# Around Hilbert s 17th Problem

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1 Documenta Math. 433 Around Hilbert s 17th Problem Konrad Schmüdgen 2010 Mathematics Subject Classification: 14P10 Keywords and Phrases: Positive polynomials, sums of squares The starting point of the history of Hilbert s 17th problem was the oral defense of the doctoral dissertation of Hermann Minkowski at the University of Königsberg in The 21 year old Minkowski expressed his opinion that there exist real polynomials which are nonnegative on the whole R n and cannot be written as finite sums of squares of real polynomials. David Hilbert was an official opponent in this defense. In his Gedächtnisrede [6] in memorial of H. Minkowski he said later that Minkowski had convinced him about the truth of this statement. In 1888 Hilbert proved in a now famous paper [4] the existence of a real polynomial in two variables of degree six which is nonnegative on R 2 but not a sum of squares of real polynomials. Hilbert s proof used some basic results from the theory of algebraic curves. Apart from this his construction is completely elementary. The first explicit example of this kind was given by T. Motzkin [10] only in It is the polynomial M(x,y) = x 4 y 2 +x 2 y x 2 y 2. (Indeed, the arithmetic-geometric mean inequality implies that M 0 on R 2. Assume to the contrary that M = j f2 j is a sum of squares of real polynomials. Since M(0,y) = M(x,0) = 1, the polynomials f j (0,y) and f j (x,0) are constants. Hence each f j is of the form f j = a j +b j xy +c j x 2 y +d j xy 2. Then the coefficient of x 2 y 2 in the equality M = j f2 j is equal to 3 = j b2 j. This is a contradiction.) A nice exposition around Hilbert s construction and many examples can be found in [16]. Hilbert also showed in [4] that each nonnegative polynomial in two variables of degree four is a finite sum of squares of polynomials. As usual we denote by R[x 1,...,x n ] and R(x 1,...,x n ) the ring of polynomials resp. the field of rational functions in x 1,...,x n with real coefficients. The second pioneering paper [5] of Hilbert about this topic appeared in He proved by an ingenious and difficult reasoning that each nonnegative polynomial p R[x,y] on R 2 is a finite sum of squares of rational (!) functions from R(x, y). Though not explicitly stated therein a closer look at Hilbert s

2 434 Konrad Schmüdgen proof shows even that p is a sum of four squares. For Motzkin s polynomial one has the identity M(x,y) = x2 y 2 (x 2 +y 2 +1)(x 2 +y 2 2) 2 +(x 2 y 2 ) 2 (x 2 +y 2 ) 2 which gives a representation of M as a sum of four squares of rational functions. Motivated by his previous work Hilbert posed his famous 17th problem at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris (1900): Hilbert s 17th problem: Suppose that f R(x 1,...,x n ) is nonnegative at all points of R n where f is defined. Is f a finite sum of squares of rational functions? A slight reformulation of this problem is the following: Is each polynomial f R[x 1,...,x n ] which is nonnegative on R n a finite sum of squares of rational functions, or equivalently, is there an identity q 2 f = j p2 j, where q,p 1,,p k R[x 1,...,x n ] and q 0. In the case n = 1 this is true, since the fundamental theorem of algebra implies that each nonnegative polynomial in one variable is a sum of two squares of real polynomials. As noted above, the case n = 2 was settled by Hilbert [5] itself. Hilbert s 17th problem was solved in the affirmative by Emil Artin [1] in Using the Artin-Schreier theory of ordered fields Artin proved Theorem 1. If f R[x 1,,x n ] is nonnegative on R n, then there are polynomials q,p 1,...,p k R[x 1,,x n ], q 0, such that f = p p 2 k q 2. Artin s proof of this theorem is nonconstructive. For strictly positive polynomials f (that is, f(x) > 0 for all x R n ) a constructive method was developed byhabicht[3]. ItisbasedonPolya stheorem[13]whichstatesthatforeachhomogeneous polynomial p such that p(x 1,...,x n ) > 0 for all x 1 0,,x n 0 and (x 1,...,x n ) 0, there exists a natural number N such that all coefficients of the polynomial (x x n ) N p are positive. A quantitative version of Polya s theorem providing a lower estimate for the number N in terms of p was recently given by Powers and Reznick [14]. There is also a quantitative version of Hilbert s 17th problem which asks how many squares are needed. In mathematical terms it can be formulated in terms of the pythagoras number. For a ring K, the pythagoras number p(k) is the smallestnaturalnumbermsuchthateachfinitesumofsquaresofelementsofk is a sum of m squares. If there is no such number m we set p(k) =. Clearly, p(r[x]) = p(r(x)) = 2. Recall that Hilbert [5] had shown that p(r(x,y)) 4. The landmark result on the quantitative version of Hilbert s 17th problem was published in 1967 by A. Pfister [11] who proved Theorem 2. p(r(x 1,,x n )) 2 n.

