Numbers of the form $\{z= x+ i\,y:\;x,\, y\in\mathbb{R}\}$ where $i^2 = -1$. Useful especially as quantum mechanics, where system states take complex vector values.

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2answers
335 views

What is imaginary time? [duplicate]

I am not professional physicist; but I am curious about Stephen Hawking's "imaginary time". It would be better to elaborate exactly what it is. I am not confused because of the word "imaginary" but I ...
0
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0answers
55 views

Finding the total space that an oscillating body has gone through via complex analysis

I was solving my homework and I got to an exercise that stated: An harmonic oscillating body has an equation of $$y(t) = A \sin(t)$$ Find the total space that the body has travelled during $t \in ...
4
votes
3answers
93 views

Special relativity and imaginary coefficient of the time coordinate

I read somewhere that part of Minkowski's inspiration for his formulation of Minkowski space was Poincare's observation that time could be understood as a fourth spatial dimension with an imaginary ...
6
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2answers
154 views

Decoupling of Holomorphic and Anti-holomorphic parts in 2D CFT

This maybe a very naive question. I have just started studying CFT, and I am confused by why we have two separate parts of everything in CFT (operator algebras and hilbert space), the holomorphic ...
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1answer
94 views

Unstable states and imaginary (complex) energy?

I came across the notion of complex energy while studying instanton method to study the unstable state. Unstable states are those which have energy with an imaginary part. But as we know Hamiltonian ...
6
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1answer
84 views

A question about a complex integration in Peskin's QFT textbook

In page 27 (2.52), the integration is $$\int_{-\infty}^{\infty}dp \frac{p e^{ipr}}{\sqrt{p^2+m^2}}$$ He says that there are two branch cuts starting from $\pm im$ But I learn in complex analysis ...
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2answers
106 views

Can we treat $\psi^{c}$ as a field independent from $\psi$?

When we derive the Dirac equation from the Lagrangian, $$ \mathcal{L}=\overline{\psi}i\gamma^{\mu}\partial_{\mu}\psi-m\overline{\psi}\psi, $$ we assume $\psi$ and ...
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1answer
64 views

Imaginary number for extinction coefficient in complex refractive index

In complex refractive index on a material, $n=n'+ ik$, the imaginary part $k$ is physical meaning, as it shows absorption in the material but it is an imaginary. How we measure an imaginary values in ...
2
votes
2answers
202 views

2D Gauss law vs residue theorem

I used to have a vague feeling that the residue theorem is a close analogy to 2D electrostatics in which the residues themselves play a role of point charges. However, the equations don't seem to add ...
5
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1answer
91 views

“Imaginary” Perfect Time

In the definition (in one spatial dimension) of $\Delta \tau$ there is the relation: $(\Delta \tau)^2 = (\Delta t)^2 - (\Delta x)^2$ which is invariant. If $(\Delta x)^2 > (\Delta t)^2$ then there ...
2
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1answer
56 views

Is polarization of a wave just a description of its motion in three dimensions?

Since a polarization of the wave is described by complex numbers, we can try to give that mathematical formalism geometrical meaning. With having two different axes, one imaginary and other real, it ...
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1answer
56 views

Physical meaning of taking twice the real part of a Fourier transform

In my previous question, Calculating the coherence length from a spectrum, it turned out that I can calculate the coherence length of my light source from the autocorrelation function, which can be ...
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5answers
628 views

Minkowski Metric Signature

When I learned about the Minkowski Space and it's coordinates, it was explained such that the metric turns out to be $$ ds^{2} = -(cdx^{0})^{2} +(dx^{1})^{2} + (dx^{2})^{2} + (dx^{3})^{2} $$ where $ ...
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2answers
36 views

Calculating the Probability Current of a Travelling Wave

Calculate the probability current density vector $\vec{j}$ for the wave function : $$\psi = Ae^{-i(wt-kx)}.$$ From my very poor and beginner's understanding of probability density current it is : ...
4
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1answer
192 views

From Minkowski to Euclidean Time in Path Integrals

I'm trying to prove the following equality: $$ <x_{f},\, it_{f}|x_{i},\, it_{i}>=\mathcal{N}\int_{\left\{ x\in\mathbb{R}^{\mathbb{R}}:\, x\left(t_{f}\right)=x_{f}\wedge ...
3
votes
1answer
116 views

Principal value of 1/x and few questions about complex analysis in Peskin's QFT textbook

When I learn QFT, I am bothered by many problems in complex analysis. 1) $$\frac{1}{x-x_0+i\epsilon}=P\frac{1}{x-x_0}-i\pi\delta(x-x_0)$$ I can't understand why $1/x$ can have a principal value ...
4
votes
1answer
91 views

Complex variables in classical mechanics [duplicate]

In quantum mechanics complex numbers are absolutely essential because of the relation $$[\hat q_i,\hat p_j]=i\hbar\delta_{ij}.$$ But is complex number also essential anywhere in the formalism of ...
3
votes
1answer
264 views

Why do we must initially assume that the wavefunction is complex?

