Anda di halaman 1dari 73

Sistem nombor

The Evolution of Numbers

I want to take you on an


adventure ...

... an adventure
through the world of
numbers.

Let us start at the beginning:

Q: What is the simplest idea of a number?

A: Something to count with!

The Counting Numbers


We can use numbers to count: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc

Humans have been using numbers to count with for thousands of years. It is a very
natural thing to do.

You can have "3 friends",


a field can have "6 cows"
and so on.

So we have:

Counting Numbers: {1, 2, 3, ...}

And the "Counting Numbers" satisfied people for a long time.


Zero
The idea of zero , though natural to us now, was not natural to early humans ... if there is
nothing to count, how can you count it?

Example: you can count dogs, but you can't count an empty space:

Two Dogs Zero Dogs? Zero Cats?

An empty patch of grass is just an empty patch of grass!

Placeholder

But about 3,000 years ago people needed to tell the difference between numbers
like 4 and 40.Without the zero they look the same!

So they used a "placeholder", a space or special symbol, to show "there are no digits
here"

So "5 2" meant "502"


52
(5 hundreds, nothing for the tens, and 2 units)

The idea of zero had begun, but it wasn't for another thousand years or so that people
started thinking of it as an actual number.

But now we can think

"I had 3 oranges, then I ate the 3 oranges, now I have zero oranges...!"

The Whole Numbers


So, let us add zero to the counting numbers to make a new set of numbers.
But we need a new name, and that name is "Whole Numbers":

Whole Numbers : {0, 1, 2, 3, ...}

The Natural
Numbers
You may also hear the term "Natural Numbers" ... which can mean:

the "Counting Numbers": {1, 2, 3, ...}


or the "Whole Numbers": {0, 1, 2, 3, ...}

depending on the subject. I guess they disagree on whether zero is "natural" or not.

Negative Numbers
But the history of mathematics is all about people asking questions, and seeking the
answers!

One of the good questions to ask is

"if you can go one way, can you go the opposite way?"

We can count forwards: 1, 2, 3, 4, ...

... but what if we count backwards:

3, 2, 1, 0, ... what happens next?

The answer is: you get negative numbers:


Now we can go forwards and
backwards as far as we want

But how can a number be


"negative"?

By simply being less than zero.

A simple example is temperature .

We define zero degrees Celsius (0 C) to be when water


freezes ... but if we get colder we need negative
temperatures.

So -20 C is 20 below Zero.

Negative Cows?

And in theory you can have a negative cow!

Think about this ...If you had just sold two bulls, but
can only find one to hand over to the new owner... you
actually have minus one bull ... you are in debt one
bull!

So negative numbers exist, and we're going to need a new set of numbers to include
them ...

Integers
If we include the negative numbers with the whole numbers, we have a new set of
numbers that are called integers

Integers: {..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...}

The Integers include zero, the counting numbers, and the negative of the counting
numbers, to make a list of numbers that stretch in either direction indefinitely.

Fractions

If you have one orange and want to share it with someone, you need
to cut it in half.

You have just invented a new type of number!

You took a number (1) and divided by another number (2) to come up with half (1/2)

The same thing would have happened if you had four biscuits (4) and needed to share
them among three people (3) ... they would get (4/3) biscuits each.

A new type of number, and a new name:

Rational Numbers
Any number that can be written as a fraction is called a Rational Number.
So, if "p" and "q" are integers (remember we talked about integers), then p/q is a rational
number.

Example: If p is 3 and q is 2, then:

p/q = 3/2 = 1.5 is a rational number

The only time this doesn't work is when q is zero, because dividing by zero is
undefined.

Rational Numbers : {p/q : p and q are integers, q is not zero}

So half () is a rational number.

And 2 is a rational number also, because you could write it as 2/1

So, Rational Numbers include:

all the integers


and all fractions.

Even a number like 13.3168980325 is a Rational Number.

13.3168980325 = 133,168,980,325 / 10,000,000,000

That would seem to include all possible numbers, right?

But There Is More


People didn't stop asking the questions ...and here is one that caused a lot of fuss during
the time of Pythagoras:
If you draw a square (of size "1"), what is the distance
across the diagonal?

The answer is the square root of 2, which is 1.4142135623730950...(etc)

But it is not a number like 3, or five-thirds, or anything like that ...

... in fact you cannot answer that question using a ratio of two integers

square root of 2 p/q

... and so it is not a rational number (read more here )

Wow! There are numbers that are NOT rational numbers! What do we call them?

What is "Not Rational" ...? Irrational !

Irrational Numbers
So, the square root of 2 (2) is an irrational number. It is called irrational because it is
not rational (can't be made using a simple ratio of integers). It isn't crazy or anything, just
not rational.

And we know there are many more irrational numbers. Pi () is a famous one.

Useful

So irrational numbers are useful. You need them to

find the diagonal distance across some squares,


to work out lots of calculations with circles (using ),
and more,

So we really should include them.

And so, we introduce a new set of numbers ...

Real Numbers
That's right, another name!

Real Numbers include:

the rational numbers, and


the irrational numbers

Real Numbers: {x : x is a rational or an irrational number}

In fact a Real Number can be thought of as any point anywhere on the number line:

This only shows a few decimal places (it is just a simple computer)
but Real Numbers can have lots more decimal places!

