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In this section, you will:
  • Plot complex numbers in the complex plane.
  • Find the absolute value of a complex number.
  • Write complex numbers in polar form.
  • Convert a complex number from polar to rectangular form.
  • Find products of complex numbers in polar form.
  • Find quotients of complex numbers in polar form.
  • Find powers of complex numbers in polar form.
  • Find roots of complex numbers in polar form.

“God made the integers; all else is the work of man.” This rather famous quote by nineteenth-century German mathematician Leopold Kronecker sets the stage for this section on the polar form of a complex number. Complex numbers were invented by people and represent over a thousand years of continuous investigation and struggle by mathematicians such as Pythagoras , Descartes , De Moivre, Euler , Gauss , and others. Complex numbers answered questions that for centuries had puzzled the greatest minds in science.

We first encountered complex numbers in Complex Numbers . In this section, we will focus on the mechanics of working with complex numbers: translation of complex numbers from polar form to rectangular form and vice versa, interpretation of complex numbers in the scheme of applications, and application of De Moivre’s Theorem.

Plotting complex numbers in the complex plane

Plotting a complex number     a + b i is similar to plotting a real number, except that the horizontal axis represents the real part of the number, a , and the vertical axis represents the imaginary part of the number, b i .

Given a complex number a + b i , plot it in the complex plane.

  1. Label the horizontal axis as the real axis and the vertical axis as the imaginary axis.
  2. Plot the point in the complex plane by moving a units in the horizontal direction and b units in the vertical direction.

Plotting a complex number in the complex plane

Plot the complex number 2 3 i in the complex plane    .

From the origin, move two units in the positive horizontal direction and three units in the negative vertical direction. See [link] .

Plot of 2-3i in the complex plane (2 along the real axis, -3 along the imaginary axis).
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Plot the point 1 + 5 i in the complex plane.

Plot of 1+5i in the complex plane (1 along the real axis, 5 along the imaginary axis).
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Finding the absolute value of a complex number

The first step toward working with a complex number in polar form is to find the absolute value. The absolute value of a complex number is the same as its magnitude , or | z | . It measures the distance from the origin to a point in the plane. For example, the graph of z = 2 + 4 i , in [link] , shows | z | .

Plot of 2+4i in the complex plane and its magnitude, |z| = rad 20.

Absolute value of a complex number

Given z = x + y i , a complex number, the absolute value of z is defined as

| z | = x 2 + y 2

It is the distance from the origin to the point ( x , y ) .

Notice that the absolute value of a real number gives the distance of the number from 0, while the absolute value of a complex number gives the distance of the number from the origin, ( 0 ,   0 ) .

Finding the absolute value of a complex number with a radical

Find the absolute value of z = 5 i .

Using the formula, we have

| z | = x 2 + y 2 | z | = ( 5 ) 2 + ( 1 ) 2 | z | = 5 + 1 | z | = 6

See [link] .

Plot of z=(rad5 - i) in the complex plane and its magnitude rad6.
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Find the absolute value of the complex number z = 12 5 i .

13

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Finding the absolute value of a complex number

Given z = 3 4 i , find | z | .

Using the formula, we have

| z | = x 2 + y 2 | z | = ( 3 ) 2 + ( 4 ) 2 | z | = 9 + 16 | z | = 25 | z | = 5

The absolute value z is 5. See [link] .

Plot of (3-4i) in the complex plane and its magnitude |z| =5.
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Questions & Answers

