# Thread: Help with imaginary roots

1. ## Help with imaginary roots

$y''''+y=0$
The characteristic equation yields $r^4=1$
The four roots of unity are 1,-1, i, and -i
I get that $y_{1}=e^x$ and $y_{2}=e^{-x}$, but my book says that $y_{3}=e^{ix}$ reduces to $y_{3}=\cos{x}$ because of Euler's equation. I can't figure out where the $+i\sin{x}$ goes. The same with $y_{4}=\sin{x}$
Any help?

2. Isn't the characteristic equation $r^{4}+1=0,$ or $r^{4}=-1?$ Then you'd be trying to find the fourth roots of $-1$.

3. Yes, I typed it wrong. It should have read $y''''-y=0$. Thanks for looking.

4. Originally Posted by polarbear73
$y''''+y=0$
The characteristic equation yields $r^4=1$
The four roots of unity are 1,-1, i, and -i
I get that $y_{1}=e^x$ and $y_{2}=e^{-x}$, but my book says that $y_{3}=e^{ix}$ reduces to $y_{3}=\cos{x}$ because of Euler's equation. I can't figure out where the $+i\sin{x}$ goes. The same with $y_{4}=\sin{x}$
Any help?
I suspect you are misreading your text book. If i and -i are roots of the characteristic equation, then, yes, $e^{ix}$ and $e^{-ix}$ are solutions and the general solution will be of the form $Ae^{ix}+ Be{-ix}$ (I am dropping the $e^x$ and $e^{-x}$ since they are not relevant to this point).

Now, as you know, $e^{ix}= cos(x)+ isin(x)$ and $e^{-ix}= cos(x)- i sin(x)$ (because cos(x) is an even function and sin(x) is an odd function). That gives $Ae^{ix}+ Be^{-ix}= A(cos(x)+ i sin(x))+ B(cos(x)- i sin(x))= (A+ B)cos(x)+ i(A- B)sin(x)$ and, defining C to be A+ B and D to be (A- B)i, this is Ccos(x)+D sin(x).

That is, it is the $e^{ix}$ and $e^{-ix}$ together that give both trig functions. It is NOT the case that $e^{ix}$ alone gives "cos(x)" and $e^{-ix}$ alone gives "sin(x)".

5. Hey- Thanks for your time. Unfortunately, I'm not misreading. And it's actually not a text book, it has the word "Dummies" in the title, and that might be part of the problem. I'm going to forge on and hope I can learn something. I'm going to see if I can arrive at the correct general solution to that DE.