Real radical

In algebra, the real radical of an ideal I in a polynomial ring with real coefficients is the largest ideal containing I with the same vanishing locus. It plays a similar role in real algebraic geometry that the radical of an ideal plays in algebraic geometry over an algebraically closed field. More specifically, the Nullstellensatz says that when I is an ideal in a polynomial ring with coefficients coming from an algebraically closed field, the radical of I is the set of polynomials vanishing on the vanishing locus of I. In real algebraic geometry, the Nullstellensatz fails as the real numbers are not algebraically closed. However, one can recover a similar theorem, the real Nullstellensatz, by using the real radical in place of the (ordinary) radical.


The real radical of an ideal I in a polynomial ring over the real numbers, denoted by , is defined as

The Positivstellensatz then implies that is the set of all polynomials that vanish on the real variety defined by the vanishing of .


  • Marshall, Murray Positive polynomials and sums of squares. Mathematical Surveys and Monographs, 146. American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI, 2008. xii+187 pp. ISBN 978-0-8218-4402-1; 0-8218-4402-4
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