Trinomials and Deterministic Complexity Limits for Real Solving
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Consider a univariate polynomial f in Z[x] with degree d, exactly t monomial terms, and coefficients in {-H,...,H}. Solving f over the reals, R, in polynomial-time can be defined as counting the exact number of real roots of f and then finding (for each such root z) an approximation w of logarithmic height (log(dH))^{O(1)} such that the Newton iterates of w have error decaying at a rate of O((1/2)^{2^i}). Solving efficiently in this sense, using (log(dH))^{O(1)} deterministic bit operations, is arguably the most honest formulation of solving a polynomial equation over R in time polynomial in the input size. Unfortunately, deterministic algorithms this fast are known only for t=2, unknown for t=3, and provably impossible for t=4. (One can of course resort to older techniques with complexity (dlog H)^{O(1)} for t>=4.) We give evidence that polynomial-time real-solving in the strong sense above is possible for t=3: We give a polynomial-time algorithm employing A-hypergeometric series that works for all but a fraction of 1/Omega(log(dH)) of the input f. We also show an equivalence between fast trinomial solving and sign evaluation at rational points of small height. As a consequence, we show that for "most" trinomials f, we can compute the sign of f at a rational point r in time polynomial in log(dH) and the logarithmic height of r. (This was known only for binomials before.) We also mention a related family of polynomial systems that should admit a similar speed-up for solving.