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Practical Applications of Imaginary Numbers

Date: 11/23/95 at 19:48:3
From: Anonymous
Subject: imaginary numbers

Dear Dr. Math,

I am having difficulty in finding incentives and practical applications 
for my students when I am required to teach them imaginary numbers.
What are the real life applications that would make this lesson more
meaningful to students?

Thank you for your help.
Bill Mitchell

Date: 11/28/95 at 15:35:37
From: Doctor Ken
Subject: Re: imaginary numbers


There are two main areas where I've seen imaginary numbers.  The 
first is fractals.  They're really cool, and if you want to be 
able to understand them, you have to know about imaginaries (although 
not all that much, really).  

The other main area I've seen imaginaries come in where you wouldn't 
really expect them (at first, anyway) is in Alternating Current 
circuits.  You use them to figure out phase shifts and stuff like that.  
It's pretty neat.

I think that the bottom line, though, is that imaginaries are just 
really cool, and that should be reason enough to learn about them.  I 
mean, it's just so neat to know that 

        i Pi
       e     + 1 = 0.


-Doctor Ken,  The Geometry Forum

Associated Topics:
Middle School Number Sense/About Numbers

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