Leydold, Josef
(1993)
On the number of nodal domains of spherical harmonics.
*Preprint Series / Department of Applied Statistics and Data Processing*, 6.
Institut für Statistik und Mathematik, Abt. f. Angewandte Statistik u. Datenverarbeitung, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.

## Abstract

It is well known that the n-th eigenfunction to one-dimensional Sturm-Liouville eigenvalue problems has exactly n-1 nodes, i.e. non-degenerate zeros. For higher dimensions, it is much more complicated to obtain general statements on the zeros of eigenfunctions. The author states a new conjecture on the number of nodal domains of spherical harmonics, i.e. of connected components of S^2 \ N(u) with the nodal set N(u) = (x in S^2 : u(x) = 0) of the eigenfunction u, and proves it for the first six eigenvalues. It is a sharp upper bound, thus improving known bounds as the Courant nodal domain theorem, see S. Y. Cheng, Comment. Math. Helv. 51, 43-55 (1976; Zbl 334.35022). The proof uses facts on real projective plane algebraic curves (see D. A. Gudkov, Usp. Mat. Nauk 29(4), 3-79, Russian Math. Surveys 29(4), 1-79 (1979; Zbl 316.14018)), because they are the zero sets of homogeneous polynomials, and the spherical harmonics are the restrictions of spherical harmonic homogeneous polynomials in the space to the plane.

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