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Rewriting equations so all powers have the same base

Sometimes the common base for an exponential equation is not explicitly shown. In these cases, we simply rewrite the terms in the equation as powers with a common base, and solve using the one-to-one property.

For example, consider the equation 256 = 4 x 5 . We can rewrite both sides of this equation as a power of 2. Then we apply the rules of exponents, along with the one-to-one property, to solve for x :

256 = 4 x 5 2 8 = ( 2 2 ) x 5 Rewrite each side as a power with base 2 . 2 8 = 2 2 x 10 Use the one-to-one property of exponents . 8 = 2 x 10 Apply the one-to-one property of exponents . 18 = 2 x Add 10 to both sides . x = 9 Divide by 2 .

Given an exponential equation with unlike bases, use the one-to-one property to solve it.

  1. Rewrite each side in the equation as a power with a common base.
  2. Use the rules of exponents to simplify, if necessary, so that the resulting equation has the form b S = b T .
  3. Use the one-to-one property to set the exponents equal.
  4. Solve the resulting equation, S = T , for the unknown.

Solving equations by rewriting them to have a common base

Solve 8 x + 2 = 16 x + 1 .

     8 x + 2 = 16 x + 1 ( 2 3 ) x + 2 = ( 2 4 ) x + 1 Write   8  and  16  as powers of   2.     2 3 x + 6 = 2 4 x + 4 To take a power of a power, multiply exponents .     3 x + 6 = 4 x + 4 Use the one-to-one property to set the exponents equal .             x = 2 Solve for  x .
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Solve 5 2 x = 25 3 x + 2 .

x = 1

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Solving equations by rewriting roots with fractional exponents to have a common base

Solve 2 5 x = 2 .

2 5 x = 2 1 2 Write the square root of  2 as a power of   2. 5 x = 1 2 Use the one-to-one property . x = 1 10 Solve for  x .
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Solve 5 x = 5 .

x = 1 2

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Do all exponential equations have a solution? If not, how can we tell if there is a solution during the problem-solving process?

No. Recall that the range of an exponential function is always positive. While solving the equation, we may obtain an expression that is undefined.

Solving an equation with positive and negative powers

Solve 3 x + 1 = −2.

This equation has no solution. There is no real value of x that will make the equation a true statement because any power of a positive number is positive.

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Solve 2 x = −100.

The equation has no solution.

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Solving exponential equations using logarithms

Sometimes the terms of an exponential equation cannot be rewritten with a common base. In these cases, we solve by taking the logarithm of each side. Recall, since log ( a ) = log ( b ) is equivalent to a = b , we may apply logarithms with the same base on both sides of an exponential equation.

Given an exponential equation in which a common base cannot be found, solve for the unknown.

  1. Apply the logarithm of both sides of the equation.
    • If one of the terms in the equation has base 10, use the common logarithm.
    • If none of the terms in the equation has base 10, use the natural logarithm.
  2. Use the rules of logarithms to solve for the unknown.

Solving an equation containing powers of different bases

Solve 5 x + 2 = 4 x .

           5 x + 2 = 4 x There is no easy way to get the powers to have the same base .          ln 5 x + 2 = ln 4 x Take ln of both sides .      ( x + 2 ) ln 5 = x ln 4 Use laws of logs .    x ln 5 + 2 ln 5 = x ln 4 Use the distributive law .    x ln 5 x ln 4 = 2 ln 5 Get terms containing  x  on one side, terms without  x  on the other . x ( ln 5 ln 4 ) = 2 ln 5 On the left hand side, factor out an  x .            x ln ( 5 4 ) = ln ( 1 25 ) Use the laws of logs .                    x = ln ( 1 25 ) ln ( 5 4 ) Divide by the coefficient of  x .
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Questions & Answers

what is set?
Kelvin Reply
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
I got 300 minutes. is it right?
no. should be about 150 minutes.
It should be 158.5 minutes.
ok, thanks
100•3=300 300=50•2^x 6=2^x x=log_2(6) =2.5849625 so, 300=50•2^2.5849625 and, so, the # of bacteria will double every (100•2.5849625) = 258.49625 minutes
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?
how to convert general to standard form with not perfect trinomial
Camalia Reply
can get some help inverse function
Rectangle coordinate
Asma Reply
how to find for x
Jhon Reply
it depends on the equation
yeah, it does. why do we attempt to gain all of them one side or the other?
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; thanks for putting it out there like that, 😁
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
dont forget the cube in each variable ;)
of she solves that, well ... then she has a lot of computational force under her command ....
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.
yes..it is a relationo of orders pairs of sets one or more input that leads to a exactly one output.
Is a rule that assigns to each element X in a set A exactly one element, called F(x), in a set B.
Practice Key Terms 1

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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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