The Australian Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications

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ISSN 1449-5910  


Paper Information

Paper Title:

Extreme Curvature of Polynomials and Level Sets


Stephanie P. Edwards, arah J. Jensen, Edward Niedermeyer, and Lindsay Willett

Department of Mathematics,
Hope College,
Holland, MI 49423,


Let f be a real polynomial of degree n. Determining the maximum number of zeros of kappa, the curvature of f, is an easy problem: since the zeros of kappa are the zeros of f'', the curvature of f is 0 at most n-2 times. A much more intriguing problem is to determine the maximum number of relative extreme values for the function kappa. Since kappa'=0 at each extreme point of kappa, we are interested in the maximum number of zeros of kappa'. In 2004, the first author and R. Gordon showed that if all the zeros of f'' are real, then f has at most n-1 points of extreme curvature. We use level curves and auxiliary functions to study the zeros of the derivatives of these functions. We provide a partial solution to this problem, showing that f has at most n-1 points of extreme curvature, given certain geometrical conditions. The conjecture that f has at most n-1 points of extreme curvature remains open.

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