The question is the next:
Let $P_k=1+z+\frac{z^{2}}{2!}+...+\frac{z^{k}}{k!}$, the kth partial sum of $e^{z}$.
(a) Show that, for all values of $k\geq 1$, the centroid of the zeros of $P_{k}$ is -1.
(b) Let $z_{k}$ be a zero of $P_{k}$ with maximal possible absolute value. Prove that $\left \{ \left | z_{k} \right | \right \}$ is an increasing sequence.
I´m worried mainly about the part (a), because I´ve tried to prove it by induction, but I´m not sure how to show the last step of the induction.
PS: Let $\frac{z_{1}+z_{2}+...+z_{n}}{n}$ denote the centroid of the complex numbers $z_{1},z_{2},...z_{n}$.
PS2: I think that this fact can help: "The centroid of the zeros of a polynomial is the same as the centroid of the zeros of its derivative".

  • $\begingroup$ What step are stuck at ? Can you prove the case $k=1$? Using $P_{k+1}'=P_k$ should help you with the induction step. $\endgroup$
    – Joel Cohen
    Oct 27, 2020 at 6:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The sum of the roots of a polynomial is given by a ratio of coefficients etc $\endgroup$
    – Conrad
    Oct 27, 2020 at 6:44
  • $\begingroup$ About your last sentence, see this nice presentation $\endgroup$
    – Jean Marie
    Oct 27, 2020 at 8:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answers and comments, they are really helpful to me $\endgroup$ Oct 27, 2020 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


A) About your first question: you can attempt an induction proof but it is simpler to make a direct use of one of the Vieta's formulas: the sum of the roots $r_1,\cdots r_n$ of $\sum_{k=0}^n a_kz^k=0$ is equal to

$$\sum_{k=1}^n r_k=-\frac{a_{n-1}}{a_n}\tag{1}$$

Knowing that here $a_k=\dfrac{1}{k!}$, (1) becomes, divided by $n$:

$$\dfrac{1}{n}\left(\sum_{k=1}^n r_k\right)=-\dfrac{1}{n}\dfrac{1}{(n-1)!}n! =-1$$

B) The essential property


has an immediate consequence: the "russian dolls" inclusion of the successive convex hulls due to the classical Gauss-Lucas theorem. Here is a graphical representation of the roots and their convex hulls; the result is rather amazing (see below the Matlab program that has generated this figure)

enter image description here

Successive convex hulls of the roots of the $P_k$s, from $k=2$ to $k=25$ (the largest one). "Central" point $(-1,0)$ is materialized by a star.

This figure is of course symmetrical with respect to $x$ axis, due to the fact that roots of polynomials with real coefficients are either real or come in conjugate pairs.

Other properties can as well be observed, deserving further analysis, dealing in particular with your second question about the modulus of the roots with largest modulus (situated on a curve very close to a parabola).

Much more can be said about these roots. A fundamental article here recapitulates numerous results, in particular connected to Lambert's function $W$; observe the final semigraphical representation, surely the best one could obtain with printers 50 years ago, a testimony of the state of the art at that time, even with IBM labs top equipment...

See as well this StackExchange question and its answers.

Matlab program:

clear all;close all,hold on;
plot([-1,-1],[-1,1],'b');C=[1/2,1,1];% case k=2
for k=3:n; % k=degree
  • $\begingroup$ I just understood the connection with Szegö curve $\endgroup$
    – Jean Marie
    Jul 27, 2023 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ See a connected question here $\endgroup$
    – Jean Marie
    Nov 16, 2023 at 8:47

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