Sliding the Roots of Cubics

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The roots of a cubic polynomial depend on the coefficients of the cubic in a complicated way. In this Demonstration, you move the roots in the complex plane by varying the coefficients of the cubic.

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If the coefficients , , and of a cubic are real, the cubic will have either three real roots or one real root and a pair of roots that are complex conjugates of each other. For some combinations of coefficients, two roots will slide along the real axis, then merge (forming a double root), then split and move off the real axis to become a pair of complex conjugate roots.

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Contributed by: Robert Baillie (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA


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