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Possible Duplicate:
Square roots — positive and negative

I know that the square roots of four are

  • 2 because $2^2=4$
  • and $-2$ because $(-2)^2=4$

Are there any conventions in considering primarily the positive square root or adding the $\pm$ symbol in the calculator screen would be a cost factor?

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marked as duplicate by Asaf Karagila, Ayman Hourieh, Raskolnikov, Brian M. Scott, martini Oct 1 '12 at 11:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

There might be even better duplicates, but this one seems adequate. – Asaf Karagila Oct 1 '12 at 11:20
By definition the symbol $\sqrt{x}$ denotes the non-negative square root of $x$. – Brian M. Scott Oct 1 '12 at 11:30

The very same question could also apply to other functions (e.g. trigonometric functions). SQRT is defined as returning only the +ve value of the square root. Check here for a thorough discussion on this topic:

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If by "thorough" you mean "long and full of misconseptions", then by all means it's thorough. – mrf Oct 1 '12 at 13:03

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