Complex analysis, traditionally known as the theory of functions of a complex variable, is the branch of mathematical analysis that investigates functions of complex numbers.
It is useful in many branches of mathematics, including number theory and applied mathematics; as well as in physics, including hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, and electrical engineering. Complex analysis is particularly concerned with the analytic functions of complex variables (or, more generally, meromorphic functions). Because the separate real and imaginary parts of any analytic function must satisfy Laplace's equation, complex analysis is widely applicable to two-dimensional problems in physics.
Complex analysis is one of the classical branches in mathematics with roots in the 19th century and just prior. Important names are Euler, Gauss, Riemann, Cauchy, Weierstrass, and many more in the 20th century. Complex analysis, in particular the theory of conformal mappings, has many physical applications and is also used throughout analytic number theory.
In modern times, it has become very popular through a new boost from complex dynamics and the pictures of fractals produced by iterating holomorphic functions. Another important application of complex analysis is in string theory which studies conformal invariants in quantum field theory.