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Tutorial to explain the nature of logarithms and their use in our courses.

• 1.000 = 106 (one million).000. . and Log (1.What is a Logarithm? • The common or base-10 logarithm of a number is the power to which 10 must be raised to give the number. the logarithm of 100 is equal to 2. This is written as: Log(100) = 2.000) = 6. • Since 100 = 102.000.

0001) = -4.Logs of small numbers • 0. and Log(0. their logs approach negative infinity. All numbers less than one have negative logarithms. .0001 = 10-4. • The logarithm is not defined for negative numbers. • As the numbers get smaller and smaller.

699 .Numbers not exact powers of 10 • Logarithms are defined for all positive numbers. • Since Log (100) = 2 and Log (1000) = 3. Log(500) = 2. then it follows that the logarithm of 500 must be between 2 and 3. • In fact.

Log (0.4 • What would be the logarithm of 0.Small Numbers not exact powers of 10 • Log(0.155 .0001) = .0007? Since it is between the two numbers above.0007) = -3.001) = -3 and Log (0. • In fact. its logarithm should be between -3 and -4.

• The following table presents an example: . • Time scales can vary from fractions of a second to billions of years. • You might want to compare masses that vary from the mass of an electron to that of a star. Comparison by order of magnitude using logs is much more effective. Direct comparison of these numbers can be difficult.Why Logarithms? • In scientific applications it is common to compare numbers of greatly varying magnitude.

Years before present (YBP) Formation of Earth Dinosaur extinction First hominids Last great ice age First irrigation of crops Establishment of UWB 4.5 x 107 YBP 2 x 106 YBP 1 x 10 YBP 6 x 103 YBP 1 x 10 YBP 4 Declaration of Independence 2 x 102 YBP .6 x 109 YBP 6.

in os au rs H om in id s Ic e Ag e Irr ig at In io de n pe nd en ce Ea rt h D U W B .E+09 0.E+09 2.E+09 1.E+00 All except the first two data points are hidden on the axis.E+09 4.E+09 3.Data plotted with linear scale Events from Table I Years before present 5.

and the plot will distinguish between the ages of the various events. the display of it with a linear axis is useless.Use Logs of Ages • Because the data spans such a large range. plot the logarithm of the tabular data. . It makes all events more recent than the dinosaurs to appear the same! • Instead. Now the range to be plotted will be much smaller.

301 4.301 1.000 3.Log (YBP) EVENT Formation of Earth Dinosaur extinction First hominids Last great ice age First irrigation of crops Establishment of UWB YBP 4.6 x 10 2 x 106 1 x 104 6 x 103 1 x 10 9 Log(YBP) 9.663 7.813 6.000 6.5 x 107 Declaration of Independence 2 x 102 .778 2.

Plot using Logs Events from Table I 10 Log(YBP) 8 6 4 2 0 All data are well represented despite their wide range. in os au rs H om in id s Ic e Ag e Irr ig at In io de n pe nd en ce Ea rt h D U W B .

301 1.Your calculator should have a button marked LOG.699 .875 101 0. Make sure you can use it to generate this table.875 1.699 102.000 0.000 2. N 1000 200 75 10 5 N as power of 10 Log (N) 10 10 10 3 3.301 1.

1 0. N 1 0.Also make sure you can use it to generate this table.001 N as power of 10 Log (N) 10 10 10 0 -1 0 -1 -1.398 10-1.00004 10-4.208 -3 0.208 -3 -4.398 .062 0.

Antilogs? • The operation that is the logical reverse of taking a logarithm is called taking the antilogarithm of a number. The antilog of a number is the result obtained when you raise 10 to that number.0001 because 10-4 = 0. • The antilog of -4 is 0. • The antilog of 2 is 100 because 102=100.0001 .

. your calculator should have one of the following: • A button marked LOG-1 • A button marked 10x • A button marked ALOG • A two-button sequence such as INV followed by LOG.Find the antilog function on your calculator. • To take antilogs.

N 3 1.62 10 1 0.5 1 100 -2 -3.5 1 0 -2 -3.01 0.4 .4 As a power of 10 Antilog(N) 10 10 10 10 3 1000 31.Make sure you can use your calculator to generate this table.0003981 101.

398 10-1.398 . N 1 0.Also make sure you can use it to generate this table.208 -3 0.208 -3 -4.00004 10-4.001 N as power of 10 Log (N) 10 10 10 0 -1 0 -1 -1.1 0.062 0.

See the tutorial on Natural Logs if this the case for you. . These can be used to obtain common (base10) logarithms and antilogs.Natural Logarithms Some calculators (especially business models) may have only natural logarithms.

Return to Math Tutorial Page Return to Prof. Jackels’ Home Page .This is the End ...

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