by Andrew Irving & Ebrahim Patel (on Tuesday 4th March 2014)
Despite their name, complex numbers aren’t that complicated.
The numbers we’re used to are called the real numbers (e.g. 5, 3/4, -2) and they use a building block of 1.
Real numbers are one-dimensional – this 1-D nature can be seen in the so-called number line.
However, there are lesser known numbers called the imaginary numbers (e.g. 2i, 4i/7, -9i) and they use a unique building block of i (the imaginary number).
Imaginary numbers are also one-dimensional – this 1-D nature can be seen in their own ‘number line’.
Complex numbers are nothing to be feared. These are just numbers which use both building blocks (i and 1) at the same time.
Hence we use both number lines (the one for the real numbers and the one for the imaginary numbers) in tandem, producing a number plane.
So complex numbers are just two-dimensional numbers.
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