, or logs
for short, are essentially powers and are useful when a power is unknown.
When you come across logs, you will usually see the word ‘log’ followed by a small subscript then a number in brackets:
The subscript is known as the base and the number in brackets (although sometimes the brackets are left out) is the exponent.
It can help to understand logs by making a habit of, when reading log expressions, saying ‘the power of’ instead of the word ‘log’. The above reads as ‘the power of a to get a result of b is c’. For example, in the base is 2 and since it can be read as the power of 2 to give 8, the value of is 3.
Some other examples include:
since anything to the power of 0 is 1.
The equation can be used interchangeably with the equation
E.g. can be changed to and so x is 2.
There is a button on your calculator that can help you with powers that are not calculable in your head. The button has the word log followed by a two boxes; insert your base into the small lower box and the number that you see in brackets in the second. Use it to verify the following:
a) to 3 decimal places.
b) to 2 decimal places.
c) to 3 decimal places.
d) to 3 decimal places.
Note that the final example has no solution – it is not possible to determine the power of 3 that gives a result of -4. There is no amount of times you can multiply 3 by itself to get any negative number. Your calculator will verify this with a MATH ERROR.
See more on logs: