Mr. Tyc

Pre Calculus

26 Sept. 2014

An Imaginary Tale: The Story of of i [the square root of minus one]

An imaginary tale is the story of the square root of minus one, a number we find described as "impossible" or "imaginary". Nahin's historical and mathematical explanation of complex numbers and functions stretches across two millennia. The square root of minus one was such an unlikely concept for early mathematicians that they ignored it. For centuries mathematicians viewed negative numbers as problematic and were steered clear of difficult expressions such as the square root of a negative number. Publishers describe An Imaginary Tale as a history story, the author describes it as "a book accessible to high school seniors".

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Mathematicians of the sixteenth century were very much tied to the Greek tradition of geometry, and they felt uncomfortable with concepts to which they could not give a geometric meaning. This is why, two century's after Bombelli's Algebra, we find Euler writing in his Algebra of 1770" In the beginning of chapter two, my favorite part, Nahin talks about the "constructions dealing with the square roots of positive lengths". He talks about the impossibility of doing a geometric construction. He says that i was invited to make solving problems easier and more possible. The i takes the place of the square root of -1 when writing out mathematical procedures. My least favorite part was the complex writing of the book. I enjoyed learning about the history of the mathematicians behind the complicated concept of the imaginary number i but the writing was far beyond my comprehension which made it hard for me to understand and pay attention to the book. When I was not able to understand what the book was saying was when I became uninterested and bored with the