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**Dr. Mitch Hoselton 8/17/2005
**

Physics: An Incremental Development, John H. Saxon, Jr.

Lesson 00-A1-Exponents

Exponents are a concise way of expressing multiplication and roots. A square with

sides of length a has an area of a × a, which is more concisely written as a

2

(a raised to

the second power). This is often read as “a squared.” Similarly, a cube of side a has a

volume of a × a × a, which is more concisely written as a

3

(a raised to the third power)

or “a cubed.” In general, a raised to the nth power is a

n

, where the exponent n can be

any real number, fractional or whole, positive or negative.

Quantities raised to various powers often appear in equations where they may be

multiplied or divided. Thus, a

2

× a

3

= (a × a × a) × (a × a) = (a × a × a × a × a) = a

5

.

This is a general result, such that

(a

n

)( a

m

) = a

n+m

When the base numbers (a in this case) are the same, the exponents add when you

multiply. Alternatively, when the base numbers are different but the exponents are the

same the bases are multiplied

(a

n

)(b

n

) = (a × b)

n

Division with exponents has a similar set of rules. Thus a

3

/ a

2

= (a × a × a)/(a × a) = a.

This is a general result. When the base numbers are the same, the exponent in the

denominator is subtracted from the exponent in the numerator. Thus, as a general rule

a

n

/ a

m

= a

n−m

This suggests another frequently encountered definition,

1/ a

m

= a

0

/ a

m

= a

0−m

= a

−m

For example, 1/5 = 5

−1

; 1/2

2

= 2

−2

; 1/7

−2

= 7

−(−2)

= 7

+2

. Since we know that a/a = 1, it

follows in this notation that a / a = a

1−1

= a

0

= 1. In fact, any number, quantity or

variable raised to the zero power equals 1. Here are some other simple rules governing

arithmetic using exponents.

n

Fractional exponents are roots: a

1/n

= √a; √ a √ a = a

½

a

½

= a

½+½

= a

1

= a

Powers undo roots and vise versa: (a

1/n

)

n

= a

n/n

= a

1

= a. In general, raising an

exponent to a power is accomplished by multiplying the exponents together.

Since we know that (25

½

)

2

= (5)

2

= 25. It follows as a general rule that (a

n

)

m

= a

nm

,

where n and m can be whole or fractional, positive or negative.

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- Dielectrics MC Questions.pdf
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- Cyclotron MC Questions.pdf
- Coulomb's Law MC Questions.pdf
- Conservation of Energy without Friction MC Questions.pdf
- Conservation of Energy without Friction MC Questions.pdf
- Conservation of Energy with Friction MC Questions.pdf
- Capacitor Circuits MC Questions.pdf
- Capacitor Circuits MC Questions.pdf
- Calculating Voltage MC Questions.pdf
- Biot Savart MC Questions.pdf
- B Force on a Wire MC Questions.pdf
- 5-Vector-Calculus-Wikibook.pdf
- B Force on a Moving Charge MC Questions.pdf
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- Angular Momentum MC Questions.pdf

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