Finding (all) numeric roots of a nth degree polynomial – with python

This is a code I originally wrote in Matlab for my Computational Physics class. After that, I decided to rewrite it in python just to start programming in this awesomely easy to learn programming language.

This program uses the Newton-Rapson based algorithm described in
this paper by Sasan A. Muheadden.

The main function will receive just one parameter:

An array of float or integer numbers that represent the coefficients of our nth degree polynomial. See the examples below.

This is the polynomial we want to solve: x^5+x^3-1.42*x^2+1
This is the input array for the main function: [1,0,1,-1.42,0,1]

Notice that the input array has n+1 elements.

First we get our necessary variables for the algorithm

import cmath as m
import random as rnd

relative_tolerance = 0.000000001
interval_magnitude = 3
nmax = 1000

I created an equality function for complex numbers to have a more concise syntax in the following defined functions.

def eq(a,b,rel_tol=relative_tolerance):
    if(isinstance(a,complex) and isinstance(b,complex)):
        return m.isclose(a,b,rel_tol=rel_tol)
        return False

The nice things about polynomials is that their derivatives are dead easy to program since after differentiating we get another polynomial of degree n-1, so we get an easily recognizable recursive relation. The following function calculates takes as parameter an array with the coefficients of the original function and returns an array with the coefficients of the resulting polynomial.

def derivative(poly):
    deriv = []
    deg = len(poly)
    n = deg-1
    for i in range(0,deg):
        C = poly[i]
        n -= 1
    return deriv

The function “eval”, as you may anticipate, evaluates a given polynomials at a given x. It takes as parameter an array with the coefficients of the polynomial to be evaluated and the value x to evaluate it at.

def eval(poly,x):
    eval = 0
    deg = len(poly)
    n = deg-1
    for i in range(0,deg):
        C = poly[i]
        eval += C*x**n
        n -= 1
    return eval

find_root will take as a parameter an initial estimation of a root of the polynomial represented by the variable “poly” (which, again, is an array with the coefficients of a polynomial).

def find_root(z0,poly,rel_tol=relative_tolerance,verbose=False):
    k = 0
    x = z0
    if(verbose == True):
    while True:
        f = eval(poly,x)
        f_prime = eval(derivative(poly),x)
        x = x - f/f_prime
        k += 1
        if(k == nmax):
            x = None
        cur = x
        cur_f = eval(poly,x)
            msg = "| zr= ( %.6f, %.6f ), f(zr)= ( %.6f, %.6f ) |" % (cur.real, cur.imag, cur_f.real, cur_f.imag)
        if abs(cur_f) <span id="mce_SELREST_end" style="overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;"></span>< rel_tol:
    return x

Aaand finally, the function “find_roots” is the main function where all the previously defined functions will be encapsuled. If you want to see the steps in finding the roots pass on the parameter verbose=True.

This function takes as parameter the poly array, which if you read everything above must know by now.

def find_roots(poly,rel_tol=relative_tolerance,int_mag=interval_magnitude,verbose = True):
    found = False
    counter = 1
    deg = len(poly) - 1

    if(verbose == True):
        print('| polynomial_deg = ' + str(deg) + ' | \n')

    C0 = poly[-1]
    z0 = complex(abs(C0)+1,rnd.randint(-int_mag,int_mag)/rnd.randint(1,int_mag))
    if(verbose == True):
        print('| trial ' + str(counter) + ' |')
    roots = [find_root(z0,poly,verbose=verbose)]
    # prepare msg letting know if a root was found
    if(verbose == True):
        if roots[0] != None:
            msg = "| current_root = ( %.6f, %.6f ) |" % (roots[0].real, roots[0].imag)
            counter += 1
        elif roots[0] == None:
            msg = "| algorithm failed to find a root, try a different z0 |"

    while True:
        # we are dividing to get a floating point number
        # denominator interval is [1,int_mag] to avoid zeroes
        a = rnd.randint(-int_mag,int_mag)/rnd.randint(1,int_mag)
        b = rnd.randint(-int_mag,int_mag)/rnd.randint(1,int_mag)
        z0 = complex(a,b)
        if(verbose == True):
            print('| trial ' + str(counter) + ' |')

        current_root = find_root(z0,poly,verbose=verbose)

        # prepare msg letting know if a root was found
        if(verbose == True):
            if current_root != None:
                msg = "| current_root = ( %.6f, %.6f ) |" % (current_root.real, current_root.imag)
            elif current_root == None:
                msg = "| algorithm failed to find a root, try a different z0 |"

        if(counter == nmax):
            print('WARNING: could only find ' + str(len(roots)) + ' out of ' + str(deg) + ' roots')

        # about to make a possibly innecesary for loop
        # return and modify this algorithm when
        # you've found a better way to do it
        for root in roots:
                found = True

        if(found == False and current_root != None):
        elif(found == True):
            found = False

        # deg + 1 accounts for the number of elements in polynomial
        # (deg + 1) + 1 accounts for the 'starter' string inside roots
        if(len(roots) == deg):

        counter += 1
    return roots

Finally, we run test the main function.

poly = [1,0,-1,0,-3,0,2,-6.4,0,-5,-2.2]

These are the n roots.


Tales of a web developer

Hello fellow reader. First blog ever; please get comfortable while I sharpen my blogging skills. This blog is going to be about my web dev journey, some tales from past years and how they’re related with whom I have become today.

It’s been about a year or so that I bought my first “learn web dev stuff” bootcamp and officially started my path for being a developer. The desire to become a developer, even after starting my studies in Physics Engineering, came to light after noticing the shortage of web coders in México, my home country.

My love for physics? It all began in my exchange year in Italy where I took my first physics course (with all those agonizing but still beautiful math). It was the teacher’s explanations of nature that kept me going through the course. Even if I wasn’t quite aware of how that physics course moulded my mind, my decision to work on physics for a living would become clear six months before getting into college.

Got some development projects going on, some still to be finished and some still to be planned. The most advanced in terms of coding skills is filler v1 (currently developing v2). Check out the repo. Next summer I’m planning on spending my summer at CERN in one of his various projects for college students (application process starting on January 2019).

And last but not least, this blog’s creation was inspired by the blog of a front-end developer who got the chance to work at CERN. I wasn’t quite sure how were my web dev skills could make into new physics research until coming across that blog.

So this is it by now, I have a serious load of frozen food to prepare before work week consumes my soul. Good bye, see you sometime soon (or maybe not, remember that bit about sharpening those blogging skills?).

home photo

Gerardo Mijares – lapsusdev 2018.