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How to Free Your Inner MathematicianNotes on Mathematics and Life$
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Susan D'Agostino

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198843597

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198843597.001.0001

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Keep an open mind, because imaginary numbers exist

Keep an open mind, because imaginary numbers exist

(p.237) 39 Keep an open mind, because imaginary numbers exist
How to Free Your Inner Mathematician

Susan D'Agostino

Oxford University Press

“Keep an open mind, because imaginary numbers exist” offers a basic introduction to imaginary numbers, including their history and some real-life applications. In the 1500s, Italian mathematician Rafael Bombelli considered the possibility that an equation such as had a solution. Later, in the 1600s, Rene Descartes defined a new number with the property. He selected the letter for “imaginary”—a word that betrayed his discomfort with the idea. The number is a solution to the equation. In general, an imaginary number may be written as, where and are real numbers and. Mathematics students and enthusiasts who feel bewildered by any mathematical concept are encouraged to work to uncover mysteries in mathematical and life pursuits. At the chapter’s end, readers may check their understanding by working on a problem. A solution is provided.

Keywords:   imaginary numbers, history, real-life applications, math, students

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