A machine press

Why the Constant e Arises in Complex Plane as a Rotation

In the tutorial on how complex numbers arose, we asked three questions. The first two were answered in the same article while the answer to the third question, repeated below, is explained here. Why is the expression $e^{i \theta}$ a rotation of 1 by $\theta$ radians on a unit circle? Is it possible to make sense out of a number like $2.71828^{\sqrt{-1}\cdot\theta}$? The constant e is a special number discovered by Jacob Bernoulli while studying compound interests. It appears in many other forms as well which are all related to each other but that topic is a complete account in

Continue reading
(Top) An 8-PSK waveform. (Bottom) Two constellation diagrams: one at the Tx shown by thick red lines and the other at the Rx for a phase offset of 17 degrees shown by dotted purple lines

I/Q Signals 101: Neither Complex Nor Complicated

There was a recent discussion on GNU Radio mailing list in regards to the simplest possible intuition behind I/Q signals. Why is I/Q sampling required? Question: The original question from Kristoff went like this: “… when you mention `GNU Radio complex numbers’, you also have to mention I/Q signals, which is a topic that is very difficult to explain in 10 seconds to an audience who has never seen anything about I/Q sampling before.” Comment: According to Jeff Long: “This is a great thing to try to figure out. If we can come up with an answer that gives someone

Continue reading
Plots for positive integer powers of x in 3D

A Real-Imaginative Guide to Complex Numbers

June 18, 2020 On a cold morning in August 2015, I narrowly missed a train to my office in Melbourne city. With nothing else to do in the next 20 minutes, my mind wandered towards an intuitive view of complex numbers, something that has puzzled me since long. In particular, I wanted to seek answers to the following questions. (a) What is the role of the number $\sqrt{-1}$ in mathematics? What sets it apart from other impossible numbers, e.g., a number $k$ such that $|k|=-1$? (The origins of this question might lie in how I cut apple slices for my

Continue reading
A beam formation process can be seen in water waves by throwing two stones

Beamforming – Mindfulness of an Antenna Array

If beamforming has to be explained in the most succinct manner, it is the mindfulness of an antenna array where it focuses its attention towards one specific location (or a few specific locations). We find out in this article how it is achieved. As opposed to its reputation, beamforming is not a mysterious technology. It has been used by signal processing engineers for radio applications since long. For example, Marconi used four antennas to increase the gain of signal transmissions across the Atlantic in 1901. It has also been known since 1970s that multiple antennas at the base station help

Continue reading