Questions about exponentiation, the operation of raising a base $b$ to an exponent $a$ to give $b^a$.

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208
votes
23answers
18k views

Zero to the zero power - is $0^0=1$?

Could someone provide me with good explanation of why $0^0 = 1$? My train of thought: $x > 0$ $0^x = 0^{x-0} = 0^x/0^0$, so $0^0 = 0^x/0^x = ?$ Possible answers: $0^0 \cdot 0^x = 1 \cdot 0^x$...
131
votes
9answers
5k views

What does $2^x$ really mean when $x$ is not an integer?

We all know that $2^5$ means $2\times 2\times 2\times 2\times 2 = 32$, but what does $2^\pi$ mean? How is it possible to calculate that without using a calculator? I am really curious about this, so ...
119
votes
3answers
10k views

Is 2048 the highest power of 2 with all even digits (base ten)?

I have a friend who turned 32 recently. She has an obsessive compulsive disdain for odd numbers, so I pointed out that being 32 was pretty good since not only is it even, it also has no odd factors. ...
80
votes
4answers
2k views

Complexity class of comparison of power towers

Consider the following decision problem: given two lists of positive integers $a_1, a_2, \dots, a_n$ and $b_1, b_2, \dots, b_m$ the task is to decide if $a_1^{a_2^{\cdot^{\cdot^{\cdot^{a_n}}}}} < ...
78
votes
5answers
3k views

Root Calculation by Hand

Is it possible to calculate and find the solution of $ \; \large{105^{1/5}} \; $ without using a calculator? Could someone show me how to do that, please? Well, when I use a Casio scientific ...
76
votes
15answers
5k views

math fallacy problem: $-1= (-1)^3 = (-1)^{6/2} = \sqrt{(-1)^6}= 1$?

I know there is something wrong with this but I don't know where. It's some kind of a math fallacy and it is driving me crazy. Here it is: $$-1= (-1)^3 = (-1)^{6/2} = \sqrt{(-1)^6}= 1?$$
69
votes
4answers
5k views

Are these solutions of $2 = x^{x^{x^{\:\cdot^{\:\cdot^{\:\cdot}}}}}$ correct?

Find $x$ in $$ \Large 2 = x^{x^{x^{\:\cdot^{\:\cdot^{\:\cdot}}}}}$$ A trick to solve this is to see that $$\large 2 = x^{x^{x^{\:\cdot^{\:\cdot^{\:\cdot}}}}} \quad\implies\quad 2 = x^{\Big(x^{x^{x^...
56
votes
6answers
6k views

$x^y = y^x$ for integers $x$ and $y$

We know that $2^4 = 4^2$ and $(-2)^{-4} = (-4)^{-2}$. Is there another pair of integers $x, y$ ($x\neq y$) which satisfies the equality $x^y = y^x$?
56
votes
2answers
3k views

Fastest way to check if $x^y > y^x$?

What is the fastest way to check if $x^y > y^x$ if I were writing a computer program to do that? The issue is that $x$ and $y$ can be very large.
54
votes
4answers
3k views

A new imaginary number? $x^c = -x$

Being young, I don't have much experience with imaginary numbers outside of the basic usages of $i$. As I was sitting in my high school math class doing logs, I had an idea of something that would ...
53
votes
10answers
3k views

What Is Exponentiation?

Is there an intuitive definition of exponentiation? In elementary school, we learned that $$ a^b = a \cdot a \cdot a \cdot a \cdots (b\ \textrm{ times}) $$ where $b$ is an integer. Then later on ...
50
votes
9answers
4k views

Comparing $\pi^{e}$ and $e^{\pi}$

How can I calculate without calculator or something like this the values of $\pi^{e}$ and $e^{\pi}$ in order to compare them ?
47
votes
5answers
13k views

Prove that $i^i$ is a real number

According to WolframAlpha, $i^i=e^{-\pi/2}$ but I don't know how I can prove it.
46
votes
15answers
5k views

Which is larger? $20!$ or $2^{40}$?

Someone asked me this question, and it bothers the hell out of me that I can't prove either way. I've sort of come to the conclusion that 20! must be larger, because it has 36 prime factors, some of ...
45
votes
5answers
3k views

Inequality from Chapter 5 of the book *How to Think Like a Mathematician*

This is from the book How to think like a Mathematician, How can I prove the inequality $$\sqrt[\large 7]{7!} < \sqrt[\large 8]{8!}$$ without complicated calculus? I tried and finally obtained ...
45
votes
11answers
8k views

What exactly IS a square root?

It's come to my attention that I don't actually understand what a square root really is (the operation). The only way I know of to take square roots (or nth root, for that matter) it to know the ...
38
votes
12answers
5k views

Alternative notation for exponents, logs and roots?

