4.10: Powers and Roots of Complex Numbers
Manually calculating (simplifying) a statement such as: or in present (rectangular) form would be a very intensive process at best.
Fortunately you will learn in this lesson that there is an alternative: De Moivre's theorem. De Moivre's theorem is really the only practical method for finding the powers or roots of a complex number, but there is a catch...
What must be done to a complex number before De Moivre's theorem can be utilized?
Watch This
This lesson reviews the two opposite operations involving De Moivre's Theorem: finding powers, and finding roots. The video lessons review each operation separately.
a. Raising Complex Numbers to a Power:
James Sousa: De Moivre's Theorem
b. Finding Roots of Complex Numbers:
James Sousa: Determining the Nth Roots of a Complex Number
Guidance
Powers of Complex Numbers
How do we raise a complex number to a power? Let’s start with an example:
In rectangular form, this can get very complex. What about in r cis θ form?
So the problem becomes
and using our multiplication rule from the previous section,
Notice, ( a + bi ) ^{ 3 } = r ^{ 3 } cis 3 θ
In words: Raise the r value to the same degree as the complex number is raised and then multiply that by cis of the angle multiplied by the number of the degree.
Reflecting on the example above, we can identify De Moivre's Theorem :
Let
z
=
r
(cos
θ
+
i
sin
θ
) be a complex number in rcisθ form. If
n
is a positive integer,
z
^{
n
}
is


It should be clear that the polar form provides a much faster result for raising a complex number to a power than doing the problem in rectangular form.
Roots of Complex Numbers
You probably noticed long ago that when an new operation is presented in mathematics, the inverse operation often follows. That is generally because the inverse operation is often procedurally similar, and it makes good sense to learn both at the same time.
This is no exception:
 The inverse operation of finding a power for a number is to find a root of the same number.

 a) Recall from algebra that any root can be written as x ^{ 1/ } ^{ n }

 b) Given that the formula for De Moivre’s theorem also works for fractional powers, the same formula can be used for finding roots:


Example A
Find the value of .
Solution:
and θ is in the 1 ^{ st } quadrant, so
Using our equation from above:
Expanding cis form:
Finally we have
z ^{ 4 } = 8  13.856 i
Example B
Find .
Solution:
First, rewriting in exponential form: (1 + i) ^{ ½ }
And now in polar form:
Expanding cis form,
Using the formula:
In decimal form, we get
=1.189( 0.924 + 0.383 i )
=1.099 + 0.455i
To check, we will multiply the result by itself in rectangular form:
Example C
Find the value of .
Solution:
First we put in polar form.
Use to obtain
let in rectangular form
in polar form
Use De Moivre’s theorem to find the first solution:
or
Leave answer in cis form to find the remaining solutions:
n = 3 which means that the 3 solutions are radians apart or
and
Note : It is not necessary to add again. Adding three times equals 2 π . That would result in rotating around a full circle and to start where it all began that is the first solution.
The three solutions are:
Each of these solutions, when graphed will be apart.
Check any one of these solutions to see if the results are confirmed.
Checking the second solution:
Does (0.965 – 0.810 i ) ^{ 3 } or (0.965 – 0.810 i ) (0.965 – 0.810 i ) (0.965 – 0.810 i )
Concept question wrapup: A complex number operation written in rectangular form, such as: must be converted to polar form to utilize De Moivre's theorem. 

>
Guided Practice
1) What are the two square roots of i ?
2) Calculate What are the four fourth roots of 1?
3) Calculate
Answers
1) Let
 or Utilizing De Moivre’s theorem:
 or
 or
 or
Check for z _{ 1 } solution: (0.707 + 0.707 i ) ^{ 2 } = i?
0.500 + 0.500 i + 0.500 i + 0.500 i ^{ 2 } = 0.500 + i + 0.500(1) or i
2) Let z = 1 or z = 1 + 0 i Then the problem becomes find z ^{ 1/4 } = (1 + 0 i ) ^{ 1/4 }
 Since with or or
That root is not a surprise. Now use De Moivre’s to find the other roots:
 Since there are 4 roots, dividing 2π by 4 yields 0.5π
 or 0 + i or just i which yields z _{ 3 } = 1
 Finally or
The four fourth roots of 1 are 1, i, 1 and i
3) To calculate start by converting to form First find Recall
If and then and is in quadrant I. Now that we have trigonometric form, the rest is easy:
 ..... Write the original problem in form
 ..... De Moivre's theorem
 ..... Simplify
 ..... Simplify again
Explore More
Perform the indicated operation on these complex numbers:
 Divide:
 Multiply:
 Multiply:
 Find the product using polar form:
 Multiply:
 Multiply:
 Divide:
 Divide:
Use De Moivre’s theorem.
 Identify the 3 complex cube roots of
 Identify the 4 complex fourth roots of
 Identify the five complex fifth roots of
Image Attributions
Description
Learning Objectives
Here you will explore "De Moivre's Theorem," which will allow you to calculate powers and roots of complex numbers.
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Date Created:
Nov 01, 2012Last Modified:
Feb 26, 2015Vocabulary
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