**234**

votes

**15**answers

32k views

### Why do roots of polynomials tend to have absolute value close to 1?

While playing around with Mathematica I noticed that most polynomials with real coefficients seem to have most complex zeroes very near the unit circle. For instance, if we plot all the roots of a ...

**64**

votes

**11**answers

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 ...

**61**

votes

**6**answers

3k 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 ...

**48**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Does one real radical root imply they all are?

Is there an example of an irreducible polynomial $f(x) \in \mathbb{Q}[x]$ with a real root expressible in terms of real radicals and another real root not expressible in terms of real radicals?

**43**

votes

**5**answers

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 ...

**42**

votes

**2**answers

4k 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 ...

**41**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### How to recognise that the polynomial method might work

A couple of days ago I was at a nice seminar given by Christian Reiher, during which he told us about a short proof of the following special case of a theorem of Olson.
Theorem. Let ...

**41**

votes

**4**answers

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 ...

**36**

votes

**9**answers

9k 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 ...

**36**

votes

**4**answers

3k 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 ...

**35**

votes

**2**answers

960 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
...

**34**

votes

**2**answers

2k 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 ...

**34**

votes

**4**answers

3k 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 $n$ ...

**33**

votes

**2**answers

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 ...

**31**

votes

**1**answer

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 ...

**29**

votes

**4**answers

968 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 ...

**28**

votes

**1**answer

1k 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
...

**27**

votes

**5**answers

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, ...

**27**

votes

**3**answers

2k 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 ...

**27**

votes

**1**answer

919 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 ...

**26**

votes

**12**answers

4k 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.
...

**24**

votes

**3**answers

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 ...

**24**

votes

**7**answers

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 ...

**23**

votes

**1**answer

442 views

### Hilbert's Theorem on $L_2$ norm of polynomials in $\mathbb{Z}[X]$ - Explicit construction and a converse?

Consider the set of polynomials with real coefficients as a vector space with the following inner-product: $\langle f, g \rangle = \int_{a}^{b} f(x)g(x) dx$.
Hilbert showed, in a paper from 1894, ...

**22**

votes

**6**answers

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:
$$\left(\sum_{n=1}^Nn\right)^2=\sum_{n=1}^Nn^3.$$
...

**21**

votes

**4**answers

1k 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 ...

**21**

votes

**2**answers

1k 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) ...

**20**

votes

**4**answers

1k 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 ...

**20**

votes

**1**answer

668 views

### $f(x)$ is irreducible but $f(x^n)$ is reducible

Does there exist an irreducible polynomial $f(x)\in \mathbb{Z}[x]$ with degree greater than one such that for each $n>1$, $f(x^n)$ is reducible (over $\mathbb{Z}[x]$)?

**20**

votes

**1**answer

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

**11**answers

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 ...

**19**

votes

**2**answers

1k 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 ...

**19**

votes

**5**answers

733 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:
...

**17**

votes

**6**answers

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 ...

**17**

votes

**4**answers

922 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 ...

**17**

votes

**5**answers

861 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 ...

**17**

votes

**2**answers

515 views

### Stability of real polynomials with positive coefficients

Say that a polynomial in an indeterminate $x$ with real coefficients of degree $d$ has positive coefficients if each of the coefficients of $x^d,\ldots,x^1,x^0$ is (strictly) positive.
For $f$ a ...

**17**

votes

**1**answer

1k 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

**3**answers

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

**4**answers

919 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

**0**answers

498 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

**5**answers

2k 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 ...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

583 views

### Number of zeros of a polynomial in the unit disk

Suppose $m$ and $n$ are two nonnegative integers. What is the number of zeros of the polynomial $(1+z)^{m+n}-z^n$ in the unit ball $|z|<1$?
Some calculations for small values of $m$ and $n$ ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

717 views

### Symmetric polynomial from graphs

Let $g$ be a directed, connected multigraph, on $n$ vertices, without loops.
Define
$$P_g(x_1,\dots,x_n) := Sym\left[ \prod_{(i,j) \in g} (x_i-x_j) \right]$$
where $(i,j)$ is the directed edge ...

**16**

votes

**2**answers

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

**2**answers

443 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 ...

**16**

votes

**3**answers

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

**7**answers

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

**2**answers

860 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

**3**answers

859 views

### Irreducibility of polynomials related to quadratic residues

Let $p \equiv 1 \bmod 4$ be a prime number. Define the polynomial
$$ f(x) = \sum_{a=1}^{p-1} \Big(\frac{a}{p}\Big) x^a. $$
Then $f(x) = x(1-x)^2(1+x)g(x)$ for some polynomial
$g \in {\mathbb Z}[x]$ ...