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The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra Made Effective: An Elementary Real-algebraic Proof via Sturm Chains
The American Mathematical Monthly
Vol. 119, No. 9 (November 2012), pp. 715-752
Published by: Mathematical Association of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.4169/amer.math.monthly.119.09.715
Page Count: 38
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Abstract Sturm’s theorem (1829/35) provides an elegant algorithm to count and locate the real roots of any real polynomial. In his residue calculus (1831/37), Cauchy extended Sturm’s method to count and locate the complex roots of any complex polynomial. For holomorphic functions Cauchy’s index is based on contour integration, but in the special case of polynomials it can effectively be calculated via Sturm chains using euclidean division as in the real case. In this way we provide an algebraic proof of Cauchy’s theorem for polynomials over any real closed field. As our main tool, we formalize Gauss’ geometric notion of winding number (1799) in the real-algebraic setting, from which we derive a real-algebraic proof of the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. The proof is elementary inasmuch as it uses only the intermediate value theorem and arithmetic of real polynomials. It can thus be formulated in the first-order language of real closed fields. Moreover, the proof is constructive and immediately translates to an algebraic root-finding algorithm.
Copyright the Mathematical Association of America 2012