ then irreducible in $\mathbb{Z}[x]$ for any natural number $n$? I checked the first couple of hundred ...
30
votes
2answers
1k views

A question on maps from $\mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z}$ to itself

Let $p\geq 3$ be a prime number, and let $u:\mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z}\to \mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z}$ be a map such that, for all $l\in \mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z}$,$l\neq 0$, the map $k\mapsto u(k+l)-u(k)$ is a ...
30
votes
1answer
3k views

Integers not represented by $ 2 x^2 + x y + 3 y^2 + z^3 - z $

EDIT, 9 March 2014: when I asked this in 2010, I did not have the courage of my convictions, and so did not ask for an if and only if proof, as Kevin Buzzard quite properly pointed out. Such problems ...
28
votes
4answers
864 views

Generalizing the notion of Farey neighbors to the algebraic numbers

"The Beauty of Roots" is about plots of roots of polynomials—specifically, those with degree less than a given number and height less than another given number. As you can see, these plots are ...
27
votes
3answers
1k views

Are surjectivity and injectivity of polynomial functions from $\mathbb{Q}^n$ to $\mathbb{Q}$ algorithmically decidable?

Is there an algorithm which, given a polynomial $f \in \mathbb{Q}[x_1, \dots, x_n]$, decides whether the mapping $f: \mathbb{Q}^n \rightarrow \mathbb{Q}$ is surjective, respectively, injective? -- And ...
26
votes
12answers
3k views

What Are Some Naturally-Occurring High-Degree Polynomials?

To construct J. H. Conway's look-and-say sequence, begin by putting down a 1 as the first entry. The other entries are found by saying the previous entry aloud, and writing what you hear. ...
26
votes
1answer
702 views

How many polynomial Morse functions on the sphere?

Let $f$ be a homogeneous polynomial of degree $d$ in $n$ variables. Restricted to the unit sphere $S^{n-1}$, it might or might not be a Morse function. If $f$ is a Morse function of degree $1$, you ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

when is the power of a nonnegative polynomial a sum of squares?

There are polynomials that are not sum of squares. For example Motzkin gave the example $x^4y^2+x^2y^4+z^6-3x^2y^2z^2$ in 1967. Is there a real polynomial $f\in{\mathbb{R}}[x_1,\ldots,x_n]$ in ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

When is a monic integer polynomial the characteristic polynomial of a non-negative integer matrix?

Suppose $P(x)$ is a monic integer polynomial with roots $r_1, ... r_n$ such that $p_k = r_1^k + ... + r_n^k$ is a non-negative integer for all positive integers $k$. Is $P(x)$ necessarily the ...
22
votes
1answer
975 views

Zeros of polynomials with real positive coefficients

The following problem arose in collaborative work with Subhro Ghosh: Question: To any polynomial $P_n(z)=\sum_{i=0}^n a_i z^i =a_n \prod_{i=1}^n(z-z_i)$, attach the empirical measure of zeros ...
21
votes
6answers
1k views

Relations between sums of powers

This question is so naive that it could have been asked before on this site. If so, I'll delete it. Among beautiful formula, I like a lot this one: $$\left(\sum_{n=1}^Nn\right)^2=\sum_{n=1}^Nn^3.$$ ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Polynomials with rational coefficients

Long time ago there was a question on whether a polynomial bijection $\mathbb Q^2\to\mathbb Q$ exists. Only one attempt of answering it has been given, highly downvoted by the way. But this answer ...
19
votes
1answer
897 views

Have we ever proved any non-solvable case of reciprocity without the Langlands program ?

The reciprocity of the title is the following not completely well-posed problem: Fix $P(X)$ a monic irreducible polynomial of degree $n$, with coefficients in $\mathbb Z$. "Describe" (in some sense) ...
18
votes
11answers
3k views

When does 'positive' imply 'sum of squares'?

