Saturday, November 24, 2012

Visualizing Complex Operations

I frequently feel sad that complex numbers are not part of the IB SL curriculum. During the time when I taught Algebra 2, it was always my favorite topic to connect algebra, geometry, and the history of numbers all at once.

Here is one cute activity I used to give to my students to illustrate the relationship between complex number operations and coordinate transformations. I recently gave it off-handedly to a student at our school, who was very intrigued by this, so I thought I'd share with those of you who still teach this topic. I think this activity is very eye-opening for the students and very visual, and it gives the various algebra operations a more concrete meaning / some motivation.

I vaguely remember that I had written about this a long time ago, but here I am posting it again since I cannot find the old post. (oops. Lost in the WWW, I guess.)


  1. That's a great activity. Thanks for sharing, and I want to use it this year.


  2. Cool! You should probably modify the very end of the task. I think I gave it to them too easily that the magnitude is related to the scaling (which I think is due to time constraints). That can be changed to a more exploratory approach...