Any point Anywhere on the number line, that is surely enough numbers!

But there is one more number which has turned out to be very useful. And once again, it
came from a question.
Imagine ...
The question is:

"is there a square root of minus one?"

In other words, what can you multiply by itself to get -1?

Think about this: if you multiply any number by itself you can't get a negative result:

11 = 1,
and also (-1)(-1) = 1 (because a negative times a negative gives a
positive)

So what number, when multiplied by itself, would result in -1?

This would normally not be possible, but ...

"if you can imagine it, then you can play with it"

So, ...

Imaginary Numbers

... let us just imagine that the square root of minus one exists.

We can even give it a special symbol: the letter i

And we can use it to answer questions:

Example: what is the square root of -9 ?


Answer: (-9) = (9 -1) = (9) (-1) = 3 (-1) = 3i

OK, the answer still involves i, but it gives a sensible and consistent answer.

And i has this interesting property that if you square it (ii) you get -1 which is back to
being a Real Number. In fact that is the correct definition:

Imaginary Number : A number whose square is a negative Real Number.

And i (the square root of -1) times any Real Number is an Imaginary Number. So these
are all Imaginary Numbers:

3i
-6i
0.05i
i

There are also many applications for Imaginary Numbers, for example in the fields of
electricity and electronics.

Real vs Imaginary Numbers


Imaginary Numbers were originally laughed at, and so got the name "imaginary". And
Real Numbers got their name to distinguish them from the Imaginary Numbers.

So the names are just a historical thing. Real Numbers aren't "in the Real World" (in fact,
try to find exactly half of something in the real world!) and Imaginary Numbers aren't
"just in the Imagination" ... they are both valid and useful types of Numbers!

In fact they are often used together ...

"what if you put a Real Number and an Imaginary Number together?"


Complex Numbers
Yes, if you put a Real Number and an Imaginary Number together you get a new type of
number called a Complex Number and here are some examples:

3 + 2i
27.2 - 11.05i

A Complex Number has a Real Part and an Imaginary Part, but either one could be zero

So a Real Number is also a Complex Number (with an imaginary part of 0):

4 is a Complex Number (because it is 4 + 0i)

and likewise an Imaginary Number is also a Complex Number (with a real


part of 0):

7i is a Complex Number (because it is 0 + 7i)

So the Complex Numbers include all Real Numbers and all Imaginary Numbers, and all
combinations of them.

And that's it!

That's all of the most important number types in mathematics.

From the Counting Numbers through to the Complex Numbers.

There are other types of numbers, because mathematics is a broad subject, but that
should do you for now.

Summary
Here they are again:
Type of Number Quick Description

Counting Numbers {1, 2, 3, ...}

Whole Numbers {0, 1, 2, 3, ...}

Integers {..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...}

Rational Numbers p/q : p and q are integers, q is not zero

Irrational Numbers Not Rational

Real Numbers Rationals and Irrationals

Imaginary Numbers Squaring them gives a negative Real Number


Complex Numbers Combinations of Real and Imaginary Numbers

End Notes

History

The history of mathematics is very broad, with different cultures (Greeks, Romans,
Arabic, Chinese, Indians and European) following different paths, and many claims
for "we thought of it first!", but the general order of discovery I discussed here gives a
good idea of it.

Prime Numbers and Composite


Numbers
A Prime Number can be divided evenly only by 1 or itself.
And it must be a whole number greater than 1.

Example: 7 can only be divided evenly by 1 or 7, so


it is a prime number.

But 6 can be divided evenly by 1, 2, 3 and 6 so it is NOT a prime number (it is a


composite number).

Let me explain ...

Some whole numbers can be divided up evenly, and some can't!

Example:

6 can be divided evenly by 2, or by 3:

6=23

Like this:

or

divided into 2 groups divided into 3 groups


But 7 cannot be divided up evenly:

And we give them names:

When a number can be divided


up evenly it is a Composite Number

When a number can not be divided up evenly it is a Prime Number

So 6 is Composite, but 7 is Prime.

And that explains it ... but there are some more details ...

Not Into Fractions


We are only dealing with whole numbers here! We are not going to cut things into halves
or quarters.

Not Into Groups of 1


OK, we could have divided 7 into seven 1s (or one 7) like this:
7=1x7

But we could do that for any whole number!

So we should also say we are not interested in dividing by 1, or by the number itself.

It is a Prime Number when it can't be divided evenly by any number


(except 1 or itself).

Example: is 7 a Prime Number or Composite Number?

We cannot divid
e 7 evenly by 2
(we get 2 lots of
3, with one left over)
We cannot divide 7 evenly by 3 (we get 3 lots of 2, with one left over)
We cannot divide 7 evenly by 4, or 5, or 6.

We can only divide 7 into one group of 7 (or seven groups of 1):
7=1x7

So 7 can only be divided evenly by 1 or itself:

So 7 is a Prime Number

And also:

It is a Composite Number when it can be divided evenly


by numbers other than 1 or itself.

Like this:

Example: is 6 a Prime Number or Composite Number?

6 can be divided evenly by 2, or by 3, as well as by 1 or 6:

6=16
6=23
So 6 is a Composite Number

Sometimes a number can be divided evenly many ways:

Example: 12 can be divided evenly by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12:

1 12 = 12
2 6 = 12
3 4 = 12

So 12 is a Composite Number

And note this:

Any whole number greater than 1 is either Prime or Composite

What About 1?
Years ago 1 was included as a Prime, but now it is not:

1 is neither Prime nor Composite.

