Talk:Complex number

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Very awkward discussion of polar coordinates[edit]

Polar interpretations of complex numbers and their mathematics can be very intuitive. Why is the discussion of complex math in polar coordinates separated by section from the rectangular coordinate interpretation? Also, the discussion of polar vs. Cartesian coordinates happens early, but is not expanded until deep in the article.

Awesome results like "multiplication corresponds to multiplying their magnitudes and adding their arguments" are buried at the end of a discussion of the coordinate system, but do not appear in the multiplication section. Finally, an interpretation of sinusoids with complex numbers in polar form is not covered in anyway but the driest mathematical description of Euler's formula. The interpretation of sinusoids as projections of circles onto lines should make it's way into this article somehow. — Preceding unsigned comment added by OceanEngineerRI (talkcontribs) 18:55, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Let's not confuse the reader[edit]

IMHO the current use of the word "optionally' in the lead is more likely to confuse than elucidate. If it is really felt necessary in a purist way then it should surely be confined to the body of the article. Abtract (talk) 23:29, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

The imaginary part is not optional. A real number is not a complex number, it is still a real number. This business about optional is confusing how complex numbers are written and what they are. Complex numbers with a zero imaginary part are written without the complex part but they are still complex numbers, it is just that such complex numbers can be treated the same as reals in most circumstances. Dmcq (talk) 23:47, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
Dmcq, also referring to this edit summary: "Imaginary part is not optional. A real number is not a complex number see talk": We say that the set of all complex numbers is denoted by C or . Surely you don't claim that and that ? Of course every real number is also complex.

Anyway, the result of your edit is good now, but only provided that the definition of and at imaginary number doesn't change anymore. It is defined now as allowed to be zero, so the word "optional" is indeed not needed anymore in our lead here. As soon as the definition overthere changes again (by forbidding zero as an imaginary number) we need to come back here and add "(optionally)" for the imaginary number bit again.

But again... a real number is also a complex number: . Get Real, please (pun intended). - Cheers and happy 2012! - DVdm (talk) 10:24, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Yes of course I claim that a real number is not a complex number. A complex number is a pair of real numbers. Complex numbers can also be viewed as a field extension of reals but that is still different from the reals, what one can do is identify elements of one set with the other and one normally does that. People automatically use order relationships only with real numbers and az is a well defined single valued function if a is a real number, complex numbers aren't ordered and the exponentiation would have multiple possible values if a was complex - even if the imaginary part was zero. Have a look at Construction of the real numbers and tell me which of those is the same as any definition here of a complex number. Saying a real number is a complex number is like saying the counting numbers are the same as your fingers. Dmcq (talk) 11:25, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
So you agree that but a real number is not a complex number???
Look: is short for , in words, if x is a real number then x is a complex number.
Surely you must be joking??? - DVdm (talk) 11:53, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
No I am not joking. There is a subset of the complex numbers that can be treated like the reals but that's it. The complex numbers are pairs of real numbers. If the reals were complex numbers then complex numbers would be pairs of complex number for instance. Dmcq (talk) 12:35, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
Your "pair of real numbers" (x,y) is an element of the product set and . There is an isomorphism (check the article) between these sets (), but they are not equal, so a pair of real numbers is not a complex number. It is a pair of real numbers. - DVdm (talk) 12:53, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
Surely there is no one right or wrong answer to this - it depends on the particular formalization being used. We shouldn't nail the article to one particular approach when we know that different authors present these things in (formally) different ways (that all essentially come to the same thing).--Kotniski (talk) 14:06, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
See Complex number#Formal construction where they are defined as pairs of real numbers plus rules for how they are combined. There's other representations too as matrices for instance. I guess each definition defines something different. If we have a categorical definition of them and just say these represent it if they are isomorphic then we could have the reals as a subset of the complex numbers after leaving out exponentiation I guess, I'm not sure how all that works but it strikes me as probably a viable top down way of doing things rather than going from the axioms up. Personally I think of it as a programmer and say double or complex or whatever and type them all differently. Dmcq (talk) 14:12, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

I also notice that Kotniski added the "(either of which may be 0)" phrase again. It is of course correct (at least with the current status at imaginary number), but not needed anymore.

So... riding my hobby horse again... will this ever end? No, not until Imaginary number is merged into Complex number i.m.o... :-) - DVdm (talk) 10:39, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

I don't see any particular problem with having two separate articles. However I would move all the detailed maths either to the complex number article or the imaginary unit article, and leave the imaginary number article as a friendly article explaning the concept in fairly simple terms (and pointing out the slight discrepancies between definitions, without getting bogged down). I would also prefer at least the first sentence of the complex number article to be free of algebra, as it was when I first saw it - giving an intuitive (but not inaccurate) description of what a complex number is.--Kotniski (talk) 12:24, 31 December 2011 (UTC)
I've got rid of the imaginary number business and just use i just like most books do as per what I was suggesting in the previous section. Dmcq (talk) 12:35, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

I think I'm going to stop looking at (or at least editing and commenting to) this article (and cousins) for a while. When I notice on my watchlist that they have been stable for a week or so, I'll come and check again. Cheers to all and don't forget to enyoy the end of the year! - DVdm (talk) 13:04, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

I like the current version
A complex number is a number which can be put in the form a + bi where a and b are real numbers and i is the imaginary unit such that i2 = − 1.[1]
That is nice as it deftly avoids the contentious question of whether it has to be in that form or whether it can optionally be put in one or another abbreviated form. Duoduoduo (talk) 19:14, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

I like it too. Abtract (talk) 19:29, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

I like it in terms of accuracy, but not in terms of user-friendliness - the first sentence ought to give some kind of general indication, in terms that a relatively mathematically unsophisticated reader will readily relate to, what it is that these complex numbers are. I would prefer to postpone any algebra at least until the second sentence, after we've said something about it being a sum of a real number and an imaginary number (with such provisos as to make the statement not mathematically wrong).--Kotniski (talk) 08:37, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
The imaginary unit is the basic thing people have to work their heads around when starting with complex numbers. Imaginary numbers are a practically useless idea and confusing as the term has often been used to refer to complex numbers. Dmcq (talk) 13:01, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
The newest version starts out with
A complex number is an ordered pair (a, b) of real numbers a and b, referred to as the real part and the imaginary part, respectively.
I don't think this is at all user-friendly for someone who knows little or nothing about complex numbers other than that they look like 3+2i. An ordered pair? I think that starting out like that, with a concept the typical reader has never heard of, is likely to discourage the non-mathematician from reading further. I think it should start out with the familiar. Maybe start out with an example like 3+2i rather than a+bi? Duoduoduo (talk) 17:17, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, this is getting worse and worse. I always used to wonder how the maths articles on Wikipedia got to be in such an unhelpful state - now I can see the process in action, I can understand it. People are so hooked on making everything rigorously correct (which, for mathematicians, is understandable) that they forget their audience; formal errors are vigorously corrected, while matters of comprehensibility take a lower priority, and we have a gradual drift away from something readers might understand to something that can only be appreciated by people who, basically, already know it.--Kotniski (talk) 17:34, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm not a mathematician; my intention was simply to go straight to the geometrical interpretation. A complex number is just a pair of coordinates in the complex plane. I thought it was clear what a pair of real numbers is, whereas starting with a formula containing roots of negative numbers might not be very user-friendly according to Kotniski above. However, if people are uncomfortable with this we can go back to the description as a number on the form a+bi. Isheden (talk) 19:38, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
The definition as a pair is correct and is used in formal definitions but it is not the usual definition used in introductory texts. I believe it should be left till later in the article like it is in the formal definition section. The a+bi definition is I believe the most common simple definition. Dmcq (talk) 19:42, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
Gets my thumbs up with both definitions/forms there in the lead and it shows where the accompanying Argand diagram comes from. Dmcq (talk) 21:52, 2 January 2012 (UTC)
a + bi (or ai + b) is necessary so the two-dimensional complex plane supports addition, multiplication, and division -- so it's a full-fledged dimension. The structure of i, or j, k, or sqrt -1, operates through multiplication. Merely adding i (essentially the sequence of -1, 1) to a number has no impact. Only multiplication changes the sign, i's key function. To have the complex plane behave normally, i is incorporated, via multiplication, in a linear function that uses addition: a + bi.

Brian Coyle — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.80.117.214 (talk) 03:43, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Subfield of ℝ isomorphic to ℝ?[edit]

Really? (relinked to page from history) --COVIZAPIBETEFOKY (talk) 15:30, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Contradiction. --COVIZAPIBETEFOKY (talk) 15:56, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
Damn, this is some old shit. I shall now remove the line entirely. --COVIZAPIBETEFOKY (talk) 16:21, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
I realize now that the pdf I linked to doesn't quite say what I thought it said. If anyone can find a citation stating that there exists a proper subfield of isomorphic to itself, I would be very interested in seeing it (and we could reinclude the clause with the citation). --COVIZAPIBETEFOKY (talk) 16:34, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
I came across this page, apparently authored by Lounesto, that suggests that there is only one subfield of ℝ isomorphic to ℝ: "In contrast, the real field R has only one automorphism, the identity." I do not know whether this excludes injective automorphisms, so I do not know whether this would settle the question. I find it fascinating that he claims the converse holds for ℂ as a field, though not for a proper subfield. — Quondum 18:26, 31 January 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I knew about that result. But that doesn't outrule an isomorphism with a proper subfield, ie, an injective endomorphism that's not onto.
Just for the record, I also put this in a discussion here, which seemed to be pretty conclusive. --COVIZAPIBETEFOKY (talk) 02:39, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

i=/=sqrt-(1)[edit]

