If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

### Course: Algebra 2>Unit 2

Lesson 3: The complex plane

# Plotting numbers on the complex plane

Understand the roles of real and imaginary parts in forming coordinates. Learn how to plot complex numbers on a unique two-dimensional grid known as the complex plane. Discover the real and imaginary parts of complex numbers, and see how they correspond to the horizontal and vertical axes.  Created by Sal Khan.

## Want to join the conversation?

• So when graphing on the complex plane, the imaginary value is in units of i? For example, if you had to graph 7 + 5i, why would you only include the coeffient of the i term? Is it because that the imaginary axis is in terms of i? Thank you :)
• Yes, you would graph it at 7 (as x) and 5 (as y).
• Could there ever be a complex number written, for example, 4i + 2? And a graph where the x axis is replaced by "Im," and the y axis is "Re"?
• The coordinate grid we use is a construct to help us understand and see what's happening. Technically, you can set it up however you like for yourself. The reason we use standard practices and conventions is to avoid confusion when sharing with others. Imagine the confusion if everyone did their graphs differently.
• Given that there is point graphing, could there be functions with i^3 or so? Or is the extent of complex numbers on a graph just a point?
• i^3 is i*i*i=i^2 * i = - 1 * i = -i. So I don't see what you mean by i to the third. And we represent complex number on a plane as ordered pair of real and imaginary part of a complex number. Though there is whole branch of mathematics dedicated to complex numbers and functions of a complex numbers called complex analysis, so there much more to it.
• Does _i_ always go on the y axis?
• It's just an arbitrary decision to put _i_ on the y-axis. But yes, it always goes on the y-axis.
• Is there any video over the complex plane that is being used in the other exercises? where complex numbers are written as cos(5/6pi) + sin(5/6pi) ?
• I'm not sure if there is a lesson that is related to that. I apologize!
• Does a point on the complex plane have any applicable meaning? Or is it simply a way to visualize a complex number?
• Both!
We can use complex numbers to solve geometry problems by putting them on the complex plane. This is a common approach in Olympiad-level geometry problems.
• so anything with an i is imaginary
• However, 'i' is always imaginary if it is not i^2
• How does the complex plane make sense? I don't understand how imaginary numbers can even be represented in a two-dimensional space, as they aren't in a number line. I've heard that it is just a representation of the magnitude of a complex number, but the "complex plane" makes even less sense than a complex number.
• So when you were in elementary school I'm sure you plotted numbers on number lines right? Well complex numbers are just like that but there are two components: a real part and an imaginary part. So if you put two number lines at right angles and plot the components on each you get the complex plane! :D
• Can complex numbers only be plotted on the complex plane with the use of cartesian and polar coordinates only?