Factors
We can also define a Prime Number using factors.
"Factors" are numbers we
multiply
together to get another number.

And we have:

When the only two factors of a number are 1 and the number,
then it is a Prime Number

It means the same as our previous definition, just stated using factors.

And remember this is only about Whole Numbers (1, 2, 3, ... etc), not fractions or
negative numbers. So don't say "I could multiply times 6 to get 3" OK?

Examples:

3=13
Prime
(the only factors are 1 and 3)

6 = 1 6 or 6 = 2 3
Composite
(the factors are 1,2,3 and 6)

Examples From 1 to 14
Factors other than 1 or the number itself are highlighted :

Can be Evenly Prime, or


Number
Divided By Composite?

1 (1 is not considered prime or composite)

2 1, 2 Prime

3 1, 3 Prime
4 1, 2, 4 Composite

5 1, 5 Prime

6 1, 2, 3, 6 Composite

7 1, 7 Prime

8 1, 2, 4, 8 Composite

9 1, 3, 9 Composite

10 1, 2, 5, 10 Composite

11 1, 11 Prime

12 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 12 Composite

13 1, 13 Prime

14 1, 2, 7, 14 Composite

... ... ...

So when there are more factors than 1 or the number itself, the number is Composite.

A question for you: is 15 Prime or Composite?

Why All the Fuss about Prime and Composite?


Because we can "break apart" Composite Numbers into Prime Number factors.

It is like the Prime Numbers are the basic building blocks of all numbers.

And the Composite Numbers are made up of Prime Numbers multiplied


together.

Here we see it in action:


2 is Prime, 3 is Prime, 4 is
Composite (=22), 5 is Prime,
and so on...

Example: 12 is made by multiplying the prime numbers 2, 2 and 3 together.

12 = 2 2 3

The number 2 was repeated, which is OK.

In fact we can write it like this using the exponent of 2:

12 = 22 3

And that is why they are called "Composite" Numbers because composite
means "something made by combining things"

This idea is so important it is called The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic .

There are many puzzles in mathematics that can be solved more easily when we "break
up" the Composite Numbers into their Prime Number factors. A lot of internet security is
based on mathematics using prime numbers.
Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic

The Basic Idea


The Basic Idea is that any integer above 1 is either a Prime Number , or can be made
bymultiplying Prime Numbers together. Like this:

This continues on:

10 is 25
11 is Prime,
12 is 223
13 is Prime
14 is 27
15 is 35
16 is 2222
17 is Prime
etc...

So they are either prime, or primes multiplied together

Read on for an explanation ...

The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic


Let us start with the definition:

Any integer greater than 1 is either a prime number, or can be written as


a unique product of prime numbers (ignoring the order).

What does it mean?


Let's build up the ideas piece by piece:

"Any integer greater than 1" means the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... etc.

A Prime Number is a number that cannot be evenly divided by any other number
(except 1 or itself).

The first few prime numbers are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, ... ( and more )

"...product of prime numbers" means that we multiply prime numbers together.

So, by multiplying prime numbers we can create any other whole number.

Example: 42

Can we make 42 by multiplying only prime numbers? Let's see:

2 3 7 = 42

Yes, 2, 3 and 7 are prime numbers, and when multiplied together they make 42.
Try some other examples for yourself. How about 30? Or 33?

It is like the Prime Numbers are the basic building blocks of all numbers.

"... unique product of prime numbers" means there is only one (unique!) set of prime
numbers that will work

Example: we just showed that 42 is made by the prime numbers 2, 3 and 7:

2 3 7 = 42

No other prime numbers would work!

We could try 2 3 5, or 5 11, but none of them will work:

Only 2, 3 and 7 make 42


So there you have it!
Any of the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, ... etc are either prime numbers, or can be
made by multiplying prime numbers together.

And there is only one (unique) set of prime numbers that works in each case.

More examples:

Example: 7

7 is already a prime number

Example: 22

22 can be made by multiplying the prime numbers 2 and 11 together.

2 11 = 22

No other combination of prime numbers would work.

Ignore the Order


Also, at the top I said "ignoring the order". By that I mean:

2 11 = 22 is the same as
11 2 = 22

So don't just rearrange the numbers and say "it isn't unique", OK?
Repeated Numbers
We may have to repeat a prime number!

Example: 12 is made by multiplying the prime numbers 2, 2 and 3 together.

12 = 2 2 3

That is OK. In fact we can write it like this:

12 = 22 3

It is still a unique combination (2, 2 and 3)

(Note: 4 3 does not work, as 4 is not a prime number)

The First Few


2 Is a Prime

3 Is a Prime

4 = 22 = 22

5 Is a Prime

6 = 23

7 Is a Prime

8 = 222 = 23
9 = 33 = 32

10 = 25

11 Is a Prime

12 = 223 = 223

13 Is a Prime

14 = 27

... ...

Why not continue this list to 100 as an exercise ...

Summary
The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic is like a "guarantee"
that any integer greater than 1
is either prime
or can be made by multiplying prime numbers

and

There is only way to do that in each case

Whole Numbers and Integers


Whole Numbers
Whole Numbers are simply the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (and so on)

No Fractions!