Does anyone have examples of when an object is positive, then it has (or does not have) a square root? Or more generally, can be written as a sum of squares? Example. A positive integer does not ...
18
votes
3answers
936 views

Freeness of a Z[x]-module

Definition: Call a mapping $f: \mathbb{Z} \rightarrow \mathbb{Z}$ a generalized polynomial if for any distinct integers $m$ and $n$ we have $(m - n)|(f(m)-f(n))$. It is easy to check that polynomial ...
18
votes
5answers
614 views

Bass' stable range of $\mathbf Z[X]$

Let $n$ be a positive integer and $A$ be a commutative ring. The ring $A$ is said to be of Bass stable range $\mathrm{sr}(A)\leq n$ if for $a, a_1, \dots, a_n \in A$ one has the following implication: ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

The resultant and the ideal generated by two polynomials in $\mathbb{Z}[x]$

I was asked the following question by a colleague and was embarrassed not to know the answer. Let $f(x), g(x) \in \mathbb{Z}[x]$ with no root in common. Let $I = (f(x),g(x))\cap \mathbb{Z}$, that is, ...
17
votes
2answers
790 views

Cyclotomic polynomials with coefficients $0,\pm1$

Let me begin with what looks like a joke. According to a Bourbaki member, the following conversation occurred during a meeting dedicated to polishing the but-last version of an Algebra Bourbaki ...
17
votes
1answer
863 views

How to prove that every polynomial in an infinite family is irreducible over Q?

Consider the bivariate polynomial $$p(X,Y) = X^5 - (2 Y + 1) X^3 - (Y^2 + 2) X^2 + Y (Y-1) X + Y^3.$$ For every integer $y \ge 4$, I conjecture that $p(X,y)$ is irreducible in $\mathbb{Q}[X]$. How can ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Where in mathematics do these polynomials appear?

Does anyone recognize the following sequence of polynomials? $f_0(x) = x-1$ $f_1(x) = x^2-x$ $f_2(x) = x^4-2x^2+x$ $f_3(x) = x^8-3x^4+3x^2-x$ $f_4(x) = x^{16}-4x^8+6x^4-4x^2+x$ $\vdots$ The ...
17
votes
4answers
910 views

Why are polynomials easier to handle with than integers?

This may seems to be an elementary question, but I found no answers on MO nor google. I have always heard "polynomials are easier to handle with than integers". For example: When $n$ is quite ...
17
votes
0answers
364 views

What is the best probabilistic estimate from below for a random polynomial on an arc?

I'm currently involved in a small (but quite time consuming) project where we are trying to get some decent bound for the number $N(P)$ of real zeroes of a random polynomial $P(x)=\sum_{k=0}^n\xi_k ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

What, if anything, makes homogeneous polynomials so great?

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 ...
16
votes
4answers
901 views

A mixing property for finite fields of characteristic $2$

In connection with this MO post, here is a question somewhat implicitly contained in a joint paper of S. Kopparty, S. Saraf, M. Sudan, and myself. Let ${\mathbb F}$ be a finite field, and suppose ...
16
votes
5answers
708 views

Cayley-Hamilton revisited

Let $(A_i)_i$ be $n\times n$ matrices with entries in a field $K$ with characteristic $0$. We consider the equation (1) $f(X)=A_kX^k+\cdots+A_1X+A_0=0_n$ where $X\in\mathcal{M}_n(K)$ is unknown. Let ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

When is P(x)-Q(y) irreducible?

Let $k$ be an algebraically closed field (in my application, it is characteristic zero, but this probably doesn't matter so much), and let $P: k \to k$, $Q: k \to k$ be polynomials of one variable. ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Recursions which define polynomials

There are many examples (Somos sequences, special polynomials related to rational solutions of the Painleve equations) when a recurrence relation, which a priori produces a sequence of rational ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

Given a polynomial f, can there be more than one constant c such that every root of f(x)-c is repeated?

