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Complex Numbers

Polar Form Terminology

Recall that in addition to rectangular form, \(a+bi\), we can also represent complex numbers in polar form:


where \(r\) is called the modulus and \(\theta\) is called the argument of the complex number.

Sometimes, you might see \(z=r(cos\theta+isin\theta)\) abbreviated as \(z=rcis\theta\).


To add/subtract complex numbers in polar form, follow these steps:

1. Convert all of the complex numbers from polar form to rectangular form (see the Rectangular/Polar Form Conversion page).

2. Perform addition/subtraction on the complex numbers in rectangular form (see the Operations in Rectangular Form page).

3. After evaluating the sum/difference, convert it back into polar form for your answer (see the Rectangular/Polar Form Conversion page).

The following example will demonstrate how to apply these steps to find the sum/difference of complex numbers.

Example: Evaluate \(4\sqrt{2}(cos(\frac{3\pi}{4})+isin(\frac{3\pi}{4})) + 3(cos(\frac{\pi}{2})+isin(\frac{\pi}{2}))\) in polar form (in radians), rounding to two decimal places.

See this video for the solution:



To multiply/divide complex numbers in polar form, multiply/divide the two moduli and add/subtract the arguments. More specifically, for any two complex numbers, \(z_1=r_1(cos(\theta_1)+isin(\theta_1))\) and \(z_2=r_2(cos(\theta_2)+isin(\theta_2))\), we have:

\(z_1 z_2=r_1r_2[cos(\theta_1+\theta_2)+isin(\theta_1+\theta_2)]\)

\(\frac{z_1}{z_2}=\frac{r_1}{r_2}[cos(\theta_1-\theta_2)+isin(\theta_1-\theta_2)], z_2 \ne 0\)

Example: Determine the product and quotient of \(z_1=5cis(\frac{5\pi}{2})\) and \(z_2=7cis(\frac{3\pi}{4})\).


1. Identify the moduli and arguments. In this example, we have:


2. Substitute these values into the above produce and quotient formulas:

\(z_1 z_2=(5)(7)[cos(\frac{5\pi}{2}+\frac{3\pi}{4})+isin(\frac{5\pi}{2}+\frac{3\pi}{4})]\)


3. Evaluate the product and quotient by simplifying both expressions:

\(z_1 z_2=35[cos(\frac{13\pi}{4})+isin(\frac{13\pi}{4})]\)




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