In the lecture on boolean schemes, I was stuck with the following inequality: for any $c<2$ there exists N (big enough), such that for any $n>N: c^n\log_{2}\left(c^n\right)<2^n$. I want to prove it. It might be also that our prof was wrong. Please help to solve the problem. It looks unbelievable to me since the limit of the lefthand side is $n2^n>2^n$ when $c→2$. But I understand that it might be true since $c$ is fixed.

  • $\begingroup$ "It might be also that our prof was wrong": why do you think that ? $\endgroup$
    – user65203
    Sep 29, 2020 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ I tried to clean up the $\LaTeX$, and in the process, made explicit the assumption that by "$\log_2c^n$" you intended $\log_2\left(c^n\right)$. I hope that is correct. $\endgroup$
    – robjohn
    Sep 29, 2020 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, robjohn, sorry I missed the brackets. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ The LHS is not $n2^n.$ It is $(\log_2c)nc^n.$ $\endgroup$ Sep 30, 2020 at 22:41

2 Answers 2


The inequality can be rewritten

$$n\log_2 c<\left(\dfrac 2c\right)^n,$$ where the ratio exceeds $1$. It is well known that any polynomial (here a linear one) grows slower than an exponential, hence the claim.

For a more explicit justification, take the ratio of the terms $n+1$ and $n$ both in the LHS and RHS.

$$\text{LHS}\to1+\frac1n,\\\text{RHS}\to \frac2c.$$

Then for $n>\dfrac c{2-c}$ the LHS is bounded above by a geometric progression of a smaller common factor then the RHS.

Numerical example:

Let us consider $c=1.9$ and $n\ge20$. Then we can write

$$LHS=O(1.05^n)$$ while


  • $\begingroup$ I understood your 1st proof. Thank you! There is a proof of your claim online.math.stackexchange.com/questions/55468/… $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ I guess I figured out what you ment by the second part $$\log_{2}\left(c^n\right)<(2/c)^n$$ $$(n\log_{2}\left(c\right))^{1/n}<(2/c)$$ $$n^{1/n}(log_{2}\left(c\right))^{1/n}<(2/c)$$ The $LHS→1$ since $n^{1/n}→1$ and $a^{1/n}→1$ when $a>0$ and $n→infinity$ $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ @SergeyBond: this is not at all what I expressed. I referred to the ratio of successive terms and used a comparison with geometric sequences. I have added an example. $\endgroup$
    – user65203
    Sep 29, 2020 at 10:33

Problems arise unless we also assume that $c\gt0$. Note that if $c\le1$, then the left side of $$ c^n\log_2\left(c^n\right)\lt2^n\tag1 $$ is non-positive, and so $(1)$ is trivially true.

All that is left is to prove $(1)$ for $1\lt c\lt2$. In this range, $\log_2(c)$ and $\log(2/c)$ are both positive.

Dividing $(1)$ by $c^n$ shows that $(1)$ is equivalent to $$ n\log_2(c)\lt\left(\frac2c\right)^n=e^{n\log(2/c)}\tag2 $$ Whenever $n\ge\frac{2\log_2(c)}{\log(2/c)^2}$, we have $$ \begin{align} e^{\color{#C00}{n\log(2/c)}} &\gt\frac12(\color{#C00}{n\log(2/c)})^2\tag3\\ &\ge n\log_2(c)\tag4 \end{align} $$ Explanation:
$(3)$: $e^x\gt\frac12x^2$ by the Taylor Series for $e^x$
$(4)$: $n\ge\frac{2\log_2(c)}{\log(2/c)^2}$

Inequality $(4)$ says that inequality $(2)$, which is equivalent to inequality $(1)$, holds when $n\ge\frac{2\log_2(c)}{\log(2/c)^2}$. Summarizing,

For any $c\in(0,1]$ and $n\ge0$, or $c\in(1,2)$ and $n\ge\frac{2\log_2(c)}{\log(2/c)^2}$, we have $$ c^n\log_2\left(c^n\right)\lt2^n\tag5 $$

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer avoids the asymptotic ($\sim$) and big-O estimates by giving concrete bounds on how big $n$ needs to be for a given $c$ to satisfy $(1)$. $\endgroup$
    – robjohn
    Sep 30, 2020 at 17:27

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