Exponential and logarithmic functions (§§6.3&6.4)

The next couple of weeks will be about exponential and logarithmic functions. Logarithms are particularly useful in many applications of mathematics.

Exponential functions

Recall that a power function is a function f of the form for some constant n called the exponent of the function. In contrast, an exponential function is a function f of the form for some constant b called the base of the function. The base should be a positive number, so that bx makes sense for every real number x.

Recall that a linear function is a function f of the form

for some constants m and b. Analogously, a generalised exponential function is a function f of the form for some constants b and C.

If you don't remember any other values of a generalised exponential function, remember these:

The domain of a generalised exponential function is the set of all real numbers; as long as b ≠ 1, the range of the exponential function with that base is the set of all positive numbers. (Because b is positive, bx is also positive.) Then the range of a generalised exponential function is the set of all real numbers with the same sign as C. If C > 0 and b > 1, then the generalised exponential function is increasing; if either of these is reversed, then the function is decreasing; if both are reversed, then it's increasing again. (If b = 1 or C = 0, then the exponential function is constant.)

Logarithmic functions

As long as b ≠ 1, the exponential function with base b is one-to-one, so it has an inverse. A logarithmic function is an inverse of an exponential function. These two statements mean exactly the same thing:

If you don't remember any other values of a logarithmic function, remember these:

The domain of a logarithmic function is the set of all positive numbers; the range is the set of all real numbers. (A logarithm of a negative number is imaginary.) If b > 1, then the logarithmic function is increasing; if b < 1, then the logarithmic function is decreasing.

There are abbreviations for logarithms with certain special bases:

The book's favourite base is 10, which I will also use.
Go back to the course homepage.
Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

This web page was written between 2011 and 2013 by Toby Bartels, last edited on 2013 May 9. Toby reserves no legal rights to it.

The permanent URI of this web page is http://tobybartels.name/MATH-1150/2013s/explogs/.