This module is always available. It provides access to mathematical functions for complex numbers. The functions in this module accept integers, floating-point numbers or complex numbers as arguments. They will also accept any Python object that has either a __complex__() or a __float__() method: these methods are used to convert the object to a complex or floating-point number, respectively, and the function is then applied to the result of the conversion.
On platforms with hardware and system-level support for signed zeros, functions involving branch cuts are continuous on both sides of the branch cut: the sign of the zero distinguishes one side of the branch cut from the other. On platforms that do not support signed zeros the continuity is as specified below.
Complex numbers can be expressed by two important coordinate systems. Python’s complex type uses rectangular coordinates where a number on the complex plain is defined by two floats, the real part and the imaginary part.
z = x + 1j * y x := real(z) y := imag(z)
In engineering the polar coordinate system is popular for complex numbers. In polar coordinates a complex number is defined by the radius r and the phase angle phi. The radius r is the absolute value of the complex, which can be viewed as distance from (0, 0). The radius r is always 0 or a positive float. The phase angle phi is the counter clockwise angle from the positive x axis, e.g. 1 has the angle 0, 1j has the angle π/2 and -1 the angle -π.
While phase() and func:polar return +π for a negative real they may return -π for a complex with a very small negative imaginary part, e.g. -1-1E-300j.
z = r * exp(1j * phi) z = r * cis(phi) r := abs(z) := sqrt(real(z)**2 + imag(z)**2) phi := phase(z) := atan2(imag(z), real(z)) cis(phi) := cos(phi) + 1j * sin(phi)
The module also defines two mathematical constants:
Note that the selection of functions is similar, but not identical, to that in module math. The reason for having two modules is that some users aren’t interested in complex numbers, and perhaps don’t even know what they are. They would rather have math.sqrt(-1) raise an exception than return a complex number. Also note that the functions defined in cmath always return a complex number, even if the answer can be expressed as a real number (in which case the complex number has an imaginary part of zero).
A note on branch cuts: They are curves along which the given function fails to be continuous. They are a necessary feature of many complex functions. It is assumed that if you need to compute with complex functions, you will understand about branch cuts. Consult almost any (not too elementary) book on complex variables for enlightenment. For information of the proper choice of branch cuts for numerical purposes, a good reference should be the following:
Kahan, W: Branch cuts for complex elementary functions; or, Much ado about nothing’s sign bit. In Iserles, A., and Powell, M. (eds.), The state of the art in numerical analysis. Clarendon Press (1987) pp165-211.