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Techniques for Solving Logarithmic Equations

The sensitivity to light intensity of the human eye, as well as of certain optical equipment such as cameras, follows a logarithmic relationship. Adjusting the size of the aperture that permits light into the camera, called the f-stop, can compensate for poor lighting conditions. A good understanding of the underlying mathematics and optical physics is essential for the skilled photographer in such situations. You have seen that any positive number can be represented as • a power of any other positive base • a logarithm of any other positive base For example, the number 4 can be written as • a power: 41 22 16 2
1 _

• a logarithm: 10log 4 log2 16 log3 81 log 10 000

Can any of these representations of numbers be useful for solving equations that involve logarithms? If so, how?


How can you solve an equation involving logarithms?
5) 2 log (x 1). Tools • graphing calculator • grid paper

1. Use Technology Consider the equation log (x

a) Describe a method of finding the solution using graphing technology. b) Carry out your method and determine the solution. 2. a) Apply the power law of logarithms to the right side of the equation in step 1. b) Expand the squared binomial that results on the right side. 3. R e f l e c t a) How is the perfect square trinomial you obtained on the right side related to x 5, which appears on the left side of the equation? How do you know this? b) How could this be useful in finding an algebraic solution to the equation?

7.4 Techniques for Solving Logarithmic Equations • MHR


Example 1

Solve Simple Logarithmic Equations

Find the roots of each equation. a) log (x b) log5 (2x 4) 3) 1 2

a) Method 1: Use Algebraic Reasoning log (x x 4) 4 x x 1 101 10 6 Rewrite in exponential form, using base 10. Solve for x.


Method 2: Use Graphical Reasoning
Graph the left side and the right side as a linear-logarithmic system and identify the x-coordinate of their point of intersection. Let y1 log (x 4) and y2 1.
y 4

Graph y1 by graphing y log x and applying a horizontal translation of 4 units to the left.

2 4 2 0 2 4 y

y 2

log x 4

4 6x

log x

Graph the horizontal line y2 1 on the same grid, and identify the x-coordinate of the point of intersection.
y 1 4

y 4 2 2 0 2 4 y 2 log x 4 4 6x

The two functions intersect when x Therefore, x 6 is the root of the equation log (x 4) 1. CONNECTIONS If logm a logm b, then a b for any base m, as shown below. logm a logm a _ logm b logb a b1 b logm b 1 1 Use the change of base formula. a Rewrite in exponential form. a b) log5 (2x log5 (2x 2x 3) 3) 3 2x 2x x 2 log5 25 52 25 28 14


Express the right side as a base-5 logarithm.



MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 7

Example 2

Apply Factoring Strategies to Solve Equations

Solve. Identify and reject any extraneous roots. a) log (x b) log √x2


1 48x 2 _ 3

log (x


a) log (x log (x 1) 1) 1 2) 2)] 2) 1 1 log 10 log (x 2) Isolate logarithmic terms on one side of the equation. Apply the product law of logarithms. Expand the product of binomials on the left side. Express the right side as a common logarithm. log (x 1)(x

log [(x log (x


x2 x 2 x x 2 10 x2 x 12 (x 4)(x 3) x 4 or x

10 0 0 0 3

Express the quadratic equation in standard form. Solve the quadratic equation.

Looking back at the original equation, it is necessary to reject x 4 as an extraneous root. Both log (x 1) and log (x 2) are undefined for this value because the logarithm of a negative number is undefined. Therefore, the only solution is x 3. b) log √x2

48x 48x)
1 _ 3

2 _ 3 2 _ 3 2 _ 3 2 log 100 100 0 0 2 Write the radical as a power and apply the power law of logarithms. Multiply both sides by 3. Express the right side as a common logarithm.

log (x 3


1 _ log (x2 log (x2 log (x2 x2 x x

48x) 48x) 48x) 48x 100 2)

48x 50)(x


50 or x

Check these values for extraneous roots. For a valid solution, the argument in green in the equation must be positive, and the left side must equal the 3 2 _. right side: log √x2 48x 3

7.4 Techniques for Solving Logarithmic Equations • MHR


Check x
3 √x2

3 √( 3 3



48( 50) 2400

√2500 √100


log √x2


log √100

log 100 3 1 _ log 100 3 1 _ (2) 3 2 _ 3 R.S.
√100 0, and the solution satisfies the equation, so x valid solution.

1 _

50 is a

Check x

3 √(2)2






log √100 1 _ log 100 3 1 _ (2) 3 2 _ 3 R.S.

This is also a valid solution. Therefore, the roots of this equation are x 50 and x 2.



