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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7
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4answers
410 views

Complex integration by shifting the contour

In section 12.11 of Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, he evaluates an integral involved in the Green function solution to the 4-potential wave equation. Here it is: $$\int_{-\infty}^\infty dk_0 ...
3
votes
2answers
698 views

Physical meaning of imaginary part of Electric field?

As far as I know (or I thought I knew), if we have an electric field $$\mathbf{E}=\mathbf{E_0}\cos(\omega t - kx),$$ we can define it as the real part of $$\mathbf{E}=Re(\mathbf{E_0}e^{i(\omega t - ...
0
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1answer
58 views

Is real voltage always the real part of complex voltage?

If I have a complex voltage $V_z$ is real voltage $V$ (i.e. the voltage used in the normal ohms law and the voltage we normally talk about) always given by $V=Re(V_z)$. Does the same apply to current? ...
2
votes
1answer
147 views

Integral over a product of two Green's functions

Need some help here on a frequently encountered integral in Green's function formalism. Forgive me since I am a junior student. I have an integral/summation as a product of a retarded and advanced ...
0
votes
0answers
202 views

Complex Conjugate of Wave Function's Derivative

I am reading Griffiths QM textbook and I got confused by the following identity: How to prove from $$\frac{\partial \Psi}{\partial t} = \frac{i\hbar}{2m} \frac{\partial^2 \Psi}{\partial x^2} - ...
6
votes
3answers
502 views

Is quantum tunneling related to imaginary time?

I was studying for my exam and looking at the chapter which talks about Potential-energy graphs. Let's take this as an example: My book states that: "If the object is in $B$ and has a total energy ...
5
votes
2answers
218 views

Unknown letter ℑ used in an equation

I need to write by hand the equation from the attached snapshot but I really don't know what letter is that seen in the front of square brackets [ . Can anyone help ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

Complex semi-definite programming

I'm doing some calculations and I want to simulate them in python or matlab (or whatever). However I use hermitian matrices and I don't really manage to find a library which enables me to calculate ...
0
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2answers
138 views

Quantum Mechanical States

What can be the precise answer to the question that Quantum states are complex and infinite dimensional. Why is this so? Is it because they belong to the complex Hilbert space? Even if they ...
0
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2answers
139 views

Can speed be defined in the complex plane?

This question cropped up while I was playing with the equation for time dilation. If I set the speed to be $i$ (imaginary unit) the answer from the equation still makes sense, but does that matter if ...
7
votes
2answers
3k 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
votes
0answers
60 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 ...
6
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3answers
230 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
votes
2answers
268 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
252 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
194 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
153 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
173 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
407 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
votes
1answer
107 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
votes
1answer
76 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
2k 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 $ ...
0
votes
2answers
68 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
votes
1answer
266 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
357 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
183 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
362 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 ...
2
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0answers
77 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
votes
1answer
49 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
130 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?
14
votes
5answers
2k 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
301 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
64 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: $$ ...
3
votes
1answer
214 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
928 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
votes
4answers
505 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
88 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
676 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 ...
23
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
808 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
446 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
3k 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
votes
2answers
730 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
224 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
869 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
2k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
873 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
273 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 ...