Is it? I don't think it is necessarily. Cause if i=sqrt-(1) then i*i=sqrt-(1)*sqrt-(1)=sqrt(-1*-1)=sqrt(1)=1

Which we know isn't true since i^2=-1 not 1. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fipplet (talkcontribs)

You have made a common mistake. See Imaginary unit#Proper use for one explanation. --JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 13:41, 31 January 2012 (UTC)
The principal value of sqrt(-1) is defied to be i rather than −i so yes they are the same. There is no requirement though that the principal value of square root the product be equal to the product of the principal values of the square roots, there are two possible square roots and it so happens that you should have taken the negative square root in the last step above. And in fact if a second square root of -1 occurs there is no guarantee without extra checks that it will be i if i already occurs. This is a bit like if you have x2=1 and y2=1 the possible values of x+y are −2, 0, and 2. Dmcq (talk) 15:56, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks guys I think I understand. I'm sorry you must get this question alot. I just started linear algebra so that's why. Fipplet أهلا و سهلا 14:28, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Good explanation. Themekenter (talk) 02:52, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Use of a+bi in first diagram[edit]

The normal form of presenting a complex number, today, is to write a + ib and NOT a+bi.--Михал Орела 14:46, 29 September 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by MihalOrela (talkcontribs)

Do you have any sources for this? I've always been taught that it's simply a matter of choice, nothing more, and that both forms are used. 91.156.57.136 (talk) 15:56, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

In all my time, at school, at 3 universities, and in books I've read, the form used by pretty much everybody has been a+bi, not a+ib - in my experience this is rare Mmitchell10 (talk) 17:00, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Since b and i commute, order does not matter. However, b may be a long expression, in which case writing i out front makes clear that a complex number is being specified, not simply the sum of two real numbers.Rgdboer (talk) 21:39, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
  • My experience is that a+bi is usual. A Google search for "a+bi" gave me 56,600,000 hits, and "a+ib" only 2,650,000. The editor who uses the pseudonym "JamesBWatson" (talk) 10:53, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

"Complex numbers are used in many scientific and engineering fields, including ...statistics, as well as in mathematics"[edit]

Qn: Should maths be included in the list of 'scientific and engineering fields' in 2nd paragraph?

According to the Wikipedia page on scientific fields. Obviously, maths is much more than just science, but that doesn't mean it isn't science. Also, maths is more a part of science than economics will ever be, and no one wants to remove that? Thanks. Mmitchell10 (talk) 22:35, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

I don't have an opinion about either edit. I reverted a similar edit a little while ago that removed all mention of mathematics and statistics, which is clearly rather absurd. I'm happy as long as mathematics is mentioned, but it does seem a little one-sided that mathematics is not considered a science in this article while statistics is. But I don't think any of these questions are particularly worth arguing over. The reference in the edit summary to WP:BRD seems backwards. JamesBWatson was the one who made the bold edit and was reverted, or have I missed something? Sławomir Biały (talk) 00:36, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I agree. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:38, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Ah yes indeed, the WP:BRD was somewhat misplaced, sorry for which, but we're discussion now, so that's a good thing.
Something our old professor used to throw at us every now and then during his lectures on complex analysis:
Philosophy is the mother of science.
Physics is the queen of science.
Mathematics is the whore of science.
Quite true i.m.o. :-)
Seriously, our Science article says: "In modern use, "science" more often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself. It is often treated as synonymous with 'natural and physical science', and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use"
Let's be modern... - DVdm (talk) 08:19, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
My opinion on this is not strong either. JamesBWatson has made a suggestion to me for how to rephrase this which I think is excellent, so I've suggested he make the change. :-) Mmitchell10 (talk) 11:00, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Actually, mathematics is the language of science.173.75.21.87 (talk) 02:57, 3 March 2016 (UTC)
  • Note: The following message was edit conflicted by Mmitchell10, but I still feel it is valid. JamesBWatson (talk) 11:16, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't see it as worth arguing about whether mathematics is a science or not: usage varies. However, to me the essential meaning of the sentence is that complex numbers have applications, and are not just an abstract piece of pure mathematics. Of course complex numbers are used in mathematics, because they are part of mathematics, but the sentence is telling us that they also have uses in other fields. That is why I rephrased the sentence to give "mathematics" a different status in the sentence. I confess that my edit summary was not well thought out, and did not adequately express my purpose. However, I didn't give much thought to the edit summary because I thought that the minor change of wording that I made would be uncontroversial, and it never occurred to me that anyone would object to it. What I really meant was something like "use of complex numbers withing pure mathematics is not application of them in the same sense as applications of them to other fields". In answer to "it does seem a little one-sided that mathematics is not considered a science in this article while statistics is", the point is not really whether mathematics or statistics or economics or anything else "is a science", but rather that mathematics does not have the same status as the other fields in this context, because use of complex numbers within mathematics is not an external application, as it is with the other fields. To me, the essential message of the sentence is that, as well as appearing in pure mathematics, which is obvious, complex numbers also have practical applications in many fields, which is less obvious, and therefore worth mentioning. The fact that there are external applications is the new information that is introduced by the sentence, while the fact that complex numbers are used internally in mathematics is part of the background, which must already be clear to anyone who has reached that part of the article. It therefore seems to me natural to separate the mention of mathematics from the list of applications.
Since all this has led me to think about the whole sentence, another point has been brought to my attention. The sentence says that "complex numbers are used in many scientific and engineering fields". At best, specifying "scientific and engineering" is redundant, as the list of examples clearly contains scientific and engineering fields. Arguably it is worse than redundant, because many people do not regard economics as scientific or engineering. It therefore seems to me that nothing would be lost, and something might even be gained, by missing out those words. "Complex numbers have practical applications in many fields, including..." followed by the list of examples, would convey the same meaning, and also emphasise the practical nature of applications. Any opinions? JamesBWatson (talk) 11:16, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • I initially misread Mmitchell10's comment above, which I thought said "so I've made the change", not "so I've suggested he make the change". For what it's worth, my suggestion is: As well as their use within mathematics, complex numbers have practical applications in many fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, economics, electrical engineering, and statistics. I will wait and see if anyone else has any opinion on the matter before deciding whether to go ahead with it. JamesBWatson (talk) 11:24, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
Perfect! - DVdm (talk) 12:01, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
OK, that looks like consensus to me, so I have made the change. JamesBWatson (talk) 13:59, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Is ordering considered to be an algebraic property?[edit]

