Is there an algorithm to check if a given (possibly nonlinear) function f is always positive?

The idea that I currently have is to find the roots of the function (using newton-raphson algorithm or similar techniques, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root-finding_algorithm) and check for derivatives, or finding the minimum of f, but they don't seems to be the best solution to this problem, also there are a lot of convergence issues with root finding algorithms.

For example, in Maple, function verify can do this, but I need to implement it in my own program. Maple Help on verify: http://www.maplesoft.com/support/help/Maple/view.aspx?path=verify/function_shells Maple example: assume(x,'real'); verify(x^2+1,0,'greater_than' ); --> returns true, since for every x we have x^2+1 > 0

Mirror question on stack-exchange: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/10625585/an-algorithm-for-checking-if-a-nonlinear-function-f-is-always-positive

[edit] Some background on the question: The function $f$ is the right hand-side differential nonlinear model for a circuit. A nonlinear circuit can be modeled as a set of ordinary differential equations by applying modified nodal analysis (MNA), for sake of simplicity, let's consider only systems with 1 dimension, so $x' = f(x)$ where $f$ describes the circuit, for example $f$ can be $f(x) = 10x - 100x^2 + 200x^3 - 300x^4 + 100x^5$ ( A model for nonlinear tunnel-diode) or $f=10 - 2sin(4x)+ 3x$ (A model for josephson junction).

$x$ is bounded and $f$ is only defined in interval $[a,b] \in R$. $f$ is continuous. I can also make an assumption that $f$ is Lipschitz with Lipschitz constant L>0, but I don't want to unless I have to.