The sound waves are real, and they can interfere, so corresponding apparat may be used in quantum mechanics. We also may use the time dependence in a form of orthogonal matrix multiplying the initial ...
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0answers
73 views

Could the phase factor $i$ be replaced by “matrix representation” totally in quantum mechanics? [duplicate]

It seems that $i$ plays an important role in quantum mechanics (Q.M.). On the other hand, linear algebra plays such an important role in Q.M. too. So would linear algebra, such as a matrix be able to ...
0
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1answer
39 views

What is the physical significane of Complex Time Evolution in EM Waves? [duplicate]

So, I have been having a hard time understanding why there is even a complex phase for EM waves: $$\phi=\exp[i\omega t]=\cos(\omega t)+i\sin(\omega t)$$ Don't understand why it is there? Any one ...
3
votes
1answer
98 views

Why do we use $\psi$ instead of a straightforward probability?

What is the advantage/purpose of using $\psi$ for wavefunctions and getting the probability with $|\psi|^2$ as opposed to just defining and using the probability function?
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votes
5answers
650 views

What are functions of a complex variable used for in physics?

Whenever someone asks "Why are complex numbers important?" the answer, at least in the context of physics, usually includes things like quantum mechanics, oscillators and AC circuits. This is all very ...
2
votes
1answer
104 views

Index of Refraction in Metal: Approximating Complex Perturbation

If you consider waves in a metal, you can write the index of refraction for the metal as, $$ n^2 = 1 - \frac{\omega_p^2}{\omega^2} $$ I am interested in what will happen if the index is perturbed by ...
4
votes
2answers
242 views

Dimensional aspects of the imaginary unit $i$ in physics [duplicate]

From a real world perspective each dimension in the 3-D Cartesian System can be represented by an axis that is perpendicular to 2 other axes. I read somewhere else that the effect of ${\sqrt {-1}}$ is ...
0
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1answer
46 views

Square of the momentum operator (issue with taking dot product of complex numbers)

So the momentum operator in coordinate space is: $$ \vec{p} = -i\hbar\vec{\nabla}$$ And the hamiltonian for a free particle is: $$ H = \frac{p^2}{2m}$$ All over the internet I see this written as: $$ ...
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0answers
99 views

Transmission + Reflection coefficients >1 For Potencial Barrier with Negative Complex Part Contradicts Paper

I am studying reflection and transmission coefficients for a barrier consisting of a a step potencial defined by: $$V(x):=\begin{cases}0&{\rm if}\,|x|>a/2 \\ V_0+iW_0 & {\rm ...
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1answer
303 views

Phasor form of Maxwell's Equations

I'm interested in the transformation from the standard Maxwell's equations to their phasor equivalents. From the literature, this means injecting: \begin{equation} E = Re(\boldsymbol{E}e^{j\omega ...
0
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4answers
394 views

Why complex functions for explaining wave particle duality?

I have this very bad habit of going to the scratch, discarding all the developments of a theory and worldly knowledge, and ask some fundamental (mostly stupid and naive, as some may say) questions as ...
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0answers
44 views

Complex Fourier Particular Solution [closed]

I have found the complex Fourier series for my desired force. I now need to find the steady-state forced vibration of my oscillator as a Fourier Series. (The particular solution to the inhomogeneous ...
7
votes
3answers
320 views

Applications of analytic continuation to physics

I posted this on math.SE, but didn't get much response. It might fit better on this site. Holomorphic functions have the property that they can be uniquely analytically continued to (almost) the ...
15
votes
1answer
495 views

Why treat complex scalar field and its complex conjugate as two different fields?

I am new to QFT, so I may have some of the terminology incorrect. Many QFT books provide an example of deriving equations of motion for various free theories. One example is for a complex scalar ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Why are Only Real Things Measurable?