The question Let $f$ be a nonconstant polynomial over $\mathbb{C}$. Let's say that a point $c \in \mathbb{C}$ is unusual for $f$ if every root $x$ of $f(x) - c$ is repeated. Can $f$ have more than ...
15
votes
7answers
1k views

Unexpected applications of the fact that nth degree polynomials are determined by n+1 points

I had a funny idea for proving an identity in Euclidean geometry. While it didn't end up being a very nice proof strategy in my case, I would still like to collect nice examples of where the proof ...
15
votes
2answers
824 views

Least number of non-zero coefficients to describe a degree n polynomial

I'd be grateful for a good reference on this, it feels like a classic subject yet I couldn't find much about it. Polynomials in one variable of the form $x^n+a_{n-1}x^{n-1}+\dots +a_1 x+a_0$ can be ...
15
votes
1answer
549 views

When is $f(x_1, \dots, x_n)+c$ an irreducible polynomial for almost all constants $c$?

Let $f\in \mathbb C[x_1, \dots, x_n]$, $n\ge 1$, be a non-constant polynomial. Consider the polynomial $f+t\in \mathbb C[t, x_1,\dots, x_n]$. This is an irreducible polynomial in $\mathbb C(t)[x_1, ...
15
votes
2answers
396 views

Minimum number of variables on which a multivariate polynomial depends?

Let $p:F_2^n\rightarrow F_2$ be a multivariate polynomial, let's say of degree 3. (Both the degree and the order of the field could probably be replaced by other constants without affecting this ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Primes represented by two-variable quadratic polynomials

I'm looking over a paper, "Primes represented by quadratic polynomials in two variables" [1] which attempts to characterize the density of the primes in two-variable quadratic polynomials. Its ...
14
votes
2answers
951 views

Minimal polynomial with a given maximum in the unit interval

Find the lowest degree polynomial that satisfies the following constraints: i) $F(0)=0$ ii) $F(1)=0$ iii)The maximum of $F$ on the interval $(0,1)$ occurs at point $c$ iv) $F(x)$ is positive ...
14
votes
4answers
654 views

Distribution of roots of complex polynomials

I generated random quadratic and cubic polynomials with coefficients in $\mathbb{C}$ uniformly distributed in the unit disk $|z| \le 1$. The distribution of the roots of 10000 of these polynomials are ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there an intuitive explanation for an extremal property of Chebyshev polynomials?

Consider the following optimization problem: Problem: find a monic polynomial $p(x)$ of degree $n$ which minimizes $\max_{x \in [-1,1]} |p(x)|$. The solution is given by Chebyshev polynomials: ...
14
votes
1answer
655 views

Reconstructing a word

Let $w(a,b)$ be a word in two letter alphabet. Let $$A=\left(\begin{array}{lll}x_1 & x_2 & x_3\\\ x_4 &x_5 & x_6\\\ x_7 & x_8 & x_9\end{array}\right), ...
13
votes
4answers
744 views

How can I write down polynomial relations that define when a polynomial is a square?

It's easy to tell when a polynomial is squarefree (or not): that's just the question of the vanishing of the discriminant, which can be dealt with as the resultant of $f$ and $f'$. However, given a ...
13
votes
2answers
875 views

Constants for Rolle's Theorem applied to polynomials

Rolle's Theorem states that $f(1/2)=f(-1/2)+f'(x)$ has a root in the open real interval $(-1/2,1/2)$ if $f$ is continuous and differentiable. How large can the absolute value of such a root $\xi$ be ...
13
votes
2answers
628 views

Sets that can be mapped onto R^n by a polynomial

The question was edited several times. Most recent version, suggested by Fedja: Does there exist an open set $U\subset \mathbb R^n$ (n>1) that contains balls ...
13
votes
1answer
392 views

Is a polynomial group law on $\mathbb{R}^n$ automatically nilpotent?

I was told that a polynomial group law on (all of) $\mathbb{R}^n$ gives automatically a nilpotent (Lie, of course) group. Is it true? Where can I find a proof? A counterexample for open subsets of ...