This edit makes the implication that ordering is an algebraic property. It has the feel of WP:OR about it, but I do not have the knowledge to be sure. I'll leave it to others to decide and possibly fix this. —Quondum 13:56, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Replacing "the algebraic properties" by "the properties" fixes the problem. MvH (talk) 13:46, 10 April 2014 (UTC)MvH

Good example of poor complexity[edit]

The overview reveals how poorly complex numbers are taught and thought.

(x+1)^2 = -9 has an obvious solution: (x+1) = -3 and 3, once each. At a glance (2+1) and (-2-1). Why not follow this obvious route? Because formalisms were drummed into us by rote?

i(x+1) = (x+1)(-x-1))

(x+1)(-x-1) = -9

-(x^2) - 2x - 1 = -9

-(x^2) - 2x = -8

x = 2 and -2.

(2+1)(-2-1) = -9

Is this really so horrible?

But because a complex number has a real and 'imaginary component,' we have to add lots of complexity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.80.117.214 (talk) 20:37, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Please put new talk page messages at the bottom of talk pages and sign your messages with four tildes (~~~~). Thanks.
(x+1) = -3 and 3 are not solutions of (x+1)^2 = -9. They are solutions of (x+1)^2 = 9. - DVdm (talk) 20:51, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

The roots of 9 are EITHER -3 OR 3. The roots of -9 are BOTH -3 AND 3. This can't be wished away by a principal branch assumption. i is a function which produces the BOTH...AND root. Brian Coyle — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.80.117.214 (talkcontribs) 02:07, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Would you care to define a "root"? I am unable to determine a framework in which to interpret what you're trying to say. Please sign your posts using four tildes as indicated by DVdm. —Quondum 03:40, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for your response.

Root is often defined as a number that when multiplied by itself gives a given number. But the reverse is equally true. A given number has roots that generate it. If the number is negative, and the square root is sought, then a complex number is needed: a two dimensional mathematical object. Roots as often defined generate two dimensional objects. But a complex root is a two dimensional object already. The usual projection of a + bi on the x,y axis is an approximation; i is not represented by a single point. i is both positive and negative. Thus 3i is -3 and 3. This isn't a weird conclusion, it generates -9. Imaginaries are not imaginary; they're a different way solving the always present issue of negative and positive roots. Again, I appreciate your interest. Brian Coyle 208.80.117.214 (talk) 07:19, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Brian, note that this is not the place where we teach elementary algebra to our readers. This is where we discuss proposed changes to the article. We are not allowed to discuss the subject here—see wp:talk page guidelines. So if you have a proposal to make a specific change to the article, and you have a reliable source to back it up (see wp:reliable sources), you are free to do so here. Otherwise, I'm afraid this is off-topic on this article talk page. - DVdm (talk) 09:01, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

a + bi ?[edit]

We use the conventions a + bi and x + iy in this article to refer to general complex numbers. Would it not be best to stick to one convention? Martin Hogbin (talk) 14:55, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

It seems pretty consistently to be the a + bi ordering. The exceptions are where the other convention is being mentioned, and when a function is involved, when the function follows the i. Perhaps I missed some? —Quondum 16:02, 9 June 2014 (UTC)
It is not just the ordering but the letters used. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:04, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Square of the absolute value[edit]

What's the square of the absolute value called? Is it the same as |x|, which is used this in article but not explained? Olli Niemitalo (talk) 17:43, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

The absolute value, or magnitude, of a complex number is its distance from the origin, written as . The square of the absolute value is . Does that answer your question? --gdfusion (talk|contrib) 21:04, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
It does not seem to have a common name, other than "the squared magnitude". —Quondum 22:02, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
If we need one word, I propose we vote between "sqagnitude", "squodulus", and "sqorm" :-) - DVdm (talk) 07:52, 28 July 2014 (UTC)
Thanks all. I put it (but not those funky names) in the article . Olli Niemitalo (talk) 10:27, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Weasel words[edit]

User:Wcherowi. According to WP:WEASEL, the section Notation consist of weasel words and it may be tagged with cleanup teaplates. Verbatim quote: “Articles including weasel words should ideally be rewritten such that they are supported by reliable sources, or they may be tagged with the {{weasel}} or {{by whom}} or similar templates so as to identify the problem to future readers (who may elect to fix the issue).“. Please note that your opinion stated in Wikipedia isn't a reliable source. According to the policy on verifiability “all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation.”. Per this policy, I'm restarting the cleanup tag. Free feel to remove it once reliable sources have been provided. Given that according to you “Just about everyone uses that form” it seems that you won't have trouble finding reliable sources to support this claim. Until this is done, please don't remove the cleanup tag, again, per the quoted policy. I have searched a couple of books to which I have access, to see if I could fix these weasel words, but they all use the notation a+bi; for instance Tom M. Apostol Mathematical Analysis. Regards. Mario Castelán Castro (talk) 14:41, 6 October 2014 (UTC).

It is trivial to find examples of authors using a+ib, so I fail to see what use the template has. The weasel word guideline (not policy) is not a moratorium on the use of certain words, but rather an injunction against using those words to create a false impression of authority. In this case, there is no such false impression: a great many authors do indeed use this alternative convention. In any event, I have referred to the standard classic "Complex Analysis" by Lars Ahlfors. Sławomir Biały (talk) 15:13, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for providing a reference. I have made it link specifically to the full reference in the article References section so that it's clear. Mario Castelán Castro (talk) 16:50, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps I was a bit "flip" in my edit summary, for which I apologize, but I believe that this highly non-controversial statement does not require a source. The article itself uses both forms (especially the diagrams), and the references, that I checked, uniformly used z = x + iy. The predominance of this form is likely due to the fact that when the imaginary part of a complex number is given by a real valued function (such as a trig function) putting the "i" first cuts down on the likelihood of misinterpreting the expression. However, due to the commutivity of multiplication, it doesn't matter how this is written and authors are free to do as they like, and they do. My main objection is that by sourcing this statement it makes it appear as if there is some controversy concerning the notation when there isn't. A better way to deal with the weasel word issue would be to rewrite the sentence without it – for example – By the commutivity of multiplication, complex numbers are written as either a + bi or a + ib. Bill Cherowitzo (talk) 17:30, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
I have no objection to removing the reference altogether. As I already indicated, it is trivially verifiable by consulting any of a number of standard reference textbooks. Sławomir Biały (talk) 19:05, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

Metamath Proof Explorer[edit]

