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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Complex Oddity

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg57602] Re: Complex Oddity
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnewsciv at earthlink.net>
  • Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2005 06:04:55 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

On 5/31/05 at 5:00 AM, nospamjreed at alum.mit.edu (John Reed) wrote:

>Thanks to all who explained what is happening and how to work this
>problem correctly.  Now I know one facet of working with complex
>numbers.  I don't feel much better about this however.  I received
>one e-mail that said this was my fault for not reading the
>documentation closely enough.  This problem came up in the book
>"Mathematica for Physics" second edition by Zimmerman and Olness. 
>They solve a problem using the Complex[a_,b_]->a rule, ( see page
>91) but not the b part.  The b part was my idea.  Now I know why
>they didn't solve for the imaginary part this way.  They get the
>imaginary part by subtracting the real part from the complex
>expression and dividing by I. How many other gotchas are hidden in
>the code, waiting to bite the unwary and relatively new user?  What
>documentation tells about this kind of a problem or do I just have
>to find them for myself by hopefully catching the errors as they
>occur?

I don't think there is anyone who can really say how many other "gotchas" there are. Probably every experienced user has thier own list they have encountered. Also, even experienced users get surpised now and then.

Mathematica is a complex piece of software. And the existing documentation leaves quite a bit to be desired. The only way I know to deal with these "gotchas" is to understand why each occurs as you encounter it. 
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