3 Around Hilbert s 17th Problem 435 Thatis, bytheorems1and2, eachnonnegativepolynomialf R[x 1,...,x n ] is a sum of at most 2 n squares of rational functions. Pfister s proof was based on the theory of multiplicative forms (see, e.g., [12]), now also called Pfister forms. The next natural question is: What is value of the number p(r(x 1,...,x n ))? For n 3 this is still unknown! It is not difficult to prove that the sum 1+x x 2 n of n+1 squares is not a sum of m squares with m < n+1. Therefore n+1 p(r(x 1,...,x n )) 2 n. Using the theory of elliptic curves over algebraic function fields it was shown in [2]thatMotzkin spolynomialisnotasumof3squares. Hencep(R(x 1,x 2 )) = 4. Artin s theorem triggered many further developments. The most important one in the context of optimization is to look for polynomials which are nonnegative on sets defined by polynomial inequalities rather than the whole R n. To formulate the corresponding result some preliminaries are needed. Let us write 2 n for the cone of finite sums of squares of polynomials from R[x 1,...,x n ]. In what follows we suppose that F = {f 1,...,f k } is a finite subset of R[x 1,...,x n ]. In real algebraic geometry two fundamental objects are associated with F. These are the basic closed semialgebraic set K F = {x R n : f 1 (x) 0,,f k (x) 0} and the preorder { T F := ε i {0,1} f ε1 1 fε k k σ ε; σ ε } 2. n Note that the preorder T F depends on the set F of generators for the semialgebraic set K F rather than the set K F itself. Obviously, all polynomials from T F are nonnegative on the set K F, but in general T F does not exhaust the nonnegative polynomials on K F. The Positivstellensatz of Krivine-Stengle describes all nonnegative resp. positive polynomials on the semialgebraic set K F in terms of quotients of elements of the preorder T F. Theorem 3. Let f R[x 1,...,x n ]. (i) f(x) 0 for all x K F if and only if there exist p,q T F and m N such that pf = f 2m +q. (ii) f(x) > 0 for all x K F if and only if there are p,q T F such that pf = 1+q. This theorem was proved by G. Stengle [19], but essential ideas were already contained in J.-L. Krivine s paper [8]. In both assertions (i) and (ii) the if parts are almost trivial. Theorem 3 is a central result of modern real algebraic geometry. Proofs based on the Tarski-Seidenberg transfer principle can be found in [15] and [9].