Counting Numbers
Counting Numbers are Whole Numbers, but without the zero. Because you can't
"count" zero .
So they are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (and so on).

Natural Numbers
"Natural Numbers" can mean either "Counting Numbers" {1, 2, 3, ...}, or "Whole
Numbers" {0, 1, 2, 3, ...}, depending on the subject.

Integers
Integers are like whole numbers, but they also include negative numbers ... but still no
fractions allowed!

So, integers can be negative {-1,


-2,-3, -4, -5, }, positive {1, 2,
3, 4, 5, }, or zero {0}

We can put that all together like


this:
Integers = { ..., -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... }

Example, these are all integers:

-16, -3, 0, 1, 198

(But numbers like , 1.1 and 3.5 are not integers)

Confusing
Just to be confusing, some people say that whole numbers can also be negative, so that
would make them exactly the same as integers. And sometimes people say that zero is
NOT a whole number. So there you go, not everyone agrees on a simple thing!

My Standard
I must admit that sometimes I say "negative whole number", but usually I stick to:

Name Numbers Examples


Whole Numbers { 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, } 0, 27, 398, 2345
Counting Numbers { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, } 1, 18, 27, 2061
Integers { ... -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, } -15, 0, 27, 1102

But nobody disagrees on the definition of an integer, so when in doubt say "integer", and
if you only want positive integers, say "positive integers". It is not only accurate, it makes
you sound intelligent. Like this (note: zero is neither positive nor negative):

Integers = { ..., -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... }


Negative Integers = { ..., -5, -4, -3, -2, -1 }
Positive Integers = { 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... }
Non-Negative Integers = { 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... } (includes zero, see?)
Other Numbers
For an interesting look at other types of numbers read The Evolution of Numbers

Rational Numbers
A Rational Number is a real number that can be written as a simple fraction (i.e. as
a ratio).

Example:

1.5 is a rational number because 1.5 = 3/2 (it can be written as a fraction)

Here are some more examples:

Number As a Fraction Rational?

5 5/1 Yes

1.75 7/4 Yes

.001 1/1000 Yes

-0.1 -1/10 Yes

0.111... 1/9 Yes

2
? NO !
(square root of 2)
Oops! The square root of 2 cannot be written as a simple fraction! And there are many
more such numbers, and because they are not rational they are called Irrational .

Another famous irrational number is Pi ( ) :

Formal Definition
of Rational
Number
More formally we would say:

A rational number is a number that can be in the form p/q


where p and q are integers and q is not equal to zero.

So, a rational number can be:

p
q

Where q is not zero

Examples:
p q p/q =

1 1 1/1 1

1 2 1/2 0.5

55 100 55/100 0.55

100
1 1/1000 0.001
0

253 10 253/10 25.3


7 0 7/0 No! "q" can't be zero!

Using Rational Numbers

If a rational number is still in the form "p/q" it can be a little difficult to


use, so I have a special page on how to:

Add, Subtract, Multiply and Divide Rational Numbers

Pythagoras' Student

The ancient greek mathematician Pythagoras believed that all numbers were
rational (could be written as a fraction), but one of his
students Hippasus proved (using geometry, it is thought) that you
could not represent the square root of 2 as a fraction, and so it was irrational.

However Pythagoras could not accept the existence of irrational numbers,


because he believed that all numbers had perfect values. But he could not
disprove Hippasus'"irrational numbers" and so Hippasus was thrown
overboard and drowned!
Using Rational Numbers
How to add, subtract, multiply and divide rational numbers

A rational number is a number that can be written as a simple fraction (i.e. as a ratio).

Examples:
Number As a Fraction

5 5/1

1.75 7/4

.001 1/1000

0.111... 1/9

In general ...
So a rational number looks like this:

p/q

But q cannot be zero, as that would be dividing by zero .

How to Add, Subtract, Multiply and Divide


When the rational number is something simple like 3, or 0.001, then just use mental
arithmetic, or your calculator!

But when it is in p / q form? Read on to find how to handle it.

A rational number is a fraction , so we could also refer to:


Adding Fractions,
Subtracting Fractions,
Multiplying Fractions and
Dividing Fractions

But here we will see those operations in a more Algebra -like


way.

You might also like to read Fractions in Algebra .

We will start with multiplication, as that is the easiest.

Multiplication
To multiply two rational numbers multiply the tops and bottoms separately, like this:

Here is an example:
Division
To divide two rational numbers, first flip the second number over (make it a reciprocal)
and then do a multiply like above:

Here is an example:
Addition and Subtraction
We will cover Addition and Subtraction in one go, as they are the same method.

Before we add or subtract, the rational numbers should have the same bottom
number (called a Common Denominator ).

The easiest way to do this is to

Multiply both parts of each number by the bottom part of the other

Like this (note that the dot means multiply):

Here is an example of addition:

And an example of subtraction (the middle step is skipped to make it quicker):


Simplest Form
Sometimes we will have a rational number like:

1
0

1
5

But that is not as simple as it can be!

We can actually divide both top and bottom by 5 to get:

1 =
2
0
1
3
5

Now it is in the "simplest form", which is how most people want it!

Be Careful With "Mixed Fractions"


We may be tempted to write an Improper Fraction (a fraction that is "top-heavy", i.e.
where the top number is bigger then the bottom number) as a Mixed Fraction :

For example 7/4 = 1 3/4, shown here:

Mixed

Improper Fraction Fraction


7/4 1 3/4
=

But for mathematics the "Improper" form (such as 7/4) is actually better.

