A complex number is a number in the form , containing both a real part and an imaginary part. The imaginary part is followed by i, which is the imaginary unit,
When multiplying complex numbers, we follow a similar process when multiplying binomial factors we may be familiar with when studying quadratics. The multiplication process is often referred to as FOIL, which distributes terms into the factors being multiplied. Let's take a moment to review FOIL with real numbers before looking at examples of complex number multiplication
FOIL stands for First, Outside, Inside, Last, and refers to terms that are multiplied together to form individual addends to the product. Here is an example:
When multiplying two complex numbers, we will be following the same procedure, but will need to make an additional consideration when the imaginary unit is squared.
Multiplying Complex Numbers
Let's multiply the complex numbers and :
The final step here is to simplify the last term, containing the imaginary unit squared. Recall that the imaginary unit is . When this is squared, it becomes the real number .
To simplify terms, we can remove completely, but reverse the sign of its coefficient. For example, simplifies to . This is a real number that can be combined with other like terms.
To multiply complex numbers, we use the FOIL process to multiply the terms in the two complex numbers. During this process, we simplify to , which is a real number.