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From Phil Steitz <>
Subject Re: [math] Complex nth roots
Date Sat, 03 Jan 2009 03:14:51 GMT
Phil Steitz wrote:
> Phil Steitz wrote:
>> Thanks, Bernhard for the contribution in MATH-236.  I would like to 
>> suggest a couple of improvements.
>> First, I think the return type should be List, not Collection, as 
>> there is an order to the elements in the returned collection (as 
>> stated in the API doc, the order is by increasing argument).
>> Second,  since we are also making the method that returns the 
>> argument public, I would prefer to name that "getArgument" 
>> (preferred) or "getArg" instead of "getPhi".
>> Finally,  in the loop that generates the roots, it would be better to 
>> compute the pie slice once and then add it each time instead of 
>> computing k* 2 * Math.PI/ n for each k > 1.
>> If there are no objections, I will make these changes.
>> Thanks again for the contribution.
>> Phil
> I made the changes above, but as I was updating the tests, I noticed 
> another thing.   Behavior for complex numbers with NaN and infinite 
> parts is, well, "interesting."  It is consistent with what we do 
> elsewhere in this class to just apply computational formulas and 
> document behavior for infinite and NaN; but the current implementation 
> is hard to document correctly and the results are a little strange for 
> infinite values.
> I see three reasonable choices here, and am interested in others' 
> opinions.  Please select from the following or suggest something else.
> 1) Leave as is and just point out that the computational formula will 
> behave strangely for infinite values.
> 2) return {Complex.NaN} or {Complex.INF} respectively when the number 
> has a NaN or infinite part.
> 3) return {Complex.NaN} when either part is NaN; but for infinite 
> values, compute the argument using getArgument (atan2), generate the 
> arguments for the roots from this and select the real/im parts of the 
> roots from {0, inf, -inf} to match the argument (this will always be 
> possible because atan2 always returns a multiple of pi/4 for infinite 
> arguments).  For example, the 4th roots of real positive infinity 
> would be {inf + 0i, 0 + infi, -inf + 0i, 0 + -infi}
> 2) is probably the most defensible mathematically; but 3) is closer to 
> the spirit of C99x.  Unfortunately, since our implementation of 
> multiply is 2)-like, 3) does not guarantee that nth roots actually 
> solve the equation r^n = z.
> Phil
Sorry, just realized that 3) will not work in general, so choice is 1),  
2)  or a better idea.


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