It is possible to solve an equation involving logarithms by expressing both sides as a logarithm of the same base: if a b, then log a log b, and if log a log b, then a b. When a quadratic equation is obtained, methods such as factoring or applying the quadratic formula may be useful. Some algebraic methods of solving logarithmic equations lead to extraneous roots, which are not valid solutions to the original equation.


MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 7

Communicate Your Understanding
C1 Consider the equation log4 (x 5) 2. a) Which of the following expressions are equivalent to the right side of the equation? log2 4 log4 16 log5 25 log 100 b) Which one would you use to solve the equation for x, and why? C2 Examine these graphing calculator screens.

a) What equation is being solved? b) What is the solution? Explain how you can tell. C3 Consider the following statement: “When solving a logarithmic equation that results in a quadratic, you always obtain two roots: one valid and one extraneous.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? If you agree, explain why it is correct. If you disagree, provide a counterexample.


For help with questions 3 and 4, refer to Example 2. 3. Solve. Identify and reject any extraneous roots. Check your solutions using graphing technology. a) log x b) log x 0 0 2 10) 11) 100) 1 5) 0 2 0 6 d) 1

For help with questions 1 and 2, refer to Example 1. 1. Find the roots of each equation. Check your solutions using graphing technology. a) log (x b) 2 c) 4 d) 1 f) 6 2. Solve. a) log3 (x b) 5 c) 2 d) 9 4) log2 (2x log4 (k log5 (x 1)


1 25) 62) 7) 2

log (x log 2 1) 2) 5) 2


1 16) 1 3

log (x 2 log (p log (w 8) 3 log 2n

log (2x2) log (v 9) 1) 1)

c) log (v e) log (k f) log (p

log y

log (y log (k log (p

e) log (k

4. Use Technology Refer to Example 2b). Verify the solutions to the equation using graphing technology. Explain your method.

e) log8 (t f) log3 (n


7.4 Techniques for Solving Logarithmic Equations • MHR



Connect and Apply
9. a) Is the following statement true? log ( 3) log ( 4) log 12 Explain why or why not. b) Is the following statement true? log 3 log 4 log 12 Explain why or why not. 10. The aperture setting, or f-stop, of a digital camera controls the amount of light exposure on the sensor. Each higher number of the f-stop doubles the amount of light exposure. 1 The formula n log2 _ represents the change p in the number, n, of the f-stop needed, where p is the amount of light exposed on the sensor. a) A photographer wishes to change the f-stop to accommodate a cloudy day in which 1 only _ of the sunlight is available. How many 4 f-stops does the setting need to be moved? b) If the photographer decreases the f-stop by four settings, what fraction of light is allowed to fall on the sensor? 11. a) Solve and check for any extraneous roots. 3 2 _ log √w2 10w 3
Reasoning and Proving Representing Selecting Tools

5. Solve. Check for extraneous roots. Check your results using graphing technology. 1 _ b) log √x2 48x 1 a) log √x2 3x 2 6. Solve. Identify any extraneous roots. a) log2 (x 5) log2 (2x) 8 b) log (2k 4) 1 log k 7. Use Technology Find the roots of each equation, correct to two decimal places, using graphing technology. Sketch the graphical solution. a) log (x 2) 2 log x b) 3 log (x 2) log (2x) 3 8. Chapter Problem At a concert, the loudness of sound, L, in decibels, is given by the equation I L 10 log _ , where I is the intensity, in I0 watts per square metre, and I0 is the minimum intensity of sound audible to the average person, or 1.0 10 12 W/m2. a) The sound intensity at the concert is measured to be 0.9 W/m2. How loud is the concert? b) At the concert, the person beside you whispers with a loudness of 20 dB. What is the whisper’s intensity? c) On the way home from the concert, your car stereo produces 120 dB of sound. What is its intensity? CONNECTIONS You used the decibel scale in Chapter 6. Refer to Section 6.5.

Problem Solving Connecting Reflecting

Communicating b) Solve the equation in part a) graphically. Verify that the graphical and algebraic solutions agree.


Extend and Challenge
11) 1 (_) . 2

12. Solve the equation 2 log (x Explain your method. 13. Show that if logb a c and logy b c, then loga y c 2.

15. Math Contest Given that 3 determine the value of m


1 _,

Reasoning and Proving Selecting Tools

Problem Solving Connecting Communicating Reflecting

m 16. Math Contest Let u and v be two positive real numbers satisfying the two equations u v uv 10 and u2 v2 40. What is the value of the integer closest to u v? A 4 B 5 C 6 D 7 E 8

1 _.

14. Math Contest Find the minimum value of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, where represents either or . 392 MHR • Advanced Functions • Chapter 7