Code covered by the BSD License

# Chebfun V4

### Chebfun Team (view profile)

30 Apr 2009 (Updated )

Numerical computation with functions instead of numbers.

### Editor's Notes:

This file was selected as MATLAB Central Pick of the Week

Roots of a secular equation with poles

# Roots of a secular equation with poles

Nick Trefethen, November 2010

(Chebfun example roots/SecularRoots.m)

Sometimes one needs to find the roots of a rational function expressed in partial fraction form, like this:

r(x) = 1 + SUM_j=0^N  a_j/(b_j-x) .


For example, a "secular equation" of this kind arises in numerical linear algebra as part of the divide and conquer algorithm for computing eigenvalues of symmetric matrices (see [1] and p. 231 of [2]). If the coefficients a_j are positive and the poles b_j are distinct, then r must switch from +inf to -inf as x passes through each pole, and it follows that r has exactly N-1 real zeros lying between the poles and also one more real zero lying to the right of all the poles.

Here is an example with N=4:

x = chebfun('x',[-5 10]);
for j = 1:4
f = 1 + 1./(1-x) + 1./(2-x) + 1./(3-x) + 1./(4-x);
end
hold off, plot(f,'linewidth',2), grid on


Chebfun can compute the roots:

r = roots(f)

r =
1.0000
1.2961
2.0000
2.3923
3.0000
3.5077
4.0000
6.8039


Notice that the result is 8 numbers, including the poles as well as the roots. This is because Chebfun's convention is to regard a function as having a root at any point where it crosses between positive and negative values.

Let us add the roots to the plot.

hold on, plot(r,f(r),'.r','markersize',24)


References:

[1] J. J. M. Cuppen, A divide and conquer method for the symmetric tridiagonal eigenproblem, Numerische Mathematik 36 (1980/81), 177-195.

[2] L. N. Trefethen and D. Bau, III, Numerical Linear Algebra, SIAM, 1997.