A friend of mine was the TA for a graduate level Math course for Physicists. And an exercise in that course was to solve integrals using Contour Integration. Just for fun, I decided to mess with him by trying to solve all the contour integral problems in the prescribed textbook for the course [Arfken and Weber’s ‘Mathematical methods for Physicists,7th edition” exercise (11.8)] using anything BUT contour integration.
You can solve a lot of them them exclusively by using Feynman’s trick. ( If you would like to know about what the trick is – here is an introductory post) The following are my solutions:
All solutions in one pdf
Arfken-11.8.6 & 7 – not applicable
Arfken-11.8.21 & Arfken-11.8.23* (Hint: Use 11.8.3)
*I forgot how to solve these 4 problems without using Contour Integration. But I will update them when I remember how to do them. If you would like, you can take these to be challenge problems and if you solve them before I do send an email to 153armstrong(at)gmail.com and I will link the solution to your page. Cheers!
When one is solving problems on the two dimensional plane and you are using polar coordinates, it is always a challenge to remember what the velocity/acceleration in the radial and angular directions () are. Here’s one failsafe way using complex numbers that made things really easy :
From the above expression, we can obtain and
From this we can obtain and with absolute ease.
Something that I realized only after a mechanics course in college was done and dusted but nevertheless a really cool and interesting place where complex numbers come in handy!
When one is dealing with complex numbers, it is many a times useful to think of them as transformations. The problem at hand is to find the nth roots of unity. i.e
Multiplication as a Transformation
Multiplication in the complex plane is mere rotation and scaling. i.e
Now what does finding the n roots of unity mean?
If you start at 1 and perform n equal rotations( because multiplication is nothing but rotation + scaling ), you should again end up at 1.
We just need to find the complex numbers that do this.i.e
This implies that :
And therefore :
Take a circle, slice it into n equal parts and voila you have your n roots of unity.
Okay, but what does this imply ?
Multiplication by 1 is a rotation.
When you say that you are multiplying a positive real number(say 1) with 1 , we get a number(1) that is on the same positive real axis.
Multiplication by (-1) is a rotation.
When you multiply a positive real number (say 1) with -1, then we get a number (-1) that is on the negative real axis
The act of multiplying 1 by (-1) has resulted in a 180o transformation. And doing it again gets us back to 1.
Multiplication by is a rotation.
Similarly multiplying by i takes 1 from real axis to the imaginary axis, which is a 90o rotation.
This applies to -i as well.
That’s about it! – That’s what the nth roots of unity mean geometrically. Have a good one!