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!
So, I read this post on the the area of the sine curve some time ago and in the bottom was this equally amazing comment :
Diameter of the circle/ The distance covered along the x axis starting from and ending up at .
And therefore by the same logic, it is extremely intuitive to see why:
Because if a dude starts at and ends at , the effective distance that he covers is 0.
If you still have trouble understanding, follow the blue point in the above gif and hopefully things become clearer.
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!