The recently added section on the Metamath Proof Explorer seems like undue weight. Also, it does not seem that even the (rather poor) references there actually address the subject of this article in a direct and substantive manner. Rather it seems more like an advertisement for Metamath and for the axiomatic method in a rather generic and non-specific way. Finally, the section is out of place. In a section about constructing models of the complex numbers, a generic section on the benefits of the axiomatic approach is off topic. This having been said, it would be interesting to see if there are axiomatizations of the complex numbers that are not reliant on the axioms of the reals. That would probably make a worthy addition to the article, unlike this section. But this will involve consulting multiple quality sources, rather than just flap for Metamath. Sławomir Biały (talk) 12:47, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Agreed, this did not belong here. The addition seemed to be making a claim that would be a detour, even if it was valid and notable. On the question on sidestepping the axiomatization of the reals, the axioms listed actually seem (to my cursory reading) to include axiomatization of the reals essentially as a totally ordered field in which there is always an element between any distinct pair of elements. This seems to me to be incomplete as an axiomatization of the reals, and hence also of the complex numbers. —Quondum 15:24, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
It may also be equivalent to axiomatization of the real numbers (Dedekind-completeness); I have not checked properly. Anyhow, I see nothing interestingly new in this, in the sense of not relying on the axiomatization of the reals. —Quondum 16:11, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Slawekb: The section I added isn't about the Metamath proof explorer; it's about the axiomatic definitions of complex numbers. I have added the example of Metamath set.mm database because it illustrates the axiomatic definition of the complex numbers. The featured article about groups mentions examples and applications, analogous to how this article already mentions example constructions of the complex numbers. My addition adds a reference to one example axiomatization. Axiomatizations of complex numbers are on-topic in an article about complex numbers. The examples are not taken to be "undue weight" or "out of place" in the aforesaid featured article and in this article (example constructions). Why this ad-hoc criterion against my edit?.
This having been said, it would be interesting to see if there are axiomatizations of the complex numbers that are not reliant on the axioms of the reals.
Free feel to contribute such an axiomatization.
In a section about constructing models of the complex numbers, a generic section on the benefits of the axiomatic approach is off topic.
This is a confusion. In my edit (that you undid and linked), the section I introduced about the axiomatic approach to define complex numbers is separate from Construction as ordered pairs of real numbers, under the section Formal definition, renamed from Formal construction. I was careful to make the titles in my revision correspond to the contents of the sections.
Also, it does not seem that even the (rather poor) references there actually address the subject of this article in a direct and substantive manner.
That would probably make a worthy addition to the article, unlike this section. But this will involve consulting multiple quality sources, rather than just flap for Metamath.
This sounds like you're taking your opinion of whether an addition is "worthy", whether a reference is "rather poor", and that it seems [to you] as an advertisement as something objective and as if it was the only criterion relevant; this is dangerously close to what is described in Ownership of articles. Bear in mind that editorial decisions are made by consensus, which in turn must be based upon arguments, not just stated opinions. I have stated the arguments for my posture referencing other articles and Wikipedia policy.
Before my revision, the article was missing a discussion about the axiomatic approach to defining complex numbers, and it's also missing it after you reverted it. I presume that your intention is to improve the article, so I make some suggestions:
  • Revert your revert, and expand the section about axiomatic definitions of complex numbers. Don't demolish the house while it's still being built, instead make your contribution to build it.
  • The whole section Formal construction is unreferenced. Since you are especially concerned about "rather poor" (in your opinion) references I guess that a whole unreferenced section is especially disturbing to you. You can turn your complaints into a contribution by adding references to this section.
Regards. Mario Castelán Castro (talk) 19:53, 1 February 2015 (UTC).
Quondum: Please specify which claim you're talking about when you wrote “The addition seemed to be making a claim that would be a detour, even if it was valid and notable.”. Regards. Mario Castelán Castro (talk) 20:36, 1 February 2015 (UTC).
At a first glance, the added section seemed to be to be claiming an alternate axiomatization that relied on potentially fairly deep aspects of set theory (through mention of ZFC and the like). To approach complex numbers through a new direction would be a detour: approaching a simply described mathematical object in a new way, the only purpose being to describe the new route.
However, looking at the axioms listed on the site, it seems not to be new at all: the axioms are essentially those of the real numbers with a few more to determine the complex numbers as containing them, and I've already indicated. The article already gives non-constructive approaches to reaching the complex numbers (e.g. algebraic closure). —Quondum 02:49, 2 February 2015 (UTC)
Yep, the source really doesn't inspire much confidence at all. The notion of an ordered pair is presented as though it is some hard problem in model theory. But all of the hard work is already done in the construction of the reals. In building axioms for the complex numbers, one is left with a number of rather trivial choices (a complex number can be an ordered pair of reals, or it can be any irreducible quadratic extension of the reals, etc.) all of which lead to structures that are rather trivially isomorphic modulo the Galois group. Designating any one of these as "the one true" axiomatic treatment seems to be missing the point. The conclusion, that some hard problem (e.g., ordered pairs—gasp!) has been solved by building a "portable" structure, does not hold up under scrutiny. Sławomir Biały (talk) 11:24, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

