In mathematics, in particular in algebra, polarization is a technique for expressing a homogeneous polynomial in a simpler fashion by adjoining more variables. Specifically, given a homogeneous polynomial, polarization produces a multilinear form from which the original polynomial can be recovered by evaluating along a certain diagonal.
Although the technique is deceptively simple, it has applications in many areas of abstract mathematics: in particular to algebraic geometry, invariant theory, and representation theory. Polarization and related techniques form the foundations for Weyl's invariant theory.
The fundamental ideas are as follows. Let f(u) be a polynomial in n variables u = (u1, u2, ..., un). Suppose that f is homogeneous of degree d, which means that
Let u(1), u(2), ..., u(d) be a collection of indeterminates with u(i) = (u1(i), u2(i), ..., un(i)), so that there are dn variables altogether. The polar form of f is a polynomial
which is linear separately in each u(i) (i.e., F is multilinear), symmetric in the u(i), and such that
The polar form of f is given by the following construction
In other words, F is a constant multiple of the coefficient of ?1 ?2...?d in the expansion of f(?1u(1) + ... + ?du(d)).
Then the polarization of f is a function in x(1) = (x(1), y(1)) and x(2) = (x(2), y(2)) given by
The polarization of a homogeneous polynomial of degree d is valid over any commutative ring in which d! is a unit. In particular, it holds over any field of characteristic zero or whose characteristic is strictly greater than d.
The polarization of algebraic forms then induces an isomorphism of vector spaces in each degree
where Symd is the d-th symmetric power of the n-dimensional space kn.
These isomorphisms can be expressed independently of a basis as follows. If V is a finite-dimensional vector space and A is the ring of k-valued polynomial functions on V, graded by homogeneous degree, then polarization yields an isomorphism
Furthermore, the polarization is compatible with the algebraic structure on A, so that
where Sym⋅V* is the full symmetric algebra over V*.