Because Mixed fractions (such as 1 3/4) can be confusing when you write them down in a
formula, as it can look like a multiplication:
Mixed Fraction: What is: 1 + 2 1/4 ?
Is it: 1 + 2 + 1/4 = 3 1/4 ?
Or is it: 1 + 2 1/4 = 1 1/2 ?

Improper Fraction: What is: 1 + 9/4 ?


4/4 + 9/4 = 13/4

It is:

So try to use the Improper Fraction when doing mathematics.

Irrational Numbers
An Irrational Number is a real number that cannot be written as a simple fraction.

Irrational means not Rational

Examples:

Rational Numbers

OK. A Rational Number can


be written as a Ratio of two
integers (ie a simple fraction).
Example: 1.5 is rational, because it can be written as the ratio 3/2

Example: 7 is rational, because it can be written as the ratio 7/1

Example 0.333... (3 repeating) is also rational, because it can be written as the


ratio 1/3

Irrational Numbers

But some numbers cannot be written as a ratio of two integers ...

...they are called Irrational Numbers.

It is irrational because it cannot be written as a ratio (or fraction),


not because it is crazy!

Example: (Pi) is a famous irrational number.


= 3.1415926535897932384626433832795 (and more...)

You cannot write down a simple fraction that equals Pi.

The popular approximation of 22/7 = 3.1428571428571... is close but not


accurate.

Another clue is that the decimal goes on forever without repeating.

Rational vs Irrational
So you can tell if it is Rational or Irrational by trying to write the number as a simple
fraction.

Example: 9.5 can be written as a simple fraction like


this:

9.5 = 19/2

So it is a rational number (and so is not irrational)

Here are some more examples:

Rational or
Number As a Fraction
Irrational?

1.75 7/4 Rational

.001 1/1000 Rational


2
? Irrational !
(square root of 2)

Square Root of 2
Let's look at the square root of 2 more closely.

If you draw a square of size "1",


what is the distance across the diagonal?

The answer is the square root of 2, which is 1.4142135623730950...(etc)

But it is not a number like 3, or five-thirds, or anything like that ...

... in fact you cannot write the square root of 2 using a ratio of two numbers

... I explain why on the Is It Irrational? page,

... and so we know it is an irrational number

Famous Irrational Numbers


Pi is a famous irrational number. People have calculated Pi
to over a quadrillion decimal places and still there is no
pattern. The first few digits look like this:

3.1415926535897932384626433832795 (and more ...)

The number e ( Euler's Number ) is another famous


irrational number. People have also calculated e to lots of
decimal places without any pattern showing. The first few
digits look like this:

2.7182818284590452353602874713527 (and more ...)

The Golden Ratio is an irrational number. The first few


digits look like this:

1.61803398874989484820... (and more ...)

Many square roots, cube roots, etc are also irrational


numbers. Examples:

3 1.7320508075688772935274463415059
(etc)

99 9.9498743710661995473447982100121
(etc)

But 4 = 2 (rational), and 9 = 3 (rational) ...


... so not all roots are irrational.

Note on Multiplying Irrational Numbers

Have a look at this:

= 2 is irrational
But 2 2 = 2 is rational

So be careful ... multiplying irrational numbers might result in a rational number!

History of Irrational Numbers


Apparently Hippasus (one of Pythagoras' students) discovered irrational numbers when
trying to represent the square root of 2 as a fraction (using geometry, it is thought).
Instead he proved you couldn't write the square root of 2 as a fraction and so it
was irrational.

However Pythagoras could not accept the existence of irrational numbers, because he
believed that all numbers had perfect values. But he could not
disprove Hippasus' "irrational numbers" and so Hippasus was thrown overboard and
drowned!

Is this really true?


The idea is that 0.9 recurring
(0.999..., with the digits going on forever)
is actually equal to 1
(Here we write 0.999... as notation for 0.9 recurring,
the correct way is to put a little dot above the 9, or a line on top like this: 0.9)

Does 0.999... = 1 ?

Let X = 0.999...
Then 10X = 9.999...

Subtract X from each side to give us:

9X = 9.999... - X

but we know that X is 0.999..., so:

9X = 9.999... - 0.999...
or: 9X = 9

Divide both sides by 9:

X=1

But hang on a moment I thought we said X was equal to 0.999... ?

Yes, it does, but from our calculations X is also equal to 1. So:

X = 0.999... = 1

So 0.999... = 1

Does anyone disagree with this? Let me know on the Math is Fun Forum.
Real Numbers
Real Numbers are just numbers like:

1 12.38 -0.8625 3/4 2 198

In fact:

Nearly any number you can think of is a Real Number

Real Numbers include:


Whole Numbers (like 0,1,2,3,4, etc)

Rational Numbers (like 3/4, 0.125, 0.333..., 1.1, etc )


Irrational Numbers (like , 3, etc )

Real Numbers can also be positive, negative or zero.

So ... what is NOT a Real Number?


Imaginary Numbers like -1 (the square root of minus 1)
are not Real Numbers

Infinity is not a Real Number

And there are also some special numbers that mathematicians play with that aren't Real
Numbers.

Why are they called "Real" Numbers?

