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Mathematics of Computation

Published by the American Mathematical Society since 1960 (published as Mathematical Tables and other Aids to Computation 1943-1959), Mathematics of Computation is devoted to research articles of the highest quality in computational mathematics.

ISSN 1088-6842 (online) ISSN 0025-5718 (print)

The 2020 MCQ for Mathematics of Computation is 1.78.

What is MCQ? The Mathematical Citation Quotient (MCQ) measures journal impact by looking at citations over a five-year period. Subscribers to MathSciNet may click through for more detailed information.


The Weierstrass–Durand–Kerner root finder is not generally convergent
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by Bernhard Reinke, Dierk Schleicher and Michael Stoll HTML | PDF
Math. Comp. 92 (2023), 839-866 Request permission


Finding roots of univariate polynomials is one of the fundamental tasks of numerics, and there is still a wide gap between root finders that are well understood in theory and those that perform well in practice. We investigate the root-finding method of Weierstrass, also known as the Durand–Kerner-method: this is a root finder that tries to approximate all roots of a given polynomial in parallel. This method has been introduced 130 years ago and has since then a good reputation for finding all roots in practice except in obvious cases of symmetry. Nonetheless, very little is known about its global dynamics and convergence properties.

We show that the Weierstrass method, like the well-known Newton method, is not generally convergent: there are open sets of polynomials $p$ of every degree $d \ge 3$ such that the dynamics of the Weierstrass method applied to $p$ exhibits attracting periodic orbits. Specifically, all polynomials sufficiently close to $Z^3 + Z + 175$ have attracting cycles of period $4$. Here, period $4$ is minimal: we show that for cubic polynomials, there are no periodic orbits of length $2$ or $3$ that attract open sets of starting points.

We also establish another convergence problem for the Weierstrass method: for almost every polynomial of degree $d\ge 3$ there are orbits that are defined for all iterates but converge to $\infty$; this is a problem that does not occur for Newton’s method.

Our results are obtained by first interpreting the original problem coming from numerical mathematics in terms of higher-dimensional complex dynamics, then phrasing the question in algebraic terms in such a way that we could finally answer it by applying methods from computer algebra. The main innovation here is the translation into an algebraic question, which is amenable to (exact) computational methods close to the limits of current computer algebra systems.

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Additional Information
  • Bernhard Reinke
  • Affiliation: Sorbonne Université and Université de Paris, CNRS, IMJ-PRG, F-75005 Paris, France
  • MR Author ID: 1489442
  • ORCID: 0000-0001-9024-2449
  • Email:
  • Dierk Schleicher
  • Affiliation: Aix-Marseille Université and CNRS, UMR 7373, Institut de Mathématiques de Marseille, 163 Avenue de Luminy Case 901, 13009 Marseille, France
  • MR Author ID: 359328
  • Email:
  • Michael Stoll
  • Affiliation: Mathematisches Institut, Universität Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • MR Author ID: 325630
  • ORCID: 0000-0001-5868-2962
  • Email:
  • Received by editor(s): December 30, 2021
  • Received by editor(s) in revised form: June 19, 2022, and July 23, 2022
  • Published electronically: November 10, 2022
  • Additional Notes: The authors were supported by the European Research Council in the form of the ERC Advanced Grant HOLOGRAM. The first author was also partially supported by the ERC project 818737 “Emergence of wild differentiable dynamical systems”.
  • © Copyright 2022 American Mathematical Society
  • Journal: Math. Comp. 92 (2023), 839-866
  • MSC (2020): Primary 65H04, 37F80, 37N30, 68W30
  • DOI:
  • MathSciNet review: 4524110