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In this section, you will:
  • Convert from logarithmic to exponential form.
  • Convert from exponential to logarithmic form.
  • Evaluate logarithms.
  • Use common logarithms.
  • Use natural logarithms.
Photo of the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan with a focus on the Japanese flag.
Devastation of March 11, 2011 earthquake in Honshu, Japan. (credit: Daniel Pierce)

In 2010, a major earthquake struck Haiti, destroying or damaging over 285,000 homes http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2010/us2010rja6/#summary. Accessed 3/4/2013. . One year later, another, stronger earthquake devastated Honshu, Japan, destroying or damaging over 332,000 buildings, http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/#summary. Accessed 3/4/2013. like those shown in [link] . Even though both caused substantial damage, the earthquake in 2011 was 100 times stronger than the earthquake in Haiti. How do we know? The magnitudes of earthquakes are measured on a scale known as the Richter Scale. The Haitian earthquake registered a 7.0 on the Richter Scale http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2010/us2010rja6/. Accessed 3/4/2013. whereas the Japanese earthquake registered a 9.0. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/#details. Accessed 3/4/2013.

The Richter Scale is a base-ten logarithmic scale. In other words, an earthquake of magnitude 8 is not twice as great as an earthquake of magnitude 4. It is 10 8 4 = 10 4 = 10,000 times as great! In this lesson, we will investigate the nature of the Richter Scale and the base-ten function upon which it depends.

Converting from logarithmic to exponential form

In order to analyze the magnitude of earthquakes or compare the magnitudes of two different earthquakes, we need to be able to convert between logarithmic and exponential form. For example, suppose the amount of energy released from one earthquake were 500 times greater than the amount of energy released from another. We want to calculate the difference in magnitude. The equation that represents this problem is 10 x = 500 , where x represents the difference in magnitudes on the Richter Scale . How would we solve for x ?

We have not yet learned a method for solving exponential equations. None of the algebraic tools discussed so far is sufficient to solve 10 x = 500. We know that 10 2 = 100 and 10 3 = 1000 , so it is clear that x must be some value between 2 and 3, since y = 10 x is increasing. We can examine a graph, as in [link] , to better estimate the solution.

Graph of the intersections of the equations y=10^x and y=500.

Estimating from a graph, however, is imprecise. To find an algebraic solution, we must introduce a new function. Observe that the graph in [link] passes the horizontal line test. The exponential function y = b x is one-to-one , so its inverse, x = b y is also a function. As is the case with all inverse functions, we simply interchange x and y and solve for y to find the inverse function. To represent y as a function of x , we use a logarithmic function of the form y = log b ( x ) . The base b logarithm of a number is the exponent by which we must raise b to get that number.

We read a logarithmic expression as, “The logarithm with base b of x is equal to y , ” or, simplified, “log base b of x is y . ” We can also say, “ b raised to the power of y is x , ” because logs are exponents. For example, the base 2 logarithm of 32 is 5, because 5 is the exponent we must apply to 2 to get 32. Since 2 5 = 32 , we can write log 2 32 = 5. We read this as “log base 2 of 32 is 5.”

Questions & Answers

a colony of bacteria is growing exponentially doubling in size every 100 minutes. how much minutes will it take for the colony of bacteria to triple in size
Divya Reply
what is the importance knowing the graph of circular functions?
Arabella Reply
can get some help basic precalculus
ismail Reply
What do you need help with?
Andrew
how to convert general to standard form with not perfect trinomial
Camalia Reply
can get some help inverse function
ismail
Rectangle coordinate
Asma Reply
how to find for x
Jhon Reply
it depends on the equation
Robert
whats a domain
mike Reply
The domain of a function is the set of all input on which the function is defined. For example all real numbers are the Domain of any Polynomial function.
Spiro
foci (–7,–17) and (–7,17), the absolute value of the differenceof the distances of any point from the foci is 24.
Churlene Reply
difference between calculus and pre calculus?
Asma Reply
give me an example of a problem so that I can practice answering
Jenefa Reply
x³+y³+z³=42
Robert
dont forget the cube in each variable ;)
Robert
of she solves that, well ... then she has a lot of computational force under her command ....
Walter
what is a function?
CJ Reply
I want to learn about the law of exponent
Quera Reply
explain this
Hinderson Reply
what is functions?
Angel Reply
A mathematical relation such that every input has only one out.
Spiro
yes..it is a relationo of orders pairs of sets one or more input that leads to a exactly one output.
Mubita
Is a rule that assigns to each element X in a set A exactly one element, called F(x), in a set B.
RichieRich
If the plane intersects the cone (either above or below) horizontally, what figure will be created?
Feemark Reply
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, Precalculus. OpenStax CNX. Jan 19, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11667/1.6
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