<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Plotting a complex number on the complex plane

We cannot plot complex numbers on a number line as we might real numbers. However, we can still represent them graphically. To represent a complex number we need to address the two components of the number. We use the complex plane    , which is a coordinate system in which the horizontal axis represents the real component and the vertical axis represents the imaginary component. Complex numbers are the points on the plane, expressed as ordered pairs ( a , b ) , where a represents the coordinate for the horizontal axis and b represents the coordinate for the vertical axis.

Let’s consider the number −2 + 3 i . The real part of the complex number is −2 and the imaginary part is 3 i . We plot the ordered pair ( −2 , 3 ) to represent the complex number −2 + 3 i as shown in [link] .

Plot of a complex number, -2 + 3i. Note that the real part (-2) is plotted on the x-axis and the imaginary part (3i) is plotted on the y-axis.

Complex plane

In the complex plane , the horizontal axis is the real axis, and the vertical axis is the imaginary axis as shown in [link] .

The complex plane showing that the horizontal axis (in the real plane, the x-axis) is known as the real axis and the vertical axis (in the real plane, the y-axis) is known as the imaginary axis.

Given a complex number, represent its components on the complex plane.

  1. Determine the real part and the imaginary part of the complex number.
  2. Move along the horizontal axis to show the real part of the number.
  3. Move parallel to the vertical axis to show the imaginary part of the number.
  4. Plot the point.

Plotting a complex number on the complex plane

Plot the complex number 3 4 i on the complex plane.

The real part of the complex number is 3 , and the imaginary part is −4 i . We plot the ordered pair ( 3 , −4 ) as shown in [link] .

Plot of a complex number, 3 - 4i. Note that the real part (3) is plotted on the x-axis and the imaginary part (-4i) is plotted on the y-axis.
Got questions? Get instant answers now!
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Plot the complex number −4 i on the complex plane.

Graph of the plotted point, -4-i.
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Adding and subtracting complex numbers

Just as with real numbers, we can perform arithmetic operations on complex numbers. To add or subtract complex numbers, we combine the real parts and combine the imaginary parts.

Complex numbers: addition and subtraction

Adding complex numbers:

( a + b i ) + ( c + d i ) = ( a + c ) + ( b + d ) i

Subtracting complex numbers:

( a + b i ) ( c + d i ) = ( a c ) + ( b d ) i

Given two complex numbers, find the sum or difference.

  1. Identify the real and imaginary parts of each number.
  2. Add or subtract the real parts.
  3. Add or subtract the imaginary parts.

Adding complex numbers

Add 3 4 i and 2 + 5 i .

We add the real parts and add the imaginary parts.

( a + b i ) + ( c + d i ) = ( a + c ) + ( b + d ) i ( 3 4 i ) + ( 2 + 5 i ) = ( 3 + 2 ) + ( 4 + 5 ) i                               = 5 + i
Got questions? Get instant answers now!
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Subtract 2 + 5 i from 3 4 i .

( 3 4 i ) ( 2 + 5 i ) = 1 9 i

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Multiplying complex numbers

Multiplying complex numbers is much like multiplying binomials. The major difference is that we work with the real and imaginary parts separately.

Multiplying a complex numbers by a real number

Let’s begin by multiplying a complex number by a real number. We distribute the real number just as we would with a binomial. So, for example,

Showing how distribution works for complex numbers. For 3(6+2i), 3 is multiplied to both the real and imaginary parts. So we have (3)(6)+(3)(2i) = 18 + 6i.

Given a complex number and a real number, multiply to find the product.

  1. Use the distributive property.
  2. Simplify.

Multiplying a complex number by a real number

Find the product 4 ( 2 + 5 i ) .

Distribute the 4.

4 ( 2 + 5 i ) = ( 4 2 ) + ( 4 5 i ) = 8 + 20 i
Got questions? Get instant answers now!
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Find the product 4 ( 2 + 6 i ) .

8 24 i

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

The average annual population increase of a pack of wolves is 25.
Brittany Reply
how do you find the period of a sine graph
Imani Reply
Period =2π if there is a coefficient (b), just divide the coefficient by 2π to get the new period
Am
if not then how would I find it from a graph
Imani
by looking at the graph, find the distance between two consecutive maximum points (the highest points of the wave). so if the top of one wave is at point A (1,2) and the next top of the wave is at point B (6,2), then the period is 5, the difference of the x-coordinates.
Am
you could also do it with two consecutive minimum points or x-intercepts
Am
I will try that thank u
Imani
Case of Equilateral Hyperbola
Jhon Reply
ok
Zander
ok
Shella
f(x)=4x+2, find f(3)
Benetta
f(3)=4(3)+2 f(3)=14
lamoussa
14
Vedant
pre calc teacher: "Plug in Plug in...smell's good" f(x)=14
Devante
8x=40
Chris
Explain why log a x is not defined for a < 0
Baptiste Reply
the sum of any two linear polynomial is what
Esther Reply
divide simplify each answer 3/2÷5/4
Momo Reply
divide simplify each answer 25/3÷5/12
Momo
how can are find the domain and range of a relations
austin Reply
the range is twice of the natural number which is the domain
Morolake
A cell phone company offers two plans for minutes. Plan A: $15 per month and $2 for every 300 texts. Plan B: $25 per month and $0.50 for every 100 texts. How many texts would you need to send per month for plan B to save you money?
Diddy Reply
6000
Robert
more than 6000
Robert
can I see the picture
Zairen Reply
How would you find if a radical function is one to one?
Peighton Reply
how to understand calculus?
Jenica Reply
with doing calculus
SLIMANE
Thanks po.
Jenica
Hey I am new to precalculus, and wanted clarification please on what sine is as I am floored by the terms in this app? I don't mean to sound stupid but I have only completed up to college algebra.
rachel Reply
I don't know if you are looking for a deeper answer or not, but the sine of an angle in a right triangle is the length of the opposite side to the angle in question divided by the length of the hypotenuse of said triangle.
Marco
can you give me sir tips to quickly understand precalculus. Im new too in that topic. Thanks
Jenica
if you remember sine, cosine, and tangent from geometry, all the relationships are the same but they use x y and r instead (x is adjacent, y is opposite, and r is hypotenuse).
Natalie
it is better to use unit circle than triangle .triangle is only used for acute angles but you can begin with. Download any application named"unit circle" you find in it all you need. unit circle is a circle centred at origine (0;0) with radius r= 1.
SLIMANE
What is domain
johnphilip
the standard equation of the ellipse that has vertices (0,-4)&(0,4) and foci (0, -15)&(0,15) it's standard equation is x^2 + y^2/16 =1 tell my why is it only x^2? why is there no a^2?
Reena Reply
what is foci?
Reena Reply
This term is plural for a focus, it is used for conic sections. For more detail or other math questions. I recommend researching on "Khan academy" or watching "The Organic Chemistry Tutor" YouTube channel.
Chris
how to determine the vertex,focus,directrix and axis of symmetry of the parabola by equations
Bryssen Reply
Practice Key Terms 4

Get the best Precalculus course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Precalculus' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask