The world is 3D and data of it is usually (as far as I know) represented and processed with real numbers. I've seen very few cases where complex numbers are used in programming and none when it comes to processing anything that doesn't explicitly require complex numbers.

How are complex numbers used it Computer Science and Programming? Which areas in CS/IT use it?


I haven't seen them pop up a lot in "Computer Science" per say but there are quite a few closely related fields where they are very present.

I can think of signal processing for example, where Fourier transforms and other complex transformations are fundamental tools. Designing filters for signals also often boils down to placing poles in the complex plane.

In control theory and the analysis of complex systems you also sometimes analyse the stability of systems by looking at complex poles of algebraic fractions.

I imagine complex numbers must pup op a lot in quantum computing also, as a pure quantum state is represented as a complex vector in some basis.

I am only passingly familiar with the fields I mentioned so there might be a lot more ways complex numbers are used in them, and also a lot more fields I am not familiar with.

  • $\begingroup$ The only examples I can think of so far are in Electrical Engineering and Fourier analysis. $\endgroup$ – John Zhau Nov 21 '19 at 2:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.