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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3
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2answers
79 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 - ...
26
votes
11answers
7k views

About the complex nature of the wave function?

1. Why is the wave function complex? I've collected some layman explanations but they are incomplete and unsatisfactory. However in the book by Merzbacher in the initial few pages he provides an ...
0
votes
1answer
25 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
0answers
65 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
140 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
0answers
41 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
254 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
670 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
193 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
75 views

Wick rotation and special relativity

CMIIW, but as I understand it, Wick rotation replaces the Minkowski basis (t,x,y,z) with the Euclidean basis (it,x,y,z). Suppose that $t_2=t_1 \cosh \beta+x_1 \sinh \beta$ and $x_2=t_1 \sinh \beta+x_1 ...
3
votes
1answer
52 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
664 views

Inverted Harmonic oscillator

what are the energies of the inverted Harmonic oscillator? $$ H=p^{2}-\omega^{2}x^{2} $$ since the eigenfunctions of this operator do not belong to any $ L^{2}(R)$ space I believe that the spectrum ...
0
votes
2answers
103 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
62 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
409 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
57 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
105 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
164 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
686 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 $ ...
1
vote
1answer
107 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
619 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 & ...
6
votes
1answer
92 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
197 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
116 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
1answer
58 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
81 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
216 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
97 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
666 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
65 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
41 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 : ...
8
votes
6answers
1k 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
131 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
100 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a direct physical interpretation for the complex wavefunction?

The Schrodinger equation in non-relativistic quantum mechanics yields the time-evolution of the so-called wavefunction corresponding to the system concerned under the action of the associated ...
3
votes
1answer
269 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 ...
1
vote
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What does $\Psi^*$ mean in Schrodinger's formulation of Quantum Mechanics?

I am not a physics student. In one of my courses, some fundamental concepts of Quantum mechanics were needed, so I was going through them when I stumbled upon this. It says $$\text{probability} = ...
0
votes
4answers
411 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Confused over complex representation of the wave

My quantum mechanics textbook says that the following is a representation of a wave traveling in the +$x$ direction:$$\Psi(x,t)=Ae^{i\left(kx-\omega t\right)}\tag1$$ I'm having trouble visualizing ...
0
votes
1answer
41 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
352 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
105 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
796 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
124 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
248 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
386 views

Is the step of analytic continuation unavoidable or can you model around it?

One sometimes considers the analytic continuation of certain quantities in physics and take them seriously. More so than the direct or actual values, actually. For example if you use the procedure ...
0
votes
1answer
48 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: $$ ...
0
votes
1answer
383 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
45 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 ...