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3 Complex Numbers
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2.3 Comple Numbers
Among the operations oI multiplication is that oI squaring a number. This is the operation oI multiplying a number by
itselI. Thus 5 times 5 is 25. We can ask Ior the inverse oI this squaring operation. This is an operation that acting on 25
should give back 5. This operation has a name: it is called the square root. The square root oI 25 is 5.
There are two wonderIul complications here. The Iirst is that -5 times -5 is also 25, so 25 has two square roots, 5 and
-5. And the same thing holds Ior any positive real number. Any positive real number has two square roots.
The second complication is: what on earth is the square root oI a negative number?
Well no real number has square that is -2 or -1 or one that is minus anything positive.
When we Iound that subtraction, which is something oI an inverse operation to addition, among natural numbers led to
non-natural numbers, we extended the natural numbers by deIining the integers to include both the natural numbers
and their negatives and zero as well.
When we considered division, which is an inverse operation to multiplication, we extended our numbers again to
include fractions.
Well, to accommodate the inverse operation to squaring a number, we can also extend our numbers to include new
entities among which we can Iind square roots oI negative numbers.
It turns out to do this we need only introduce one new number, usually designated as i, which is deIined to have square
given by -1. In other words, we deIine the new number i to obey the equation i * i -1.We can get numbers whose
squares are any other negative number, say -5, by multiplying i by an appropriate real number, here by the square root
oI 5. The number i is deIinitely not a real number, so we call it an imaginary number; this nomenclature is in Iact
silly. Imaginary numbers have just as much existence in our imaginations as real numbers have. OI course they are not
natural numbers or integers or even Iractions, or real numbers at all.
It turns out that iI we look at numbers oI the Iorm a bi where a and b are real numbers, we get what are called the
complex numbers, and we can deIine addition, subtraction multiplication, division Ior these just as we can Ior rational
or real numbers.
II you want to see what these rules are, click here.
So by numbers we will mean things like the rational numbers, the real numbers or complex numbers, among
which the operations oI addition, subtraction multiplication and division are deIined and have all the standard properties.
And if I have forgotten most of the standard properties?
I will remind you oI them when you need them. And iI I don't, ask about them.
Can I go now?
Goodbye.
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