Because they are not Imaginary Numbers .


The Real Numbers did not have a name before Imaginary Numbers were thought of.
They got called "Real" because they were not Imaginary. That is the actual answer!

The Real Number Line


The Real Number Line is like a geometric line .

A point is chosen on the line to be the "origin", points to the right will be positive, and
points to the left will be negative.

A distance is chosen to be "1",


then whole numbers can be
marked off: {1,2,3,...}, and also
in the negative direction: {-1,-2,-
3, ...}

Any point on the line is a Real Number:

The numbers could be whole (like 7)


or rational (like 20/9)
or irrational (like )

But you won't find Infinity, or an Imaginary Number.

Real does not mean they are in the real world

They are not called "Real"


because they show the value of
something real.
In mathematics we like our numbers pure, when we write 0.5 we mean exactly half, but
in the real world half may not be exact (try cutting an apple exactly in half).

Imaginary Numbers

An Imaginary Number, when squared, gives a negative result.

Try
Let's try squaring some numbers to see if we can get a negative result:

22=4

(-2) (-2) = 4 (because a negative times a negative gives a positive)

00=0

0.1 0.1 = 0.01

No luck! Always positive, or zero.

It seems like we cannot multiply a number by itself to get a negative answer ...

... but imagine that there is such a number (call it i for


imaginary) that could do this:

i i = -1
Would it be useful, and what could we do with it?

Well, by taking the square root of both sides we get this:

Which means that i is the answer to the square root of -1.

Which is actually very useful because ...

... by simply accepting that i exists we can solve things


that need the square root of a negative number.

Let us have a go:

Example: What is the square root of -9 ?

Answer: = (9 -1) = (9) (-1) = 3 (-1) = 3i

(see how to simplify square roots )

Hey! that was interesting! The square root of -9 is simply the square root of +9, times i.

In general:

(-x) = ix

So long as we keep that little "i" there to remind us that we still


need to multiply by -1 we are safe to continue with our solution!

Using i we can also come up with new solutions:

Example: Solve x 2 = -1
Using Real Numbers there is no solution, but now we can solve it:

Answer: x = -1 = i

Unit Imaginary Number


The "unit" Imaginary Number (the equivalent of 1 for Real Numbers)
is (-1)(the square root of minus one).

In mathematics we use i (for imaginary) but in electronics they


use j (because "i" already means current, and the next letter after i is j).

Examples of Imaginary Numbers


i 12.38i -i 3i/4 0.01i -i/2

Imaginary Numbers are not "Imaginary"


Imaginary Numbers were once thought to be impossible, and so they were called
"Imaginary" (to make fun of them).

But then people researched them more and discovered they were
actually useful and importantbecause they filled a gap in mathematics ... but the
"imaginary" name has stuck.
And that is also how the name " Real Numbers " came about (real is not imaginary).

Imaginary Numbers are Useful


Here are 2 cases where they are useful:

Electricity

AC (Alternating Current) Electricity changes between positive and


negative in a sine wave .

When we combine two AC currents they may not match properly,


and it can bevery hard to figure out the new current.

But using imaginary numbers and real numbers together makes it a lot easier to do the
calculations.

And the result may be "Imaginary" current, but it could still hurt you!

Quadratic Equation

The Quadratic Equation can


give results that include
imaginary numbers
Interesting Property
The Unit Imaginary Number, i, has an interesting property. It "cycles" through 4 different
values each time we multiply:

i i = -1,
then -1 i = -i,
then -i i = 1,

then 1 i = i (back to i again!)

So we have this:

i = -1 i2 = -1 i3 = --1 i4 = 1 i5 = -1 ...etc

Example What is i 6 ?

i6 = i4 i2
= 1 -1
= -1

Conclusion

The unit imaginary number, i,


equals the square root of minus 1
Imaginary Numbers are not "imaginary", they really exist, and you may need to use them
one day.

Complex Numbers
A Complex Number is a combination of:

a Real Number

Real Numbers are just numbers like:

1 12.38 -0.8625 3/4 2 1998

Nearly any number you can think of is a Real Number

and an Imaginary Number

Imaginary Numbers are special because:

When squared , they give a negative result.

Normally this doesn't happen, because:

when we square a positive number we get a positive result, and


when we square a negative number we also get a positive result (because a
negative times a negative gives a positive)

But just imagine there is such a number, because we will need it!

The "unit" imaginary number (like 1 for Real Numbers) is i, which is the square root
of -1

(Read Imaginary Numbers to find out more.)

A Combination
So we have this definition:

A Complex Number is a combination of a Real Number and an Imaginary


Number

Examples:

1+i 39 + 3i 0.8 - 2.2i -2 + i 2 + i/2


Can a Number be a Combination of Two Numbers?

Can we make up a number from two other numbers? Sure we can!

We do it with fractions all the time. The fraction 3/8 is a number


made up of a 3 and an 8. We know it means "3 of 8 equal parts".

Well, a Complex Number is just two numbers added together (a Real and an Imaginary
Number).

Either Part Can Be Zero


So, a Complex Number has a real part and an imaginary part.

But either part can be 0, so all Real Numbers and Imaginary Numbers are also Complex
Numbers.

Complex
Real Part Imaginary Part
Number

3 + 2i 3 2

5 5 0

-6i 0 -6

Complicated?