At a first glance, the added section seemed to be to be claiming (...) However, looking at the axioms listed on the site, it seems not to be new at all
The section I added never makes that claim, that's your interpretation, that, as you also notced, is invalid (why critize based a invalid point?). Maybe you were trying to read between lines and saw something that is simply not there. Free feel to make a quote from the aforesaid added section to support your claim. If you think that the section is unclearly worded (I disagree) free feel to suggest a better wording in order to materialize your complains into a contribution to Wikipedia.
To approach complex numbers through a new direction would be a detour: approaching a simply described mathematical object in a new way, the only purpose being to describe the new route.
If that argument were to hold, there would be place for only one approach to construct or describe the complex numbers. The article already mentions several ways to construct the complex numbers; how is it that the critique of “approaching a simply described mathematical object in a new way, the only purpose being to describe the new route” applies to the section I added and not to the current constructions and characterizations?. Of course, any approach to construct or define the complex numbers is equivalent to any other in the resulting properties, for that matter, all but one are redundant. Talking about an axiomatic construction of the complex numbers is on topic and not a detour on an article about complex numbers!. We can agree in that it wouldn't make sense to include as many axiomatizations as possible, but we can and should include a representative sampling (just as we can't include all properties of complex numbers, but we can and should include a representative sampling).
The article already gives non-constructive approaches to reaching the complex numbers (e.g. algebraic closure).
That's one such possible axiomatic approach, though it's not mentioned as such. Why should any other axiomatization (and an explicit mention of the fact that the axiomatic approach is an alternative to the constructive approach) be excluded?. It's possible to merge those and my added content into a single section about axiomatic approaches.
Yep, the source really doesn't inspire much confidence at all. The notion of an ordered pair is presented as though it is some hard problem in model theory.
It doesn't inspires much confidence to you but you have no backed your claims, leaving them as just your opinion. You're entitled to draw any opinion or conclusion whatsoever by any text for yourself. However, the Wikipedia policy doesn't supports removal of content based on the mere opinion of an editor. None of your complaints about [1] are supported by the actual article. Specifically, I mean the following claims, quoting from your message above, interleaved with my annotations:
  • The notion of an ordered pair is presented as though it is some hard problem in model theory.
    No, the page makes absolutely no mention of model theory, take note that it doesn't even includes the word “model”.
  • Designating any one of these as "the one true" axiomatic treatment seems to be missing the point.
    The article never postulates that axiomatization as "the true one", there's even a reference to a similar but different axiomatization.
  • The conclusion, that some hard problem (e.g., ordered pairs—gasp!) has been solved by building a "portable" structure, does not hold up under scrutiny.
    The article doesn't says this this, it even describes exactly what it means by portable:

    The construction is "portable" in the sense that the final axioms below hide how they are constructed, and another construction that develops the same axioms could be plugged in in place of it.

If you a find an actual factual error in my source (That is, it actually makes a claim that is objectively incorrect), free feel to bring it up and suggest another source without that mistake. If you have no objections to the section, restore it; free feel to suggest and work on improving it and the rest of the article; otherwise, please mention the reasons for the removal of the section I added based on policy and arguments.
I'm more than willing to work together with any editor interested in improving the article. It's for my desire of contributing that I donated my time adding a section on a topic not currently covered. However, I don't think that criticizing a source for saying something that it doesn't says will lead us anywhere, so I really recommend to avoid that.
We can merge the section Algebraic characterization and Characterization as a topological field with my added section into a single one (or subsections of a single (sub)section) about axiomatic descriptions of complex numbers.
Regards.
Mario Castelán Castro (talk) 17:57, 15 February 2015 (UTC).
Mario, just because you have a source for something doesn't mean that the something is more deserving of inclusion than the unsourced material. If this article were riddled with original research and unverified claims, then you might have a point. But, as far as I am aware, virtually all of the article is of such a basic nature as to be covered in many many very reliable sources. There are almost too many to pick from. Now, more inline citations are usually a good thing, but two wrongs definitely do not make a right. In this case, the material you added, and the source that it was attributed to, were clearly inappropriate for inclusion in a general-purpose article on complex numbers. People have been studying complex numbers for hundreds of years. There are reliable and very distinguished books written on the subject. Axiomatics, too, has been around for a very long time. If there are notable perspectives on the axiomatizations of the complex numbers, they would be the sort of thing routinely lurking in the usual places like analysis textbooks. But of the sources that we actually do use in writing this article, there should be no place for using random websites as sources. Moreover, we should be very leery of material that is not readily supportable by an overwhelming preponderance of sources. This is the policy. Sławomir Biały (talk) 20:59, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
Slawekb:
Mario, just because you have a source for something doesn't mean that the something is more deserving of inclusion than the unsourced material.
The policy does not talks about content being “deserving” of inclusion. Maybe you're talking about it being notable. or verifiable and confused the terms. Please don't distort the policy.
In this case, the material you added, and the source that it was attributed to, were clearly inappropriate for inclusion in a general-purpose article on complex numbers.
This is again your opinion, to which I disagree. Using the word “clearly” doesn't turns opinions into facts, but by stating our arguments we can reach a consensus. When you state your opinion, please also state your arguments.
(...) If there are notable perspectives on the axiomatizations of the complex numbers, they would be the sort of thing routinely lurking in the usual places like analysis textbooks. But of the sources that we actually do use in writing this article, there should be no place for using random websites as sources.
I suggest that you take a look at the wiktionary entry for random. The Metamath website is not random in any sense, it's not a probability distribution or characterized by or often saying random things; all on the contrary. Metamath and it's website is written mostly by Normal Megill, a professional mathematician, who has published papers in mathematical journals, and several professional mathematicians contribute to its set.mm database. The page I used as source is itself a secondary source which I used as an example of the axiomatization of complex numbers. The set.mm database and the prose pages accompanying the proof explorer contain references to treatises by other professional mathematicians, including books (anybody can verify this claims by browsing the Metamath website and seeing for himself).
People have been studying complex numbers for hundreds of years. There are reliable and very distinguished books written on the subject. Axiomatics, too, has been around for a very long time
That's right.
If there are notable perspectives on the axiomatizations of the complex numbers, they would be the sort of thing routinely lurking in the usual places like analysis textbooks.
It's not your article to design a place from which all the citations must come (analysis textbook and other "usual" places) from and exclude all other contributions such as mine that don't use references from those places (anyway, by the same logic, since Complex_number#Formal_construction contains no such citations, then it needs to be removed as well, but I disagree with that). I did add a citation to my section to comply with the verifiability policy already, which I must note, doesn't forbids using websites as citations. If you would like to add a particular citation from an analysis textbook so as to improve my addition (Wikipedia is a collaborative work), free feel to materialize your complaints into such a contributions by restoring my edition and adding such a citation. Likewise, if you think that Metamath being the sole example that I added about axiomatic descriptions from the
Moreover, we should be very leery of material that is not readily supportable by an overwhelming preponderance of sources.
Hence my suggestion that you add citations so that we don't have to be be leery of any of the unsourced claims of this article, including the whole unreferenced section Formal construction. (I disagree that I have to be leery of any of that, but materializing your complaints into an action would be a contribution in this case, hence my encouragement).
Regards. Mario Castelán Castro (talk) 22:34, 1 February 2015 (UTC).
Mario, there are real problems with the source you want to cite, as well as the content in question. If you have some relevant high-quality sources concerning the axiomatization of complex numbers, you are certainly welcome to present them. But further argument, and petty sniping, apparently for its own sake, does not seem to me to be a very constructive use of time. Sławomir Biały (talk) 23:34, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I have addressed your concerns above (I.e: the real problems which are claims completely unsupported by the criticized source). See my coment above. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mario Castelán Castro (talkcontribs) 17:57, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
This argumentation is pointless. Also, the recent refactoring of this discussion, with the same points brought in, is entirely unconstructive. The source you proposed is not good. And the content you tried to include in the article is thoroughly idiotic. Go find a real mathematics textbook or peer reviewed secondary source, per our guidelines. It's not really that hard to find such sources on complex numbers, and I'm astonished that someone editing scientific content on an encyclopedia would think that this is an unreasonable standard of reliability and weight for inclusion. If you don't like this, start a formal RfC process. We're done here otherwise. Sławomir Biały (talk) 19:25, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Helpful?[edit]

