4
votes
5answers
273 views

Why $\sqrt {-1}\cdot \sqrt{-1}=-1$ rather than $\sqrt {-1}\cdot \sqrt{-1}=1$. Pre-definition reason!

It is for years that I teach complex numbers following a historical route. I start with the famous problem of Cardano: Find two numbers whose sum is equal to 10 and whose product is equal to ...
7
votes
2answers
449 views

How to teach a High school student that complex numbers cannot be totally ordered?

I once again need your precious knowledge! I am not sure which is the best pedagogic way to teach a High school student about why complex numbers cannot be totally ordered. When I was in High school ...
2
votes
1answer
411 views

Complex division: polar form vs complex conjugate

The original problem In an electricity course which I volunteered to help with, the students solve circuits using phasors. Using phasors requires a good knowledge of complex numbers arithmetics, ...
2
votes
4answers
89 views

Motivating complex structure on $\mathbb{R}^2$

I'm giving a talk to a group of bright but not all that mathematically sophisticated students on the subject of complex numbers. I'd like to introduce complex numbers via geometric considerations ...
45
votes
12answers
4k views

How can I introduce complex numbers to precalculus students?

I teach a precalculus course almost every semester, and over these semesters I've found various things that work quite well. For example, when talking about polynomials and rational functions, in ...
20
votes
16answers
2k views

An example for a calculation where imaginary numbers are used but don't occur in the question or the solution.

In a presentation I will have to give an account of Hilbert's concept of real and ideal mathematics. Hilbert wrote in his treatise "Über das Unendliche" (page 14, second paragraph. Here is an English ...
10
votes
3answers
582 views

Why this proof $0=1$ is wrong?(breakfast joke)

We have $$e^{2\pi i n}=1$$ So we have $$e^{2\pi in+1}=e$$ which implies $$(e^{2\pi in+1})^{2\pi in+1}=e^{2\pi in+1}=e$$ Thus we have $$e^{-4\pi^{2}n^{2}+4\pi in+1}=e$$ This implies ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

How to tell $i$ from $-i$?

Suppose now we are trying to explain to students who do not know complex numbers, how do we distinguish $i$ and $-i$ to them? They will object that they both squared to $-1$ and thus they are ...
276
votes
35answers
28k views

Do complex numbers really exist?

Complex numbers involve the square root of negative one, and most non-mathematicians find it hard to accept that such a number is meaningful. In contrast, they feel that real numbers have an obvious ...