# The Logarithmic Function

Consider $z$ any nonzero complex number. We would like to solve for $w,$ the equation \begin{eqnarray}\label{log1} e^w=z. \end{eqnarray} If $\Theta=\textbf{Arg} (z)$ with $-\pi < \Theta \leq \pi,$ then $z$ and $w$ can be written as follows \begin{eqnarray*} z=re^{i\Theta} \quad \text{and}\quad w=u+iv. \end{eqnarray*} Then equation (\ref{log1}) becomes $$e^ue^{iv}=re^{i\Theta}.$$ Thus, we have \begin{eqnarray*} e^u=r\quad\text{and}\quad v=\Theta +2n\pi \end{eqnarray*} where $n\in \mathbb Z .$ Since $e^u=r$ is the same as $u=\ln r,$ it follows that equation (\ref{log1}) is satisfied if and only if $w$ has one of the values

Therefore, the (multiple-valued) logarithmic function of a nonzero complex variable $z=re^{i\Theta}$ is defined by the formula

**Example 1:** Calculate $\log z$ for $z=-1-\sqrt{3}i.$

*Solution:* If $z=-1-\sqrt{3}i,$ then $r=2$ and $\Theta=-\frac{2\pi}{3}.$ Hence

The *principal value* of $\log z$ is the value obtained from equation (\ref{log2}) when $n =
0$
and is denoted by $\text{Log} \,z.$ Thus
$$\text{Log}\, z=\ln r +i\Theta .$$
The function $\text{Log}\, z$ is well defined and single-valued when $z\neq 0$ and that
$$\log z=\text{Log}\, z+2n\pi i\quad (n\in \mathbb Z )
$$
This is reduced to the usual logarithm in calculus when $z$ is a positive real number.

**Example 2:** Calculate $\log \left(1\right)$ and $\log
\left(-1\right).$

*Solution:* From expression (\ref{log2})
$$\log \left(1\right)=\ln 1+i\left(0+2n\pi\right)=2n\pi i\quad \quad(n\in \mathbb Z )
$$
and
$$\log \left(-1\right)=\ln 1+i\left(\pi+2n\pi\right)=\left(2n+1\right)\pi i\quad \quad(n\in
\mathbb Z )
$$
Notice that $\text{Log}\, (1)=0$ and $\text{Log}\, (-1)=\pi i.$

Expression (\ref{log2}) is also equivalent to the following: \begin{eqnarray*} \log z&=&\ln |z| +i\,\textbf{arg} (z)\\ &=&\ln |z| +i\,\textbf{Arg} (z)+2ni\,\pi \quad \quad(n\in \mathbb Z ) \end{eqnarray*}

Some basic properties of the function $\log z$ are the following:

- $\log \left(z_1 \,z_2\right)=\log z_1 + \log z_2$
- $\log\left( \dfrac{z_1}{z_2}\right)=\log z_1 -\log z_2$
- There may hold $\text{Log}\,\left(z_1 \,z_2\right)\neq \text{Log}\, z_1 + \text{Log}\, z_2$

## Branches of logarithms

From definition (\ref{log2}) let $\theta = \Theta + 2n\pi$ ($n\in \mathbb Z$), so we can write \begin{eqnarray}\label{log30} \log z = \ln r +i\theta. \end{eqnarray}

Now, let $\alpha$ be any real number. If we restrict the value of $\theta$ so that $\alpha < \theta < \alpha + 2n\pi$ , then the function

*single-value*and continuous function in the stated domain.

A *branch* of a multiple-valued function $f$ is any single-valued function $F$ that is
analytic in some domain at each point $z$ of which the value $F(z)$ is one of the values of $f.$ The
requirement of analyticity, of course, prevents $F$ from taking on a random selection of the values
of $f.$
Observe that for each fixed $\alpha,$ the single-valued function (\ref{log3}) is a branch of the
multiple-valued function (\ref{log30}). The function

A *branch cut* is a portion of a line or curve that is introduced in order to define a branch
$F$ of a multiple-valued function $f.$ Points on the branch cut for $F$ are *singular points*
of $F,$ and any point that is common to all branch cuts of $f$ is called a *branch point*.
The origin and the ray $\theta = \alpha$ make up the branch cut for the branch (\ref{log3}) of the
logarithmic function. The branch cut for the principal branch (\ref{log4}) consists of the origin
and the ray $= \pi.$ The origin is evidently a branch point for branches of the multiple-valued
logarithmic function.

We can visualize the multiple-valued nature of $\log z$ by using Riemann surfaces. The following interactive images show the real and imaginary components of $\log(z).$

*Real component of $\log z$*

*Imaginary component of $\log z$: Each branch is
identified with a different color.*

Special care must be taken in using branches of the logarithmic function, especially since expected identities involving logarithms do not always carry over from calculus.

## Final remark

Notice that for $z\neq 0,$ we have

**Example 3:** Calculate $e^{\log z},$ and $\log \left(e^z\right)$ for
$z=4i.$

*Solution:* If $z=4i,$ then $e^z=e^{4i}.$ Hence
$$\log\left(e^{4i}\right)=4i +2n\pi i$$
with $n\in \mathbb Z .$
On the other hand, we have
$$e^{\log\left(4i\right)}=4i.$$