# Mathematica's “Solve” and filtering out the one real (non-complex) solution

I have some functionals that have lots of parameters, but all are volume integrals (not really important...)

It's a variational function I'm minimizing and I'm only keeping the real solution (because it's my variational wavefunction and I demand only a real solution :) ).

Solve[D[Subscript[E, HO][\[CapitalPsi]] + Subscript[E, Int][\[CapitalPsi]], b] == 0, b]


Basically, a Solve for a parameter b. I get 5 roots, which is correct (fifth degree polynomial). Even when I add , Reals (no change, still five solutions, of which 4 complex) and try Reduce (some evil error message and none of the five answers). I even tried:

Simplify[Solve[D[Subscript[E, HO][\[CapitalPsi]] + Subscript[E, Int][\[CapitalPsi]], b] == 0, b], Element[b, Reals]]


Which apparently doesn't seem to work. The four complex solutions are of the form (-1)^(1/5) times a bunch of numbers/parameters. What can I do to filter out the rest (or only keep the first solution)?

Thanks!

Try

b /. Solve[expr == 0, b]

N[b]

Select[%,Element[#,Reals] & ]

I tried this using a regular polynomial with complex solutions and it worked in my case, should work in yours.

i.e, Create a list of solutions sols=Solve[expr==0,b]. Type sol// N to convert the fractional powers of 1 to "numerical" complex numbers Then use either Select or DeleteCases, which is a bit twisted and venture there only if Select didnt work. Or just numerically select sol[[n]] where n is the index of your real solution if you are willing to work the "shortcut" way.

• Same result, Mathematica seems unaware that $(-1)^{1/5}$ is a complex number... Although Im[(-1)^(1/5)] seems all right... – rubenvb Mar 15 '11 at 20:52

Method 1

roots = x /. Solve[x^5 == 1, x]
result1 = Select[roots, Im@# == 0 &]


Method 2

result2 = Solve[x^5 == 1, x, Reals]


Method 3

result3 = Reduce[x^5==1&&Element[x,Reals]]


Note that result1 is a list of numbers, result2 is list of lists of rules and result3 is an expression

• Be aware that method 2 does not work on Mathematica 7. – Mr.Wizard May 8 '11 at 11:56
• @Mr.Wizard - I can believe it, Solve got a major upgrade in version 8 – Yaroslav Bulatov May 10 '11 at 4:35

Look at the FullForm to see what pattern you need to match.

In:= FullForm[(-1)^(1/5)]

Out//FullForm= Power[-1,Rational[1,5]]

Use DeleteCases to discard the unwanted solutions.

In:= DeleteCases[{(-1)^(1/5)*p/q*4,(-1)^(1/5)*Pi,-p/q*5Pi},Power[-1,Rational[1,5]]*_]

Out= {-(5 p Pi)/q)}

That will work as long as each of your solutions are a product of terms. If this doesn't work then post your actual solutions and I'll try to show how to craft a pattern to discard the unwanted solutions.