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Gauss–Lucas theorem∗
2013-03-22 1:34:23
Theorem. If a convex polygon of the complex plane contains all zeros of a
polynomial f (z), then it contains also all zeros of the derivative f 0 (z).
Proof. Due to the fundamental theorem of algebra, the polynomial f (z) can
be written in the form
f (z) = a0 (z − z1 )(z − z2 ) · · · (z − zn )
where a0 is the leading coefficient and z1 , z2 , . . . , zn are the zeros of f (z) (some
of these may coincide). When the derivative
f 0 (z) =
n Y
(z − zν )
µ=1 ν6=µ
is divided by (1), we have the identic equation
f 0 (z)
+ ... +
f (z)
and therefore
f 0 (z) = f (z)
+ ... +
Since f (z) has no zeros outside the polygon, we have, according to (2), to show
only that the same concerns the second factor of the right hand side of (2).
Let z be an arbitrary point outside the polygon. Because of its convexity,
there is a line l through z such that the polygon is completely on the other side
of l. Thus all directed line segments from z to the points z1 , z2 , . . . , zn lie on
the same side of the line l. The direction angles of those segments, being the
arguments of the complex numbers z1 − z, z2 − z, . . . , zn − z, are between the
∗ hGaussLucasTheoremi created: h2013-03-2i by: hpahioi version: h40959i Privacy setting: h1i hTheoremi h30D20i
† This text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0.
You can reuse this document or portions thereof only if you do so under terms that are
compatible with the CC-BY-SA license.
values α and α + π, where α is one of the two angles which l forms with the
positive real axis.
The arguments of any non-zero complex number and its inverse number are
always opposite numbers of each other. Hence the arguments of
, ...,
z−z1 z−z2
are between −α and −α − π. Think the line m through the origin with the
direction angle −α and the position vectors of the numbers (3). These vectors
are all directed on the same side of m, and similarly their sum vector, which
thus is distinct from zero. The opposite vector of this sum vector is equal to
the second factor in (2), and accordingly distinct from zero.
Note. The theorem can be strengthened to the following form: The zeros
of the derivative of any non-zero polynomial f (z) are contained in the convex
hull of the set of the zeros of f (z).