Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is complex number

  1. Apr 2, 2003 #1
    actually what is complex number....
    i know it's root of the -1
    but how can we imagine the kind of number exist??
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2003 #2
    Please read this article:
    http://physicspost.com/articles.php?articleId=118 [Broken]
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  4. Apr 2, 2003 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Of course, you can't DEFINE i as "square root of -1", not because -1 doesn't have a square root, but because, like any number, it has TWO.

    Silly "paradoxes" like: i= [sqrt](-1) so i*i= i2= [sqrt](-1)*[sqrt](-1)= [sqrt](-1*-1)= [sqrt](1)= 1 depend on that ambiguity.

    When we are working in the real numbers, we can specify sqrt[x] as meaning the POSITVE root. In complex numbers, we don't have any way of distinguishing "positive" or "negative" (the complex numbers cannot be an ordered field).

    The way complex numbers are properly defined is as PAIRS of real numbers (a,b) with addition defined as (a,b)+ (c,d)= (a+b, c+d) and multiplication defined as (a,b)*(c,d)= (ac-bd,ad+bc). It then follows that numbers of the form (a,0) act like real numbers while (0,1)*(0,1)= (0*0-1*1,0*1+1*0)= (-1,0). If we identify (0,1) with i (having dodged the question of how to distinguish between roots), we can write any complex number as (a, b)= a+ bi and have i*i= (-1,0)= -1.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook