what exactly *is* a logarithm and what does it do?

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I mean, I’ve used them in algebra many times but I never really understood what it does. Kinda like in biostatistics how I could do the math, but how it worked was beyond me entirely.

So yeah: like what’s this sorcery and what does it do/why do we use it?

In: Mathematics

26 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s a reverse-exponent. You want it when you to know what the exponent was.

A great example is radioactive decay. We know that certain substances, like Carbon-14, reduce by half in a certain time frame. Although that amount is getting smaller instead of bigger, it is still an exponential function: 1/2 ^ (k*t). (k is a known constant, and t is the variable time.)

But you don’t want to calculate the amount remaining – you know what. You want to calculate how much time passed, which is that exponent. Boom: logarithm!

So any time you want to get *the exponent itself*, and whatever else that might tell you, you use a logarithm.

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