Calculators and complex numbers (Part 1)

What is \ln(-5)? Or (-8)^{1/3}? Easy, right? Well, let’s plug into a calculator and find out. (Click anywhere in the image below to start the movie. The important stuff is the screen at the top; you can see the keystrokes that I used if you following the mouse arrow toward the bottom.)

In this series of posts, I’ll try to explain why the calculator provides these unexpected answers. This series of posts will have 24 posts (!) and will contain some fairly sophisticated mathematics to explain why the calculator does what it does as well as some pedagogical discussion when I present these topics to my class of future secondary teachers. Each post can be thought of as a 5-10 minute portion of one of my lectures.



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