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.
A Python complex number z is stored internally using rectangular or Cartesian coordinates. It is completely determined by its real part z.real and its imaginary part z.imag. In other words:
z == z.real + z.imag*1j
Polar coordinates give an alternative way to represent a complex number. In polar coordinates, a complex number z is defined by the modulus r and the phase angle phi. The modulus r is the distance from z to the origin, while the phase phi is the counterclockwise angle, measured in radians, from the positive x-axis to the line segment that joins the origin to z.
The following functions can be used to convert from the native rectangular coordinates to polar coordinates and back.
Return the phase of x (also known as the argument of x), as a float. phase(x) is equivalent to math.atan2(x.imag, x.real). The result lies in the range [-π, π], and the branch cut for this operation lies along the negative real axis, continuous from above. On systems with support for signed zeros (which includes most systems in current use), this means that the sign of the result is the same as the sign of x.imag, even when x.imag is zero:
>>> phase(complex(-1.0, 0.0)) 3.141592653589793 >>> phase(complex(-1.0, -0.0)) -3.141592653589793
The modulus (absolute value) of a complex number x can be computed using the built-in abs() function. There is no separate cmath module function for this operation.
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.