root of unity

A root of unity  is a number $\omega$ such that some power $\omega^{n}$, where $n$ is a positive integer, equals to $1$.

Specifically, if $K$ is a field, then the $n$th roots of unity in $K$ are the numbers $\omega$ in $K$ such that $\omega^{n}=1$. Equivalently, they are all the roots of the polynomial  $X^{n}-1$. No matter what field $K$ is, the polynomial can never have more than $n$ roots. Clearly $1$ is an example; if $n$ is even, then $-1$ will also be an example. Beyond this, the list of possibilities depends on $K$.

If an element $\omega$ is an $n$th root of unity but is not an $m$th root of unity for any $0, then $\omega$ is called a $n$th root of unity. For example, the number $\zeta$ defined above is a $n$th root of unity. If $\omega\in\mathbb{C}$ is a primitive $n$th root of unity, then all of the primitive $n$th roots of unity have the form $\omega^{m}$ for some $m\in\mathbb{Z}$ with $\gcd(m,n)=1$.

The roots of unity in any field have many special relationships to one another, some of which are true in general and some of which depend on the field. It is upon these relationships that the various algorithms for computing fast Fourier transforms are based.

Finally, one could ask about similar situations where $K$ is not a field but some more general object. Here, things are much more complicated. For example, in the ring of endomorphisms of a vector space  , the unipotent linear transformations are the closest analogue to roots of unity. They still form a group, but there may be many more of them than $n$. In a finite group  , every element $g$ has a power $n$ such that $g^{n}=1$.

 Title root of unity Canonical name RootOfUnity Date of creation 2014-11-06 15:47:15 Last modified on 2014-11-06 15:47:15 Owner alozano (2414) Last modified by pahio (2872) Numerical id 17 Author alozano (2872) Entry type Definition Classification msc 11-00 Classification msc 11-02 Related topic CyclotomicPolynomial Related topic ExamplesOfCyclotomicPolynomials Related topic RamanujanSum Related topic Unity Related topic CriterionForConstructibilityOfRegularPolygon Related topic BinomialEquation Defines primitive $n$th root of unity Defines primitive root of unity