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12.4 Imaginary Constants

A complex number consists of a real part plus an imaginary part. (You may omit one part if it is zero.) This section explains how to write numeric constants with imaginary values. By adding these to ordinary real-valued numeric constants, we can make constants with complex values.

The simple way to write an imaginary-number constant is to attach the suffix ‘i’ or ‘I’, or ‘j’ or ‘J’, to an integer or floating-point constant. For example, 2.5fi has type _Complex float and 3i has type _Complex int. The four alternative suffix letters are all equivalent.

The other way to write an imaginary constant is to multiply a real constant by _Complex_I, which represents the imaginary number i. Standard C doesn’t support suffixing with ‘i’ or ‘j’, so this clunky method is needed.

To write a complex constant with a nonzero real part and a nonzero imaginary part, write the two separately and add them, like this:

4.0 + 3.0i

That gives the value 4 + 3i, with type _Complex double.

Such a sum can include multiple real constants, or none. Likewise, it can include multiple imaginary constants, or none. For example:

_Complex double foo, bar, quux;

foo = 2.0i + 4.0 + 3.0i; /* Imaginary part is 5.0. */
bar = 4.0 + 12.0; /* Imaginary part is 0.0. */
quux = 3.0i + 15.0i; /* Real part is 0.0. */

See Complex Data Types.