Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Re: In "square root of -1", should we say "minus 1" or "negative 1"?
Replies: 1   Last Post: Dec 2, 2012 6:46 PM

 Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
 GS Chandy Posts: 8,307 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

Date Subject Author
12/2/12 GS Chandy
12/2/12 Robert Hansen