4 436 Konrad Schmüdgen Let us set f 1 = 1 and k = 1 in Theorem 3(i). Then K F = R n and T F = 2 n. Hence in this special case Theorem 3(i) gives Artin s Theorem 1. The Krivine Stengle Theorem 3(i) expresses the nonnegative polynomial f on K F as a quotient of the two polynomials f 2m + q and p from the preorder T F. Simple examples show that the denominator polynomial p cannot be avoided in general. For instance, if f 1 = 1, k = 1, the Motzkin polynomial M is nonnegative on K F = R n, but it is not in the preorder T F = 2 n. Replacing M by the polynomial M(x,y) := x 4 y 2 +x 2 y 4 +1 x 2 y 2 we even get a strictly positive polynomial of this kind. (One has M(x,y) for all (x,y) R2.) Letting f 1 = (1 x 2 ) 3, k = n = 1, the semialgebraic set K F is the interval [ 1,1] and the polynomial f = 1 x 2 is obviously nonnegative on K F. Looking attheordersofzerosoff at±1oneconcludeseasilythatf isnotint F. Inview of these examples it seems to be surprising that strictly positive polynomials on a compact basic closed semialgebraic set always belong to the preorder. This result is the Archimedean Positivstellensatz which was proved by the author [17] in Theorem 4. Suppose that f R[x 1,...,x n ]. If the set K F is compact and f(x) > 0 for all x K F, then f T F. The original proof given in [17] (see also [18], pp ) was based on the solution of the moment problem for compact semialgebraic sets. The first algebraic proof of Theorem 4 was found by T. Wörmann [20], see, e.g., [15] or [9]. By definition the preorder T F is the sum of sets f ε1 1 fε k 2 k n. It is natural toaskhowmanytermsofthiskindarereallyneeded. Thisquestionisanswered by a result of T. Jacobi and A. Prestel in Let g 1,...,g lk denote the first l k := 2 k polynomials of the following row of mixed products with no repeated factors of the generators f 1,...f k : 1, f 1,...,f k, f 1 f 2,f 1 f 3,...,f k 1 f k, f 1 f 2 f 3,...,f k 2 f k 1 f k, f 1 f 2 f k. Let S F be the sum of sets g j 2 n, where j = 1,...,l k. Then Jacobi and Prestel [7] proved the following Theorem 5. If K F is compact and f R[x 1,...,x n ] satisfies f(x) > 0 for all x K F, then f S F. We briefly discuss this result. If k = 3, then l k = 5 and S F = 2 n +f 2 1 n +f 2 2 n +f 2 3 n +f 2 1f 2 n, that is, the sets g 2 n for g = f 1 f 3,f 2 f 3,f 1 f 2 f 3 do not enter in the definition of S F. If k = 4, then no products of three or four generators occur in the definition of S F. Thus, if k 3, Theorem 5 is an essential strengthening of Theorem 4. References [1] E. Artin, Über die Zerlegung definiter Funktionen in Quadrate, Abh. math. Sem. Hamburg 5(1927),

5 Around Hilbert s 17th Problem 437 [2] J.S.W. Cassels, W.J. Ellison and A. Pfister, On sums of squares and on elliptic curves over function fields, J. Number Theory 3(1971), [3] W.Habicht,ÜberdieZerlegungstriktedefiniterFormeninQuadrate,Comment. Math. Math. 12(1940), [4] D. Hilbert, Über die Darstellung definiter Formen als Summe von Formenquadraten, Math. Ann. 32(1888), [5] D. Hilbert, Über ternäre definite Formen, Acta Math. 17 (1893), [6] D. Hilbert, Hermann Minkowski. Gedächtnisrede, Math. Ann. 68(1910), [7] T. Jacobi and A. Prestel, Distinguished representations of strictly positive polynomials, J. reine angew. Math. 532(2001), [8] J.-L. Krivine, Anneaux preordennes, J. Analyse Math. 12(1964), [9] M. Marshall, Positive Polynomials and Sums of Squares, Math. Surveys and Monographs 146, Amer. Math. Soc., [10] T.S. Motzkin, The arithmetic-geometric inequality. In: Proc. Symposium on Inequalities, edited by O. Shisha, Academic Press, New York, 1967, pp [11] A. Pfister, Zur Darstellung definiter Formen als Summe von Quadraten, Invent. Math. 4(1967), [12] A. Pfister, Quadratic Forms and Applications in Algebraic Geometry and Topology, London Math. Soc. Lect. Notes 217, Cambridge, [13] G. Polya, Über positive Darstellung von Polynomen, Vierteljschr. Naturforsch. Ges. Zürich 73(1928), [14] V. Powers and B. Reznick, A new bound for Polya s theorem with applications to polynomials positive on polyhedra, J. Pure Applied Algebra 164(2001), [15] A. Prestel and C. N. Delzell, Positive Polynomials, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, [16] B. Reznick, On Hilbert s construction of positive polynomials, Preprint, [17] K. Schmüdgen, The K-moment problem for compact semi-algebraic sets, Math. Ann. 289(1991), [18] K. Schmüdgen, Noncommutative real algebraic geometry some basic concepts and first ideas. In: Emerging Appl. Algebraic Geometry, edited by M. Putinar and S. Sullivant, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2009, pp

6 438 Konrad Schmüdgen [19] G. Stengle, A Nullstellensatz and a Positivstellensatz in semialgebraic geometry, Math. Ann. 207( 1974), [20] T. Wörmann, Strikt positive Polynome in der semialgebraischen Geometrie, Dissertation, Universität Dortmund, Konrad Schmüdgen Mathematisches Institut Universität Leipzig Johannisgasse Leipzig

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