If we have $$ x^y = z $$ then we know that $$ \sqrt[y]{z} = x $$ and $$ \log_x{z} = y .$$ As a visually-oriented person I have often been dismayed that the symbols for these three operators ...
38
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the value of $1^i$?

What is the value of $1^i$? $\,$
38
votes
1answer
950 views

Arranging numbers from $1$ to $n$ such that the sum of every two adjacent numbers is a perfect power

I've known that one can arrange all the numbers from $1$ to $\color{red}{15}$ in a row such that the sum of every two adjacent numbers is a perfect square. $$8,1,15,10,6,3,13,12,4,5,11,14,2,7,9$$ ...
38
votes
4answers
1k views

Proving that $e^{\pi}-{\pi}^e\lt 1$ without using a calculator

Prove that $e^{\pi}-{\pi}^e\lt 1$ without using a calculator. I did in the following way. Are there other ways? Proof : Let $f(x)=e\pi\frac{\ln x}{x}$. Then, $$e^{\pi}-{\pi}^e=e^{f(e)}-{e}^{f(\pi)...
37
votes
4answers
13k views

Can you raise a number to an irrational exponent?

The way that I was taught it in 8th grade algebra, a number raised to a fractional exponent, i.e. $a^\frac x y$ is equivalent to the denominatorth root of the number raised to the numerator, i.e. $\...
36
votes
11answers
4k views

How is $e^x$ read aloud?

My current research colleague from New Castle told me that I was reading it wrong. I usually read it as e power x. How do you read aloud $e ^ x$? Is it: e raised to x e power x e powered x or e ...
32
votes
10answers
3k views

If both $a,b>0$, then $a^ab^b \ge a^bb^a$

Prove that $a^a \ b^b \ge a^b \ b^a$, if both $a$ and $b$ are positive.
32
votes
1answer
691 views

How do I calculate the 2nd term of continued fraction for the power tower ${^5}e=e^{e^{e^{e^{e}}}}$

I need to find the 2nd term of continued fraction for the power tower ${^5}e=e^{e^{e^{e^{e}}}}$ ( i.e. $\lfloor\{e^{e^{e^{e^{e}}}}\}^{-1}\rfloor$), or even higher towers. The number is too big to ...
32
votes
4answers
858 views

What is the *middle* digit of $3^{100000}$?

The decimal representation of $3^{100000}$ has $47713$ digits. What is the $23857^{th}$ digit - i.e. the one in the $10^{23856}$'s place? There are lots of questions on this site asking for the last ...
31
votes
14answers
2k views

How do I understand $e^i$ which is so common?

Raising something to an imaginary number is weird, I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. And e seems even more common and comes up in many situations, such as: the non-geometric ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the order when doing $x^{y^z}$ and why?

Does $x^{y^z}$ equal $x^{(y^z)}$? If so, why? Why not simply apply the order of the operation from left to right? Meaning $x^{y^z}$ equals $(x^y)^z$? I always get confused with this and I don't ...
27
votes
1answer
433 views

Iterated exponent of $i$

WolframAlpha seems to tell me that $e^{e^{e^{e^{e^{e^{e^{e^{e^{e^{e^i}}}}}}}}}} = 1$, see link. Is this just an error or is it for real? Adding one more $e$ to the bottom of the tower gives me the ...
27
votes
10answers
895 views

What are the Laws of Rational Exponents?

On Math SE, I've seen several questions which relate to the following. By abusing the laws of exponents for rational exponents, one can come up with any number of apparent paradoxes, in which a number ...
27
votes
2answers
387 views

Generalisation of $(n+3)^2-(n+2)^2-(n+1)^2+n^2=4$

After seeing the neat little identity $(n+3)^2-(n+2)^2-(n+1)^2+n^2=4$ somewhere on MSE, I tried generalising this to higher consecutive powers in the form $\sum_{k=0}^a\epsilon_k(n+k)^p=C$, where $C$ ...
27
votes
1answer
3k views

Infinite tetration, convergence radius

I got this problem from my teacher as a optional challenge. I am open about this being a given problem, however it is not homework. The problem is stated as follows. Assume we have an infinite ...
26
votes
9answers
2k views

Why is $x^0 = 1$ except when $x = 0$?

Why is any number (other than zero) to the power of zero equal to one? Please include in your answer an explanation of why $0^0$ should be undefined.
26
votes
6answers
2k views

Why do we need to prove $e^{u+v} = e^ue^v$?

In this book I'm using the author seems to feel a need to prove $e^{u+v} = e^ue^v$ By $\ln(e^{u+v}) = u + v = \ln(e^u) + \ln(e^v) = \ln(e^u e^v)$ Hence $e^{u+v} = e^u e^v$ But we know from basic ...
25
votes
11answers
3k views

What is the accepted syntax for a negative number with an exponent?

