# Complex number

In mathematics, a **complex number** is an element of a number system that extends the real numbers with a specific element denoted i, called the imaginary unit and satisfying the equation *i*^{2} = −1; every complex number can be expressed in the form *a* + *bi*, where a and b are real numbers. Because no real number satisfies the above equation, i was called an imaginary number by René Descartes. For the complex number *a* + *bi*, a is called the **real part** and b is called the **imaginary part**. The set of complex numbers is denoted by either of the symbols or **C**. Despite the historical nomenclature "imaginary", complex numbers are regarded in the mathematical sciences as just as "real" as the real numbers and are fundamental in many aspects of the scientific description of the natural world.[1][lower-alpha 1]

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Complex numbers allow solutions to all polynomial equations, even those that have no solutions in real numbers. More precisely, the fundamental theorem of algebra asserts that every non-constant polynomial equation with real or complex coefficients has a solution which is a complex number. For example, the equation
has no real solution, since the square of a real number cannot be negative, but has the two nonreal complex solutions −1 + 3*i* and −1 − 3*i*.

Addition, subtraction and multiplication of complex numbers can be naturally defined by using the rule *i*^{2} = −1 combined with the associative, commutative and distributive laws. Every nonzero complex number has a multiplicative inverse. This makes the complex numbers a field that has the real numbers as a subfield. The complex numbers also form a real vector space of dimension two, with {1, *i*} as a standard basis.

This standard basis makes the complex numbers a Cartesian plane, called the complex plane. This allows a geometric interpretation of the complex numbers and their operations, and conversely expressing in terms of complex numbers some geometric properties and constructions. For example, the real numbers form the real line which is identified to the horizontal axis of the complex plane. The complex numbers of absolute value one form the unit circle. The addition of a complex number is a translation in the complex plane, and the multiplication by a complex number is a similarity centered at the origin. The complex conjugation is the reflection symmetry with respect to the real axis. The complex absolute value is a Euclidean norm.

In summary, the complex numbers form a rich structure that is simultaneously an algebraically closed field, a commutative algebra over the reals, and a Euclidean vector space of dimension two.