History of Complex Numbers, with a Moral for Teachers



The usual definition of complex numbers, either as ordered pairs (a, b) of real numbers or as “numbers” of the form a + bi, does not give any indication of their long and tortuous evolution, which lasted about 300 years. In this chapter we will briefly describe that evolution and suggest a number of lessons to be drawn from it. The lessons have to do with the impact of the history of mathematics on our understanding of mathematics and on our effectiveness in teaching it. But more about the moral of this story later.


Complex Number Fundamental Theorem Negative Number Complex Domain Real Polynomial 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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