Given quadratic forms q 1,..., q k, two questions are studied: Under what conditions does the set of common zeros of these quadratic forms consist of the only point x = 0? When is the maximum of these quadratic forms nonnegative or positive for any x ≠ 0? Criteria for each of these conditions to hold are obtained. These criteria are stated in terms of matrices determining the quadratic forms under consideration. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.