Complex does not mean complicated.


It means the two types of numbers, real and imaginary, together form
acomplex, just like a building complex (buildings joined together).

Adding
To add two complex numbers we add each element separately:

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

Example: (3 + 2i) + (1 + 7i) = (4 + 9i)

Multiplying
To multiply complex numbers:

Each part of the first complex number gets multiplied by


each part of the second complex number

Just use "FOIL", which stands for "Firsts, Outers, Inners, Lasts" (see Binomial
Multiplication for more details):

Firsts: a c
Outers: a di
Inners: bi c

Lasts: bi di

(a+bi)(c+di) = ac + adi + bci + bdi2

Like this:

Example: (3 + 2i)(1 + 7i)


(3 + 2i)(1 + 7i) = 31 + 37i + 2i1+ 2i7i
= 3 + 21i + 2i + 14i2
= 3 + 21i + 2i - 14 (because i2 = -1)
= -11 + 23i

And this:

Example: (1 + i) 2

(1 + i)2 = (1 + i)(1 + i) = 11 + 1i + 1i + i2
= 1 + 2i - 1 (because i2 = -1)
= 0 + 2i

But There is a Quicker Way!

Use this rule:

(a+bi)(c+di) = (ac-bd) + (ad+bc)i

Example: (3 + 2i)(1 + 7i) = (31 - 27) + (37 + 21)i = -11 + 23i

Why Does That Rule Work?

It is just the "FOIL" method after a little work:

(a+bi)(c+di) = ac + adi + bci + bdi2 FOIL method


= ac + adi + bci - bd (because i2=-1)
= (ac - bd) + (ad + bc)i (gathering like terms)

And there we have the (ac - bd) + (ad + bc)i pattern.

This rule is certainly faster, but if you forget it, just remember the FOIL method.

Let us try i2
Just for fun, let's use the method to calculate i2

Example: i 2

i can also be written with a real and imaginary part as 0 + i

i2 = (0 + i)2 = (0 + i)(0 + i)
= (00 - 11) + (01 + 10)i
= -1 + 0i
= -1

And that agrees nicely with the definition that i2 = -1

So it all works nicely!

Learn more at Complex Number Multiplication .

Complex Plane
We can also put complex numbers on a Complex Plane .

The Real part goes left-right

The Imaginary part goes up-down

Conjugates
A conjugate is where we change the sign in the middle like this:
A conjugate is often written with
a bar over it:

Example:

5 - 3i = 5 + 3i

Dividing
The conjugate is used to help division.

The trick is to multiply both top and bottom by the conjugate of the bottom.

Example: Do this Division:

2 + 3i

4 - 5i

Multiply top and bottom by the conjugate of 4 - 5i :

2 + 3i 4 + 5i 8 + 10i + 12i + 15i2


=
4 - 5i 4 + 5i 16 + 20i - 20i - 25i2

Now remember that i2 = -1, so:


8 + 10i + 12i - 15
=
16 + 20i - 20i + 25

Add Like Terms (and notice how on the bottom 20i - 20i cancels out!):

-7 + 22i
=
41

We should then put the answer back into a + bi form:

-7 22
= + i
41 41

DONE!

Yes, there is a bit of calculation to do. But it can be done.

Multiplying By the Conjugate


We can save a little bit of time, though.

In that example, what happened on the bottom was interesting:

(4 - 5i)(4 + 5i) = 16 + 20i - 20i - 25i2

The middle terms cancel out!


And since i2=-1 we ended up with this:
(4 - 5i)(4 + 5i) = 42 + 52

Which is really quite a simple result

In fact we can write a general rule like this:

(a + bi)(a - bi) = a2 + b2

So that can save us time when do division, like this:

Example: What is

2 + 3i

4 - 5i

Multiply top and bottom by the conjugate of 4 - 5i :

2 + 3i 4 + 5i 8 + 10i + 12i + 15i2 -7 + 22i


= =
4 - 5i 4 + 5i 16 + 25 41

And then back into a + bi form:

-7 22
= + i
41 41

DONE!
Mandelbrot Set

The beautiful Mandelbrot Set (pictured here)


is based on Complex Numbers.

It is a plot of what happens when we take the


simple equation z2+c (both complex
numbers) and feed the result back into z time
and time again.

The color shows how fast z2+c grows, and


black means it stays within a certain range.

Here is an image made by zooming into the


Mandelbrot set

And here is the center of the previous one


zoomed in even further:
Complex Plane
No, not this complex plane ...
... this complex plane:

It is
a plane f
or compl
ex numb
ers!

(It is also called an "Argand Diagram")

Real and Imaginary make Complex


A Complex Number is a combination of a Real Number and an Imaginary Number.

Let me explain ...

A Real Number is the type of number you are used to dealing with every
day.

Examples: 12.38, , 0, -2000

With real numbers we can do things like squaring (multiply a number by itself):

22=4

But what can we square to get -4 (minus 4)?

? ? = -4
Well, -2 won't work because multiplying negatives gives a positive : (-2) (-2) =
+4, and no other Real Number works either.

So it seems that mathematics is incomplete ...

