Complex analysis is a rich subject that is of foundational importance in mathematics and science. This module develops the theory of functions of a complex variable, emphasising their geometric properties and indicating some applications. In studying the module, you will consolidate many of the mathematical ideas and methods that you have learned in earlier modules, and it will set you in good stead for tackling further fields of study in mathematics, engineering and physics.
What you will study
There is no real number whose square is –1, but mathematicians long ago invented a system of numbers, called complex numbers, in which the square root of –1 does exist. These complex numbers can be thought of as points in a plane, in which the arithmetic of complex numbers can be pictured. When the ideas of calculus are applied to functions of a complex variable a powerful and elegant theory emerges, known as complex analysis.
The module shows how complex analysis can be used to:
- determine the sums of many infinite series
- evaluate many improper integrals
- find the zeros of polynomial functions
- give information about the distribution of large prime numbers
- model fluid flow past an aerofoil
- generate certain fractal sets whose classification leads to the Mandelbrot set.
The module consists of thirteen units split between four books:
Book A: Complex numbers and functions
Book B: Integration of complex functions
- Complex numbers
- Complex functions
Book C: Geometric methods in complex analysis
- Cauchy’s Theorem
- Taylor series
- Laurent series
Book D: Applications of complex analysis
- Zeros and extrema
- Conformal mappings
- Fluid flows
- The Mandelbrot set
The texts have many worked examples, problems and exercises (all with full solutions), and there is a module handbook that includes reference material, the main results and an index.
You can find the full content list on the Open mathematics and statistics website.
You will learn
Successful study of this module should enhance your skills in understanding complex mathematical texts, working with abstract concepts, constructing solutions to problems logically and communicating mathematical ideas clearly.
This module may help you to gain membership of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). For further information, see the IMA website.
There is no formal pre-requisite study, but you must have the required mathematical skills.
You can check you’re ready for M337 and see the topics it covers here.
Talk to an advisor if you’re not sure you’re ready.
You should aim to be confident and fluent with the concepts covered in the Are you ready? quiz here, and follow the advice in the quiz.
The key topics to revise include:
- complex numbers and algebra
- differential and integral calculus.
One of the following is ideal preparation: Pure mathematics (M208), Mathematical methods, models and modelling (MST210), Mathematical methods (MST224).
You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:
- a week-by-week study planner
- course-specific module materials
- audio and video content
- assessment details, instructions and guidance
- online tutorial access
- access to student and tutor group forums.
You’ll be provided with printed books covering the content of the module, including explanations, examples and activities to aid your understanding of the concepts and associated skills and techniques. You’ll also receive a printed module handbook.
You will need
A scientific calculator would be useful but is not essential.
You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).
Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.
To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).
Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.
Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.
It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.