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Imaginary unit

The imaginary unit i is formally defined as the square root of –1, so

whatever that may be.

 


Explanation

This definition is clearly out of date, but is unfortunately still often used in school books. The current definition of the imaginary unit is

 


Example 1

The ascending powers of i give

Because i4 = 1 this continues with

and these values repeat themselves again and again.

 


History

The Italian mathematician Rafael Bombelli published the book L'ALgebra in 1572 where arithmetic with complex numbers was clearly explained.


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