can you not take the square root of a negative number
Sharon Reply
Suppose P= {-3,1,3} Q={-3,-2-1} and R= {-2,2,3}.what is the intersection
Elaine Reply
can I get some pretty basic questions
Ama Reply
In what way does set notation relate to function notation
Ama
is precalculus needed to take caculus
Amara Reply
It depends on what you already know. Just test yourself with some precalculus questions. If you find them easy, you're good to go.
Spiro
the solution doesn't seem right for this problem
Mars Reply
what is the domain of f(x)=x-4/x^2-2x-15 then
Conney Reply
x is different from -5&3
Seid
All real x except 5 and - 3
Spiro
how to prroved cos⁴x-sin⁴x= cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
Don't think that you can.
Elliott
how do you provided cos⁴x-sin⁴x = cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
What are the question marks for?
Elliott
Someone should please solve it for me Add 2over ×+3 +y-4 over 5 simplify (×+a)with square root of two -×root 2 all over a multiply 1over ×-y{(×-y)(×+y)} over ×y
Abena Reply
For the first question, I got (3y-2)/15 Second one, I got Root 2 Third one, I got 1/(y to the fourth power) I dont if it's right cause I can barely understand the question.
Is under distribute property, inverse function, algebra and addition and multiplication function; so is a combined question
Abena
find the equation of the line if m=3, and b=-2
Ashley Reply
graph the following linear equation using intercepts method. 2x+y=4
Ashley
how
Wargod
what?
John
ok, one moment
UriEl
how do I post your graph for you?
UriEl
it won't let me send an image?
UriEl
also for the first one... y=mx+b so.... y=3x-2
UriEl
y=mx+b you were already given the 'm' and 'b'. so.. y=3x-2
Tommy
Please were did you get y=mx+b from
Abena
y=mx+b is the formula of a straight line. where m = the slope & b = where the line crosses the y-axis. In this case, being that the "m" and "b", are given, all you have to do is plug them into the formula to complete the equation.
Tommy
thanks Tommy
Nimo
0=3x-2 2=3x x=3/2 then . y=3/2X-2 I think
Given
co ordinates for x x=0,(-2,0) x=1,(1,1) x=2,(2,4)
neil
"7"has an open circle and "10"has a filled in circle who can I have a set builder notation
Fiston Reply
Where do the rays point?
Spiro
x=-b+_Гb2-(4ac) ______________ 2a
Ahlicia Reply
I've run into this: x = r*cos(angle1 + angle2) Which expands to: x = r(cos(angle1)*cos(angle2) - sin(angle1)*sin(angle2)) The r value confuses me here, because distributing it makes: (r*cos(angle2))(cos(angle1) - (r*sin(angle2))(sin(angle1)) How does this make sense? Why does the r distribute once
Carlos Reply
so good
abdikarin
this is an identity when 2 adding two angles within a cosine. it's called the cosine sum formula. there is also a different formula when cosine has an angle minus another angle it's called the sum and difference formulas and they are under any list of trig identities
Brad
strategies to form the general term
carlmark
consider r(a+b) = ra + rb. The a and b are the trig identity.
Mike
How can you tell what type of parent function a graph is ?
Mary Reply
generally by how the graph looks and understanding what the base parent functions look like and perform on a graph
William
if you have a graphed line, you can have an idea by how the directions of the line turns, i.e. negative, positive, zero
William
y=x will obviously be a straight line with a zero slope
William
y=x^2 will have a parabolic line opening to positive infinity on both sides of the y axis vice versa with y=-x^2 you'll have both ends of the parabolic line pointing downward heading to negative infinity on both sides of the y axis
William
y=x will be a straight line, but it will have a slope of one. Remember, if y=1 then x=1, so for every unit you rise you move over positively one unit. To get a straight line with a slope of 0, set y=1 or any integer.
Aaron
yes, correction on my end, I meant slope of 1 instead of slope of 0
William
what is f(x)=
Karim Reply
I don't understand
Joe
Typically a function 'f' will take 'x' as input, and produce 'y' as output. As 'f(x)=y'. According to Google, "The range of a function is the complete set of all possible resulting values of the dependent variable (y, usually), after we have substituted the domain."
Thomas
Sorry, I don't know where the "Â"s came from. They shouldn't be there. Just ignore them. :-)
Thomas
GREAT ANSWER THOUGH!!!
Darius
Thanks.
Thomas
Â
Thomas
It is the  that should not be there. It doesn't seem to show if encloses in quotation marks. "Â" or 'Â' ... Â
Thomas
Now it shows, go figure?
Thomas
Practice Key Terms 4

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Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
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