# Problem in apparent contradiction in Euler's Identity?

I've worked with Euler's Identity for physics applications quite a few times, but ran into a "proof" of a contradiction in it, which I can't seem to find a flaw in (the only time I've ever had to do any proofs was in high school). I've derived Euler's equation in two different ways in past classes, so I know it works, but I'm at a bit of a loss here.

## e^{i\theta} = cos{\theta} + isin{\theta} ##

Set ##\theta = 2\pi ##

## e^{2\pi i} = cos{2\pi} + isin{2\pi} ##

## e^{2\pi i} = 1 ##

Take the natural log:

## ln{e^{2\pi i}} = ln{1} ##

## 2\pi i = 0 ##

## i = sqrt{-1} = 0 ##

## -1 = 0 ##

I think the problem was in using the natural log up there, but I'm not positive.

lurflurf
Homework Helper
in general we cannot conclude arguments are equal from the fact function values are
$$\require{cancel}\mathrm{f}(x)=\mathrm{f}(y)\cancel\implies x=y\\ \text{for example another related common error}\\ (-1)^2=1^2\cancel\implies -1=1$$

The logarithm of a complex number is usually defined such that it gives you ##\phi## where ##-\pi \lt \phi \le \pi##. So using this definition, ##\ln e^{2\pi i}=0## and not ##2\pi i##. You have assumed that taking the logarithm simply gives you the exponent you had in the beginning, but this is untrue. Using complex numbers, there is no such general function as "getting the exponent", like there is not a general function of getting ##x## back from ##x^2##. One could also say that ##(-1)^2=1^2## therefore ##-1=1##, but this is wrong.

You are basically saying that ##e^{0}=e^{2\pi i}=e^{4\pi i}=e^{6\pi i}## and therefore ##0=2 \pi i= 4 \pi i=6 \pi i## and so on, but this is untrue. Because all the exponents give the same answer, how should the logarithm function know which exponent you want or which one you had at the beginning? It cannot know that, therefore it is defined to give ##-\pi \lt \phi \le \pi## to make it consistent and the ##2 \pi i## value you got from it is false (using the common definition).

• FactChecker
SteamKing
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
I've worked with Euler's Identity for physics applications quite a few times, but ran into a "proof" of a contradiction in it, which I can't seem to find a flaw in (the only time I've ever had to do any proofs was in high school). I've derived Euler's equation in two different ways in past classes, so I know it works, but I'm at a bit of a loss here.

## e^{i\theta} = cos{\theta} + isin{\theta} ##

Set ##\theta = 2\pi ##

## e^{2\pi i} = cos{2\pi} + isin{2\pi} ##

## e^{2\pi i} = 1 ##

Take the natural log:

## ln{e^{2\pi i}} = ln{1} ##

## 2\pi i = 0 ##

## i = sqrt{-1} = 0 ##

## -1 = 0 ##

I think the problem was in using the natural log up there, but I'm not positive.

The problem is that ln(z) is multi-valued, like many complex functions.

If z = x + iy = r e , then ln (z) = ln (r) + iθ = ln |z| + i Arg (z)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_logarithm

The 'proof' you listed doesn't seem to account for the fact that the exponential representation of a complex number is not unique.

The problem is that ln(z) is multi-valued, like many complex functions.

If z = x + iy = r e , then ln (z) = ln (r) + iθ = ln |z| + i Arg (z)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_logarithm

The 'proof' you listed doesn't seem to account for the fact that the exponential representation of a complex number is not unique.

Working with that, would it be:

## z = e^{2\pi i}, r = 1 ##

So ## |z| = e^{2\pi i}e^{-2\pi i} = e^{2\pi i - 2\pi i} = e^{0} = 1 ##

Then ## Ln{(e^{2\pi i})} = ln{|z|} + i Arg(z) = ln{1} + 2\pi i = 2\pi i ##

Which doesn't seem to be any help, assuming it's actually possible to equate ## Ln{|z|} = ln(1) ## at all. I'm guessing this is why chingel above mentioned a domain restriction.

I took a math methods class last semester, and somehow managed to forget the section on complex variables altogether. I got a similar formula from my notes there:

## Ln{|z|} = ln{|z|} + i({\theta + 2\pi k}) ##, where the case k = 0 is called the principle logarithm. The notes don't say anything about a domain restriction, so I'm guessing this formulation is the "Riemann surface" method. That makes it pretty obvious that a complex logarithm isn't single-valued. Since it's multi-valued, and ## ln 1 ## is single valued, can we simply not equate the natural log of the complex number with ln(1) at all? This doesn't seem quite right either, as I can imagine z = 1 + i(0), and do:

## Ln(1) = ln(1) + i(0 + 2\pi k) ##

SteamKing
Staff Emeritus