# Roots of Complex Numbers

Recall that if $z=x+iy$ is a *nonzero* complex number, then it can be written in polar form as
\[z=r(\cos \theta +i \sin \theta)\]
where $r=\sqrt{x^2+y^2}$ and $\theta$ is the angle, in radians,
from the positive $x$-axis to the ray connecting the origin to the point $z.$

Now, *de Moivre's formula* establishes that if $z=r(\cos \theta +i\sin \theta)$
and $n$ is a positive integer, then
\begin{eqnarray*}
z^n=r^n(\cos n\theta+i\sin n\theta).
\end{eqnarray*}

Let $w$ be a complex number. Using de Moivre's formula will help us to solve the equation $$z^n=w$$ for $z$ when $w$ is given.

Suppose that $w=r(\cos \theta +i\sin \theta)$ and $z=\rho (\cos \psi +i\sin \psi).$ Then de Moivre's formula gives $$z^n=\rho^n(\cos n\psi+i\sin n\psi).$$ It follows that $$\rho^n=r=|w|$$ by uniqueness of the polar representation and $$n\psi = \theta +k(2\pi),$$ where $k$ is some integer. Thus

Using *Euler's formula*:
$$e^{i\theta}=\cos \theta +i \sin \theta,$$
the complex number $z=r(\cos \theta +i\sin \theta)$ can also be written in exponential form as
$$z=re^{i\theta} = r \,\mbox{exp}(i \theta).$$

Thus, the $n$th roots of a nonzero complex number $z\neq 0$ can also be expressed as

The applet below shows a geometrical representation of the $n$th roots of a complex number, up to $n=10.$ Drag the red point around to change the value of $z$ or drag the sliders.

**Code**

Enter the following script in GeoGebra
to explore it yourself and make your own version. The symbol `#`

indicates comments.

```
#Complex number
Z = 1 + ί
#Modulus of Z
r = abs(Z)
#Angle of Z
theta = atan2(y(Z), x(Z))
#Number of roots
n = Slider(2, 10, 1, 1, 150, false, true, false, false)
#Plot n-roots
nRoots = Sequence(r^(1/n) * exp( ί * ( theta/n + 2 * pi * k/n ) ), k, 0, n-1)
```

**Exercise:** From the exponential form (\ref{expform})
of the roots, show that all the $n$th roots lie on the circle $|z|=\sqrt[n]{r}$ about the origin and
are equally spaced every $2\pi/n$ radians, starting with argument $\theta/n.$