... but we can fill the gap by imagining there is a number that, when multiplied by itself,
gives -1 (call it i for imaginary):

i2 = -1

Now, we can do this:

2i 2i = 4i2 = 4 (-1) = -4

An Imaginary Number , when squared gives a negative result

Examples: 5i, -3.6i, i/2,


500i

And together:

A Complex Number is a combination of a Real Number and an Imaginary


Number

Examples: 3.6 + 4i, -0.02 + 1.2i, 25 - 0.3i, 0 + 2i

The Complex Plane


You may be familiar with the number line :
But where do we put a complex number like 3+4i ?

Let's have the real number line going left-right as usual, and an imaginary number line
going up-down:

And we can plot a complex number like 3 + 4i :

It is placed

3 units along (the real axis),

and 4 units up (the imaginary axis).

And here is 4 - 2i :

It is placed

4 units along (the real axis),

and 2 units down (the imaginary axis).

And that is the complex plane:

complex because it is a combination of real and imaginary,


plane because it is like a geometric plane (2 dimensional).

Whole New World


Now we can bring the idea of a plane ( Cartesian coordinates , Polar
coordinates , Vectors and more) to complex numbers, and we open up a whole new
world of numbers that are more complete and elegant, as you will see.
Complex Number as a Vector
You can think of a complex number as being a vector .

This is a vector.
It has magnitude (length) and
direction.

And here is the complex number 3 + 4i

as a Vector:

You can add complex numbers as vectors, too:

Here we add the complex numbers 3 + 5i and 4 3i as vectors:

Add the real numbers, add the imaginary numbers, like this:

(3 + 5i) + (4 3i) = 3 + 4 + (5 3)i = 7 + 2i

Polar Form
Again, here is the complex number 3 + 4i

As a Vector:

Here it is again (still as a vector), but

In polar form:

So the complex number 3 + 4i can also be shown as distance (5) and angle (0.927
radians).

How do you do the conversions?

Example: the number 3 + 4i

We can do a Cartesian to Polar conversion :

r = (x2 + y2) = (32 + 42) = 25 = 5


= tan-1 (y/x) = tan-1 (4/3) = 0.927 (to 3 decimals)

We can also take Polar coordinates and convert them to Cartesian coordinates:
x = r cos( ) = 5 cos( 0.927 ) = 5 0.6002... = 3 (close enough)
y = r sin( ) = 5 sin( 0.927 ) = 5 0.7998... = 4 (close enough)

In fact, a common way to write a complex number in Polar form is

x + iy = r cos + i r sin = r(cos + i sin )

And "cos + i sin " gets shortened to "cis "

So 3 + 4i = 5 cis 0.927

Summary

The complex plane is a plane with:

real numbers running left-right and


imaginary numbers running up-down.

To convert from Cartesian to Polar Form:

r = (x2 + y2)
= tan-1 ( y / x )

To convert from Polar to Cartesian Form:


x = r cos( )
y = r sin( )

Next ... learn about Complex Number Multiplication .

Common Number Sets


There are sets of numbers that are used so often that they have special names and
symbols:

Symb Description
ol

Natural Numbers

The whole numbers from 1 upwards. (Or from 0 upwards in some fields of
mathematics). Read More ->

The set is {1,2,3,...} or {0,1,2,3,...}

Integers

The whole numbers, {1,2,3,...}


negative whole numbers {...,
-3,-2,-1} and zero {0}. So the
set is {..., -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2,
3, ...}

(Z is for the German "Zahlen", meaning numbers, because I is used for the set of
imaginary numbers). Read More ->
Rational Numbers

The numbers you can make by dividing one integer by another (but not dividing by
zero). In other words fractions . Read More ->

Q is for "quotient" (because R is used for the set of real numbers).

Examples: 3/2 (=1.5), 8/4 (=2), 136/100 (=1.36), -1/1000 (=-0.001)

Irrational Numbers

Any real number that is not a Rational Number. Read More ->

Algebraic Numbers

Any number that is a solution to a polynomial equation with rational coefficients.

Includes all Rational Numbers, and some Irrational Numbers. Read More ->

Transcendental Numbers

Any number that is not an Algebraic Number

Examples of transcendental numbers include and e. Read More ->

Real Numbers
All Rational and Irrational numbers. They can also be positive, negative or zero.

Includes the Algebraic Numbers and Transcendental Numbers.

Also see Real Number Properties

A simple way to think about the Real Numbers is: any point anywhere on the number
line (not just the whole numbers).

Examples: 1.5, -12.3, 99, 2,

They are called "Real" numbers because they are not Imaginary Numbers. Read More
->

Imaginary Numbers

Numbers that when squared give a negative result.

If you square a real number you always get a positive, or zero, result. For example
22=4, and (-2)(-2)=4 also, so "imaginary" numbers can seem impossible, but they are
still useful!

Examples: (-9) (=3i), 6i, -5.2i

The "unit" imaginary numbers is (-1) (the square root of minus one), and its symbol
is i, or sometimes j.

i2 = -1

Read More ->


Complex Numbers

A combination of a real and an imaginary number in the form a + bi, where a andb are
real, and i is imaginary.

The values a and b can be zero, so the set of real numbers and the set of imaginary
numbers are subsets of the set of complex numbers.

Examples: 1 + i, 2 - 6i, -5.2i, 4

Read More ->

Illustration
Natural numbers are a subset of
Integers

Integers are a subset of Rational


Numbers

Rational Numbers are a subset of


the Real Numbers

Combinations of Real and


Imaginary numbers make up the
Complex Numbers.