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(of a scale) constructed so that successive points along an axis, or graduations that are an equal distance apart,

represent values that are in an equal ratio.

(of a curve) forming a straight line when plotted on a logarithmic scale; exponential.

Logarithm

The graph of the logarithm to base 2 crosses the xaxis (horizontal axis) at 1 and passes through the points

with coordinates (2, 1), (4, 2), and (8, 3). For example, log2(8) = 3, because 23 = 8. The graph gets arbitrarily close to

the y axis, but does not meet or intersect it.

A full 3-ary tree can be used to visualize the exponents of 3 and how the logarithm function relates to them.

In mathematics, the logarithm is the inverse operation to exponentiation. That means the logarithm of a number is

the exponent to which another fixed value, the base, must be raised to produce that number. In simple cases the

logarithm counts repeated multiplication. For example, the base 10 logarithm of 1000 is 3, as10 to the

power 3 is 1000 (1000 = 101010 = 103); the multiplication is repeated three times. More generally, exponentiation

allows any positive real number to be raised to any real power, always producing a positive result, so the logarithm

can be calculated for any two positive real numbers b and x where b is not equal to 1. The logarithm of x to base b,

denoted logb(x), is the unique real number y such that

by = x.

For example, as 64 = 26, then:

log2(64) = 6

The logarithm to base 10 (that is b = 10) is called the common logarithm and has many applications in

science and engineering. The natural logarithm has the number e ( 2.718) as its base; its use is widespread

in mathematics and physics, because of its simpler derivative. The binary logarithm uses base 2 (that is b =

2) and is commonly used in computer science.

Logarithms were introduced by John Napier in the early 17th century as a means to simplify calculations.

They were rapidly adopted by navigators, scientists, engineers, and others to perform computations more

easily, using slide rules and logarithm tables. Tedious multi-digit multiplication steps can be replaced by

table look-ups and simpler addition because of the fact important in its own right that the logarithm of

a product is the sum of the logarithms of the factors:

provided that b, x and y are all positive and b 1. The present-day notion of logarithms comes

from Leonhard Euler, who connected them to the exponential function in the 18th century.

Logarithmic scales reduce wide-ranging quantities to tiny scopes. For example, the decibel is

a unit quantifying signal power log-ratios and amplitude log-ratios (of which sound pressure is a

common example). In chemistry, pH is a logarithmic measure for the acidity of an aqueous solution.

Logarithms are commonplace in scientific formulae, and in measurements of the complexity of

algorithms and of geometric objects called fractals. They describemusical intervals, appear in formulas

counting prime numbers, inform some models in psychophysics, and can aid in forensic accounting.

In the same way as the logarithm reverses exponentiation, the complex logarithm is the inverse

function of the exponential function applied to complex numbers. The discrete logarithm is another

variant; it has uses in public-key cryptography.

In mathematics, a radical expression is defined as any expression containing a radical () symbol.

Many people mistakenly call this a 'square root' symbol, and many times it is used to determine the

square root of a number. However, it can also be used to describe a cube root, a fourth root or

higher. When the radical symbol is used to denote any root other than a square root, there will be a

superscript number in the 'V'-shaped part of the symbol. For example, 3(8) means to find the cube

root of 8. If there is no superscript number, the radical expression is calling for the square root.

The term underneath the radical symbol is called the radicand.

Exponential Function

a function whose value is a constant raised to the power of the argument, especially the function

where the constant is e.

Exponential functions look somewhat similar to functions you have seen before, in that they involve

exponents, but there is a big difference, in that the variable is now the power, rather than the base.

Previously, you have dealt with such functions as

the number 2 was the power. In the case of exponentials, however, you will be dealing with functions

such as g(x)

= 2x, where the base is the fixed number, and the power is the variable.

x

values of x, plugging them in, and simplifying for the answers. But to evaluate 2 , we need to remember

Let's look more closely at the function

how exponents work. In particular, we need to remember that negative exponents mean "put the base on

the other side of the fraction line".

Copyright Elizabeth Stapel 2002-2011 All Rights Reserved

graphable) points, this is our T-chart:

You should expect exponentials to look like this. That is, they start small very small, so small that

they're practically indistinguishable from "y= 0", which is the x-axis and then, once they start growing,

they grow faster and faster, so fast that they shoot right up through the top of your graph.

You should also expect that your T-chart will not have many useful plot points. For instance, for x =

4 and x = 5, the y-values were too big, and for just about all the negative x-values, the y-values were too

small to see, so you would just draw the line right along the top of the x-axis.

Note also that my axis scales do not match. The scale on the x-axis is much wider than the scale on

the y-axis; the scale on the y-axis is compressed, compared with that of the x-axis. You will probably find

this technique useful when graphing exponentials, because of the way that they grow so quickly. You will

find a few T-chart points, and then, with your knowledge of the general appearance of exponentials, you'll

do your graph, with the left-hand portion of the graph usually running right along the x-axis.

You may have heard of the term "exponential growth". This "starting slow, but then growing faster and

faster all the time" growth is what they are referring to. Specifically, our function g(x) above doubled each

time we incremented x. That is, when x was increased by 1 over what it had been, y increased to twice

what it had been. This is the definition of exponential growth: that there is a consistent fixed period over

which the function will double (or triple, or quadruple, etc; the point is that the change is always a fixed

proportion). So if you hear somebody claiming that the world population is doubling every thirty years, you

know he is claiming exponential growth.

Exponential growth is "bigger" and "faster" than polynomial growth. This means that, no matter what the

degree is on a given polynomial, a given exponential function will eventually be bigger than the

polynomial. Even though the exponential function may start out really, really small, it will eventually

overtake the growth of the polynomial, since it doubles all the time.

x

catches up and overtakes x10 (at

the red circle below, where x is ten

and y is ten billion), and it's

"bigger" than x10 forever after:

Exponential functions always have some positive number other than 1 as the base. If you think about it,

having a negative number (such as 2) as the base wouldn't be very useful, since the even powers would

give you positive answers (such as "(2)2 = 4") and the odd powers would give you negative answers

(such as "(2)3 = 8"), and what would you even do with the powers that aren't whole numbers? Also,

having 0 or 1 as the base would be kind of dumb, since 0 and 1 to any power are just0 and 1,

respectively; what would be the point? This is why exponentials always have something positive and

other than 1 as the base.

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