Why can't we measure imaginary numbers? I mean, we can take the projection of a complex wave to be the "viewable" part, so why are imaginary numbers given this immeasurable descriptor? Namely with ...
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1answer
317 views

Why is the wave function complex? [duplicate]

Why should an equation (TDSE) in which first time derivative is related to second space derivative have a solution that contains $i$?The wave function is supposed to be complex, but I am unable to ...
4
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2answers
283 views

Real Part of the Wave Function

In Quantum Mechanics the square of the wave function is compared to a probability density. Is there no similar relation to waves in the sense that something meaningful can be ascribed to the real part ...
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2answers
1k views

What does the complex electric field show?

We have a complex electric field. Is there any definition for absolute and imaginary part of a complex electric field? What do they stand for?
3
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2answers
383 views

Global phase symmetry for complex scalar field theory

I have started to study QFT. And I have some difficulties in such classical situation. Suppose i want to calculate $\frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial (\partial_\mu \phi)}\phi$ for lagrangian ...
3
votes
2answers
142 views

“Complex Variables Method” in Diff. Eq. - Justification and physical meaning?

A common method of simplifying calculations that involve differential equations - particularly involving oscillation - is to replace $\cos(\theta)$ with $e^{i \omega t}$, evaluate, and then take the ...
8
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6answers
584 views

What is Quantization?

In classical mechanics you construct an action (involving a Lagrangian in arbitrary generalized coordinates, a Hamiltonian in canonical coordinates [to make your EOM more "convenient & ...
8
votes
6answers
887 views

What does imaginary number maps to physically?

I am taking undergraduate quantum mechanics currently, and the concept of an imaginary number had always troubled me. I always feel that complex numbers are more of a mathematical convenience, but ...
3
votes
1answer
339 views

Finding Stagnation Points from the complex potential

I am trying to find the stagnation point of a fluid flow from a complex potential. The complex potential is given by $$\Omega(z) = Uz + \cfrac{m}{2\pi}\ln z.$$ From this I found the streamfunction to ...
5
votes
1answer
201 views

Are electrodynamics problems in the complex plane relevant to real life?

This is a question I asked in Maths SE, and it was suggested I ask it here. This is a direct copy of that question. I have been reading Tristan Needham's excellent Visual Complex Analysis. The end of ...
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votes
1answer
101 views

Some complex-number manipulation when calculating coefficients

I am going through Sakurai's quantum mechanics, and at one point the solution to a problem says: $(\sin(\beta)\cos(\alpha)-i\sin(\beta)\sin(\alpha))b+\cos(\beta)a=a$ ...
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1answer
65 views

Nonequilibrium themal QFT

Wick rotation to thermal of QFT in Minkowski space to thermal QFT, which is after this transformation analogue to statistical mechanics, does only describe equilibrium statistical mechanics. On page ...
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3answers
638 views

Born's Rule, What is the Reason?

As far as I've read online, there isn't a good explanation for the Born Rule. Is this the case? Why does taking the square of the wave function give you the Probability? Naturally it removes negatives ...
2
votes
3answers
227 views

States and observables in quantum mechanics

I'm beginning learn quantum mechanics. As I understand, state is a map $\phi$ from $L^2(\mathbb R)$ such that $|\phi|^2$ describes probability density of a particle's position. By integrating ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Variational Derivation of Schrodinger Equation

In reading Weinstock's Calculus of Variations, on pages 261 - 262 he explains how Schrodinger apparently first derived the Schrodinger equation from variational principles. Unfortunately I don't ...
4
votes
1answer
103 views

Using angular momentum in complex coordinates

So given the angular momentum operator: $$L_{z} = - ih\biggl(x \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}y} - y \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}x}\biggr)$$ I know how to write these in terms of polar coordinates ...
4
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1answer
236 views

Imaginary masses

While watching this video, at around 5:00, the man mentions a certain type of particle having imaginary mass. He also says that these kind of particles can go faster then light. But how it is possible ...
0
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1answer
300 views

Formulas for kinetic energy

I was reading ABC of relativity from Bertrand Russell and some formulas about kinetic energy caused me some problems. Here is the extract : The kinetic energy is, in the usual form ...
2
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0answers
55 views

What is the relationship between complex time singularities and UV fixed points?

In this paper it is described how the turbulent kinetic energy spectrum and the flatness (a measure for intermittency) are governed by the position of the (dominant) singularities of the solutions of ...