Newton polygon

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In mathematics, the Newton polygon is a tool for understanding the behaviour of polynomials over local fields.

In the original case, the local field of interest was the field of formal Laurent series in the indeterminate X, i.e. the field of fractions of the formal power series ring


over K, where K was the real number or complex number field. This is still of considerable utility with respect to Puiseux expansions. The Newton polygon is an effective device for understanding the leading terms


of the power series expansion solutions to equations

P(F(X)) = 0

where P is a polynomial with coefficients in K, the polynomial ring; that is, implicitly defined algebraic functions. The exponents r here are certain rational numbers, depending on the branch chosen; and the solutions themselves are power series in


with Y = X<sup>1/d</sup> for a denominator d corresponding to the branch. The Newton polygon gives an effective, algorithmic approach to calculating d.

After the introduction of the p-adic numbers, it was shown that the Newton polygon is just as useful in questions of ramification for local fields, and hence in algebraic number theory. Newton polygons have also been useful in the study of elliptic curves.


A priori, given a polynomial over a field, the behaviour of the roots (assuming it has roots) will be unknown. Newton polygons provide one technique for the...
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