Search All of the Math Forum:
Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by
NCTM or The Math Forum.


GS Chandy
Posts:
7,942
From:
Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered:
9/29/05


Re: In "square root of 1", should we say "minus 1" or "negative 1"?
Posted:
Dec 2, 2012 6:11 AM


I've always wondered why (and still do wonder why) we even have to call it the "square root of 1" at all [whether that's taken to be 'minus 1' or 'negative 1'].
Why not just call it, say, 'i'? [Which has the property i (x) i = 1].
Yes, it does indeed happen that i(squared) = 1  but so what? I don't believe there are any other consequences.
Then, we can define 'complex numbers' as 'entities' consisting of a combination of real numbers and real numbers (x)i. And also: just do away with the '+' sign in a complex number.
The complex number is simply: (a, ib)  and it obeys all the necessary rules for us to be able to treat it as a mathematically meaningful object.
Experts in pedagogy might like to investigate and pronounce on this suggestion.
I have not explored this idea in depth  but it might well serve to reduce (in some small measure at least), the difficulties of students struggling with the *complexification of thought* brought on by 'complex numbers' and 'imaginary numbers', etc. I seem to recall several of my classmates in school actually reduced to tears by complex number arithmetic!
Now, here is what I believe is a real 'pedagogical issue related to math'  of the kind that Haim claims does not exist!
GSC ("Still Shoveling Away!")
Message was edited by: GS Chandy



