who coined the term "real numbers" (was Re: Against PEP 240)

Mikael Olofsson mikael at isy.liu.se
Fri Jun 1 13:43:37 CEST 2001


On 01-Jun-2001 Alex Martelli wrote:
 >  "Complex" is due to Gauss, 1831, specifically at first for numbers
 >  of the form a+bi with a and b both integers -- "Tales numeros
 >  vocabimus numeros integros complexos, ita quidem, ut reales
 >  complexis non opponantur, sed tamquam species sub his contineri
 >  censeatur".  Earlier, they were called "imaginary".

Today, numbers of the form a+bi with a and b both integers are called 
Gaussian integers. If you wish, you can say that the set is generated
by i, which is normally written <i>. This is also a square lattice in 
the complex field. If you instead use a hexagonal lattice in the complex 
field, you get the so called Eisenstein integers. This set is generated
by a third root of unity, i.e. e**(2pi/3).

yet-another-off-topic-science-thread-ly yr's
/Mikael

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