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DIVIDING COMPLEX NUMBERS AND

SQUARE ROOTS OF NEGATIVE NUMBERS



Division of complex numbers is much like rationalizing the denominator of a radical expression,
which did in Chapter 1. For the complex number bi a z + = we define its complex conjugate
to be bi a z = . Note that

( )( )
2 2
b a bi a bi a z z + = + =

So the product of a complex number and its conjugate is always a nonnegative real number.
We use this property to divide complex numbers.

DIVIDING COMPLEX NUMBERS
To simplify the quotient
di c
bi a
+
+
, multiply the numerator and the denominator by the complex
conjugate of the denominator.
( ) ( )
2 2
d c
i ad bc bd ac
di c
di c
di c
bi a
di c
bi a
+
+ +
=
|
.
|

\
|

|
.
|

\
|
+
+
=
+
+

Rather than memorize this entire formula, its best just to remember the first step and then
multiply out the numerator and the denominator as usual.


Examples: Express the following in the form bi a + .

1.
i
i

+
2
8


2.
i
i
2
5 6 +


SQUARE ROOTS OF NEGATIVE NUMBERS
If r is negative, then the principal square root of r is

r i r =

The two square roots of r are r i and r i .
We usually write b i instead of i b to avoid confusion with bi .

Examples:

1. = 1 2. = 16 3. = 3






Special care must be taken when performing calculations involving square roots of negative
numbers. Although ab b a = when a and b are positive, this is not true when both are
negative. For example,
6 6 3 2 3 2
2
= = = i i i

but ( )( ) 6 3 2 =
so ( )( ) 3 2 3 2 =

When multiplying radicals of negative numbers, express them first in the form r i (where 0 > r )
to avoid possible errors of this type.

Example

Evaluate
9 2
36


and express in the form bi a +



Practice (Write all answers in the form bi a + .)

1. Evaluate
i
i

+
4
12 3








2. Write the multiplicative inverse of i 4 2+ in the form bi a + .







3. Evaluate
2 1
8 2
+
+