In Complex number#Conjugation there is the sentence: "In the network analysis of electrical circuits, the complex conjugate is used in finding the equivalent impedance when the maximum power transfer theorem is used." Is this perhaps burdening the reader a bit too much with a detail of a specific application in a section that is introducing a very basic abstract concept? --Stfg (talk) 17:33, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I think it would be better to find a place for this in the Complex number#Applications section. - DVdm (talk) 17:42, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Vector sum notation ambiguity[edit]

The vector-sum diagram at the right of the section on "Addition and Subtraction" of complex numbers should use identification characters other than "a" and "b" (e.g. use "p" and "q" instead) because current usage creates an ambiguous use of the characters "a" and "b": for the entire complex numbers being added in the diagram vs. real and imaginary parts of complex numbers in the explanation text for addition and subtraction of complex numbers, at the left.

Though mathematically savvy readers will likely not be confused by that ambiguous usage, after noting it, novices may be very confused by it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.164.80.150 (talk) 02:23, 14 December 2015 (UTC)

We can't just change the image without possibly creating a similar "problem" in other articles that include this image. On the other hand, novice readers could actually benefit from this, by being forced to realise that symbols depend on context. Note the preceding image, where the symbols x and y are used instead of a and b. - DVdm (talk) 09:35, 14 December 2015 (UTC)

Shouldn't this be 'b < 0' and not 'b > 0'?[edit]

Section 'Definition' reads Moreover, when the imaginary part is negative, it is common to write a − bi with b > 0 instead of a + (−b)i, for example 3 − 4i instead of 3 + (−4)i.. Shouldn't it be less than 0? Or am I reading it wrong?2001:981:9B5E:1:88F4:B16F:4BD3:87E2 (talk) 04:00, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

I'm afraid that you are reading it wrong. If b was itself negative (i.e., b < 0) then a - bi would have a positive imaginary part. What is being talked about is the common way of writing a complex number with a negative imaginary part without the use of unnecessary parentheses, that is, by making the "negativeness" explicit in the notation. To put it another way, if -b is negative, then b must be positive. Bill Cherowitzo (talk) 05:16, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Seems like being dead tired and learning about complex numbers at 5 AM isn't a good idea. I read it once and it makes complete sense now. Feel free to remove this section. I'm not an wikipedia etiquette expert. 2001:981:9B5E:1:88F4:B16F:4BD3:87E2 (talk) 12:44, 18 January 2016 (UTC)