Polynomials are some of the most fundamental equations in mathematics. One example of a polynomial of degree 5 is the following: ax5+bx4+cx3+dx2+ex+f. The highest exponent is 5; therefore, the grade is 5. Some of history’s most well-known mathematicians have spent time trying to find solutions to polynomials of degree 5 or higher.
During the past eight years, Petter Brändén, an associate professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, has developed a theory for understanding the relationship between the zeros of a polynomial (where the function becomes zero) and its coefficients (a, b, c, d, e and f in the example above). Using this theory, he has been able to solve several classical problems, and the theory has proven to be useful within a broad range of different mathematical specialties, such as combinatorics, analysis, statistical mechanics and probability theory. Together with two other mathematicians, Brändén has, for example, been able to model physical particles that repel each other. As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Brändén will continue to develop his widely acknowledged theory.