Motivated by Gauss’s first proof of the fundamental Theorem of Algebra, we study the topology of harmonic algebraic curves. By the maximum principle, a harmonic curve has no bounded components; its topology is determined by the combinatorial data of a noncrossing matching. Similarly, every complex polynomial gives rise to a related combinatorial object that we call a basketball, consisting of a pair of noncrossing matchings satisfying one additional constraint. We prove that every noncrossing matching arises from some harmonic curve, and deduce from this that every basketball arises from some polynomial.
The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.