In lower classes, we are taught that the square root of negative numbers can not be taken. However we can take the square root of a negative number, but it involves making use of a new number which is called an imaginary number. So let’s assume some number i exists where: i2 = -1. This i is called the imaginary unit. We can observe that we have created a whole new number system (complex numbers), where the square root of i2 =-1, and i is called the imaginary unit. Now, complex numbers comprise of real and purely imaginary numbers. We are already familiar with real numbers for eg: 2, 4.03, and π so let’s talk about pure imaginary numbers.
Purely Imaginary Number
A purely imaginary number is a multiple of i. So, -5i+, 27*i are all purely imaginary numbers. They are also called non-real numbers. Thus an imaginary number is a number that can be written as a real number multiplied by the imaginary unit i. Thus complex numbers are of the form a + bi, where a, b are real constants. The complex number a + bi can be broken down into two parts namely
- The real part (a)
- And the imaginary part (b) [not b*i]
Powers of Imaginary Unit(i)
We know that i2 = -1 but what about other powers of i?
Do you see the pattern here?
There is a cycle of i, -1, -i , 1 … where every multiple of 4 is 1.
To sum it up , lets say that i is raised to the power of n .
If 1) n mod 4 == 0 [division by 4 leaves 0 as remainder] then the ans is 1 . eg : i4 = i8 = i12 = 1
2) n mod 4 == 1 [division by 4 leaves 1 as remainder] then the ans is i . eg : i = i5 = i9 = i
3) n mod 4 == 2 [division by 4 leaves 2 as remainder] then the ans is -1 . eg : i6 = i10 = -1
4) n mod 4 == 3 [division by 4 leaves 3 as remainder] then the ans is -i . eg : i3 = i7 = -i
Simplifying Roots of Negative Numbers
Example 1: Suppose you are asked to evaluate the square root of -121.
Example 2: Suppose you are asked to evaluate the square root of -(1/9).
Principal Square Root of Number
The principal Square Root of a non-negative real number is the non-negative square root.
The principal square root of a * b can not be broken down into the principal square root of a * principal square root of b if both a and b are negative.
Principal Square Root of -1: The imaginary unit is defined as i2 = −1. Using this notation, we can think of i as the square root of −1, but we also have (−i)2 = i2 = −1 and so −i is also a square root of −1. But by convention, the principal square root of −1 is i, or more generally, if x is any non-negative number, then the principal square root of −x is: