How the general solution of polynomials, of any degree greater than 2, is extremely difficult to compute.

There are certain misconceptions that exist about Math, and one of them could be, that if a random system of equations is written down, the Algebraic solution of those equations is at hand. In fact, equations can arise easily, which are known to have numerical answers, but for which the exact, Algebraic (= analytical) answer, is nowhere in sight. And one example where this happens, is with polynomials ‘of a high degree’ . We are taught what the general solution to the quadratic is in High-School. But what I learned was, that the general solution to a cubic is extremely difficult to comprehend, while that of a 4th-degree polynomial – a quartic –  is too large to be printed out. These last two have in fact been computed, but not on consumer-grade hardware or software.

In fact, I was taught that for degrees of polynomials greater than 4, there is no general solution.

This seems to fly in the face of two known facts:

  1. Some of those equations have the full number of real roots,
  2. Computers have made finding numerical solutions relatively straightforward.

But the second fact is really only a testament, to how computers can perform numerical approximations, as their main contribution to Math and Engineering. In the case of polynomials, the approach used is to find at least one root – closely enough, and then, to use long division or synthetic division, to divide by (1 minus that root), to arrive at a new polynomial, which has been reduced in degree by 1. This is because (1 minus a root) must be a factor of the original polynomial.

Once the polynomial has arrived at a quadratic, computers will eagerly apply its general solution to what remains, thereby perhaps also generating 2 complex roots.

In the case of a cubic, a trick which people use, is first to normalize the cubic, so that the coefficient of its first term is 1. Then, the 4th, constant term is examined. Any one of its factors, or the factors of the terms it is a product of, positively or negatively, could be a root of the cubic. And if one of them works, the equation has been cracked.

In other words, if this constant term is the product of square roots of integers, the corresponding products of the square roots, of the factors of these integers, could lead to roots of the cubic.

(Updated 1/12/2019, 21h05 … )

Continue reading How the general solution of polynomials, of any degree greater than 2, is extremely difficult to compute.

I just installed Sage (Math) under Debian / Stretch.

One of the mundane limitations which I’ve faced in past years, when installing Computer Algebra Systems etc., under Linux, that were supposed to be open-source, was that the only game in town – almost – was either ‘Maxima’ or ‘wxMaxima’, the latter of which is a fancy GUI, as well as a document exporter, for the former.

Well one fact which the rest of the computing world has known about for some time, but which I am newly finding for myself, is that software exists called ‘SageMath‘. Under Debian / Stretch, this is ‘straightforward’ to install, just by installing the meta-package from the standard repositories, named ‘sagemath’. If the reader also wants to install this, then I recommend also installing ‘sagemath-doc-en’ as well as ‘sagetex’ and ‘sagetex-doc’. Doing this will literally pull in hundreds of actual packages, so it should only be done on a strong machine, with a fast Internet connection! But once this has been done, the result will be enjoyable:

screenshot_20180915_201139

I have just clicked around a little bit, in the SageMath Notebook viewer, which is browser-based, and which I’m sure only provides a skeletal front-end to the actual software. But there is a feature which I already like: When the user wishes to Print his or her Worksheet, doing so from the browser just opens a secondary browser-window, from which we may ‘Save Page As…’ , and when we do, we discover that the HTML which gets saved, has its own, internal ‘MathJax‘ server. What this seems to suggest at first glance, is that the equations will display typeset correctly, without depending on an external CDN. Yay!

I look forward to getting more use out of this in the near future.

(Update 09/15/2018, 21h30 : )

Continue reading I just installed Sage (Math) under Debian / Stretch.

The General Solution to a Cubic Equation

According to “Maxima”, or more specifically, according to “wxMaxima”, the three Roots to a Cubic Equation are generally as shown below, assuming that there exists one solution entirely in Real numbers:

http://dirkmittler.homeip.net/cubic.pdf

(Edit 2/7/2016 : ) There are two observations which need to be made about the solution shown above, which are related to the fact that a cubic equation can sometimes have three Real roots, or two, but that it always has at least one.

1) The expression which we’re told to find the cube root of could be equal to zero. And while finding the cube root of zero represents no obstacle, a division by zero does, and a division by zero ensues.

2) The expression we’re asked to find the square root of can become negative. In that case the solution shown above finds no Real numbers. Further, this output from ‘Maxima’ does not elucidate, how to process the fact that radicals are usually both negative and positive. An entire expression gets repeated, in which the radical could be negative. And there is no easy way to know, whether this radical is allowed to be negative in only one occurrence, or in both occurrences…

When using ‘Maxima’, a frequent goal is to eliminate extraneous complex numbers, by applying the sequence [‘rectform’, ‘trigsimp’] to an already-formed solution which is capable of producing Real numbers. But in this example, the sequence does not produce meaningful results. And one main reason is the fact that this sequence has no magic, by which to output information which was not input. So this trick does not produce an inverse-trigonometric function whose angle is naturally divided by three, so that a multiple of (2π/3) Radians could simply be added to it, before a trig function is taken again. That ‘Maxima’ can recognize.

(End of Edit 2/7/2016)

If we need to find three existing real roots, then we must apply the system of Reduction To A Depressed Cubic as shown here:

Step 1

Followed by Trigonometric Method For Three Real Roots as shown here:

Step 2