1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Modulus of negative numbers

  1. Jan 23, 2012 #1
    One of the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) properties (symmetry property) is that:

    [tex]x^*[-n]_N \stackrel{DFT}{\leftrightarrow}X^*[k][/tex]

    where * means conjugate, and [tex][.]_N[/tex] means modulus N. What is the meaning of modulus of negative numbers?

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey S_David.

    When you say modulus do you mean the standard definition found in whole number arithmetic?

    If this is the case, then the normal definition applies. Basically it is the lowest remainder given dimension of some number by a whole number N.

    For negative numbers, this means that you have to start from a multiple that is less than or equal to a multiple of N.

    So lets say we have a number -8 and our modulus argument is 9, then the answer is going to be 1 since -9 is a factor of 9 and one more than -9 is -8. Basically we apply the same decomposition theorem of n = pq + r where r is the modulo result, n is our input to decompose and q is your 'N' in this case and p is a whole number which in the negative case is a negative number.

    Is this what you are wondering about? I get a feeling it may not be since you are asking about things in the context of fourier transforms.
  4. Jan 24, 2012 #3
    Yeah, I asked for standard definition. May be there is a physical meaning in DFT, but I wanted to know about the negative numbers in general.

  5. Jan 25, 2012 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    A negative number, x, mod n, is defined in exactly the same way as for a positive number: write x= mn+ r where [itex]0\le r< n[/itex]. Then the modulus is r.

    For example, to find "-18 mod 5", I note that 3(5)= 15< 18< 20= 4(5). That is -18= -20+ 2 so "-18 mod 5" is 2.

    Notice that to find "18 mod 5", I would start the same but write 18= 15+ 3 so "18 mod 5" is 3. It is the fact that r must be non-negative that is key.

    Of course. 2+ 3= 5= 0 mod 5. Since -18 and 18 are "additive inverses", so must they be "mod 5".

    So another way to find "-x mod n" is to find "x mod n" and subtract that from n.
  6. Jan 25, 2012 #5
    Thanks HallsofIvy, that helped a lot.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook