 # Yes, there's such a thing as imaginary numbers

### What in the world is an imaginary numbers

What is the square root of a negative number? Did you know that no real number multiplied by itself will ever produce a negative number? Finding the square root of 4 is simple enough: either 2 or -2 multiplied by itself gives 4. However, there is no simple answer for the square root of -4.

So, what do you do when a discriminant is negative and you have to take its square root? This is where imaginary numbers come into play. Essentially, mathematicians have decided that the square root of -1 should be represented by the letter i. So, $$i = \sqrt{-1}$$, or you can write it this way: $$-1^{.5}$$ or you can simply say: $$i^2 = -1$$.

What you should know about the number i:

1) i is not a variable.
3) i is not a real number.

### Example A:

Simplify $$(4i)^2$$

Steps:

1) Multiply 4i times 4i. This will produce $$16(i^2)$$.

2) Multiply 16 times -1 because $$i^2$$ equals -1.

### Example B:

Simplify $$\sqrt{-80}$$.

Steps:

1) Factor the existing expression into the product of two or more radicands, keeping in mind that one of them has to be a perfect square. How about $$\sqrt{-1}*\sqrt{16}*\sqrt{5}$$? Yes, this will produce $$\sqrt{-80}$$. Don't forget the -1 part!

2) Simplify square roots where needed. For example, $$\sqrt{16}$$ becomes 4, and $$\sqrt{-1}$$ simply becomes the number i.

3) Put it all together this way: $$4i\sqrt{5}$$ or 4i times the square root of 5.

NOTE: You cannot reduce $$\sqrt{5}$$ anymore because it is already in lowest terms.

Here's another lesson on imaginary numbers if you would like another view point.

Provided by Mr. Feliz