Choosing the sign of x in sqrt( x^2 ) does not tell a mathematician which branch of the sqrt to choose.
Sqrt(4) has two values, -2 and 2. Corresponding to the roots of z^-4=0
Knowing the history of that 4 --- whether it was originally created by 2^2 or (-2)^2 -- does not tell you what branch of the square root to take.
Now some may say that the sqrt() notation applied to a positive real number "means" the positive real square root. Well, who can tell what someone who writes that down, really means. But if a computer program produces sqrt as the result of some algebraic computation, what does it mean then?
And whatever decision you make should generalize to cube roots (etc), as well as complex numbers.
|x| is just another, occasionally convenient but generally incorrect, hack for sqrt(x^2). To show that it is wrong, just draw a graph and see it is not differentiable. Or consider the meaning of sqrt given by a quadratic equation...
(z^2-y)=0 has (two) solutions z=sqrt(y) and z=-sqrt(y). Note that EITHER sqrt(y) works because we carry both solutions along with the answer.
How about (z^2-x^2)=0 then? z=|x| and z=-|x| are not the same solutions.
Furthermore |x| violates some really fundamental algebra. Like we all know that a*b=0 means either a=0 or b=0. We use it for solving equations. What do we do if it is false, sometimes?
Now draw a graph of y=x-|x|. Is it zero? No, because for negative x, y=-2x, although for x>=0, it looks like y=0. Similarly, draw a draw of y=x+|x|. It too is non-zero. Yet (x-|x|)*(x+|x|) = x^2 - |x|^2 = 0. (And no,that last statement is not flawed by branch cut interpretations or anything else). So we have a*b=0 .
Now it is possible to choose SOME root for radical expressions and try to do it in a consistent manner, but that doesn't mean the answer is the desired one. RADCAN in Maxima does this. Computations with RootOf( ) expressions can solve some problems, but clumsily. Using assumptions on the domain of the argument to determine a branch cut of the sqrt may sometimes be useful in "steering" the course of questionable transformations, but you should not be under the illusion that it is mathematically complete or even generally correct.
On 3/24/2013 4:39 AM, Nasser M. Abbasi wrote: > On 3/24/2013 5:26 AM, G. A. Edgar wrote: >> In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Nasser M. Abbasi >> <email@example.com> wrote: >> >> >>> >>> I think now that answer to sqrt(sec(x)^2) should be >>> |sec(x)| without need to give the branch. >> >> That answer is incorrect for complex x ... so to get that answer in >> Maple, you must assume x is real. >> >> simplify(%) assuming x::real; >> > > But I am using Maple 17? > > ----------------------------------- > ans:=simplify(sqrt(sec(x)^2)) assuming x::positive; > > 1 > -------- > |cos(x)| > > simplify(abs(sec(x))- ans); > 0 > > ------------------------------------- > > Unless x::positive implies x::real (since positive does > not apply to complex numbers). Is this what you meant? > I get same result using x::positive or x::real. > > So Maxima was wrong then: > > sqrt(sec(x)^2); > |sec(x)| > > No assumptions! > > thanks, > --Nasser