Counting real zeros in the multivariate case

  • P. Pedersen
  • Marie-Françoise Roy
  • Aviva Szpirglas
Part of the Progress in Mathematics book series (PM, volume 109)


In this paper we show, by generalizing Hermite’s theorem to the multivariate setting, how to count the number of real or complex points of a discrete algebraic set which lie within some algebraic constraint region. We introduce a family of quadratic forms determined by the algebraic constraints and defined in terms of the trace from the coordinate ring of the variety to the ground field, and we show that the rank and signature of these forms are sufficient to determine the number of real points lying within a constraint region. In all cases we count geometric points, which is to say, we count points without multiplicity. The theoretical results on these quadratic forms are more or less classical, but forgotten too, and can be found also in [3].

We insist on effectivity of the computation and complexity analysis: we show how to calculate the trace and signature using Gröbner bases, and we show how the information provided by the individual quadratic forms may be combined to determine the number of real points satisfying a conjunction of constraints. The complexity of the computation is polynomial in the dimension as a vector space of the quotient ring associated to the defining equations. In terms of the number of variables, the complexity of the computation is singly exponential. The algorithm is well parallelizable.

We conclude the paper by applying our machinery to the problem of effectively calculating the Euler characteristic of a smooth hypersurface.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    Atiyah, M. F., and I. G. Macdonald, Introduction to Commutative Algebra, (1969), Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    Becker, E., Sums of Squares and Trace forms in Real Algebraic Geometry, Cahiers du Séminaire d’Histoire des Mathématiques, 2ème série Vol 1 (1991), Université Pierre et Marie Curie.Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    Becker, E., Wörmann T., On the trace formula for quadratic forms and some applications, to appear in Proceedings of the Special Year in Real Algebraic Geometry and Quadratic Forms, University of Berkeley.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    Ben-Or M., Kozen D., Reif J., The complexity of elementary algebra and geometry, J. of Computation and Systems 32 (1986), 251–264.CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Buchberger, B., Gröbner: An algorithmic method in polynomial ideal theory, in Multidimensional Systems Theory, chapter 6, (1985), N. K. Bose Ed., D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    Cucker F., Lanneau H., Mishra B., Pedersen P., Roy M.-F., Real algebraic numbers are in NC, To appear in Applicable Algebra in Engineering, Communication and Computing.Google Scholar
  7. [7]
    Dickenstein A., Fitchas N., Giusti M., Sessa C., The membership problem for unmixed polynomial ideal is solvable in single exponential time, (1987), AAECC Toulouse.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    Hermite C., Remarques sur le théorème de Sturm, C. R. Acad. sci. Paris 36 (1853), 52–54.Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    Hermite C., Sur l’extension du théorème de M. Sturm à un système d’équations simultanées, Oeuvres de Charles Hermite, Tome 3, (1969), 1–34.Google Scholar
  10. [10]
    Lakshman Y. N., Lazard D., On the complexity of zero-dimensional algebraic systems, Proceedings of MEGA 90, Birkhäuser (1991), 217–226.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    Pedersen, P., Counting Real Zeros, Thesis, (1991), Courant Institute, New York University.Google Scholar
  12. [12]
    Roy M.-F., Szpirglas A., Complexity of computations with real algebraic numbers, J. of Symbolic Computation 10 (1990), 39–51.CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Scheja, G. and U. Storch, Lehrbuch der Algebra, B. G. Teubner, Stuttgart (1988), Band 2.CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Pedersen
    • 1
  • Marie-Françoise Roy
    • 2
  • Aviva Szpirglas
    • 3
  1. 1.Departement of MathematicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.IRMARUniversité de Rennes IRennes CedexFrance
  3. 3.CNRS URA 742Université Paris-NordVilletaneuseFrance

Personalised recommendations