This article is devoted to the study of a nonlinear and nonlocal parabolic equation introduced by Stefan Steinerberger to study the roots of polynomials under differentiation; it also appeared in a work by Dimitri Shlyakhtenko and Terence Tao on free convolution. Rafael Granero-Belinchón obtained a global well-posedness result for initial data small enough in a Wiener space, and recently Alexander Kiselev and Changhui Tan proved a global well-posedness result for any initial data in the Sobolev space Hs(S) with s>3/2. In this paper, we consider the Cauchy problem in the critical space H1/2(S). Two interesting new features, at this level of regularity, are that the equation can be written in the form∂tu+V∂xu+γΛu=0, where V is not bounded and γ is not bounded from below. Therefore, the equation is only weakly parabolic. We prove that nevertheless the Cauchy problem is well posed locally in time and that the solutions are smooth for positive times. Combining this with the results of Kiselev and Tan, this gives a global well-posedness result for any initial data in H1/2(S). Our proof relies on sharp commutators estimates and introduces a strategy to prove a local well-posedness result in a situation where the lifespan depends on the profile of the initial data and not only on its norm.

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