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Singapore A-Levels H2 Mathematics (9758) Lecture Notes

8: Introduction to Complex Numbers


After going through this set of notes, you should be able to:
Describe complex numbers as numbers with a real part () and an imaginary part ().
Perform basic operations on complex numbers such as addition, subtraction, multiplication,
division/rationalization
Find the complex roots of a quadratic equation (including using discriminant concepts to
determine whether a quadratic equation has real roots or complex roots)
State the complex conjugate of a given complex number
Know why the complex roots of a polynomial equation with real coefficients are complex
conjugates

8.1

Introduction to the imaginary unit,

The imaginary unit satisfies the equation 2 = 1. Hence, = 1. The imaginary unit can be shown
on a diagram, called the Argand diagram which illustrates both the real and the imaginary components
of a complex number.

Fig 1: The imaginary unit on an Argand diagram


Ex 8.1.1 Simplify and .
Note that 3 = 2 =
4 = 3 = 2 = 1
8.2

What are complex numbers?

Before we look into complex numbers, let us understand what real numbers and what imaginary
numbers are. Real numbers are numbers without an imaginary part, the coefficient of the imaginary unit
is zero.
For example, 5 = 5 + 0 and 7 = 7 + 0.
Conversely, imaginary numbers are numbers without a real part, the real part is zero.
For example, = 0 + and 4 = 0 + 4.
So, complex numbers are simply numbers with both a real and imaginary part. Some examples of
complex numbers are 1 + 2 and 3 .
Koh Joon Kit Jester

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Singapore A-Levels H2 Mathematics (9758) Lecture Notes


The general form of a complex number, is = + where and are non-zero real numbers.
The real part of a complex number is denoted by () which is equal to .
The imaginary part of a complex number is denoted by () which is equal to .
Two complex numbers are equal only if their real part and imaginary parts are equal.
Ex 8.2.1 Find the real part and the imaginary part of + + .
Firstly, we need to express this in the form of + .
2 + 2 + 3 = 2 + (1) + () = 1
Hence, (2 + 2 + 3 ) = 1 and (2 + 2 + 3 ) = 1
8.3

Basic Operations on Complex Numbers


(Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication)

Define two complex numbers as 1 = 1 + 1 and 2 = 2 + 2 . Thus, (1 ) = 1 , (1 ) = 1


and (2 ) = 2 and (2) = 2 .
Addition: 1 + 2 = (1 + 2 ) + (1 + 2 )
Subtraction: 1 2 = (1 2 ) + (1 2 )
Ex 8.3.1 Given that = + and = , simplify + and .
21 + 2 = 2(3 + 4) + 3 = 6 + 8 + 3 = 9 + 7
1 22 = 3 + 4 2(3 ) = 3 + 4 (6 2) = 3 + 4 6 + 2 = 3 + 6
Multiplication: 1 2 = (1 + 1 )(2 + 2 ) = 1 2 + (1 2 + 2 1 ) + 1 2 2
= (1 2 1 2 ) + (1 2 + 2 1 )
Basically, just perform basic expansion and simplify accordingly.
Ex 8.3.2 Given that = + and = , simplify and .
1 2 = (2 + )(1 3) = 2 6 + 3 2 = 5 5
22 = (1 3)2 = 12 2(1)(3) + (3)2 = 1 6 + 9 2 = 8 6
8.4

Complex conjugates and Division/Rationalization of Complex Numbers

The complex conjugate of a complex number is denoted by or .


A complex conjugate of a complex number is the number with equal real part and imaginary part equal
in magnitude but opposite in sign.
So if = + , then = .

Fig 2: Complex conjugates (reflections of each other in the real axis)


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Singapore A-Levels H2 Mathematics (9758) Lecture Notes


[Some Extra Content]
Some of the common properties of complex conjugates are:
If and are complex numbers,
1) + = +
2) =
3) =
4)

=( )

5) | | = || where is an integer
[Note]: These properties can be easily proven by letting = + and = + . Property 5 may be a
little harder to prove.
Division / Rationalization:

1
2

1 +1
2 +2

(1 2 + 1 2 ) + (2 1 1 2 )
22 + 22

1 +1
2 +2

2 2

2 2

(1 2 +1 2 )+(2 1 1 2 )
22 2 2

In essence, multiply the numerator and denominator by the complex conjugate of 2 i.e. 2.
Show that that + = () and = [()] + [()].
[Hint: Use the general form of a complex number to help you.]
Let = + and so = .
+ = + + = 2 = 2()
= ( + )( ) = 2 2 2 = 2 + 2 = [()]2 + [()]2
Ex 8.4.1

Ex 8.4.2

Find the real and imaginary part of the number

2 + 2 + 1 + (2 + )(1 + ) 2 + 2 + +
1 + 3
=

=
=
=
2
1 1 1+
1
2
2
2+
1
2+
3
( ) = and ( ) =
1
2
1
2

8.5

Quadratic Equations and the Quadratic Formula

A quadratic equation with real coefficients is commonly expressed as 2 + + = 0. In O-Levels


Additional Mathematics, you were taught that the discriminant of the equation 2 4 determines
whether the equation has real roots or no real roots (complex roots).
Let us look at the Quadratic Formula:
=

2 4
2

We see that if 2 4 < 0, we get the square root of a negative number which is an imaginary
number. In A-Level H2 Mathematics, we no longer dismiss this situation as no real roots but we can
identify them as complex roots.
Furthermore, if the coefficients of the quadratic equation are real, and if the discriminant is negative,
then the roots are complex conjugates of each other.
=

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2 4
2

or =

2 4
2

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Singapore A-Levels H2 Mathematics (9758) Lecture Notes


Solve the equation + + = .

Ex 8.5.1

Using the quadratic formula, =

222 4(1)(9)
2(1)

232
2

232
2

242
2

= 1 22

[Note: The roots are complex conjugates: = 1 22 and = 1 + 22 ]


One of the roots of + + = is , find the values of and , given that they
are real numbers.
The other root is 3 + 5. Thus, ( 3 + 5)( 3 5) = ( 3)2 (5)2 = 2 6 + 9 25 2
= 2 6 + 34
Hence, = 6 and = 34
[Another method would be to substitute = 3 5 into the equation.]
Ex 8.5.2

8.6

The complex conjugate root theorem

If we have a polynomial equation of real coefficients, then its complex roots are complex conjugates of
each other i.e. if = + is a root then = should also be a root.
[Some Extra Content]
Let () = + 1 1 + + 2 2 + 1 + 0 = 0
If 1 is a root of the equation i.e. (1 ) = 0
then 1 + 1 11 + + 2 12 + 1 1 + 0 = 0 which can be expressed as,

1 = 0
=0

Define

(1 ) = (1
=0

(1 )
=0

( )
=

= = 0 = 0
=

Thus, 1 is also a root of the equation.


[Note the highlighted parts of the proof relies on common properties of complex conjugates: () =
and + = + .]
Note/Recap:
If you do not understand the proof, just remember that if we have a polynomial equation of real
coefficients, then its complex roots are complex conjugates of each other i.e. if = + is a root
then = should also be a root.
End of Lecture Notes

Koh Joon Kit Jester

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