I have variables in an expression that have been previously expanded into their real and imaginary parts, that I later wish to recombine to a single variable. For example, a function or operation that would be able to convert $\sqrt{2} \,\textrm{Re}(a) - i \sqrt{2} \,\textrm{Im}(a)$ back to $\sqrt{2} \,a^*$, etc.

Is there a function I am missing that already does this? FullSimplify does achieve this, but also converts the $\sqrt{2}$ into a decimal and takes a lot of time for longer expressions, which is not ideal.


3 Answers 3


This should be pretty fast:

replaceReIm = {Re[x_] :> (x + Conjugate[x])/2, 
   Im[x_] :> (x - Conjugate[x])/(2 I)};

Simplify[Sqrt[2] Re[a] - I Sqrt[2] Im[a] /. replaceReIm]

(* ==> Sqrt[2] Conjugate[a] *)

ComplexExpand is good for the rewriting part and following up with Expand combines like terms. For ComplexExpand one needs to specify that the variable is explicitly complex-valued, and also one needs to give desired "target" functions.

 ComplexExpand[Sqrt[2] Re[a] - I Sqrt[2] Im[a], {a}, 
  TargetFunctions -> {Conjugate}]]

(* Out[831]= Sqrt[2] Conjugate[a] *)

The following works:

Sqrt[2] Re[a] - I Sqrt[2] Im[a] // FullSimplify

This yields:

Sqrt[2] Conjugate[a]
  • $\begingroup$ Correct, FullSimplify does work, but as mentioned above, is not ideal. The expression I am applying FullSimplify to is quite complicated and large, and FullSimplify tries to do much more than just look for much more than is required, causing it to have a very long runtime. Also, when I execute the above operation, I do not receive Sqrt[2] Conjugate[a] but 1.41421 Conjugate[a], which is not ideal. $\endgroup$ Aug 15, 2016 at 17:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Then, I guess, there must be some other reason why it converts this to a numeric expression. For example, if you type 2. instead of 2, it treats the expression numerically. $\endgroup$
    – andy269
    Aug 15, 2016 at 17:09

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