Maths GCSE: Imaginary numbers at use in the real world

Starting with the logical roots of arithmetic with negative numbers, Marcus du Sautoy explains how mathematicians created imaginary numbers by ‘imagining’ the square root of -1.

Though imaginary in nature, he then explores how this abstract mathematical idea has become vital to air traffic control systems.

This clip is from the series The Code.

Teacher Notes

Use as an enrichment and extension clip during a series of lessons on negative numbers or powers and roots.

Once the concept has been established, students can have a go at working with complex numbers as a way of practising surds.

Curriculum Notes

These clips will be relevant for teaching Maths at KS4 and GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland.

The topics discussed will support OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC in England and Wales, CCEA in Northern Ireland and SQA in Scotland.