geometry, complex numbers, complex line
$dim = 1$: Riemann surface, super Riemann surface
symmetric monoidal (∞,1)-category of spectra
A complex number is an expression of the form $a + \mathrm{i} b$, where $a$ and $b$ are real numbers and $\mathrm{i}^2 = - 1$. The set of complex numbers (in fact a field and topological vector space) is denoted $\mathbf{C}$ or $\mathbb{C}$.
This can be thought of as:
We think of $\mathbb{R}$ as a subset of $\mathbb{C}$ by identifying $a$ with $a + \mathrm{i} 0$. $\mathbb{C}$ is equipped with a $\mathbb{R}$-linear involution, called complex conjugation, that maps $\mathrm{i}$ to $\bar{\mathrm{i}} = -\mathrm{i}$. Concretely, $\overline{a + \mathrm{i} b} = a - \mathrm{i} b$. $\mathbb{C}$ also has an absolute value:
notice that the absolute value of a complex number is a nonnegative real number, with
Most concepts in analysis can be extended from $\mathbb{R}$ to $\mathbb{C}$, as long as they do not rely on the order in $\mathbb{R}$. Sometimes $\mathbb{C}$ even works better, either because it is algebraically closed or because of Goursat's theorem. Even when the order in $\mathbb{R}$ is important, often it is enough to order the absolute values of complex numbers. See ground field for some of the concepts whose precise definition may vary with the choice of $\mathbb{R}$ or $\mathbb{C}$ (or even other possibilities).
The complex numbers form a plane, the complex plane. Indeed, a map $\mathbb{C} \to \mathbb{R}^2$ given by sending $\mathrm{x} + \mathrm{i}\mathrm{y}$ to the standard real-valued coordinates $(\mathrm{x},\mathrm{y})$ on this plane is a bijection. Much of complex analysis can be understood through differential topology by identifying $\mathbb{C}$ with $\mathbb{R}^2$, using either $\mathrm{x}$ and $\mathrm{y}$ or $\mathrm{z}$ and $\bar{\mathrm{z}}$. (For example, Cauchy's integral theorem is Green's/Stokes's theorem.)
It is often convenient to use the Alexandroff compactification of $\mathbb{C}$, the Riemann sphere $\mathbb{C}P^1$. One may think of $\mathbb{C}P^1$ as $\mathbb{C} \cup \{\infty\}$; functions valued in $\mathbb{C}$ but containing ‘poles’ may be taken to be valued in $\overline{\mathbb{C}}$, with $f(\zeta) = \infty$ whenever $\zeta$ is a pole of $f$.
Lorentzian spacetime dimension | spin group | normed division algebra | brane scan entry |
---|---|---|---|
$3 = 2+1$ | $Spin(2,1) \simeq SL(2,\mathbb{R})$ | $\mathbb{R}$ the real numbers | |
$4 = 3+1$ | $Spin(3,1) \simeq SL(2, \mathbb{C})$ | $\mathbb{C}$ the complex numbers | |
$6 = 5+1$ | $Spin(5,1) \simeq SL(2, \mathbb{H})$ | $\mathbb{H}$ the quaternions | little string |
$10 = 9+1$ | $Spin(9,1) \simeq_{some\,sense} SL(2,\mathbb{O})$ | $\mathbb{O}$ the octonions | heterotic/type II string |