I'm having a very basic problem with understanding the representation of complex numbers using the unit circle.
An example of what I'm struggling with is shown in the initial diagram on this page (top right):
The circle is shown centred at the origin of axes whereby 'x' represents the real number component and "y" represents the imaginary number component.
The unit circle crosses the x axis at +1 and -1. It crosses the y axis at +i and -i.
My problem with comprehending this representation is that it suggests to me that "1" on the x axis is the same magnitude as "i" on the y axis. This condition would conform with the concept of the unit circle.
In my (obviously mistaken) way of looking at this I would have thought that "1" and "i" cannot be considered to have the same magnitude - and thus the representation is not circular but something else such as elliptical.
I'd appreciate any suggestions to help achieve the necessary correction to my faulty way of thinking!
Many thanks, Peter.
Here are some later thoughts following the comments received below.
I think a helpful approach for me might be as follows:
The complex number 'a + bi' is plotted in a complex plane where the horizontal axis is to be thought of as the real axis and the vertical axis is to be thought of as the imaginary axis.
In the form 'a + bi' both a and b are real numbers.
The magnitude or absolute value of the complex number is then thought of its distance from the origin of these axes.
This can be written as |a + bi| and is equal to be square root of the sum of a squared and b squared.
In this context the unit circle is the set of complex numbers whose magnitude is one. On the complex plane they form a circle centred at the origin with a radius of one. It includes the value of 1 on the right extreme, the value 1i at the top extreme, the value -1 at the left extreme, and the value -1i at the bottom extreme.
Thus in the visualisation of complex numbers by a unit circle the axes are intersected where |a| = 1 and |b| = 1.
This would allow me to be satisfied with the representation as specifically circular rather than more generally elliptical.
In order for me to completely happy with this I wonder if it is fair to say that a complete representation of a complex number is actually 'a1 + bi' - as this makes it totally clear that a and b are conceptually the same - i.e. coordinate values. So in the initial diagram that I refered to above, my difficulty in comprehension arose from the labelling of the intersection of the vertical axis as 'i' when strictly it might better be shown as '1' (of imaginary units of which this axis is formed).
(end of additional thoughts)