A friend is taking a college algebra class and they are teaching him that $$-3^2 = -9$$ Their explanation is: $$-3^2 = -(3^2) = -9.$$ It has been a long time for me but I thought that in the ...
25
votes
8answers
2k views

How does the exponent of a function effect the result?

The $x^{2/2}$ can be represented by these ways: $$\begin{align} x^{2\over2}=\sqrt{x^2} = |x|\\ \end{align} $$ And $$\begin{align} x^{2\over2}=x^{1} = x\\ \end{align} $$ Which one is correct? And what ...
24
votes
7answers
5k views

Is $\exp(x)$ the same as $e^x$?

For homework I have to find the derivative of $\text {exp}(6x^5+4x^3)$ but I am not sure if this is equivalent to $e^{6x^5+4x^3}$ If there is a difference, what do I do to calculate the derivative of ...
24
votes
6answers
3k views

How do I compute $a^b\,\bmod c$ by hand?

How do I efficiently compute $a^b\,\bmod c$: When $b$ is huge, for instance $5^{844325}\,\bmod 21$? When $b$ is less than $c$ but it would still be a lot of work to multiply $a$ by itself $b$ times, ...
23
votes
6answers
23k views

What's the inverse operation of exponents?

You know, like addition is the inverse operation of subtraction, vice versa, multiplication is the inverse of division, vice versa , square is the inverse of square root, vice versa. What's the ...
23
votes
2answers
3k views

Rational number to the power of irrational number = irrational number. True?

I suggested the following problem to my friend: prove that there exist irrational numbers $a$ and $b$ such that $a^b$ is rational. The problem seems to have been discussed in this question. Now, his ...
23
votes
8answers
905 views

Infinite powering by $i$ [duplicate]

Find the value of: $i^{i^{i^{i^{i^{i^{....\infty}}}}}}$ Simply infinite powering by i's and the limiting value. Thank you for the help.
22
votes
13answers
989 views

Which is greater, $98^{99} $ or $ 99^{98}$? [duplicate]

Which is greater, $98^{99} $ or $ 99^{98}$? What is the easiest method to do this which can be explained to someone in junior school i.e. without using log tables. I don't think there is an ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

Fun logarithm question

How would you go about solving $x^{2^{x}} = 2^{x}$? There should be a solution $1<x<2$, but I haven't found a way to derive the answer using the usual log laws, maybe there is an elegant way ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

$\sin(A)$, where $A$ is a matrix

If $A$ is an $n\times n$ matrix with elements $a_{ij}$ $i=$i'th row, $j=$j'th column. Then $e^A$ is also a matrix as can be seen by expanding it in a power series.Is $e^A$ always convergent and ...
20
votes
18answers
2k views

How to understand why $x^0 = 1$, where $x$ is any real number?

Alright, so the idea of an exponent, $x$, is that you are multiplying its base by itself $x$ number of times. With base $5$ and $x=3$, we have that $5^3$ = $5 \cdot 5 \cdot 5$ I understand that the ...
20
votes
7answers
1k views

Simple proof that $8\left(\frac{9}{10}\right)^8 > 1$

This question is motivated by a step in the proof given here. $\begin{align*} 8^{n+1}-1&\gt 8(8^n-1)\gt 8n^8\\ &=(n+1)^8\left(8\left(\frac{n}{n+1}\right)^8\right)\\ &\geq (n+1)^8\...
20
votes
6answers
6k views

Approximation of $e^{-x}$

Is there a method to mentally evaluate $e^{-x}$ for $x>0$? Just to have an idea when computing probabilities or anything that is an exponential function of some parameters.
20
votes
6answers
53k views

How to calculate a decimal power of a number

I wish to calculate a power like $$2.14 ^ {2.14}$$ When I ask my calculator to do it, I just get an answer, but I want to see the calculation. So my question is, how to calculate this with a pen, ...
18
votes
9answers
2k views

How to determine without calculator which is bigger, $\left(\frac{1}{2}\right)^{\frac{1}{3}}$ or $\left(\frac{1}{3}\right)^{\frac{1}{2}}$

How can you determine which one of these numbers is bigger (without calculating): $\left(\frac{1}{2}\right)^{\frac{1}{3}}$ , $\left(\frac{1}{3}\right)^{\frac{1}{2}}$
18
votes
6answers
7k views

A question comparing $\pi^e$ to $e^\pi$ [duplicate]

I was doing an algebra problem set following a chapter on logarithms and exponentiation, and it presented this "bonus question": Without using your calculator, determine which is larger: $e^\pi$ ...
18
votes
4answers
6k views

Finding $\int x^xdx$

I'm trying to find $\int x^x \, dx$, but the only thing I know how to do is this: Let $u=x^x$. $$\begin{align} \int x^x \, dx&=\int u \, du\\[6pt] &=\frac{u^2}{2}\\[6pt] &=\dfrac{\left(x^...